Lenovo targets graphics users with 17-inch laptop

With its ThinkPad W700 notebook PCs, Lenovo is targeting artists, photographers and engineers in the oil and gas industries.

The W700’s large screen size isn’t suitable for users who go to airports on a regular basis, but it works for those who move from one office to another and need to bring their computer with them, said Michelle Warren, president of Toronto-based M.W. Research & Consulting.

Those who work on the creative side of marketing or advertising would find the notebook useful, she said. While the W700 lacks the “look” of say, a Voodoo Envy, it’s a powerful machine that might also appeal to gamers, she added.

“This is the first generation of laptop that’s ever had an integrated colour calibration unit in there,” said Jordan Buck, Lenovo Canada’s national sales consultant. The W700 is also the first in the industry to feature a digitizer pad for hand drawings.

According to Buck, the W700 meets the longest list of ISV certifications in the marketplace, an area traditionally met by desktop lines due to limitations in performance and capacity for notebooks.

The W700 is also the first mobile workstation from Lenovo to feature a 17-inch screen. “We’ve always had one segment of our laptop portfolio dedicated to mobile workstations, but up to this point, we only had up to a 15.4-inch widescreen, which is now the W500,” he said.

Lenovo decided to create a 17-inch model due to recent hardware developments, said Buck. “Prior to that, LCD panels really lacked in colour gamut, so you were really limited as to where you could use the mobile workstation…most people were using an external monitor.”

“We have this new 73 per cent colour gamut screen. It’s 400 Nits. It meets the colour requirements as well as the performance requirements on the graphics chipset to really be able to use it as a primary screen.” Panels on typical laptops are around the 40 per cent range, Buck explained. “We are getting closer and closer to where normal LCDs are, which get as high as 90 per cent.”

“I’m curious about how much power it would use to get to that 73 per cent,” said Warren.

The most powerful ThinkPad available from Lenovo, the W700 can support up to 8GB DDR3 memory (as well as 2GB Intel Turbo memory) and optional dual hard drives with RAID 0 or 1 configurations. The W700 will support Intel’s upcoming mobile quad core processor and is currently available with the Intel Core 2 Duo, Core 2 Extreme or Quad Core Extreme.

According to Lenovo, a 320GB 5400RPM drive coupled with a 64GB solid state drive is a popular configuration that provides the best of both worlds – massive file storage and high-speed performance. A 200GB/7200RPM drive with Full Disk Encryption is also available.

Native Dual Link DVI-D and DisplayPort digital monitor connectivity provide the capability of driving two high-resolution digital monitors simultaneously, the company explains.

The W700 supports WiMAX, but Canadians will have to wait until the wavelength is certified for use in Canada, said Buck. “Canada and most other countries in the world are not legislated for WiMAX release until 2009.” As a desktop replacement device, the W700 weighs in at 8.3 lbs. and comes with a 9-cell battery. Users have the option of adding a secondary battery in the optical bay.

It’s tough to provide a battery life estimate, said Buck. “It’s technically 85 watt hours, which is also higher than many of the 9-cells in the industry. A lot of people focus on the number of cells and they don’t focus on how much those cells actually can produce.”

While the top end for the 9-cell is 2.3 hours, battery life depends on several factors, explained Buck. This includes whether the machine is running XP or Vista, power configuration, what graphics processor you choose, what screen resolution you choose, etc. “Traditionally, there is about a 15 per cent discrepancy between each O/S,” he said.

According to Warren, features of note include the built-in fingerprint reader, Blu-ray DVD burner and five USB ports. The multimedia reader is also important for versatility in the workplace, she said. The separate 10-key numeric keypad is important for applications and CAD/CAM design where users need to access numbers quickly, she added.

Pricing for the W700 begins at $3,128. “That’s not a bad price for what they’re offering,” said Warren. “It’s pretty competitive on the high-end notebooks.”

Comparing the W700 to its competitors in the mobile workstation space, Warren said, “It’s pretty slick right now.” “I suspect we’ll see something from HP and Apple. I think those will be the two who will produce something comparable. This has just been announced in the last month. I think we’ll see something from HP shortly.”