"I believe laptops/desktops are tools not a fashion or social statement."
NEW purchased from Adorama (Blackfriday/CyberMonday Deal Price: AMAZING under *$500 USD) / Model: 68852BU
15.6 inch screen (1366 x 768)
Gen 3 i5 2.60ghz, 4GB ram, 500GB HDD, and Optical Drive
Keyboard Standard + NumPad 'spill resistant' (no backlit option Keyboard)
And all the works for an E531 Lenovo (e.g. OS: Windows 7 Pro 64 bit)
1-year Warranty (November 2014)
840 EVO 250 GB
Ubuntu 32-bit (VM Player) (64-bit has some issues so just download Ubuntu 12.04 LTS 32-bit)
Battery: 75+ Lenovo brand battery (not aftermarket or 3rd party)
If you're a technical (computer programming, academic, developer, accounting) user that cares about value, performance, and enjoys "hacking" (i.e. upgrading or dismantling hardware) this is the computer for you. The price was too good to pass up, and i wasn't expecting much from this laptop but as a backup; however, the Thinkpad series have been around the business for a long time and their alliance with Lenovo is difficult to compete. The build quality for a laptop thats under $500 ($479 November 2013) with a gen 3 i5 chip, with a spill-resistant keyboard, and "preemptive drop battery system" is more than $500 to me (i remember something stating that Lenovo Thinkpad notebooks has this intricate system that it can tell if its being dropped and will auto kill/shutdown the system) . I think the price is cheaper than the avg. notebook since a majority of consumers are unfamiliar with the red dot mouse between the 'G' and 'H' and a quirky mousepad. To be honest i can see why, but i have to be clear here, i've been around the earlierr models of the IBM thinkpad and thoroughly enjoy their keyboard ergonomics (when DOOM II came out so around 1995-1998ish?). Oh, the mousepad can be difficult too (re-sizing zoom in/out issue), but after 72-hours you get use to it and it becomes pretty intuitive. But if you dont like it you can disable it and use the red mouse button. (FYI: to disable it you have to go into the mouse options there is no disable key button on the keyboard. For linux/ubuntu i think there is a terminal method (1).
My purpose of getting this laptop:
1) Computer Programming (Linux 32-bit)
2) Windows 7 Pro 64 bit
3) You can swap the optical drive for additional hdd/ssd space and it also has an available mSATA slot. E531 owners will have a fun time playing in the hdd/ssd playground. Accessing the components is really easy, it takes 3-4 screws to access Ram, HDD, and optical drive.
4) Everything in this laptop is accessible so upgrade to your heart desires. FYI i dont think you can add a GPU since the power supply has to comply with the volt/wattage change. But laptops in my opinion are not gaming consoles, they are my go-to work coffee shop library work stations.
5) Island type keyboard w/the famous red dot mouse =D
6) Matte screen--reduces the possibility of strain eyes (great for business users and program/software/coding ninjas)
If you like to show off your photos, review photo/art/graphic work, this screen isnt for you unless you connect it to a second monitor or find one with a glossy screen option.
7) finger bio-metric reader (havent used it yet, but i guess its good to have)
Battery power is avg. Its avg with the rest of the 3rd gen intels 3.25-3.75hrs (90-95% bright & max performance) PC notebooks. However i did purchase another battery and its the 75+ 6 cell (Lenovo Brand) and it looks like im getting 5.25-6.5 hours of battery time at 80-85% brightness (I know i didnt do a controlled study environment but when my finals are over) with mid-level software applications (e.g. Visual Studio Ultimate 2012 32-bit, Word, NotePad++, and VMware--Ubuntu 32bit.)
IMO, its nice having a spare battery that's easily accessible comparing to other Ultra notebooks where the battery is pretty much hidden or soldered to meet design expectations. I believe in redundancy so having two is better than one.
The weight isn't that bad comparing to my HP G72 17-inch laptop ( weighs 8.3lbs with the 9cell after market battery obviously). let me get my gram scale... and this is with the SSD 840 EVO 250 GB and 6-cell 75+ battery (Model#: 0A36311); it looks like it weighs at a grand total of 2367-grams (5.218lbs/2.367kg)
Other Thoughts 1.0:
Upgrading the hdd to an SSD (840 EVO) is probably the smartest investment for any laptop user. 1) SSD is super fast and they can last up to 25-30**(further research needs to be done but after 4-5 years i'm in the market for a new computer) years (of course the newer SSDs) 2) my god the battery life has drastically improved from 3.25 hours with the old HDD to a whopping 4.15hrs (and thats the battey that comes with not the 75+).
Two thumbs up. But i did notice something really odd with this particular E531, everytime i plug it in/charge the laptop it turns on-- huh interesting. Gonna do some research, i think my custom power or Thinkpad "smart battery" options is the culprit.
As of 12/15/13 i give it 5-stars but i believe that fair testing or review requires at LEAST 6-months of usage. I will test their warranty out and throw every program and compile crap load of buggy software programs and see where it stands. I will work with it in the cold california cafe weather 39-47F and go through the hot summers (99f-104F).
Update review to be expected in March 2014...
**disabling the mouse/track pad in Linux
(1)Open file /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d/50-synaptics.conf for edit.
Find Section "InputClass" which the following line is Identifier "Default clickpad buttons".
Edit option for SoftButtonAreas to values 64% 0 1 42% 36% 64% 1 42%, this is size of the right and middle button.
Enable option AreaBottomEdge and change value to 1, this will disable touchpad movement.
If everything done right, your class should looks like:
Identifier "Default clickpad buttons"
Option "SoftButtonAreas" "64% 0 1 42% 36% 64% 1 42%"
Option "AreaBottomEdge" "1"
Save file and re-login.
Update 12/17/13 ( -1 star): 4-days or so, i'm noticing when you close your laptop the keyboard-keys/and red dot mouse makes contact w/the screen and leaves smudge and dirt resorting me to clean the screen constantly. I store my laptop in a quality Timbuk2 D-lux messenger bag(M) that has a designated laptop pocket/sleeve that can fit 15.6-17 inch laptops. The adapter forcing my laptop to turn on w/o me triggering the I/O button is a little annoying. If this goes on for the next week im considering contacting technical support and see how well their customer service respondes to my queries on build quality.
Keyboard's response w/my 85+ WPM key strokes leaves the most pleasent feeling ever. The sound and the feel is just butter. I would leave it a 4.5 stars but Amazon can only decrement 1.0 (+/-) star(s). WEEEE
Get the 75+ battery you'll get at least 5.15 hours (LEVEL-12 brightness, Visual Studio Ultimate 2012 running, notepad++, pandora) of battery time. The bio-metric finger scanner doesnt seem to be working ever since i swapped the HDD with the 840 EVO. I bet there is a work around or driver to download but i'm not really that interested.
Also adding another 4GB ram (grand total of 8gb atm) is worth it. Currently at 2.61GB just writing basic scripts and Visual studio compilations. Ill test photoshop/lightroom later on but as of right now this laptop is solely for programming/algorithm competitions/blogging/website building.
Bottom Line: Get 75+ battery option for the Lenovo E531 (LEnovo not a 3rd party brand)
And this ram seems to work the 1.35V version (G.SKILL 4GB 204-Pin DDR3 SO-DIMM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Laptop Memory Model F3-1600C11S-4GSL) from newegg(dot)com.