Review Lenovo 3000 V100
Lenovo 3000 V100 is one hard to define notebook. Due to its wide spectrum of features it's a bit too heavy to consider it a proper subnotebook. It's not exactly what you call an office laptop, either, considering it has a 12.1" screen only. To us this neat toddler with American roots and Chinese spirit seamed one heck of a useful device for a broad range of users.
Having launched the 3000 family of notebooks earlier this year, Lenovo finally refurbished its already somewhat archaic gamut of models, which the Chinese company acquired with the takeover of IBM's notebook division. The design of Lenovo 3000 V100 is not breathtaking, but, as mentioned, at a first glance one can notice emphasis on the practical side of things laden by the designers. The spacious keyboard occupies the entire breadth of the base unit, so there's no unnecessary waste of space. The cutest part of this laptop is its curvacious back fitted with a "streamlined" battery. Generally speaking, the Lenovo machine is quite graceful and aesthetic. Reliable combination of silver metallic (on the outside) and charcoal grey (on the inside and the sides of the base unit) appealed to us from the very beginning.
The build of 3000 V100 is quite sturdy. It has it in its blood, it inherited this characteristic from its ancestors. It is not quite as rigid as the ThinkPads used to be, but it does not bend overly (perhaps the screen is too flexible) and we've experienced no squeaking noises whatsoever. The processing is very good. The fitting of all parts is precise and clean. The high quality plastics have a nice feel to them. We were not fond of the silver-colored lid. Don't be fooled - it's also made of plastic. Our test equipment was already somewhat scratched over there. One has to treat it very gently, otherwise it will quickly become disfigured with ugly lines and traces of bruising.
The worst thing is the Lenovo 3000 V100 has no mechanism closing the lid. It is held close to the unit by the hinges, which powerfully bring the lid and base unit together at the last moment of closing the laptop (true - the hinges resist very much, but nobody knows what will happen when they eventually wear out). This concept arouses mixed feelings. On the one hand it lends a spirit of lightness and plainness to the computer, but on the other it makes us constantly worrying about it. Therefore, in our opinion it is not plausible for office use, when there's lots of people who can mishandle it (and it lacks the hard disk protection that the ThinkPad used to offer, so it's pretty much guaranteed it would get badly damaged when somebody drops it on the floor). So the ideal owner for Lenovo 3000 V100 is a careful, attentive person working on her/his own.
To put the passage about interfaces in the nutshell: for such a small machine there is plenty of them. Three USB 2.0 ports (one on every side except at the front) is standard. On the left side we have a VGA monitor out, an ExpressCard 54 slot, two audio jacks and a FireWire IEEE 1394 port. On the right side there are the 56k modem and Fast Ethernet ports, as well as a 5-in-1 memory card reader.
The keyboard is one of the strong points of Lenovo 3000 V100. First of all the keys have a suitable size. We've noticed at once broad Shift, Enter and Backspace, i.e. the most crucial keys. As far as the layout goes, we'll be always complaining about having Delete key placed in the top row, in surroundings of the most insignificant of minor keys. Still, this drawback is common for portable computers in general. The keyboard is well readable thanks to large letters and signs made of white and orange decal put on top of the black keys.
At first the keys may tend to be somewhat stiff, but this is a first impression and it fades away quickly. For some users, however, the V100 keyboard can prove to be too firm. Not everyone will like the short travel of the keys. We’ve noticed a little flaw of the space bar. It's flat upside is too narrow, so that the thumb may slip from it down to the slant area. As a result one is actually using the very edge of the bar, pressing it with the side of the thumb, or - to be sure - with a nail (eventually it may follow to the lacerating of the key).
Few words about cursor arrows - it's the only instance of beauty getting the upper hand over functionality. They are nicely shaped but ridiculously small, half a finger wide. Nevertheless we were astonished, how well they manage with against those odds. Yet they will be a nuisance for people with plump fingers.
Pointing device (here a touchpad; a trackpoint is unfortunately lacking) is another story of two faces. On the one hand one can praise its precision. The skid of the gliding finger is well balanced, although some might find the sliding surface a bit coarse. You can't complain about it size - after all the whole laptop is rather on the small side.
But the touchpad keys are disastrous. You don't find such lousy equipment very often: they're clumsy, rough and painfully trashy. Their cheapness has a very negative impact on the overall impression of the equipment quality. It's almost guaranteed the user would immediately resort to double-tapping the control panel or using an external mouse (if he/she obtains one).
The display is not too brilliant, but it's not too drab either. It's just enough bright and not overly shiny to make the battery go flat too rapidly. The maximum brightness we've measured was 140.6 cd/m², which is moderate. The illuminating is decent with 84%, although it was noticeable the left upper corner of the screen is a little dimmer. The maximum contrast amounts to 281:1.
12.1-inch VibrantView display is a black widescreen panel. It belongs to high-glossy type of screens, so it provides richer than usual colours (although they're moderately true reproduced, as the colour diagram shows). Due to the limited brightness it is plagued by horrendous reflections showing up on the screen. Hence, even though Lenovo 3000 V100 is considered an ultramobile subnotbook, it isn't suited for the outdoor usage (unless we take cover in the shade). The viewing angles in horizontal range are quite good, whereas within the vertical range there is obvious instability of viewing angles and the quality of the image quickly deteriorates. It's a serious flaw if you consider using it on the lap.
It should be mentioned, that right after the start we had to decrease the resolution of the display (the native resolution is 1280x800) - due to the limited size of the display it is only suitable for people with an eagle eye.
There's a lot of power hidden in the inconspicuous body of the Lenovo 3000 V100. The 2GHz Core Duo T2500 processor along with 1GB of RAM make this little fellow a true demon for (office) work. Right from the beginning we were filled with awe for its high performance. All the application were a piece of case for the V100, which instantly delivered the goods. The testimony to our experiences are quite impressive values achieved in PCMark tests (see benchmark comparison).
Obviously the integrated graphics core GMA 950 determines V100 to be doomed within the 3D rendering range. On that field this model handles very poorly (see 3DMark comparison).
In that case, when we tried to apply it to games, lured by the neat processor, we knew it'd be like throwing it to the wolves.
Your mood will get better, when you notice how great the hard disk really is. The Toshiba drive is one of the better devices implemented in the mobile computers.
So, the overall performance of the Lenovo 3000 V100 should satisfy the most demanding users, such as IT students.
» No benchmarks for this notebook found!
» No benchmarks for this notebook found!
Apart from outstanding performance, the thing what we liked most about the little Lenovo lappy, was its low emissions. It's just mind boggling, how such efficient and powerful machine can be that quiet and free from heating up.
Having not obtained a sound level meter in time, we had to rely on our senses. Without exception, the whole apparatus seemed very silent. Suffice to say that during normal operation (as well as while idle) the fan sets in motion from time to time only (every 5-8 minutes while browsing the web with the help of the WLAN module) and rotates so discreetly, that one can't really realize when exactly it fades away (provided that we're indulged in work and not doing a test of the emissions). Speeding it up to a higher gear (level 2) is quite a feat. In order to achieve it, one needs a full load applied to it, preferably 3D graphics processing.
The Lenovo laptop is characterized by a very good heat development. The chassis is only getting lukewarm even with full load applied.
palmwrist: 33°C max: 36°C avg: 33°C
max: 42°C avg: 35°C
The speakers, which are put at the front of the base unit, are relatively good. Their loudness is bearable and the sound quite clear. For an undemanding user they're completely sufficient.
While being much criticized by others, the battery life seemed satisfactory to us. The best illustration for that observation is our story of the runtime test, which we had to make away from our office. We took the laptop to a nearby WiFi hotspot, in order to measure the battery life during WLAN operation. We didn't stick to it - one has to admit the computer outlast us, because we became bored after performing all the tasks we could invent, and gave up halfway through the test. So the runtime put below is only computer's estimation adjusted with the knowledge that it turns off a bit earlier than promised. It's also worth to mention that after draining the battery below 20% of capacity the battery's LED on the front edge of the base unit turns from green to orange, and when discharge is critically close it begins to blink.
BatteryEater Classic (full load): 2h 22min
BatteryEater Reader's (without load, min. brightness, no WLAN): 4h 3min
DVD playback: 2h 24min
WLAN surfing: 3h 40min (with reduced brightness)
minimal (all off or at minimum): 14,7 W
maximal (full load including WLAN): 43,5 W
DVD rendition: 24 W
Webcam and fingerprint reader
Those two gadgets packed in Lenovo 3000 V100 are so attractive, that we've decided to devote a separate paragraph to them. Placed right above the display (and therefore allowing no clip for closing the lid) web camera is a standard 1.3 megapixel resolution device. But the quality of the image we get from it (as movies and pictures) is superior to the cheapness usually encountered in similar devices. Even in bad lighting conditions it manages quite well. The pictures are clear and sharp without noise and colour distortions. Contrary to the belief presented in other reviews, it can be rotated with the use of the software and you are not supposed to move the screen in order to get the right angle.
The biometric sensor is a inheritance from the ThinkPad. It not only makes logging on to your computer quick and easy, but with the help of the Omnipass software it allows you to block the access to files on the hard drive and avoid laborious password entering on web pages. This useful little gizmo is very much to our liking.
The notebook ought to be a practical device - this philosophy acts evidently as a beacon for Lenovo engineers and we very much like this attitude. Seemingly plain V100 on closer acquaintance turns out to be one swift little devil, a true workhorse. So it proves valid the rule that one shouldn't judge computers, as well as people, by exterior, and what really matters lies inside. Apart from performance, the functionality is provided by high standards of operation (low emissions) and a fine keyboard. On the other hand the factors which considerably downsize usefulness of Lenovo V100 are: the lack of the hitch fastening the lid with the base unit, inability to work outside (owing to the reflections on the screen) and poor viewing angles in vertical range.
Lenovo 3000 V100 is a laptop for everyone. It is well fit for the beginners, say a middle-aged lady having fun trading on online auction sites, as well as for the computer experts such as roving reporter of the IT portal, who won't be disappointed with the high performance of this ultraportable device.
Hereby we'd like to thank Lenovo Technology Poland, which kindly handed the equipment for the test to the Polish branch of Notebookcheck.com (as a first vendor in the country). As a Polish saying goes, the real virtue fears no criticism.