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Lenovo ThinkPad Edge S430 Hands-On: Lightweight 14-incher Has HD+ Screen, Thunderbolt

LAS VEGAS -- Lenovo's popular ThinkPad Edge line of small business notebooks is getting a major upgrade. In addition to a slew of low-cost Edge E series notebooks in sizes ranging from 11 to 15 inches, today at CES the company showed off its top-of-the-line Edge, the svelte and sexy S430.

A successor to 2011's ThinkPad Edge E420s, the S430 ups the ante with a lighter, thinner chassis that's just under 4 pounds and 0.9-inches thick, compared to 4.4 pounds and 1.2-inches thick for the prior model. However, a lot of the design elements are similar, including the chrome edging, the soft touch deck and the flashing red light about the "i" in the ThinkPad logo. The color scheme has changed to a shade of brown from the moss green color we loved on the E420s.

The keyboard is still an island-style keyboard. Unfortunately, a Lenovo rep confirmed that it is not the same exact keyboard as the amazing ThinkPad X1 keyboard, so we'll have to wait and see if the final production model has the kind of strong tactile feedback we got on the X1 or the more moderate, but still excellent, feedback we got on the E420s. 

Unquestionably, the most important new feature of the Edge S430 is its 1600 x 900 HD+ resolution, non-reflective display. Most notebooks this size and price use the commonplace 1366 x 768 resolution that doesn't provide much in the way of vertical real estate. With the HD+ resolution, users will see a nearly 20-percent increase in content above the fold, which means less scrolling and more productivity. 

Inside, the notebook will be powered by Intel's next-generation Ivy Bridge platform, which should provide strong battery life and performance. On the outside, a Thunderbolt port lets you connect the next generation of high-speed peripherals. USB 3.0 is now standard for all the ports, which is a welcome change. Despite the light weight, the Edge S430 still has room for an optical drive, something we don't think users need in 2012, but many people still want for watching movies or installing software that comes on a disc.

We got a very brief opportunity to handle a pre-production ThinkPad Edge S430, but we liked how light it felt and how bright and sharp the screen was. The ThinkPad Edge S430 will start at a very reasonable $749 when it launches later this year. Until then, check out our hands-on and gallery below.