Test Center review: The mightiest ThinkPad
Lenovo's beastly ThinkPad W700ds mobile workstation is a laptop in name only, for better and worseFollow @infoworld
"The Beast" is the nickname I've picked for the Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds, which has dominated my test bench for the past two weeks. A massive machine -- my test unit measures a healthy 16.1 by 12.2 by 2.1 inches -- the W700ds is what you might call a LINO: laptop in name only. No sane businessperson would haul one of these 11-pound monstrosities around (13 pounds with the power brick), which is just fine with Lenovo. The W700ds isn't aimed at the run-of-the-mill ThinkPad crowd, but at the extreme mobile customer: hard-core graphics artists and power users who need to run high-end 3-D workstation applications. For these rarefied souls, the W700ds provides an attractive slate of unique features.
First, the basics: The W700 series is Lenovo's answer to the mobile workstation segment, a category of high-end "luggable" systems characterized by support for various Extreme Edition Intel CPUs -- including the quad-core QX9300 in my test rig -- and 8GB or more of RAM.
[ The perfect laptop for a number of InfoWorld readers includes a dual screen. See "The perfect laptop, take two," the companion slideshow of perfect laptop features, and the interactive Flash illustrations of the InfoWorld WorldBooks. ]
In the case of the W700ds, Lenovo has added a new wrinkle to the mobile workstation fabric: the inclusion of a secondary 10.6-inch LCD screen to complement the primary 17-inch unit (see photo or video demo). The result is a 39 percent increase in available screen real estate, along with additional weight and bulk.
Looks good on paper
Alas, in practice the secondary screen is more a gimmick than a useful feature. For starters, the screen is mounted in a portrait orientation (it slides out of a slot in the right edge of the primary screen), with the vertical measurement the greater of the little display's dimensions. This allows it to approximate a seamless extension of the primary screen. I say "approximate" because the unit's vertical resolution (1,280 pixels) doesn't exactly match that of the primary screen (1,200 pixels), though it's hard to notice the slight misalignment during normal use.
Easier to notice is the difference in image quality. The primary screen is Lenovo's latest-generation LCD with a full 72 percent color gamut reproduction and exceptional brightness (400 nits). The screen is further buttressed by an integrated color calibration system that can automatically adjust the video card's color tuning parameters based on an analysis of the displayed image.
Unfortunately, the secondary screen is not nearly as impressive, with a much narrower color range and lower brightness (280 nits). It also doesn't benefit from the hueyPRO color calibration system, which is only applicable to the primary screen. The net result is an uneven experience that, combined with a limited horizontal display area (768 pixels), makes the secondary screen appropriate for hosting floating or dockable application control panels and dialogs, but not much else.