Lenovo W700ds mobile workstation
Product Review: Page (1) of 1 - 04/28/09 Email this story to a friend. email article Print this page (Article printing at MyDmn.com).print page facebook
Lenovo W700ds mobile workstation System features a Wacom tablet, built in color calibration. . . and an extra screen By John Virata

Lenovo has long been known for innovative notebook computers harking back to the days when it (IBM) came out with the ThinkPad notebook computer. This machine served notice that it was at the top of the heap when it came to design and functionality. The current crop of ThinkPad workstations maintain that innovation as well as some features that could be called obscure, such as the one with the W700ds that I'm reviewing here.

While the unit has all the features of that other ThinkPad workstation, the W700, the W700ds has one upped it with a new features that extends the screen real estate via a flush mount LCD that expands and retracts back into the display bezel with a push of the finger into the bezel side. Think of the display size as that of a NetBook, but vertical. That is correct, this unit has extra screen real estate built right in but the question is, why? I've been using the system for several months, and have pulled the extra screen real estate out several times. It is not really ideal to stretch a browser window, but you can stretch an application to attain the most real estate possible from the W700ds. Shown below is an image of Photoshop Elements 7 stretched to the max on the W700ds. As you can see, you do gain more real estate, about 39 percent more on the 10.6-inch side screen, which to content creators, and especially mobile content creators could be a good feature to have.

Click for full view. The green bar to the right details the extra screen image.

The W700ds ships with an Intel Core 2 Extreme CPU Q9300 running at 2.53GHz, 4GB RAM and Windows Vista 64. The unit's 17-inch display is powered by an NVIDIA Quadro FX3700M, which offers up a maximum 1920 x 1200 MaxBright display capabilities. It features a 300GB hard drive built into a shock resistant cage to protect data in the event of a drop of the unit. The W700 features a full size keyboard with number pad, the familiar red pointing device between the G,H, B, and N keys, and a fingerprint reader. The system also features a built in color calibration system; just close the lid and the system will calibrate via X-rite's Huey Pro color calibration software.

Extra screen real estate

The unit also features a 120mm x 80mm Wacom graphics tablet built into the wrist rests, and sports a fingerprint reader for extra security precautions. The right side of the unit features  three USB 2.0 ports, a phone modem port, graphics pen holder and the optical media DVD multi drive. The left side of the unit offers two USB 2.0 ports, a PC card slot, a Compact Flash slot, and a 4-pin FireWire connection. The front of the unit features 7-in-1 SD/MMC/xd card reader, and the rear of the unit houses a DVI connector and a VGA connector as well as a modem port and an HDMI port. The top of the unit features an integrated Web camera for videoconferencing and other visual, Web based communications. It has built in WLAN 802.11n, Bluetooth, and is WiMAX ready.

The W700ds does not disappoint in the performance arena. It is fast, snappy and loaded for bear. Hvaing used the system over the course of several months, using applications such as Photoshop and Premiere Pro, the W700ds performs. Not only is the unit speedy, but it has a Wacom graphics tablet built in. The jury is still out for me when it comes to the extra screen real estate, but I have gotten more use to it being there. Notepad documents fit perfectly, as do tool palettes in certain applications.

Results in seconds
Version of After Effects used: CS4 
Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds, 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme CPU Q9300, 4GB RAM, NVIDIA Quadro FX 3700m (1GB) Windows Vista 64
Test 1: Animation 3 seconds   
Test 2: Realism   22 seconds
Test 3:  Data Project 41 seconds   
Test 4: Gambler 16 seconds  
Test 5: Source Shapes  54 seconds 
Test 6: Virtual set 46 seconds   
CineBench r10    (Check Cinebench.com for more results )  
CPU Benchmark Rendering 1 CPU 3278 CB-CPU  
CPU Benchmark Rendering multiple CPU   10965 CB-CPU    
Multiprocessor speedup    3.34x    
OpenGL Standard test   CB 4646    
Single CPU Render Test  CB 2378 
Multiple CPU Render Test     CB 10965 
Photoshop CS4 Gaussian Blur test (apply Gaussian blur with 6.3 radius on 9.51MB JPG image  3 seconds  

First Impressions
If you need the utmost portable workstation power to drive the latest creative applications, the W700ds offers it up. In addition to the extra NetBook sized extra screen real estate built into the side, the W700ds also has a built in Wacom graphics tablet, that for artists who use applications such as Photoshop, Painter, or Illustrator, could be a handy extra tool to have around, especially for those who use pen tablets exclusively and can never get the hang of a trackpad or mouse. The tablet has 512 levels of pressure sensitivity and the stylus that drives the tablet fits into its own custom hideaway hole on the side of the W700. The built in calibrator sensor is also a definite plus, and its nice to have that reminder every few weeks to calibrate, which involves simply closing the display lid. You do pay a penalty in battery life with a high end system such as this. I averaged a bit more than an hour of battery life running the unit with the extra display.

What you attain in all these features though is the weight and bulk tradeoff. The W700ds is no lightweight. It is heavy and bulky, and the AC adapter is unwieldy. The power brick alone has to weigh at least 2lbs, and this is on top of the 10 plus pounds of the notebook. The unit doesn't fit into standard notebook bags, so you are going to have to invest in a small piece of luggage, preferably with wheels. It is THAT heavy. On the plus side, you have all the workstation power that you'd need in a luggable solution. Get the unit with the optional docking station and you can enjoy the benefits of workstation power on your desk and on the go.  For more information, visit www.lenovo.com 

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John Virata is senior editor of Digital Media Online. You can email him at jvirata@digitalmedianet.com
Related Keywords:mobile workstation, Lenovo W700ds, mobile computing,

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