Slick, $699 ThinkPad packs Sandy Bridge

The first of those slick Sandy Bridge ThinkPads we saw at the Consumer Electronics Show is now available—and it starts at a surprisingly reasonable $699. Say hello to the ThinkPad Edge E420s, which Lenovo promises to ship within eight business days if you order now.

Despite its 14" display, the E420s sounds relatively light (4.1 lbs) and slender (1.2") considering its budget pricing. Lenovo didn't skimp on materials, adorning the machine with a rubber-coated magnesium palm rest, a MacBook style display bezel, and polished chrome accents. The contoured chiclet-style keyboard, trackpoint, and hinged touchpad (which lacks discrete buttons) round out the external design.

Internally, Lenovo outfits the cheapest E420s flavor with a Core i3-2310M processor, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, a 250GB 5,400-RPM hard drive, a slot-loading "multi recorder" drive, and a lithium-polymer battery with a 48.8-Wh rating. Treading beyond the $699 introductory price will let you throw in mobile broadband, up to 8GB of RAM, and a 320GB 7,200-RPM hard drive or 128GB SSD. Too bad there's no option for a higher-capacity battery.

This looks like a nice enough system, especially for the money. If you ask me, though, I'm more excited about the similarly designed but smaller ThinkPad E220s, which has a 12.5" display and is supposed to be only 0.85" thick with a weight of 3.5 lbs. According to Engadget, that system is due in April.

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