Product Review: Page (1) of 1 - 10/14/08

Lenovo ThinkPad W700 mobile workstation

True creative workstation power with a Wacom graphics tablet built in

By John Virata

It's not very often that a notebook computer has the potential to be a game changer in the market. The routine of the notebook manufacturers are fairly predictable. Intel releases a newer, faster and lower power CPU, and the manufacturers build yet a new notebook around it and call it the next best thing. Lenovo has taken a slightly different, yet radical tact to notebooks by building a Wacom Tablet right into the wrist rests of its ThinkPad W700 workstation class notebook computer, and this could be a game changer, especially for digital artists who prefer to work on a Wacom tablet. It is really no wonder that a company didn't come up with this idea a long time ago.

This particular unit is built around the Intel Core 2 Extreme 5300 CPU with 3GB RAM, a 320GB, 7200RPM hard disk drive (the W700 can support two physical hard drives in its enclosure), and the 1GB NVIDIA Quadro FX 3700m CUDA parallel processing graphics processor powering the W700's 17-inch, 1920 x 1200 max resolution LCD display. The Bluetooth-capable and WiFi-enabled W700 features a multi-card reader on the front of the unit next to the headphone and microphone ports. On the right side of the system you'll find three USB 2.0 ports, a modem port and the DVD-RW drive. The left side of the unit has an additional two USB 2.0 ports plus a 4-pin IEE 1394 FireWire port. The display bezel also houses a webcam. The rear of the unit features a VGA port, DVI port, and an Ethernet port. The W700 features a full size keyboard with number pad, the familiar red pointing device between the G,H, B, and N keys, and a fingerprint reader. The system also features a built in color calibration system, just close the lid and the system will calibrate via X-rite's Huey Pro color calibration software.


Performance
The ThinkPad W700 performs like a desktop workstation. It truly has workstation power in a notebook form factor. What is surprising with the W700 is its light weight (8.3lbs) relative to the power it outputs. Imagine 1GB of graphics memory in a notebook. The ThinkPad W700 has it. The W700 sports the capability to support two hard drives in its enclosure and configure them as a RAID. This is another plus for the mobile video editors out there. The real beauty in the W700 though is not the graphics and CPU power, of which it has plenty, it is that of the 5 x 3 inch square on the wrist rests that is the Wacom pen tablet The tablet has 512 levels of pressure sensitivity and the stylus that drives the tablet fits into its own custom hideaway hole on the side of the W700. Everything is so neatly integrated that it makes you wonder why it took so long (and a PC maker at that) to come up with the idea.

I've been running Stonehenge on the W700 for a few weeks now, getting use to the feel of a tablet built into the W700 and working with the stylus. For those digital artists who prefer a tablet/stylus over a mouse, and especially for those who are constantly tweaking their art in a mobile environment, the W700 fits the bill perfectly. There is no more need to drag along your tablet as it is built right into the W700. In the DMN After Effects tests, the W700 trounced both its S10 cousin as well as an HP dual Core AMD system, both desktop systems reviewed earlier in the year. That goes to show the power that this mobile workstation has.

Results in minutes: seconds
Version of After Effects used: CS4 (beta) 
Lenovo ThinkPad W700, Intel Core 2 Extreme 5300 CPU, 3GB RAM, NVIDIA Quadro FX 3700m (1GB) Windows XP SP 2 
Test 1: Animation: 2 seconds
Test 2: Video Composite 15 seconds
Test 3: Data Project:   30 seconds
Test 4: Gambler:   12 seconds
Test 5: Source Shapes:     40 seconds 
Test 6: Virtual Set Final Comp:   37 seconds 
    
CineBench r10 (Check Cinebench.com for more results )   
CPU Benchmark Rendering 1 CPU 2793 CB-CPU 
CPU Benchmark Rendering multiple CPU 9566 CB-CPU 
Multiprocessor speedup  3.42x 
OpenGL Benchmark   
OpenGL Standard test   6871 CB-GFX 
Single CPU Render Test   2793
Multiple CPU Render Test      9566
Photoshop CS4 (beta) Gaussian Blur test (apply Gaussian blur with 6.3 radius on 9.51MB JPG image  3 seconds 

First Impressions
The Lenovo ThinkPad W700 is the new standard at which all other "workstation" class notebook computers should be judged. The system features all the power necessary to make it a true desktop replacement, but it also features all the elements necessary that a digital artist would want in a mobile workstation. The main draw with the W700 is definitely the integrated Wacom tablet. No other mobile workstation has this feature and that is the real difference. Creative digital artistry has been a staple on Windows computers since the 1990s, (I've been covering the creative digital media market since 1993) contrary to what that fruit company's ads will tell you, and Lenovo is leading the way with a notebook computer that is true workstation class, coupled with a feature that is very compelling to the digital artist. As configured, the Lenovo ThinkPad W700 is priced at $4914 and ships with a three year warranty. For more information, visit www.lenovo.com.

John Virata is senior editor of Digital Media Online. You can email him at jvirata@digitalmedianet.com

Related Keywords:mobile workstation, mobile computing, wacom graphics tablet, digital designer, creative workstation

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