The Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds | B&H Photo Video Pro Audio
Home < Computers< B&H Email Newsletter

The Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds

A Full-Blown Workstation Disguised as a Laptop

Text & Photographs by Allan Weitz

Some people fall backwards while feigning a Fred Sanford-like heart attack upon seeing the Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds for the first time. In a world of ever-shrinking notebooks and itty-bitty laptops, the ThinkPad W700ds weighs in at a hefty 11 pounds (the charger/AC adapter is another 2.2lb), and measures 16.1 x 12.2 x 2.1". If Boeing built laptops for the Pentagon, a box of donuts says it would look like the Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds.

The key to understand where this brute-of-a-box laptop fits into the scheme of things is to not view the ThinkPad W700ds as a loaded-to-the-hilt laptop, which for most mortals it is. The key is to view the ThinkPad W700ds as a highly mobile alternative to larger multi-component digital workstations. If what you do for a living includes performing high-quality, color-accurate digital editing on location you already know the logistics of packing and transporting a computer, hi-def monitor, and all of the peripherals and cables needed to make it all work. Flying? Add a few hundred dollars for additional baggage. From this perspective, the Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds suddenly begins to make a lot of sense.

The beauty of the ThinkPad W700ds is that it enables you to pack up and head out the door with a complete (dare I say all-in-one) digital imaging system that fits in a shoulder bag. Better-yet, it can be carried aboard a plane and stowed away in most overhead bins. So much for baggage fees, baggage handlers, and the always-lurking possibility of bags getting lost along the way.

Among the many imaging essentials integrated into the Lenovo W700ds is a 3x5" Wacom tablet (with a slip-in storage slot for the stylus), and memory card readers. (Our sample had a CF, SD, and ExpressCard/34 slots. Other models have a 7-in-1 card reader) If the 17" diagonal screen isn't enough real estate to satisfy your needs, an additional 10.6" auxiliary screen pops out of the right side of the screen housing, which proved to be a handy place to park toolbars, menu palates, and contact sheets. (And in case you're wondering, the 'ds' in the name stands for 'dual screen', as opposed to the standard ThinkPad W700, which is similar minus the 2nd screen.)

The ThinkPad W700ds' 17" WXGA+ TFT screen (1920 x 1200, 16M colors) is one of the finest screens you're likely to find on a laptop. According to Lenovo, the W700ds can display up to 72% of the Adobe RGB gamut, which is almost twice up from the industry average of 45% found on other laptop screens. Along with stunning color, tonality, and contrast levels, the screen has a terrific anti-glare surface, and can be easily viewed from extreme angles. The smaller, 10.6" WXGA pop-out screen (1280 x 768, 15M colors) can also be angled inward for better viewing.

To ensure the highest levels of color accuracy, the ThinkPad W700ds features a Pantone hueyPRO color calibration system, complete with a colorimeter flush-mounted on the flight deck. Calibrating the system is as simple as starting up the software, closing the screen, and waiting for the 3 beeps that indicate the process is complete. Total calibration time? Under a minute.

In addition to the Wacom tablet the W700ds also has an dedicated numeric keypad and integrated UltraNav dual-pointing system with a touchpad and Trackpoint bud. And to keep busybodies and other unauthorized souls out of your business the ThinkPad W700ds features a built-in fingerprint recognition system.

The specs of the Lenovo W700ds are as impressive as its list of integrated peripherals. The heart of the W700ds is a 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9300 quad-core CPU with 4GB of RAM (expandable to 8GB). To store all of your data the W700ds has a 320GB SATA Dual hard drive that spins at 7200rpm and a nVIDIA Quadro FX 3700M graphics card with 1GB of memory to process the largest of files in half the time of all-but-the-most-powerful workstations currently in production.

In the connectivity department, the W700ds sports 5 USB ports, 1 FireWire port, an Ethernet connection, a DVI DisplayPort, Docking Connector, as well as a headphone jack and mic jack located up front where they belong. There's also a built-in modem, DVD burner, and Bluetooth 2.0 connectivity.

For working unplugged, the W700ds contains a 9-cell Lithium-ion battery that delivers about 1.5-hours of use (in 'High Performance' mode) before signing off.

The W700ds is a graduate of the 'form follows function' school of design. It's also built like the proverbial tank, which for a machine designed to travel is a positive attribute. As for actually using it on your lapů lotsa' luck. The size alone makes it a challenge to use in trains, planes, and most compact automobiles.

While the benefits of the Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds are straightforward and objective, the negative aspects are personal and subjective. As a long-time Mac user, Windows Vista Business is not my platform of choice. If you're already a Windows regular, you'll be fine. In fact, you'll think you died and went to workstation heaven. But for a Mac user the 'look and feel' of the Windows interface has a less-than-playful, 'spreadsheet' feel about it, which depending on your nature can take some time to get comfortable with.

The other negative for me was the quick realization that the ThinkPad W700ds is designed for right-handed users. If you're a southpaw (like me) you'll wish the Wacom tablet, pop-out screen, and a few other features were located on the left side of the machine to minimize the need to reach across the keyboard every time you want to do something. But as I said, these are personal biases, which in no way invalidates the fact that the Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds is a serious, high-performance workstation designed for the most critical of imaging and post-production editing requirements regardless of where the job takes you. Visit us at our NY Superstore in the Store Demo area to get a hands on experience with Lenovo W700.

Please email feedback on this article, or suggestions for future topics, to