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For the original German review, see here.
Among business users, Lenovo have made a good name for themselves with their ThinkPad-line. A high-quality notebook equipped with security features in that line costs at least a grand, though. To attract customers looking for a more affordable alternative, Lenovo released the B-series, which we took a look at last year when we evaluated the Lenovo B50-30. Last spring we also reviewed the lower-priced business notebook ThinkPad Edge E550. The E-series now supersedes the B-series and the ThinkPad-name disappears from the line, leaving us – in this case – simply with the Lenovo E50-80.
Just like the previously mentioned notebooks, the E50-80 comes equipped with the ULV processor Intel Core i3-5005U and features a 15.6-inch display with a resolution of only 1366 x 768 pixels. Seems that for 650 Euro (~$735) you can’t expect much more than a basic business notebook. At least the E50-80 comes with a fingerprint sensor.
, DDR3 PC3-12800
Seagate Momentus Thin ST500LT012-1DG142, 500 GB
, 5400 rpm, 412 GB free
Lenovo uses matte, black plastic for the construction and the case does looks similar to the B-series (see the B50-30). Noticeably different are the display hinges, which, according to Lenovo, are particularly strong. The claim isn’t unfounded: the lid doesn’t bounce when it’s opened nor when the laptop is jostled around. One-handed opening is not possible, however. Another difference is the thickness: the B50-30 measured 28 mm, the E50-80 is slightly slimmer at 25 mm.
The back of the display lid feels different than the rest of the notebook, as Lenovo uses a soft-touch finish here, which makes the E50-80 look more upscale. There aren’t really any issues with the fit and finish, although the chassis of the review notebook isn’t quite sturdy and resilient as a ThinkPad would be.
The notebook has a bare minimum of physical ports. The left side houses the power jack, VGA, LAN, HDMI and 2x USB 3.0, while the right side features the audio combo-jack, USB 2.0, and a Kensington lock slot. The Onelink docking-port, which can also supply power to the notebook as well, allows the user to connect an external docking station. The Lenovo Onelink Pro Dock, for example, costs about 150 Euro (~$170). The ports are distributed evenly and the USB ports are far enough apart so they both can be used simultaneously. Unfortunately, most physical ports are located on the sides towards the front of the notebook, which can cause issues for a lefthander who needs to plug in several cables (LAN, HDMI, etc.) at the same time.
Lenovo makes use of the same AccuType keyboard we’re already familiar with. On characteristic of this keyboard are the slightly rounded lower edges of the keys. Typing at a good clip is possible and we didn’t notice any rattling keys or other issues. The middle of the keyboard does flex somewhat, which takes away from the perceived quality, but that is of no consequence during actual use.
The touchpad is very precise and reliable and multitouch-gestures execute without any lag. This is important for the traveling professional, since a mouse is frequently either not available or can’t be used. The two dedicated mouse buttons are quite stiff, so it is sometimes easier to tap the touchpad surface instead. The (significantly less expensive) predecessor B50-30 had issues with its touchpad; the E50-80 is fortunately not affected by stutters.
The E50-80 comes with a matte 15.6-inch TN panel, which features a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. At this price point, this is about as good as it gets. The English product page does mention an optional Full-HD display, but at the time of writing, this display wasn’t available in Germany. Those who need the higher resolution need to pay about 100 – 200 Euro (~$113 – ~$126) and consider a notebook like the ThinkPad Edge E550.
Given the price point, the screen brightness of 236 cd/m² is perfectly adequate and usable. Brighter environments – for example outdoor use – require above 300 cd/m². Values like that are normally only found in more expensive notebooks though. The contrast ratio of 558:1 is pretty solid.
Compared to the predecessor B50-30, which only cost about half as much, both the brightness as well as the contrast of the review notebook are slightly better. Competitors at the same price point don’t have better screens and either rank the same, or significantly worse. The Fujitsu Lifebook A555, for example, is way to dark at 174 cd/m².
A glance at the spec sheet confirms that we need to keep our expectations in check as far as the performance is concerned: the Intel Core i3-5005U is a frugal dual-core, middle-class CPU. 4 GB of RAM can be considered the bare minimum to ensure a stutter-free work experience with business applications. The standard hard drive is also not comparable to an SSD or a hybrid drive. Even without running any benchmark tests, it’s clear that the hardware will only able to handle simple office and multimedia tasks.
The E50-80 comes with an Intel Core i3-5200U. The frugal dual-core ULV CPU has a base clock speed of 2.2 GHz, although the Turbo can overclock both cores to 2.5 GHz and a single core to 2.7 GHz. Even with the notebook running on battery, the Cinebench scores remain the same, which indicates that the CPU operates at full power at all times.