For the past month or so I have been using both a Lenovo E320 for my work when outside the house. The Lenovo E320 certainly surprises, packing a quad core Intel i3-2330M processor running at 2.2GHz in a small laptop package.
Being currently priced at under NZ$700 for the model I have here, it certainly brings nice performance to the small laptop market, without being in the netbook segment. This means it comes with an easy to read, 1366x768 pixels glare-free 13.3” screen and a larger, more comfortable keyboard.
This one came ready to use with Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64 bit and an assortment of Lenovo utilities – some of those quite interesting.
For example it comes with a security program that uses the built-in webcam to recognize faces in front of the laptop and lock it if there is no evidence of a person in front of it for a certain period of time. I actually disabled this function because I could see the LED next to the camera coming on at regular intervals and thought this could be an unnecessary (in my case) use of battery.
The battery life is quite good and while I type this text at the mall, it reports about six hours remaining. This is with WiFi off, after using it for 45 minutes connected to mobile data through a USB modem. Not too bad.
Battery life is managed by another Lenovo tool. It actually has smart things such as a scheduler that allows you to set different policies depending on time of day, including sleep timers, screen brightness, and more. The E320 comes with a yellow USB port that you can enable to always have power so you can charge your mobile device, even if the device is in sleep or hibernate modes.
Another Lenovo tool is the drivers update. I usually try to do a fresh Windows install and use the manufacturers’ drivers, but in this case I am actually running the original Windows installation with the supplied drivers. Lenovo seems to be doing a good job of keeping the E320 updated so far, with frequent drivers being available, mainly for video.
This is no gaming laptop, although I did manage to run Left for Dead 2 without problems – obviously not pushing the limits. It actually runs on an Intel GT2 HD graphics, sharing the memory with the OS. While not the most powerful mobile graphics in the world, it still managed to achieve a 6.1 score for Gaming Graphics in Windows Experience Index.
The E320 has no optical drive, but this is something I haven’t used in a laptop for years now.
You will find a SD card reader, three USB ports (one is a eSATA/USB port), VGA and HDMI outputs and gigabit Ethernet adapter. In terms of wireless it comes with 802.11 b/g/n and it does perform well (at least when connected to my Cisco 802.11n router at home).
Lenovo has installed Lenovo RapidBoot utility, saying it speeds up booting time. It may be so, as the laptop actually seems quite snappy when powered on, something I am doing less these days, with Windows 7 being so much better at sleep/hibernate than previous versions.
As found in other laptops, a small partition with a system image is provided in case you need or want to recovery it to the original system, and also tools to create an external boot device (in my case a USB key), which I created immediately after opening the box.
It is quite a light laptop and while I like the fingerprint-free finish, it seems a bit flimsy and out of balance when the lid is open.
The keyboard is a joy to use, with good space betwee the keys. The Fn key enables special functionality on the function keys, including speaker/volume control, microphone mute, screen brightness, media keys (play, pause, rewind and fast forward) and wireless management – in this case it opens a small app that allows you to turn WiFi and Bluetooth on and off independently.
A worthy small laptop for people that need some computing power while on the go, and don’t really want to carry a “desktop replacement” or a too small “netbook”.
- Good sized keyboad, with good feedback
- Great screen
- fingerprint-free finish
- Quad core 64 bit mobile CPU
- Fast boot
- Lenovo utilities not in the way and actually help