I am a huge fan of Lenovo laptops and this is my third (and most recent one). I started on the humble R60 which now looks so little in comparison to the S430 but the Thinkpad has kept several design aspects true across most of their range making them very recognisable. When I think of features distinctive to Lenovo, I think of the fingerprint readers that are standard on many of their laptops (this one being no exception) and of course the red textured rubber track-pad in the centre of the keys which has proved its worth on my old R60 when the mouse buttons finally fell off.... well I had owned it a long time and my (then) baby daughter had prodded it a lot. The buffered and protected hard drive is another brillliant thing about Lenovo notebooks as well as the one button restore. All useful and time saving stuff.
This, being my most recent and shiny lappy, has been looked after and small child has been watched very carefully around it. She is the reason that I invested in a cheap tablet on Amazon because the lure of the big laptop screen and enticing keys proved too much for her and I was scared of this one meetig the same fate as my old R60.
KNOWN FOR QUALITY:
Lenovo acquired IBM's personal computer side in 2005 and have continued to produce the top quality products that IBM were known for. These computers have great functionality and security features and although some of their earlier models were somewhat clunky compared to the streamlined (and much cheaper) Acers and their ilk, the design has improved hugely over the years and their products now rival even the most appealing shiny laptops. Certainly in terms of features and additions, the Thinkpad is right up there for me as one of the best laptops available to buy.
The S6430 Thinkpad edge is one of Lenovo's "small business" laptops which have a sleek design and a range of features to enhance security and productivity such as the fingerprint reader and inbuilt "solution centre" for errors and easy reformatting back to factory settings. The Edge range offers laptop screen sizes from 11.6" up to 15.6" and my one has a 14" HD screen. I use this for pretty much everything including Photoshop, video and music recording/ production and it has never let me down.
Lenovo laptops are known for their rugged and hard wearing design and build, the hinges are very solid metal and the inner casing is tough. The keyboard keys are easy to press and use with the lightest of touch and the keys come in a very softly textured matt black with shiny black detailing for the power switch. Like a lot of Thinkpads, the actual trackpad area is large and this is very responsive. It is an easy to customise laptop firstly from the Lenovo store itself when you order it and then when you get it home there are many options that enable you to set it up to your exact requirements such as mouse pressure and speed of response etc. The closure is very secure and clicks into place so you know that it is properly shut. The laptop weighs in at around 4lbs so is not as light as some but the casing is reinforced with metal and the hinges are solid metal too which adds weight. The laptop feels secure and stable without being remotely clunky.
Lenovo market this as a "premium small business laptop". It features an Intel i series processor and it is responsive and can cope with lots of multi-tasking. I am guilty of often having loads of windows open on my browser in new tabs and it does not freeze or stutter unless I leave it running without a reboot for days on end. I work the laptop hard and it manages to cope without so much as a whimper.
This edge also features an optional add on in the form of "Thunderbolt" technology which is basically an accelerator enabling "daisy-chaining" and fast transfers. In order to not send you to sleep, more info is available on the intel website.
UNIQUE RED BALL:
The little red rubber track ball in the centre is a "trackpoint" aka a second mouse, so if your mouse buttons malfunction you can still use your laptop. I have not bothered much with this on the Edge but it has been useful in the past. It is tucked snugly into the keyboard so as not to protrude annoyingly or get in the way of fast typing.
The hard drive can be customised from the Lenovo shop when you order but mine has a 500GB HD which is plenty enough for me as I use external drives as well. You are able to upgrade this to 1.5TB should you so wish. I opted for the "Hard Disk Drive Performance Booster" on mine which enhances the HDD by as much as 500% according to the blurb. Not sure if this is the case but it is pretty nifty and responsive even when multitasking.
The Edge has a full size keyboard with "spill resistance" although I have NOT tested this one out and to be honest am not really sure if any keyboard is truly spill resistant. In this case it seems to be a form of a lipped plastic protection around the circuits. The keys are responsive and not noisy or clunky. Neither do the keys fall off randomly over time like some cheaper computers (yes I am talking about YOU Advent and Acer) which is just as well really because the hinges and pointy bits (what is the technical term for the back mechanism of laptop keys?) are a bugger to reset if a key does fall off.
You have a choice again to customise your graphics options, in my case I have integrated intel HD graphics. NVidia Optimus is available for gamers and graphic artists etc. The intel graphics suit me fine though and these are crisp and clear and do not strain my eyes even after hours on the pc. The colours are true and vibrant and the screen has an anti-glare coating on it.
OTHER GOOD STUFF:
Other features include a 720p HD integrated camera, a 6-cell (48.8Wh) Li-polymer battery with 6 hr life ( I have found I get about 4.5 out of mine but as I said, I do multi-task), and of course a DVD drive. There is a nifty fingerprint reader for security by the trackpad which you can set up easily or leave if you do not wish to use it. Saves you remembering your password to log on and very useful if you share a computer.
This was very quick to set up and comprised scanning your middle finger three times face down to get your unique print. The computer then saves it and I have not had it deny me access once which is useful!
2W Dolby Home Theater v4 integrated speakers are standard which sound fantastic and are plenty loud enough for normal use. There are plenty of available options in the settings to customise these. For listening to music or watching films I connect it up to decent speakers and a subwoofer via the headphone socket. There is a 4 in 1 card reader and a combination headphone/microphone jack. The mic features dual digital array with noise suppression making it superb for skype, web conferencing or doing audio surveys like I do and the noise suppression really does seem to be very effective at cutting out background jumble like my dogs barking or my chav neighbours having (another) fight outside.
Fast data transfer:
My Edge has USB 3.0 (up to 10 times faster), Mini-HDMI ports, and Display Port. You can opt for the Thunderbolt too.
The keys are black and contrast slightly with the casing which is a very dark chocolatey/black colour making the laptop smart and attractive. The Edge series feature silver hinges and shiny metal bezels around the screen and bottom. The corners are gently curved and the overall shape is a slight "wedge" ie fatter at the back which graduates down to a thinner edge by the front track pad. The red accents on the trackpad and two mouse keys are standard for Lenovo and one of their distinctive style additions.
I have added this in because noisy and clunking laptop fans drive me bonkers. The fan on this is very quiet and soft and has only been noticeable when downloading/ watching a film/ uploading and doing several other things at once when it slightly amplifies to let me know that it is tired. I use a laptop fan cooler tray under it when I am doing lots of things at once to ensure a long life, and I do clean it regularly too due to having pets around and errant toast crumb issues.
EASE OF ACCESS:
I have added this bit in too because being able to get to separate parts of the laptop without having to take the whole thing to bits is important and some laptops do not make it remotely easy for you to do this. Want to extend the memory? Easy, there are a few screws in a panel with a chip icon. The fan is under another panel with a little fan icon. This is such a simple thing but it really makes owning a Thinkpad enjoyable because the company actually think about this stuff. And of course it means that somebody not very confident in replacing memory and cleaning fans stands a chance of being able to do it without too much trepidation....
**** BORING SPEC LIST ****
Standard on the S430 - most features are upgradable when you order
* Battery Life: Up to 6 hours with standard 6-cell battery
* Weight: 1.8 kg
* Ports: Mini-HDMI, mini-Display Port or Thunderbolt, 2 USB 3.0, 4-in-1 card reader (SD/SDHC/SDXC/MMC), RJ45, Combo headphone/mic jack
* Microphone: Dual digital array microphones with noise suppression technology
* Speakers: Stereo speakers with Dolby® Home Theater® v4
* 3rd Generation Intel® CoreTM i31/i5/i7 Processors (customise on website)
* Windows 8
* 8GB RAM
* Graphics: Intel® HD integrated
* 500GB HDD
* Keyboard: Two-button ClickPad with indirect touch and TrackPoint
* DVD drive
* 2W integrated speakers Dolby Home Theatre v4
* Communication: Gigabit Ethernet, Realtek b/g/n, Broadcom a/b/g/n WLAN + Bluetoot,Intel b/g/n WLAN + Bluetooth.
SOFTWARE: This is preloaded and partitioned:
* Lenovo dashboard to view total system health
* Hardware diagnostic tool
* Access to frequently used system management tools for Backup and Restore, Antivirus and firewall settings, System and software updates, Internet connections, Service and support.
Other pre-loaded software:
* Adobe Acrobat Reader
* InterVideo WinDVD
* Microsoft® Office Starter 2010
* Microsoft® Live Essentials
* Norton Internet Security 2012 - 30 day trial (I always delete this and use my choice of alternative because I hate the intrusiveness of Norton)
PRICE: There are many offers available on the Lenovo website which change often so do check the site well. The best way to grab an offer is to get on their mailing list because sometimes they have amazing deals on there and price cuts. This model is currently £772.39 on their website and I paid £699 on offer with 2 yr warranty.
Recommended for those who want a strong and well built laptop with lots of features, some of which like the trackpoint and fingerprint reader are unique to Lenovo. This is my third Thinkpad as I like to upgrade regularly and I love it for its versatility, ease of use, speed and reliability. It is testament to Lenovo that my next laptop is likely to be yet another Thinkpad. Five big fat shiny stars.