Lenovo 3000 V100 Holds Its Own With Thinkpad

Review: for the price, core duo-based ultraportable is a solid alternative

For users pining after Lenovos ThinkPad X60s ultraportable, but who dont want to or cant tolerate the ThinkPad price, the Lenovo 3000 V100 is an affordable ultraportable that can hold its own.

The 3000 V100 is not a ThinkPad, but it does offer many ThinkPad-like features. The unit also comes with something most ultraportables lack—a built-in optical drive.

For a starting price of $1,099 (and a starting weight of 4.4 pounds), the 3000 V100 configuration includes a 1.66GHz Intel Core Duo T2300e processor, a 12.1-inch widescreen display, 512MB of RAM, an 80GB hard drive, an Intel Pro/Wireless LAN module, an integrated fingerprint reader and a CD-RW/DVD-ROM combo.

The 3000 V100 that eWeek Labs tested—which costs $1,599—featured the 2GHz Intel Core Duo T2500 processor, 1GB of RAM and a 100GB hard drive.

While the Hewlett-Packard HP Compaq nc2400 ultraportable we tested comes with an Intel ULV (ultra-low voltage) Core Solo or single-core Pentium M processor, the 3000 V100s performance benefits from Intels dual-core Core Duo processor. In SysMark benchmark tests, the 3000 V100 easily bested the HP Compaq nc2400 and showed performance comparable to that of its Think-Pad X60s sibling. (Our review of the nc2400 is on Page 39.)

Our unit was equipped with Intels integrated GMA (Graphics Media Accelerator) 950, which supports Windows Vista but not Vistas Aero Glass capabilities. The systems connectivity options include Intels 802.11 a/b/g wireless LAN module and Bluetooth.

We found the 3000 V100s widescreen to be bright and glossy—similar to what youd find on a Sony Vaio laptop.

The full-size keyboard was what youd expect from a Lenovo system—with nice and responsive keys—but was especially appreciated on an ultraportable. The 3000 V100 we tested also came equipped with a Web cam—a nice touch, especially with VOIP (voice over IP) and video streaming becoming increasingly popular.

The real gem of the system, though, is its built-in DVD+R dual-layer DVD burner, something you wont find in many ultraportables, including the ThinkPad X60s. (Users can get a DVD+R dual-layer DVD burner for the ThinkPad X60s via the purchase of a docking station.) And the inclusion of the built-in optical drive means road warriors wont have to carry an external one with them when theyre traveling. Users should note, however, that the HP Compaq nc2400 also has a built-in optical drive and weighs less than the 3000 V100.

We liked that the 3000 V100 comes equipped with three USB 2.0 ports, an SD (Secure Digital) card reader and a hardware switch that allows users to turn off the Wi-Fi.

We also appreciated that the 3000 V100 came with Lenovo Care, a stripped-down version of the ThinkVantage tools that ship with ThinkPads. The Lenovo Care tools include one-button save recovery and simple network connectivity and management, but lacking are the hard drive parking technologies weve come to rely on. The 3000 V100 also lacks a TPM (Trusted Platform Module).

To test battery performance, we used Business Applications Performance Corp.s MobileMark 2005. BAPCOs MobileMark 2005 tests notebook battery life and performance with a core office productivity test that models a mobile professionals workload.

The 3000 V100 scored a 250 in MobileMark 2005 tests, or 4 hours and 10 minutes of battery life with a six-cell battery. (The 3000 V100 also can be configured with a three-cell battery.) We were disappointed with these results, as the Lenovo systems battery life didnt come close to that of the HP Compaq nc2400 and is soundly blown away by the ThinkPad X60s, which delivered 7-plus hours of battery life in our tests.

Senior Writer Anne Chen can be reached at anne_chen@ziffdavis.com.

Evaluation Shortlist

Gateways E100-M

This ultraportables performance with a ULV Intel Core Solo processor is not as good as that of units with dual-core processors, but the product is lightweight and attractively priced (www.gateway.com)

Lenovos ThinkPad X60s

This eWeek Labs Analysts Choice award winner has a winning combo: a great suite of ThinkVantage tools and 7-plus hours of battery life (www.lenovo.com)

Sonys Vaio S160

This laptop has one of the brightest screens weve seen, but it comes at a price—as much as $2,499 (www.sony.com)