Lenovo 3000 N1
At a Glance
Lenovo 3000 N100
This Lenovo offers peppy WorldBench performance and a big hard drive, but its battery life is far from stellar.
As vendors switch over to Intel's latest notebook processor, the Core 2 Duo, you can save a few bucks on older Core Duo-equipped notebooks such as the Lenovo 3000 N100. It's got a fairly long list of desirable features: A capacious hard drive, a nice screen, plenty of USB ports, and snappy performance. On the downside, I encountered woefully bad speakers, mediocre battery life, and a slightly stiff keyboard. Also, software costs extra, further lessening the system's appeal.
The N100 is Lenovo's least expensive consumer notebook, available in configurations ranging from $599 to about $1700. Our $1299 (as of 11/6/06) review unit came with a 1.83-GHz Core Duo T2400 processor, Windows XP Professional, a 15.4-inch wide-aspect screen, a double-layer DVD burner, a 100GB hard drive, built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi (with an on/off switch), and an integrated fingerprint reader. ThinkPad fans will appreciate two features: the Lenovo Care button, a handy shortcut to the manual and the recovery utilities; and dedicated volume buttons. However, Microsoft Office Basic, not included with our unit, costs another $129, for a total of $1428.
The N100 turned in good speed results in our tests: It earned a WorldBench 5 score of 91, tying another similarly configured notebook.
The N100's slightly cheap-feeling keyboard doesn't deserve rave reviews, but my fingers flew over the good layout. Some of the keys felt rather stiff, however. The notebook's 6.2-pound weight is on a par with that of competing models. However, battery life is not; it's 2.6-hour limit is over an hour shorter than the battery life of the average notebook we've tested. And the weak speakers are unusually bad even for a notebook, emitting only enough volume to hear system sounds.
Expansion options are so-so. The N100's system memory and hard drive are user upgradable, but the only docking station Lenovo sells is a $129 USB port replicator.
You could do worse than the Lenovo 3000 N100. On the other hand, you could do better with a similarly configured HP Pavilion dv6000, for instance. The dv6000 lacks a fingerprint reader, but the battery life, keyboard, speakers, and expansion options are much better--and for $200 less.