In our minds, there are ultraportables, such as the ThinkPad X61s, and there are "bulky ultraportables," laptops that incorporate the hefty feature set of a thin-and-light in a case bordering on ultraportable in size. The Lenovo 3000 V200 is one of the latter, and it's the first of the bulky ultraportables to incorporate Intel's latest Centrino Duo platform. With those fresh components, the V200 posted some modest performance gains over the previous generation, though it took a small hit on battery life. Otherwise, the Lenovo 3000 V200 is much like its V100 predecessor, providing all the features you'll need for work (and some play) in a highly portable package. Plus, it's still less expensive than the Dell XPS M1210 and performs better than the Toshiba Satellite U205, making it a solid choice for small businesses that want the benefits of Centrino Duo (including an 800MHz front-side bus) and also don't want to skimp on features.
|Price as reviewed / Starting price||$1,499 / $1,199|
|Processor||2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300|
|Memory||2GB of 667MHz|
|Hard drive||120GB at 5,400rpm|
|Graphics||Intel GMA X3100 (integrated)|
|Chipset||Mobile Intel Express 965GM|
|Operating system||Windows Vista Business|
|Dimensions (wide x deep x thick)||12 x 9 x 1.3 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||12.1 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||4.3 / 5.0 pounds|
The Lenovo 3000 V200 is a bit larger than both the Toshiba Satellite U205 and the Dell XPS M1210. There are certainly lighter laptops on the market (including Lenovo's own ThinkPad X61s), but the V200 is reasonably portable for regular travel.
Like the XPS M1210 and the Satellite U205, the Lenovo 3000 V200 features a 12.1-inch wide-screen display with a sharp 1,280x800 native resolution. The screen includes a glossy finish that's great for watching movies but can become distractingly reflective in bright environments (there is no option for a matte finish). A 1.3-megapixel Webcam is built into the display bezel, making it useful for Web videoconferencing from the road.
Corresponding to the V200's wide-aspect display is a wide, comfortable keyboard that harkens back to the laptop's ThinkPad lineage. Like all Lenovo 3000 laptops, the V200's touch pad feels a bit small, though the touch pad buttons are amply sized. Next to the touch pad sits a tiny 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 V200'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.
|Lenovo 3000 V200||Average for ultraportable category|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks||headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||3 USB 2.0, mini-FireWire||2 USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, SD or multiformat memory card reader|
|Expansion||ExpressCard/54, 5-in-1 memory card reader (SD MMC, MS/Pro, xD)||PC Card or ExpressCard|
|Networking||56k modem, 10/100 Ethernet, 802.11 a/g/n Wi-Fi, optional Bluetooth (included on our review unit)||modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi, optional Bluetooth, optional WWAN|
|Optical drive||DVD burner||None, or DVD burner|
In part because of its bulky size, the Lenovo 3000 V200 includes a few more ports and connections than you'd find on a typical ultraportable. The $2,329 Dell XPS M1210, however, has one more USB port, an S-Video connector, an extra headphone jack, and WWAN connectivity, making it a bit more well-rounded than the Lenovo when it comes to entertainment features.
The Lenovo 3000 V200 is available in two fixed configurations; our review unit was built on Intel's latest Centrino Duo platform and included a midrange 2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7300 processor. The platform update produced modest gains on the Multitasking and Office productivity portions of CNET Labs' mobile benchmarks, where the V200 pulled slightly ahead of both the Dell XPS M1210 and the Toshiba Satellite U205-S5057, as well as its predecessor, the V100. We were a bit disappointed that the V200 posted the same score as the XPS M1210 (and its previous-generation platform) on our Photoshop test, though it's more or less an academic distinction that we're willing to overlook considering the Lenovo's much lower price. For typical business use, the Lenovo 3000 V200 clearly packs an impressive amount of bang for the buck.
The updated platform gave the Lenovo 3000 V200 no boost in battery life. In fact, at 2 hours, 16 minutes, the V200's battery life was 12 minutes shorter than that of its predecessor, the V100, and 3 minutes behind the Toshiba Satellite U205-S5057. Our DVD battery drain test is rather resource-intensive and you can expect longer life during typical Windows use. The Dell XPS M1210, equipped with a 9-cell extended battery, held out for 3 hours, 49 minutes on our tests.
We think the Lenovo 3000 V200's one-year warranty is too brief, though it is the norm for low-cost systems (pricier business laptops, by comparison, are almost always covered for 3 years). Fortunately, upgrades for longer terms and on-site 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.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)