Lenovo 3000 N200-0687 (Core 2 Duo 1.8GHz review: Lenovo 3000 N200-0687 (Core 2 Duo 1.8GHz

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CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars Good
  • Overall: 6.7
  • Battery life: 6.0
  • Design: 7.0
  • Features: 7.0
  • Performance: 7.0
  • Service and support: 6.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Inexpensive; sturdy construction; strong performance for the price; comfortable keyboard; robust system-management and help utility.

The Bad Somewhat thick; lousy speakers; few dedicated multimedia controls.

The Bottom Line Small businesses on a budget--as well as home users in search of a straightforward productivity machine--will love the rich features, decent performance, and rock-bottom price of the 14.1-inch Lenovo 3000 N200.

Editors' Top Picks

When we set out to round up a handful of laptops that cost less than $1,000, we knew we had to include Lenovo. The small-business-focused Lenovo 3000 line has long been one of the best deals going if you want to buy a laptop built on the latest Intel processors and platforms. Our 14.1-inch Lenovo 3000 N200 review unit, which cost just $948, lived up to our expectations when it passed most of the other $1,000 systems on our benchmarks. Its primary competition, performance-wise, came from a Sony VAIO CR120 built on many of the same components, which kept pace with the Lenovo on all but one of our tests. But the slickly designed Sony incorporates a number of media-friendly features destined to appeal to entertainment-minded home users. The chunky N200, on the other hand, delivers a fingerprint reader and a suite of support utilities designed to help business users maintain their systems, making it an excellent choice for small businesses on a tight budget or home users looking for a no-nonsense productivity machine.

Processor 1.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7100
Memory 2GB of 667MHz
Hard drive 80GB at 5,400rpm
Graphics Intel GMA X3100
Chipset Intel Mobile 965 Express
Operating system Windows Vista Home Premium
Dimensions (wide x deep x thick) 13.2 x 9.7 x 1.4 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 14.1 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 5.3 / 6.2 pounds
Category thin-and-light

The Lenovo 3000 N200 doesn't feel quite as tank-like as its ThinkPad cousins, but its case (silver on the outside, dark gray on the inside) features sturdy metal hinges and an overall solid construction. Contributing to the sturdy feel is the N200's 1.4-inch thickness, which pushes the definition of thin-and-light. Thickness aside, its size is similar to the 14.1-inch Sony VAIO CR120.

As with all Lenovo laptops, the Lenovo 3000 N200 features a roomy, comfortable keyboard reminiscent of the board found on higher-end ThinkPads. Its touch pad is passable, and the mouse buttons provide satisfying tactile feedback. Three volume controls above the keyboard constitute the extent of the N200's media controls, not surprising given that Lenovo targets small business with the N200 and the rest of the Lenovo 3000 line (the company's ThinkPad brand is marketed to larger enterprises by including features such as shock-mounted hard drives and high-level data security, among others). Next to the volume control is a button to summon the useful Lenovo Care system-management and help utility (more on that below). A fingerprint reader below the keyboard frees you from typing in passwords. We like that the N200 includes handy port labels along both sides of the keyboard deck to help you immediately find where to plug in peripherals.

The Lenovo 3000 N200 can be configured with either a 14.1-inch or 15.4-inch wide-aspect display. Our test unit featured the 14.1-inch wide screen with a sharp 1,280x800 native resolution. Though not as expansive as the larger size, this 14.1-inch screen provides adequate room for working in spreadsheets and documents as well as watching the occasional movie. While buyers can opt for an antiglare finish on other versions of the N200, our review unit included a video-friendly glossy finish; fortunately, we had no trouble with annoying reflections in our typical office environment.

Because the Lenovo 3000 line is aimed at small-business users who aren't likely to have an IT department or loaner systems at their disposal, the company preloads the N200 with a helpful suite of utilities called Lenovo Care. Based on the company's robust ThinkVantage suite for ThinkPads, Lenovo Care helps users quickly access support information, set up network access, schedule backups and system maintenance, and configure data security.

  Lenovo 3000 N200 Average for thin-and-light category
Video VGA-out, S-video VGA-out, S-video
Audio Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks
Data 4 USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, multiformat memory card reader 3 USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, multiformat memory card reader
Expansion ExpressCard/54 PC Card or ExpressCard
Networking modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi, optional Bluetooth, optional WWAN
Optical drive DVD burner DVD burner

As indicated in the chart above, the Lenovo 3000 N200 includes a good selection of ports and connections. As might be expected from a primarily business-oriented laptop, the N200's speakers emit tinny, soft sound. We were happy to see that the N200's low price includes a Bluetooth radio--a rarity among sub-$1,000 laptops.

Our Lenovo 3000 N200 test unit--stocked with 2GB of RAM, integrated Intel GMA X3100 graphics, and a 1.8GHz Core 2 Duo T7100 processor--cost $984 on Lenovo's site. That CPU is the entry level for the current generation of Core 2 Duo processors, but it was enough to keep the N200 at the top of our group of systems in its price range on CNET Labs' benchmarks. Though the nearly identically configured Sony VAIO CR120 ($1,000) kept pace for some of the tests, its single gigabyte of RAM was no match for the Lenovo on our Photoshop module. In our small sampling of inexpensive laptops--which includes the Sony as well as a Fujitsu LifeBook A6110 ($999), Toshiba Satellite A215-S7437 ($899), and Gateway M-1618 ($899)--the Lenovo 3000 N200 is the performance king.

The Lenovo 3000 N200's six-cell standard battery lasted just over 2 hours on our DVD battery drain test--about the same as the VAIO CR120. That isn't too impressive for a 14.1-inch laptop, but it is longer than the battery life posted by other similarly priced systems. Our DVD battery drain test is especially grueling, so you can expect even longer life from casual Web surfing and office use.

Editors' Top Picks

 

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Where to Buy

Lenovo 3000 N200-0687 (Core 2 Duo 1.8GHz, 1GB RAM, 80GB HDD, Vista Home Premium)

Part Number: 068727U

MSRP: $899.00

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Resolution 1280 x 800 ( WXGA )
  • Installed Size 1 GB
  • Color silver
  • Weight 5.5 lbs
  • Hard Drive 80 GB HDD / 5400 rpm
  • Optical Drive DVD-Writer - fixed
  • Graphics Processor Intel GMA X3100
  • CPU Intel Core 2 Duo T7100 / 1.8 GHz
About The Author

Tech expert Michelle Thatcher grew up surrounded by gadgets and sustained by Tex-Mex cuisine. Life in two major cities--first Chicago, then San Francisco--broadened her culinary horizons beyond meat and cheese, and she's since enjoyed nearly a decade of wining, dining, and cooking up and down the California coast. Though her gadget lust remains, the practicalities of her small kitchen dictate that single-function geegaws never stay around for long.