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The latest addition to Lenovo's line of non-ThinkPad laptops for small businesses, the Lenovo 3000 V100 walks the line between ultraportable and thin-and-light. With a starting weight of 4 pounds, the V100 combines a relatively small form factor and a 12.1-inch wide-screen display with features you'd usually find on larger laptops, such as a comfortable keyboard and a built-in optical drive. And while the V100 isn't the only "large ultraportable" on the market (the similar-sized Dell XPS M1210 and the Sony VAIO SZ offer a comparable set of features), its $1,099 starting price makes it one of the least expensive models in its class. Our test system included $500 worth of upgrades for a still reasonable $1,599. If you're looking for a laptop that's portable but still has all the features you'll need for work (and some play), the Lenovo 3000 V100 is a very good choice.
The V100 is the smallest Lenovo 3000 laptop available; like its siblings, the C100 and the N100, the V100 is silver on the outside and dark gray on the inside. Its steel hinges and relatively sturdy construction reflect its ThinkPad heritage, though it doesn't have the ThinkPad's drain holes, shock-mounted hard drive, or keyboard light. The V100 weighs 4 pounds and measures 10.5 inches deep, 14 inches wide, and 1.5 inches thick, so it's a bit larger than the Dell XPS M1210. Total travel weight with the V100's modest AC adapter is 5.2 pounds, striding the line between ultraportable and thin-and-light. There are certainly lighter laptops on the market, including Lenovo's own ThinkPad X60s, but the V100 is reasonably portable for regular travel.
Like the XPS M1210, the Lenovo 3000 V100 features a 12.1-inch wide-screen display with a sharp 1,280x800 native resolution and a glossy finish that's great for watching movies. (The Sony VAIO SZ features a larger 13.3-inch display.) Our review unit included an optional 1.3-megapixel Webcam above the display; it'll prove useful for Web videoconferencing, but it doesn't rotate like the camera found on the Asus W5F.
Corresponding to the V100's wide-aspect display is a wide, comfortable keyboard that harkens back to the laptop's ThinkPad lineage. Like all Lenovo 3000 laptops, the V100's touch pad feels a bit small, and the touch-pad buttons don't provide as much travel as we'd like. Next to the touch pad sits a fingerprint reader, which lets you securely log on to your computer, network, and favorite Web sites with just the swipe of a finger. Above the keyboard are three handy external volume controls and a button to launch Lenovo's MediaNow application (the extent of the V100's dedicated multimedia controls), plus a button that summons the useful Lenovo Care system-management and help utility. Along the front edge, two speakers emit hollow but passable sound, while the right edge of the case holds a handy hardware on/off switch for the system's built-in Wi-Fi radio.
In part because of its bulky size, the Lenovo 3000 V100 includes a few more ports and connections than you'd find on a typical ultraportable. There are VGA, four-pin FireWire, and three USB 2.0 ports, plus headphone and microphone jacks. In addition to an ExpressCard/54 slot you'll find a five-in-one media-card slot that supports Secure Digital, MultiMediaCard, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, and xD formats. Networking connections include modem, Ethernet, and 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi; our test unit's price includes an optional Bluetooth radio. Unlike many ultraportables that jettison the optical drive to save weight, the V100 incorporates an optical drive; ours included a DVD burner. The $2,687 XPS M1210 has all of that plus one more USB port and WWAN connectivity, while the Asus W5F includes an S-Video port.
The laptop runs on Windows XP Home or Pro; the standard software bundle includes the Corel Small Business Center (with WordPerfect 12), a few disc-burning apps, and a number of homegrown connectivity and backup utilities.
Priced at $1,599, our Lenovo 3000 V100 test system includes some pretty sweet components: a 2GHz Intel Core Duo processor, 1GB of fast 667MHz RAM, a roomy 100GB hard drive spinning at a brisk 5,400rpm. About the only average part of the configuration is its integrated Intel graphics card that borrows up to 128MB of system memory. The V100 performed admirably on CNET Labs' mobile benchmarks, almost matching the performance of the Dell XPS M1210, which has a faster processor and a graphics card with dedicated memory. Like the consumer-focused XPS M1210, the V100 should handle multitasking very smoothly. The V100's 4-hour, 5-minute battery life was a bit above average for an ultraportable and should carry you most of the way through a cross-country flight; however, the XPS M1210's battery lasted 15 minutes longer, while the Sony VAIO SZ's battery held out for more than 5.5 hours.
Lenovo keeps the V100's price low by backing it with a one-year warranty; the industry standard for most business laptops is three years. You must carry your system in to an authorized repair center, but upgrades for longer terms and onsite repairs are reasonably priced. The company's support Web site includes a handful of troubleshooting topics, as well as the expected driver downloads; the site lacks interactive features, such as customer forums or the chance to chat in real time with a technician.
Mobile application performance
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Find out more about how we test Windows laptops.
Dell XPS M1210
Windows XP Media Center; 2.16GHz Intel Core Duo T2600; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM PC4300 533MHz; Nvidia GeForce Go 7400 256MB; Hitachi HTS7210G9SA00 100GB 7,200rpm
Lenovo 3000 V100
Windows XP Pro; 2GHz Intel Core Duo T2500; 1GB DDR2 SDRAM PC5300 666MHz; Intel Mobile 945GM 128MB; Hitachi Travelstar 5K100 100GB 5,400rpm
Sony VAIO SZ100
Windows XP Pro; 1.83GHz Intel Core Duo T2400; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM PC4300 533MHz; Nvidia GeForce Go 7400 128MB; Fujitsu MHV2100HB 80GB 4,200rpm