ThinkPad Edge E220s/E420s

ThinkPad Edge E220s went on sale in Japan in June. (The E420s has not yet been released). It is a machine that, not unpleasantly, leaves one with a different impression than previous ThinkPads. In this article we have interviewed some of the core members involved in development about their thoughts during development and their impressions after using the finished product.


- The E220s and E420s seem a little different from other Edge products. Is that right?

Kinoshita: Yes, that is right. From the very beginning, our development concept was "A premium Edge model that feels like it offers plus something special factors." If these models "seemed a little different" to you, then that means we were successful. Here at Lenovo, we call them "Edge Premium" and "Edge Plus".


-  I think that the Edge Premium is a unique product even for ThinkPad. How did it come to be that why?

Kinoshita: We have been focused on a new trend amongst our corporate customers, Bring Your Own PC (BYOPC). I think a lot of people would like to be able to choose their own PC because it is an important business tool. Actually, I am that way too. I want something that is a little bit unique. Until now, you would simply get the PC chosen by the IT department, but I think we are headed towards an era in which you will be able to choose your own PC.

That is why Edge Premium targets customers that are "looking for something a little bit different". With the Edge, we believe we have expanded the choices available to our customers by creating a product with a new market position that did not exist in our portfolio before. I think that this product is also quite attractive for individual buyers, as well.


- What specifically is "sets Edge apart" from previous ThinkPads?

Kosugi: When we decide the product specifications during ThinkPad development, it is common for us to first consider functional aspects such as the CPU type, the number and types of I/O ports and the battery operating hours. However, with Edge Premium, a lot of emphasis was placed on a thin and refined premium design.


- Magnesium alloy (Used in the top cover and bottom cover)

- Infinity Screen

- Built-in battery

- Slot loading optical drive (only the E420s)

- The new flat ThinkLight (Patent pending)

- Luxurious matte finish

- Chrome plated frame

We did things that are rarely done for other products. All of these features other than the magnesium alloy are new.

Kinoshita: The magnesium alloy, built-in battery and slot loading optical drive were chosen for thinness. The other features were chosen to achieve a refined design and a premium feel. It was quite an undertaking because we did a lot of new things all at once. 

Kosugi: In terms of electronics, it was the first time we used a built-in battery and slot loading optical drive. Still, there wasn't anything hard enought to make me want to run away or anything. I think the real work this time was put in by the mechanical and design team members. It is very sorry they could not come today.


- There really are a lot of new things. Have you been able to stay true to the ThinkPad traditions?

Kinoshita: It is true that we tried many new challenges. However, that does not mean that we weren't fully engaged in improving functionality and in other areas. The traditional advantages of ThinkPad have been ease-of-use and toughness, and of course the Edge Series continues to deliver in those areas. I have no doubt about that as I am using my E220s.


- That is a relief. What is the most important single message you have about the Edge Premium?

Kinoshita: Even more than its premium feel, let me boast on behalf of the mechanical design team members who could not be here today about how thin this model is.

Amongst the ThinkPad, the E220s is the thinnest amongst the 12 inch models and the E420s is almost equivalent with the T420s, which is the thinnest amongst the 14 inch models.

The structure of the E220s and E420s is similar to the thinnest ThinkPad in history, the X1. This is made possible by the magnesium alloy top cover and bottom cover and the built-in battery. I think this just might be a bargain for a machine that prioritizes thinness. (LOL)


- Come to think of it, the color of the case is not the traditional black. Although, many people might think it is black when they first look at it.

Kinoshita: Yes, that is true. We call it moss black. It is a very intense moss green. That is the color we chose from among the many colors that were "a little bit different" and were proposed with the original design model.

When I explain it to people I always call it the "color of a TUMI bag". The black nylon cloth of a TUMI bag looks just a little bit green depending on the angle of the light. I think it is a good color that fits into the business scene.

Kosugi: I call it the "color of a blackboard". That should bring back some memories. (LOL)


- Finally, I would like to ask your impressions now that you have actually used the E220s for a few months.

Kinoshita: I like it. It meets my needs. It is easy to use and compact. I especially like how the premium feel sets it a little bit apart. The touch feeling of the keyboard, ThinkLight and the ClickPad with the built-in buttons are also nice. I really think the ClickPad came out nice. The click feeling and the stroke are good and it is wide enough that it is easy to do multi-finger operations. PgUp and PgDn have been assigned to the pad by myself, which I treasure when I am browsing the web.

I had wondered whether the LCD opening angle would be an issue. It is rare for a ThinkPad that the LCD does not open 180°, but it never bothers me when I am using the ThinkPad.

Kosugi: I am particularly proud of how thin it is. The PC is almost flat and that makes it easy to put it in my bag. For the next Edge Premium model, I would like to reduce the number of I/O ports and make it thinner or maintain the thinness and use a removable battery.

What about the LCD? As for the angle, it is OK. But for LCD glossy screen...


- Stop, please! Thanks for talking with us today and even giving us something to talk about next models (LOL).


From the left, Tomoaki Kosugi, Hidenori Kinoshita