First Look: Impressive New Lenovo Laptop

When Lenovo acquired IBM last year, the company promised that it would continue to make IBM's distinctive ThinkPad series notebooks but also introduce new products. The company fulfilled the first part of that pledge by releasing the new ThinkPad X60s, and now it has made good on the second part as well, with the Lenovo 3000 C100. This model is a budget laptop that offers a nice set of features and solid performance for a great price. But it's no ThinkPad.

On the plus side, the 3000 C100 has a fairly robust configuration, including a 1.73-GHz Pentium M 740 processor, 512MB of RAM, a two-in-one media-card reader, and a DVDA?RW drive that sits on the front of the notebook for easy access. The C100's 15-inch standard-aspect screen is bright and easy to read, though it would have been better as a wide screen. The unit weighs a manageable 6.4 pounds.

My shipping system turned in strong performance: The C100 earned a score of 77 on our WorldBench 5 tests, making it one of the top-performing all-purpose notebooks we've tested; and it turned in superlong battery life--just short of 5 hours. Unfortunately, the C100 lacks many of the thoughtful design touches that make ThinkPad notebooks so popular. For example, there's no signature red eraserhead input device (just a touchpad). And its keyboard is nowhere near as comfortable to type on as a ThinkPad's, because the keys don't depress as comfortably and the wrist rests feel a tad big, forcing you to position your hands farther back on the notebook to reach the keys. Also, the mouse buttons that flank the bottom of the touchpad lack the flexibility of those on a ThinkPad.

To keep its price low, the C100 omits extras such as the ThinkLight--which resides in the top of the ThinkPad screen and offers extra light in dim conditions--and shortcut buttons.

But at $999, the 3000 C100 is a pretty great deal given its solid performance and good features. Just don't look for ThinkPad-like styling and details.

Lenovo 3000 C100

Basic but affordable notebook offers plenty of features and great performance.
Current prices (if available)
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