55 of 60 people found the following review helpful
Hard to believe what you get for this price,
This review is from: Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E520 15.6" Notebook PC (Electronics)This is my first Lenovo notebook and I am very impressed. It's hard to believe how much is included with the e520, despite it being part of the Lenovo's budget lineup, the Thinkpad Edge series. Here's a list of what I found impressive:
Great keyboard - both the overall design and the feel. (Note: I didn't like the nonstandard placement of the control key. I went into the BIOS to swap it with FN key to get the normal position - now I'm happy).
Very quiet (with exception of DVD drive - see below)
7200 RPM 500GB hard drive seems plenty quiet and fast
i5 2410m processor gives you turbo mode when needed (over less expensive systems that have the i3 2310m). I've noticed it kick in for sluggish web sites like bgr.com (can hear the fan get louder when this happens).
Boot time 25 seconds to user screen, then 8 seconds after clicking on user. My boot time is now 30+10=40 total seconds after adding my own software. Resume from standby: less than 2 seconds.
includes fingerprint reader, bluetooth, webcam
The overall hardware build quality very good considering the price
The software build quality is terrific. Many system builders layer on so much junk onto Windows that it starts out of the box slow and buggy - not so with this unit. Includes Symantec's Norton Internet Security which I was using anyway (and have liked since version 10.0), and the Windows office starter, and a useful suite of Lenovo utilities. That's it.
That being, said, this IS part of the budget lineup. Here's what I noticed was given up in this model in order to hit this price point:
No keyboard Thinklight or key back lighting of any kind. The black keyboard can't be seen in dim light so you'll need an external light source at night. Most of the more expensive Lenovo's have this desirable feature.
The screen is usable and without defects but is mediocre. I'm used to high quality screens for my desktop units and this is not even close, with poor viewing angles, less sharp text, muted colors, etc. It doesn't matter for me because I use it 98% of the time hooked up to a high quality 24" monitor/TV.
The DVD drive is a cheap unit that is obnoxiously loud. Thankfully, I greatly reduced the noise from this by going into the BIOS and choosing the "silent" option for the DVD drive which is a tradeoff - I sacrifice speed in order to get quiet. This is well worth it for me as I'll be using it primarily to play movies, which don't require a rapidly spinning drive.
Default touchpad settings were not so great. Took quite a bit of fiddling with the touchpad settings to increase responsiveness and accuracy.
WHY I BOUGHT THE e520
We have a family room which doubles as my early AM/late PM home office, as well as a home entertainment center. So we've been using a slow, hot, noisy old Dell desktop to run Windows XP Media Center Edition. I've been waiting patiently for years to replace it with a much better HTPC with appropriate price/performance.
The Mac Mini seems like the perfect form factor yet in the Windows world you have to spend at least $1000 to get similar quality. If you literally buy a current Mac Mini, you'd also have to buy a Windows license, an external DVD drive, and a TV tuner which works with Macs, which tend to be more expensive than Windows TV tuners. So the price goes almost up to $1000 that route as well.
In doing my research for the HTPC, it become obvious that laptop components are better suited for HTPC use because they use less power and therefore run less hot and less noisy (less fan cooling required). However, until 2011, integrated graphics in notebooks were usually not adequate. Now there's Intel's Sandy Bridge mobile parts, namely the i5 2410m (or not quite as powerful i3 2310m) combined with Intel's integrated HD 3000 graphics. It is the HD 3000 which is the key - it is more than enough graphics power to easily handle any kind of HTPC use.
So I started looking at inexpensive laptops and was pleasantly shocked at how much computer you can get for about six hundred dollars. I settled on the e520 for this purpose because it included a 7200 RPM 500GB hard drive which none of the notebooks with i5 2410m did at around the same price point. Dell was very close but with them you never know how much junk they put on your computer in the budget models which might hobble the system.
WHY THIS UNIT WORKS SO WELL FOR ME
So how is this working (after getting past the setup of figuring out how to make the DVD drive less noisy and getting the external monitor to be the main monitor)?
Great! It's quiet and fast. It's relatively attractive. Windows 7 and Media center run fine (and note that the Integrated Intel HD 3000 graphic runs my external 1920 x 1200 monitor/TV fast and smoothly). I did need to get a powered USB hub to accommodate the numerous USB devices but that's a good idea anyway to keep the unit running cooler. In the event we want to view a movie or TV recording in another part of the house, I'll be able to just disconnect the laptop and carry it there.
Given how great this budget Lenovo unit is, I can only imagine how great the more expensive units are. But for someone planning to use their laptop primarily in a stationary setup like mine where you have plenty of light and an external monitor - this unit is a terrific value.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 1, 2011 8:46:40 AM PDT
great review...but that dvd drive issue really bums me out.
In reply to an earlier post on Oct 1, 2011 9:00:40 AM PDT
J. Golton says:
The noisy DVD drive is manageable, and I have more details about that now:
1) There's two parts to this, the noisy hardware and the software that controls how fast the drive spins. When the drive spins its fastest, it vibrates the cheap housing for the DVD drive. Very loud.
2) Hardware can't change, but the software can slow down the speed of spinning. If you slow it down to the slowest speed, it's quiet.
3) You can set the BIOS so that DVD is "silent" which means that it will spin at the slower speed usually, except . . .
4) Some software overrides that setting and spins fast anyway. Namely Windows Media Center which is a real bummer. However . . .
5) I'm playing movies with the included CorelDVD software outside of Windows Media Center. That, combined with the silent DVD BIOS setting, is plenty quiet. No longer noticeable when playing a movie.
In reply to an earlier post on Oct 1, 2011 11:24:44 AM PDT
well, that's pretty good i guess. Except I do a lot of dvd/cd-music burning... I use programs called img burn and dvd flick for dvd stuff and then I tunes I guess for burning mp3/music cds...
So, I'm skeptical that it can handle lots of burning of cds with the cheaper housing, even with a quiet BIOS setting...any thoughts on doing lots of burning with this computer?
In reply to an earlier post on Oct 1, 2011 8:53:29 PM PDT
J. Golton says:
Ah, now I understand your concern. With lots of dvd/cd music burning you'd likely want to run it at the highest speed not the slowest. And then you'll get the obnoxiously loud noise and vibration which would obviously make one wonder how long the thing would last.
If you don't mind going slow you could keep it on the silent setting to slow it down but what a waste that would be with an i5 2410m processor that thanks to Sandy Bridge can do format conversions blazing fast.
Perhaps this isn't the best system for you - unless you don't mind having an external drive for burning (less than $50 I think).
On the other hand, I wonder what the cheapest Windows notebook costs that happens to have a high quality internal drive like found on the recently discontinued 2010 mac minis.
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