Hardware Review: Lenovo L420 and E420 - Is Bigger Better for 1:1?

With 1:1 netbook/laptop initiatives continuing to generate momentum, albeit with the iPad 1:1 stealing a bit of the thunder, we continue to explore options of using laptop carts to allow computer access to our students outside of a traditional computer lab. Although we have been pleased with our Acer Aspire Ones and Lenovo X100, we have also been considering the idea of larger laptops instead of the diminutive netbooks. Since these computers will stay in the building, portability becomes less of a selling point, and when performance and durability can be improved as a result of downsizing, laptops such as the Lenovo E420 and L420 become viable candidates. A closer look at each respective model follows after the jump.

Lenovo L420 (Green Series)

There remains something to be said about a full sized keyboard accompanied by a large display. Compared with a netbook, the large trackpad with mouse buttons as well as the iconic red trackpoint make for a comfortable navigation experience.  Users will also benefit from the dedicated volume and microphone buttons on the side, as our students often need to quickly access these when using media or working on web tools such as VoiceThread or Discovery Education Streaming. One notices the great sound that comes through from the large speaker bar in the center of the machine. Performance is fast through an Intel Core i5, and the machine feels sturdy enough to withstand a serious thumping.  All of that comes with a heavier and bulky machine. Storage (cart size) may be an issue, as well as the size of the machine on a traditionally small student desk.  

Lenovo E420 (EDGE)

Where the L420 may lack in design, the E420 makes up for immediately upon first glance. The chiclet style keyboard is comfortable to type on and the trackpad is even larger than the L420. I love the decision to make the function keys secondary, and instead of using a keyboard combination to access brightness, wireless, microphone, and other toggles, these are the primary keystrokes and you'll need to press Fn to invoke the lesser used F1-F12 keys instead. The E420 also shaves a few ounces, and incorporates a rubberized top for a slightly more polished and durable feel to the machine.  Both machines do suffer a bit from lackluster displays, as I have yet to find a Lenovo that blows me away in terms of brightness. Still, both notebooks have plenty of backlit power, and won't be suffering from nasty reflections due to the matte screens included on each. Both notebooks come with plenty hard disk space and can be customized to one's specifications, though we tend to opt for only the essentials in order to keep the price point down.

It will be interesting to see which direction 1:1 initiatives eventually follow, or whether we'll continue to see more divergent paths as iPads, Android Tablets, Slates, and lightweight notebooks all fight for a place in education.

For more thoughts on Teaching and Learning Technology, please consider subscribing to the RSS feed or through email.


Popular posts from this blog

Live @ ISTE 2011 - Climbing the Interactive Whiteboard Mountain

Apple iPad Review (WiFi) - Hardware, Apps, Impressions

Google Apps for Education Certification Program