Saturday, June 18, 2011

Lenovo ThinkPad L420

The L-series ThinkPad is an eco-friendly business notebook made from post-consumer recycled content. Read our review to see if the 14-inch Lenovo ThinkPad L420 measures up to the ThinkPad standards for durability and performance.

Our Lenovo ThinkPad L420 review unit has the following specifications:

* 14-inch 720p (1366x768) anti-glare display with LED backlighting
* Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
* Intel "Sandy Bridge" Core i5-2520M dual-core processor (2.5~3.2GHz Turbo Boost, 3MB cache, 35W TDP)
* Intel HM65 chipset
* Integrated Intel HD graphics
* 4GB DDR3-1333 RAM (1x 4GB, supports up to 8GB - 2x4GB)
* 320GB 7200RPM Seagate hard drive (ST9320423AS)
* Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6205 wireless network adapter
* Integrated Bluetooth 3.0 wireless
* Integrated 720p webcam
* Integrated biometric fingerprint reader
* 6-cell li-ion battery (10.8V, 5.2Ah, 57Wh)
* Weight: 5.1 lbs.
* Dimensions: 13.54 x 9.17 x 1.26~1.42 inches
* 1-year limited warranty
* MSRP: $969

Our review unit has numerous options which bring the price up substantially from its base of $599. The upgrades include Windows 7 Professional over Windows 7 Home Premium; the Intel Core i5 processor from the base i3; double the RAM (4GB vs. 2GB); a higher-capacity hard drive (320GB vs. 250GB); Bluetooth wireless; a 720p webcam; finally, an upgraded Intel wireless card. The final price of $969 as of writing is not exactly a bargain, especially considering the notebook only comes with a one-year warranty.

Build and Design

What can be said about a ThinkPad's design - these notebooks have always placed function over form. ThinkPads as we know them have changed subtly but steadily from their introduction over 20 years ago. The L420 has an unassuming black plastic exterior with a matte finish. Unlike older ThinkPads the L420 does not look boxy thanks to its inward-cut sides and slightly sloped front. An interesting design feature is the speakers located in the lid below the display; most business notebooks put speakers under the palm rest or on either side of the keyboard.

Overall build quality is excellent; despite its all-plastic exterior, the L420 feels solid. The plastic is thick and durable. The palm rest surface barely moves when pressed down upon, meaning there is excellent support underneath. The chassis hardly bends when twisted by the corners, which is another good indicator of a strong internal frame.

The two metal display hinges are well-positioned to support the lid; they are unmovable. Being all plastic, the display twists a bit more than I prefer; furthermore, pushing in on the back of the display causes some ripples on the screen. This should be a non-issue assuming the notebook is not thrown around. Those looking to upgrade the L420 will find easy access to the RAM, hard drive, and wireless card; simply remove the large main panel on the bottom of the notebook.
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