Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds review
Lenovo's mobile workstation boasts two screens, four processing cores and a range of features to please the most discerning of professionals.
Review Date: 29 Apr 2009
Reviewed By: Sasha Muller
Price when reviewed: £3,200 (£3,680 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
In a market flooded by manufacturers ceaselessly touting budget laptops and petite netbooks, Lenovo's ThinkPad W700 range is an altogether more serious proposition. So serious, in fact, that only the most generously proportioned of IT budgets need apply.
But to call the Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds a mere laptop is to do it a disservice. This is a mobile workstation in the true sense of the phrase; a portable powerhouse that can be transported from place to place with far more ease than a conventional desktop workstation.
In the interests of health and safety, though, we'd advise carrying its 5.05kg bulk in the boot of a car rather than the laptop compartment of a shoulder-bag.
Sidestep the brutish figure and imposing weight for just a moment however, and the feature-list is simply unparalleled.
There's a 17in display with a resolution of 1,920 x 1,200, room for twin hard disks in either RAID 0 or RAID 1 arrays, a quad-core processor, Blu-ray writer and professional-class Nvidia QuadroFX graphics.
All-in-all, it's a combination more than capable of taking on the most demanding of tasks with consummate ease. 3D rendering, high-end CAD applications, serious audio-visual production; the W700ds can readily turn its hand to any of the above, and thanks to ISV-certification you can be sure that your software of choice will work just as the developer intended it.
That's not to say that the basics aren't covered with impressive panache. The huge chassis leaves plenty of room for a typically fine-feeling keyboard and numeric keypad, both of which find themselves accompanied by Lenovo's signature combination of trackpad and red trackpoint.
This is in addition to a range of useful additions such as fingerprint security, a card reader, a webcam and twin lights mounted in the screen's bezel which illuminate the keyboard under low-light conditions.
It's the last two letters of the W700ds' name which give a hint as to its most novel feature, though: namely, that the W700ds conceals a secondary display which slides out from the right-hand side of its 17in screen. This portrait panel measures 10.6in from corner to corner, and boasts a resolution of 768 x 1,280.
Image quality isn't as good as the primary display, with greyish blacks and noticeably inferior colour reproduction, but use it for keeping email and chat applications from cluttering up the main display, or parking application elements such as tool palettes or floating toolbars, and it's a perfect addition to such an ambitious workstation.
The primary display is almost beyond reproach. The only disappointment is the matte panel's slightly mottled, grainy quality; a trait which leaves whites looking a little too grey for a top-end workstation.
Viewing angles and colour reproduction are truly excellent though, and the built-in Pantone colour sensor and accompanying software help keep the display properly calibrated.
Crucially, there's more than enough desktop space to accommodate the sprawl of high-end software packages, with the 1,920 x 1,200 resolution of the main display complimented ably the secondary screen.
A spoonful of sugar
The secondary display isn't the sole innovation in the W700ds' makeup, however. Look below the keyboard and, alongside the trackpad, Lenovo has squeezed in a Wacom graphics tablet. It's a supremely neat addition - the stylus stowing away in the side of the chassis.
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