As you may have already noticed, I always was a ThinkPad junkie. This year I did a very extensive research, having that Lenovo was one of the last manufacturers to add Core i7-based laptops to their inventory. None of the laptops appealed as a worthy replacement, so as soon as W701 model was up on Lenovo’s site I had it ordered.
The specs aren’t beefed up as much as I would want them to be, but 8GB of RAM (with ability to upgrade to 16GB) and Core i7 were a must. While I was at it, for some reason, I decided to go with 17 inch screen option – which clearly was a mistake. The laptop came out to be extremely bulky and heavy – which sort of defies the whole purpose of having a laptop as a mobile (as in – you will be able to move with it) computer. On a bright side – the system can host 2 hard drives (with option for RAID) and an optical drive, something that had cost me a USB slot before.
The screen option, since I was going with 17 inches, is the WUXGA (1920×1200) RGB-LED-BL with hueyPro color calibrator. Since I do a lot of photography this turned out to be a good idea, having right colors and all. Of course, I did calibrate all my previous screens, but having a combo of a high-quality screen and color calibrator tailored for that specific screen is definitely a better approach.
Next big thing for any laptop is the keyboard. You think having laptops so many years around most manufacturers would have that part figured out, but it’s not the case. Most of them, following Apple’s lead, have attempted to create those “island” keys. They might look good, but hardly useful, especially for people who alternate between different keyboards all the time. Lenovo, while also following the trend with such keyboard on ThinkPad Edge systems, have made yet another improvement to the “real” ThinkPad keyboards. Just as I fell in love with my T42 keyboard and somewhat disliked T60’s, the keyboard on W701 is a step above all. Typing is a pure pleasure I haven’t experienced anywhere else. Since the size of the laptop allows it (it’s a beast) Lenovo has a numeric keypad included as well. Not that I personally has any use for it, but I’m sure I will – now that I have it available.
Perks of the system, aside from 5 USB ports, CompactFlahs and SD card slots, color calibration, web cam, fingerprint reader and both DVI and VGA connectors include small Wacom tablet with Wacom pen (which even has its own storage in the right side of the frame). While ordering I thought of this as of purely waste of money (there is no way to skip it if you order color calibrator option), but surprisingly I had immediately found the pen option very useful. Some of my mail (the one that comes in paper form) was stolen and some bank statements with it. Obviously I had to close the account and move all the automatic payments to new one, which – in some cases – requires sending a voided check with account number. So I scanned the check, voided it by simply writing over it with Wacom pen, signed all the required forms using the same pen and e-mailed everything back within minutes. Once I’ve realized what just happened I thought that such option might have some merit not only for artists, but even for ordinary people like me.
Overall build of the laptop feels bulky, old and excessive. I am used to thin boundaries of the screen, so the W701’s full inch (or more – on the top and bottom) frame around 17″ screen looks ancient. I am sure there are perfectly justifiable technology reasons behind it, like wireless antennas, web cam and so on, but I’m a consumer and I don’t care – I want the frame around my screen to be as thin as possible.
Speaking of bulky – the power supply issue is one of my major points of despair. Lenovo has changed the power connector YET AGAIN! Older power supplies from T60 and X60 series are not compatible – just like they weren’t between T40 and T60. But more to that – the power supply falls a few inches short of the size of my X61s. Yes, it’s that large. Surely, you need a lot of juice to power this laptop, but the power brick the size of another laptop itself – that’s something.
The battery is located underneath the front edge, below the keyboard, and there is no room for a larger battery, like in case of IBM/Lenovo T series. I realize that this is a desktop replacement, not really a portable solution, but it is still a laptop, so some effort should have been made to make larger batteries available. Given that 9 cell can only drive this powerhorse for less than 2 hours, I want more options.
The W line of ThinkPads is a newer addition to the growing inventory of Lenovo laptops. The T series is no longer a top level in terms of performance. Lenovo seem to be bringing the best from A, R and T series into the W line, but there’s definitely a room for improvement. We all used to having limited options for our hardware configurations, but given the size and capabilities of Lenovo’s T and W series, I would expect a lot more options in the next iterations.
The overall experience (I am using W701 for two weeks now) is very positive. Of course, there are couple of drawbacks, but in general I am very happy about the purchase – it provides me with all the features I need to get current and most of the future things done.