Lenovo Redesigns ThinkPad Edge Laptops with New OneLink Docking

Even with all the hype surrounding Windows 8 hybrids, there's a healthy chunk of the population looking for a laptop that can simply get the job done. Lenovo's newly announced ThinkPad Edge E431 and ThinkPad Edge E531 notebooks cater to the work crowd with new OneLink technology, which was "designed to offer simplicity through a single cable connection." The notebooks will start at $549 when they go on sale in May.

As you'll see in our hands-on video here at CES 2013, the new Edge notebooks plug into a $99 ThinkPad OneLink Dock, scheduled to launch alongside the two notebooks in May. The dock includes HDMI output, USB and Ethernet. Other accessories are expected to be announced all year long.

Both of the new ThinkPad Edge notebooks also offer a new touchpad design, which integrates five buttons. The two buttons toward the top of the pad are meant to work hand in hand with the pointing stick. On the early model we tested, the buttons were stiff, but we're assuming Lenovo will work out the kinks.

The ThinkPad Edge E431 sports a 14-inch display compared to the ThinkPad Edge E531's larger 15.6-inch screen, with both offering the same 1600 x 900-pixel resolution and optional touch-screen capabilities. The 1-inch-thick laptops weigh 4.7 and 5.4 lbs., respectively, but they put that size to good use with a wide array of customization options. If you have the cash and the need, you can configure the notebooks to include up to Core i7 processors, discrete Nvidia graphics, a 1TB 5,400 rpm hard drive or 500GB 7,200 rpm hard drive and 16GB of RAM.

The real draw to Lenovo's business laptops — aside from the superb ThinkPad keyboard and pointing stick, that is — lie in its productivity-minded extras, and the Edge E431 and Edge E531 are no different. Each includes the usual ThinkPad suite of helpful software, including the SugarSync-powered Lenovo Cloud Storage and the Lenovo Solution Center for Small Business. The two laptops also sport 720p webcams, DVD drives and a deep port selection that includes Ethernet, a 4-in-1 SD Card reader, VGA, HDMI, a pair of USB 3.0 ports, an always-on USB 2.0 port and the aforementioned OneLink connection. You'll also find Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 on board.

Lenovo claims the laptops will last up to 8 hours on a single charge, though we're guessing that won't be the case with touch-equipped models.