I recently purchased a new ultralight laptop to replace my 3 year old Sony Vaio TZ21. I settled for a Lenovo Thinkpad Edge 11″ this time. I am really fond of the Thinkpad brand, and this Thinkpad Edge is quite a deviation from the ‘normal’ Thinkpad design.
The Edge comes in a few variants, ranging from 11 to 13 and 15″, all available in AMD and Intel flavors. Wanting something thin and light I choose the 11″ model, which at 11.6 inches is slightly bigger then the Vaio (11.1″).
The screen has a decent resolution for the size, at 1366×768 it should be sufficient for most uses. The screen is of the glossy variant and has a good range in brightness settings and decent viewing angles. Like in any Thinkpad the hinges are made of metal, and the screen can bend all the way to a flat position. Also in the screen-bezel is a low-light uvc-webcam.
The Edge 11 comes in two versions, Intel Core i3 and AMD K325, both running at 1.3 Ghz. In the netherlands the AMD version comes with 4GB of DDR3 ram, while the Intel version comes with only 2GB. Given that the AMD version is also a good €100 cheaper, this choice was easy.
The 320 GB Hitachi HTS54503 5400rpm disk should provide enough space, but isn’t the fastest or biggest on the block. I’m thinking of replacing it with an SSD drive, or at the very least adding an SSD to the system.
The included Windows Home installation was quickly replaced by Ubuntu 10.10, which recognised almost all the included hardware, including (after installing the closed-source drivers) the Ati/AMD video chip, webcam, ethernet, bluetooth, cardreader and wireless network (The realtek driver does need an update before it works)
I did have some small hardware issues with the Thinkpad, as the spacebar wouldn’t always register a press when I hit it on the far-left side. Since I mostly use my left thumb for hitting the space I noticed a lot of missing spaces. I contacted Lenovo/IBM support about this issue and then quickly sent me a replacement keyboard and directed me to the installation instructions.
I got the keyboard replaced the next day, which gave me a nice look at the inside of the Edge. It looks very well built, and is very much user-servicable.
Removing the 3 screws on the bottom allows access to all the internals:
- Hard drive bay
- Half-height mini-pci bay for Wifi/Bluetooth
- Full-height mini-pci bay (empty, might want to use this for a mini-pci based SSD drive?)
- 2 DIMM slots (both containing a 2GB DDR3 SODIMM)
- Sim-card slot (for the optional internal Gobi 3G modem
Removing the keyboard required the removal of the battery pack and two screws underneath it (they hold the keyboard in place) and removing the sata harddrive (2 screws). After these are all removed you have access to the back of the keyboard, and it’s just a matter of a small push to click it loose.
Putting the Edge together again wasn’t hard and the entire procedure took no more then a few minutes (including doing it twice, since I didn’t correctly push down on the keyboard connector, so some keys weren’t working the first time)
Using it with Ubuntu Linux
Installation of Ubuntu was a breeze, as usual, and only a few issues remained after the initial installation:
- The wireless network wouldn’t work
- Suspend to ram doesn’t work
- The touchpad/pointer would occasionally lock-up for short periods of time
Realtek rtl8192CE/8195 Wireless
The Realtek rtl8192CE driver included in Ubuntu 10.10 recognised the internal wifi card, but did have issues with it. Upgrading this driver with on from the Realtek site made the wireless network work, but still reports a lot of interesting messages in the ‘dmesg’ output. This situation should improve, as more work is done on this new driver.
Suspend to RAM
Appending ‘acpi_osi=linux noapic’ to the kernel commandline seems to fix all suspend/resume issues.
Synaptics touchpad behaving erratic
The touchpad will report errors and reset itself occasionally. This results in a few seconds of unresponsiveness. This also seems to be fixed by the above kernel commandline options. (I couldn’t reproduce it anymore since)
Plugging in a headphone will not redirect sound to the headphone jack (that stays silent, and the speakers keep playing). As user ‘Felix’ reported below, append “options snd-hda-intel model=ideapad” in /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf to fix issues with the microphone and jack plug-detection. (untested by me)
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
- Good battery life
- Good chiclet keyboard, and also the ‘clit’ pointer
- No optical drive or other useless hardware
- Vga, HDMI, 3x USB, Cardreader, Ethernet… so much more then a macbook air.
- 64 Bit, Dual Core, AMD-V capable CPU and enough memory
- A nice red led as the dot on the ‘i’ in Thinkpad
- Silent, without getting hot
- No backlit keyboard or thinklight
- No disk and network-activity leds
- Current state of linux support (though getting better)
No working suspend (yet) in Linux Issues with the trackpad
The device list of this laptop:
00:00.0 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] RS780 Host Bridge Alternate 00:01.0 PCI bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] RS780 PCI to PCI bridge (int gfx) 00:04.0 PCI bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] RS780 PCI to PCI bridge (PCIE port 0) 00:05.0 PCI bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] RS780 PCI to PCI bridge (PCIE port 1) 00:11.0 SATA controller: ATI Technologies Inc SB700/SB800 SATA Controller [AHCI mode] 00:12.0 USB Controller: ATI Technologies Inc SB700/SB800 USB OHCI0 Controller 00:12.2 USB Controller: ATI Technologies Inc SB700/SB800 USB EHCI Controller 00:13.0 USB Controller: ATI Technologies Inc SB700/SB800 USB OHCI0 Controller 00:13.2 USB Controller: ATI Technologies Inc SB700/SB800 USB EHCI Controller 00:14.0 SMBus: ATI Technologies Inc SBx00 SMBus Controller (rev 42) 00:14.2 Audio device: ATI Technologies Inc SBx00 Azalia (Intel HDA) (rev 40) 00:14.3 ISA bridge: ATI Technologies Inc SB700/SB800 LPC host controller (rev 40) 00:14.4 PCI bridge: ATI Technologies Inc SBx00 PCI to PCI Bridge (rev 40) 00:18.0 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] Family 10h Processor HyperTransport Configuration 00:18.1 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] Family 10h Processor Address Map 00:18.2 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] Family 10h Processor DRAM Controller 00:18.3 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] Family 10h Processor Miscellaneous Control 00:18.4 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] Family 10h Processor Link Control 01:05.0 VGA compatible controller: ATI Technologies Inc M880G [Mobility Radeon HD 4200] 01:05.1 Audio device: ATI Technologies Inc RS880 Audio Device [Radeon HD 4200] 02:00.0 Ethernet controller: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL8111/8168B PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet controller (rev 03) 08:00.0 Network controller: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. Device 8176 (rev 01)
processor : 1 vendor_id : AuthenticAMD cpu family : 16 model : 6 model name : AMD Athlon(tm) II Neo K325 Dual-Core Processor stepping : 3 cpu MHz : 800.000 cache size : 1024 KB physical id : 0 siblings : 2 core id : 1 cpu cores : 2 apicid : 1 initial apicid : 1 fpu : yes fpu_exception : yes cpuid level : 5 wp : yes flags : fpu vme de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 apic sep mtrr pge mca cmov pat pse36 clflush mmx fxsr \ sse sse2 ht syscall nx mmxext fxsr_opt pdpe1gb rdtscp lm 3dnowext 3dnow constant_tsc rep_good \ nonstop_tsc extd_apicid pni monitor cx16 popcnt lahf_lm cmp_legacy svm extapic cr8_legacy abm sse4a \ 3dnowprefetch osvw ibs skinit wdt nodeid_msr npt lbrv svm_lock nrip_save bogomips : 2593.54 TLB size : 1024 4K pages clflush size : 64 cache_alignment : 64 address sizes : 48 bits physical, 48 bits virtual power management: ts ttp tm stc 100mhzsteps hwpstate