I decided to buy the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E545 because of the combination of features and low price.
Features that I like:
1. Keyboard - Lenovo makes the best keyboard bar none. You will notice that you can type more accurately using its keyboard. It is also spill resistant. I prefer a 15.6-inch notebook computer because it is just large enough to provide a full-size, separate numeric keypad area to the right of the letter key area. I use this computer as a desktop replacement and rarely carry it around (I use a small (11.6-inch) and light Acer Chromebook C720 running Google Chrome OS for that).
2. 4 Gb memory, expandable to 16 Gb. Many notebook PC's can only go up to 8 Gb maximum. I use a free software called "meminfo" to indicate the percentage of memory used at any moment in the lower right area of the display. If this number goes above 50% often, I'd suggest upgrading the computer's memory to 8Gb or more.
3. Three USB 3.0 ports and one USB 2.0 port. The USB 3.0 port is useful for connecting to external hard drives and thumb/flash drives that support USB 3.0 Super Speed data transfer. USB 3.0 is about 3.5 times faster than USB 2.0 in real world data transfer speed. The USB 2.0 port is an always-on variety, so that it can conveniently provide charging power to your other electronic gadgets like smartphone and tablet without having the computer to be turned on. The USB 3.0 ports are backward compatible, so USB 2.0 and 1.1 devices can also be plugged into them. Of course, these devices won't work at USB 3.0 speed.
4. VGA and HDMI ports - easy connection to legacy and modern flat screen TV's and monitors. Most notebook PC's have either VGA or HDMI port, but the E545 has both.
5. Windows 7 installed and Windows 8 optional (included).
6. This is a complete (built-in 720p webcam, optical drive, SD card reader, etc.) and reasonably low cost laptop for everyday computing.
7. Instead of separate headphone and microphone jacks on older PC's, the E545 has a 3.5mm combo headphone/microphone jack which will accept headphone/mic connector from your smartphone/MP3 player/tablet.
8. There is a LED to indicate power status cleverly located on the "i" of the "ThinkPad" moniker. One can be seen on the lid of the computer,and the other is on the palm rest near the right edge.
9. If you are also considering a slightly less expensive alternative Lenovo B590 Windows 7 Pentium 15.6-Inch Laptop (Black) 59410452, be aware that it is just a "regular" Lenovo, not a "ThinkPad" Lenovo. The "ThinkPad" line has many details and features (hardware/firmware/software) that others don't - An important one being that the E545 has a sensor built-in to detect the computer "falling" and will park its hard drive heads to minimize damage to the data area on the drive, increasing the "recoverability" of possibly precious data.
10. Bluetooth 4.0 is built-in. You can use Bluetooth versions of wireless mouse, wireless keyboard, wireless headset, and wireless speakers with the E545.
11. The Lenovo Thinkpad E545 has an AMD A6-5350M CPU instead of the usual Intel CPU. It is plenty fast and efficient for my applications (Chrome browser with 20+ open tabs, Skype, anti-virus and firewall software, and system tuneup software). Windows DOES slow down with use, so I'd suggest using paid or free system tuneup software such as Tuneup Utilities or Glary Utilities, respectively.
The Lenovo Thinkpad E545 has THREE kinds of password protection that you can set to protect your privacy. This may be important, as your files are stored locally on the hard disk drive.
There is the power-on password (POP) which you can set to always ask you to enter a password before the computer will load the operating system.
There is a supervisor password (SP) that you can set to protect the BIOS settings so that they cannot be changed unless the correct supervisor password is entered.
And then there is the hard disk password (HDP) which will protect the contents of the entire drive, EVEN when the drive is installed on a different computer.
If you set the HDP, as well as the POP, then you will be asked to enter two passwords whenever you turn on the computer. You may want to skip on the POP setting to simplify the power-on process since you have set the more important HDP.
If you choose different passwords for each, I'd suggest writing them down on your "password booklet". For convenience/manageability, I just set all three to use the same password. Be aware that if you forget your hard disk password, no one will be able to recover the contents of the drive for you.
I found adding another 4Gb of memory to the E545 made a lot of difference in operation smoothness, especially if I have several programs running at the same time. The cost of a 4Gb memory is currently $40, making it easily justifiable. The technical specification is 4GB 1600 MHz DDR3L PC3-12800 1.35V SODIMM.
It is easy to install this memory upgrade yourself. Make sure the computer is turned off. Remove the battery. Take out three screws securing the large bottom cover so it can be removed. There are two memory slots; one of them is already filled with a 4Gb memory module. To install an additional memory in the empty slot, push the memory module with the gold plated contacts edge at an angle into the slot and then press down until the two spring loaded metal holders snap into place. Note that the memory module has a notch so that it can only fit one way. Now you have 8Gb and the computer will automatically recognize it.
on February 9, 2014
Best laptop I have ever owned or used. This Lenovo Laptop is just wonderful! It is designed to be easy to use and very efficient. Lenovo has thought of everything. This laptop so easy to use. It has big keys that are easy to see and read. It has 4 USB ports and the memory is expandable to 16gigs. It comes with Windows 7 Professional and the discs for Windows 8. Lenovo has a back-up system for restoring your laptop to the state it was in when you got it. The recovery discs on this laptopare in a separately partitioned area. That means that is does NOT take away from your hard drive. This laptop urges you to make recovery discs immediately. You need to do this before you start using your computer. Anyway, less than a week after I got my laptop, I installed what should have been a good program. Up until that time, I had it on all of my computers, but it attached itself to some registry keys and when I removed what I thought was adware and spyware, it caused a problem and I could NOT use my laptop. So, less than a week after getting my laptop, I had to use the recovery discs. If you have read a review complaining about this laptop and they are saying that they did NOT make recovery discs, then that is their fault. That is one of the first things that Lenovo and other laptop folks urge you to do. I was NOT able to use a restore point, but I was able to put the recovery discs in and run them. My laptop was completely restored to the way it was the day I opened it up. It runs perfectly, just like it did when I first got it. I spent an extra $50.0 to get this laptop. On sale, this laptop was about 50.00 more than the cheap ones. Now that I have used Lenovo, I can't imagine using another brand. I researched all the brands. Lenovo ranks best in customer service and tech support, and that encouraged me. I had seen Lenovo on sale and knew that I should be able to get one for a good price. So, when I saw this laptop and it's features, I knew that it was the one that I wanted. I also got the extended warranty. Folks, if you don't spend your money and invest in at least one or two years of extended warranty service, then you are either a dreamer or a fool. I cannot tell you how many times, I have invested in purchasing the extended warranty on a product and had it save my bacon. I bought a 3 year extended warranty on this laptop. If you can purchase this laptop for $450.00 or less, then go for it!!! It is a good deal and you will be very pleased. Now that I have bought and used this Lenovo laptop, I am HOOKED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
on April 4, 2014
First let me couch my comments by saying I am a retired IT guy. I think most people will be very happy with this machine although I think it is only a steps above a mediocre machine.
What made me decide to consider the purchase was the manufacture and hardware. Lenovo is one of the top 3 laptop builders as of Spring 2014. Apple, ACER and Lenovo are regarded as the 3 best in that order. I also liked that fact they used top quality hardware in the build. The AMD process gets a good rating for a RISC processor. The RAM is expandable to 16GB. The HDD is a WD which is the best HD maker currently. I do wish they had installed a 500GB instead of the 320. The USB3 ports will accept USB2 drives. I also liked the extended keyboard with the number pad. I use this on my desktop for entering numbers in spreadsheets. I liked the low heat generation as well as their BIOS. It is all good hardware and software. The big disappointment has been no bluetooth. All the ads and reviews said it had bluetooth but it does not. If you need bluetooth for your phone or other device, this is not the machine for you.
It is a speedy little machine. I installed Office Pro 2010 on it and have no problems with its operation. I have also loaded Any Video Converter and Photoshop. It does a decent job of processing video and images. It's not the greatest at it but I didn't purchase it to process video. This is really a business machine. I crunch numbers and run Access DB.
What has put me off has been the operation of the machine. I built my 1st PC in 1985. I use key commands as much as I use the mouse or trackpad. This has been my biggest problem with this laptop. For example, I rarely exit apps by clicking on the "X" in the upper right of the open window (as 95% of others do). I use the ALT + F4 to kill open apps. Much to my dismay I have found I must hold the FN + ALT + F4 keys. I also use the native Function keys as windows has set them for years. With this laptop I must hold down the FN key and then press the F key I want. Otherwise it turns on/off the mic, the WIFI, etc. I have not looked in the BIOS to see if this can be reset to a default setting. Maybe someone out knows and can let me know.
I do like the keyboard and find it easy to type on and use. However I am still trying to adjust to the trackpad. I initially liked the idea of a track pad that took advantage of the Apple type press mechanism to launch actions. However I am finding my wrist getting sore with all the pressing. Fortunately Lenovo retained the tap/double tap with your finger to launch. I also like the 2 finger press to right click but it doesn't always work for me. I have resorted to using the bottom edge of the trackpad with my thumb to activate the right click.
Overall this is a good laptop but needs usability rethinking by Lenovo... or maybe I'm just geeking to old ;^)
Anyway, that's my $0.02 worth. Good luck.
on January 8, 2014
I bought this ThinkPad for backing up my business pc which is failing. This one starts fast, runs quiet, has a very good screen, and is reasonable fast. The Window 7 Pro was easy to work with and easier than Windows 8 Pro. Very good keyboard. This could easily become a very productive note book. I bought the Plugable dual monitor docking station and the E545 lit up both external monitors. The one problem I had was when trying to install Office 2010 Pro, it said the dvd was empty. I ended up installing Office 2013 for business. Great notebook for the money.
7 January 2015 This is still a very good notebook but I have found out it can barely handle all the stuff Facebook throws at us. The screen locks up, Explorer stops working sometimes, videos will not paly sometimes and sometimes they play with sound and no video. It is also typical for notebooks to have very weak video cards.
on March 17, 2014
ThinkPad was once the best name in notebook computers thanks to IBM. After purchasing the IBM brand, Lenovo has retained one of the great ThinkPad features in this particular model. That little "nub" or joystick in the middle of the keyboard that is very handy for moving the pointing device around the screen rapidly, and is easy to use. The keyboard is definitely IBM quality.
This model has also has a touch pad that clicks along with the standard right and left click keys, making navigation quite easy for a notebook without a mouse. It also comes with Windows 7 Professional installed, the best operating system Windows has ever made, in my opinion. Although it does include Windows 8 installation discs, unless you've tried Windows 8, I would strongly recommend NOT using them. Windows 8 is an operating system designed for touch-screen mobile devices far more so than for PCs. Windows 8 also lacks the Microsoft hallmark "Start Menu."
Lenovo has great customer support. They will, upon request, mail you a Windows 7 pro OS restoration disc, while the computer is under warranty, free of charge. I would strongly recommend doing this if you decide to purchase this computer. You never know if you may, for some reason, need to format your hard drive and restore the operating system. And since Microsoft seems intent on phasing out Windows 7, it may be very difficult to get one in the future. Plus you'd have to pay handsomely for it even if you could find one.
This computer is very neatly styled, weighs only 3 pounds and change, which is great for carrying around in a case, looks very professional, and the illuminated dots over the "i" in "Thinkpad" on both the deck and cover of the computer, when the computer is on, are a very cool cosmetic touch. The only disappointments is that it has no system status lights. That is, there are no lights to indicate the battery is charging, nor to indicate either hard drive activity or internet connectivity, as many other notebook computers have. Overall, it's a great value for the money, and the perfect notebook computer for someone who's never owned one before.
on September 1, 2014
Needed a new laptop for school/work purposes, and wanted to keep the budget in the $500 range. After searching for days I couldn't find a build that I liked either on Amazon or other deal sites for any less than $700. Decided in the end to go with this Lenovo, and made the following additions:
1. Crucial SSD drive (256gb). I wanted to go with the 500gb drive but that was double the price.
2. Kingston 4gig ram stick. This is a no brainer. $40 and it pops right in. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0056EW4A4/ref=cfb_at_prodpg
3. Replaced the optical (DVD) drive with a bay/caddy designed to hold another hard drive (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0056EW4A4/ref=cfb_at_prodpg).
Total price came in around $550.
SSD install was super easy with the software code that comes with the drive. I moved the HDD to the caddy and installed the SSD in place of it, popped in the ram stick, and booted up from the HDD. From there you install the cloning software that comes with the SSD, clone the drive, reboot from the SSD, and you're all set.
SSD was REMARKABLY faster than the HDD. I've enjoyed my AMD/SSD combos on my last 2 desktops builds, and wanted a similar experience from the laptop.
To comment on the other reviews that have mentioned the slow wifi speeds. It's true that out of the box, this laptop will tap out around 15mbps on a speedtest. Updating all the drivers cured this for me, and I'm now speed testing around 36mbps, which is comparable to my other devices on my home network.
I needed the larger screen, but just be aware that the laptop is big, although surprisingly not as heavy as I would expect from a laptop this size. The mouse/trackpad is a bit annoying, and I've added a USB mouse to deal with that.
Battery life is fairly unimpressive too. I'll need to play around some with the power settings to see what I can live with in order to try to increase things. At a balance of power and battery savings, it says I'm getting around 3ish hours of battery life.
I wish the keyboard was back lit of course, but I knew that wasn't happening going in.
All in all, I'm very happy with the way this turned out. Windows 7, 256 SSD for my OS and programs, 330gb drive for backup, 8gb ram, all for around $550. You don't need to be a pro computer builder to pull off these updates either. If you had no clue what you were doing, you could probably accomplish all of this in under an hour.
I hope this helps someone else who's shopping at this price point, as I looked all over the place for days without finding anything I wanted. The pre-built lenovo's on amazon with SSD drives are nice, but just too pricey. It's not worth paying for someone else to put this in. Go ahead and take the plunge and do it yourself.
If you own one of these and have been using it with the original hard drive, do yourself a favor and put the SSD in tomorrow, and watch the performance change instantly for the better.
on January 10, 2014
Purchased this laptop before it had any reviews and could not be happier with it. The CPU is very fast and the main selling feature is that it comes with Windows 7 pre-installed! Definitely recommend.
on June 13, 2014
Quick background: I needed a laptop to run my law practice. It would also double for web browsing, Netflix, listening to music, maybe an old PC game or two on the weekends. I needed something very inexpensive and professional looking as a second PC to complement my powerful home desktop.
This laptop is an excellent purchase for my needs, and I am enjoying typing this review as I sit in my living room. I read the reviews on Amazon and bought it for $400.00, and that's how I found out about it.
Important preliminary WARNING: With regard to weak wifi, be sure to turn on your wifi adapter to "maximum performance" in your device manager. This laptop comes preloaded with power saving settings that reduce the upload/download speed accessing a wireless network.
Basically, this laptop is an excellent purchase especially for the price. I previously bought an Asus gaming laptop which lasted about a year and fell to pieces - it cost about 900 dollars and would always run hot and be unpleasant for resting on my lap.
DISPLAY - the resolution and picture quality is excellent. The screen is the largest I could find in the 400 dollar price range. It is very crisp and clear.
KEYBOARD - this is one of my favorite parts about the laptop. The keyboard is very pleasant to touch and type in. The keys are responsive and the material feels high quality and provide a satisfying click on each keystroke. The layout is also new for me, but I am learning to really appreciate the numeric pad on the right, as well as the alternate function buttons. In this keyboard, the f1-f12 keys have been replaced by default with various more useful settings, like brightness adjustment, camera, volume, and back/press play/forward controls, which have integrated extremely well with my software (the play buttons are especially useful for spotify, so I don't have to click over to the program to stop skip or change volume). Overall very high quality feel to the keyboard and nice to work on.
PERFORMANCE - I would say that for the price, this laptop provides very good performance. I am accustomed to extremely responsive/instant performance due to my high end pc at home that I built myself. However, for word processing and web browsing, as well as watching movies on netflix or streams, it is very capable and delivers. I do feel like if I have too many applications open the laptop starts to struggle with 5-10 second pauses before changing to other applications, but that's my fault for leaving too many things open at the same time.
It also does an admirable job of doing some tougher applications, and the Nitro PDF software is a nice program to use for trial (30 days). I used it quite easily to scan some legal documents and create decent word versions.
I highly recommend this laptop in the 400 dollar price range. It is well made, professional looking, and carries numerous little features that add up to an overall very excellent computing experience. I like it so much I am considering purchasing a second laptop for safe keeping. It is a much better investment due to Windows than a Chromebook in the 200-400 range,
on February 11, 2014
I have to say this is a phenomenal laptop, I just received today, however so far after a little bit of playing around, this is one super machine. I did uninstall some of the pre loaded bloatware and will someday in the future increase the RAM, but am very happy with this purchase and would definitely buy Lenova again.
Keyboard is amazing
Great and very accurate pointer (easy to use, most never work well from previous experience)
Nice flush touchpad
Price is amazing for all that you get with this super laptop
too many to list
None as of yet, will update as I play around a little more, but very happy so far with this purchase and machine, you will not be disappointed
on June 29, 2014
I did a lot of research before buying this. My goal was to get a laptop for under $400 that ran Windows 7. I began to lean toward a refurb higher end Dell business laptop but when I came across this I decided I would rather have a brand new unit. My previous low-end Lenovo laptop worked well for me for 3 years but I ended up getting rid of it when the cover broke off the keyboard section. I was set to avoid Lenovo in the future until I came across this product and read reviews. I'm giving Lenovo another chance based on the reviews and the fact that, operationally at least, my last laptop was great.
* price is right
* seems well-built
* screen size is perfect for everything
* keyboard is outstanding
* screen resolution is not great
* audio sucks (it may have helped if they placed the speakers ON TOP and not on the bottom...duh)
* is not slow but is not as quick as my last laptop that had a Pentium processor.
Some of the first things I did with this were:
Added MS Office
Uninstalled Norton Anti-virus (this increased performance of the laptop)
Installed (FREE) Microsoft Security Essentials (doesn't bog down the system)
Installed Pale Moon (Firefox for 64-bit systems)
Installed Google Chrome
UPDATE: One more con: After using this for about a month I've concluded that the battery that comes with this PC absolutely SUCKS. I still like the laptop but I've downgraded the stars because the battery is cheap and starts to develop memory very early in its life.