Review: Lenovo Unveils A New Low-Cost Laptop - InformationWeek

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4/3/2006
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Review: Lenovo Unveils A New Low-Cost Laptop

Although this portable is targeted at small business, our reviewer says it's also ideal for consumers.

Nits And Niceties
The N100 does have one noticeable fault — or perhaps one that's not noticeable enough: its integrated speakers. Positioned on top of the base, next to the display, they're certainly pointed in the right direction. However, the speakers provide no presence, no brilliance, and no audio impact worth mentioning. They are the quintessential tin cans on a string. Even at full volume, the sound could barely reach my ears. Where it does succeed, at least to a better degree, is in a totally quiet room, listening to the spoken word. And even the cheapest pair of headphones turns the N100 into a concert hall with all of the expected audio nuances. It's an incredible transformation.


Had the N100 been available when I purchased my Inspiron, I probably would have tossed in the extra $100 and switched to the N100.

I have only one additional nit to pick, and that concerns the power switch. Positioned dead center at the upper portion of the base by the display hinge, the push-button power switch is thin and nestled into a neat recess that will keep you from accidentally shutting down the system. However, it also means that those of us with full-sized fingers must make two or three attempts to start the N100. Those with more petite digits should have no problem.

Lenovo carries over the fingerprint biometric security from the ThinkPad X41 to the N100, although it's been improved. Instead of just the nub of a scanner for you to swipe your fingertip across, the N100 has a recessed profile that gives you a definitive spot in which to place your finger before you begin the swipe.

The keyboard also appears to be a carry-over. It was quite good on the ThinkPad; it's just as good on the N100. The glide pad, however, is much too sensitive. Personally, I prefer a real computer mouse, but that being said, the N100's glide pad often translated even the smallest lift and landing of my fingertip as a button press.

Lenovo claims five hours of battery life for the N100's 9-cell Lithium Ion battery. While Lenovo freely admits that, "Battery life (and recharge times) will vary based on many factors including screen brightness, applications, features, power management, battery conditioning and other customer preferences," I managed an honest four hours without really scrimping on anything.

Conclusions
Had the N100 been available when I purchased my Inspiron, I probably would have tossed in the extra $100 and switched to the N100. The enhanced portability alone is worth the small premium. The better display and biometric security are no-cost extras.

To put it another way: Lenovo has created a "Thinkpad" for the rest of us. While the company doesn't have the track record of a Dell or Acer, Lenovo's combination of light weight, good screen visibility, relatively long battery life, and a range of prices and models to fit most budgets and tasks should earn at least one of the available N100 models a place in your backpack.


Lenovo 3000 N100
Lenovo
www.lenovo.com
Price: $999
Summary: Lenovo's new small-business low-cost notebook shows that the company can do it right even without the ThinkPad brand.

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