Review and video: Lenovo's ThinkPad W700ds -- two displays in one notebook

Lenovo's latest ThinkPad doesn't only offer a second screen, but sets a new standard in mobile productivity.

While big-screen notebooks have become popular these days, Lenovo has taken the trend one step further. Its ThinkPad W700ds mobile workstation has two screens, together with a quad-core processor and the best graphics this side of a desktop PC. (According to Lenovo, the notebook will be available as soon as it is officially announced at CES in early January.)

In other words, Lenovo's new notebook bends and breaks many of the rules of mobility. But beware: This weighty notebook has a weighty price tag to match -- slightly over $5,000.

At 11.1 lbs. and measuring a gargantuan 2.2 by 16.1 by 12.2 in., the ThinkPad W700ds is about as big as a notebook gets these days -- for example, it's half an inch thicker and two pounds heavier than Toshiba's Qosmio X305. With its huge AC adapter, the W400ds has a ponderous travel weight of 13.2 lbs. That's the weight equivalent of four of Apple's MacBook Air systems; it's sure to overwhelm any airline tray table.

Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds
The Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds.

Clothed in ThinkPad basic black, the W700ds has the best components available, starting with a 2.53-GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme processor that has four independent processing cores, 6MB of L2 cache and 64-bit operations. There's also 4GB of memory, an 8X DVD burner and a pair of 250GB, 5,400-rpm hard drives that are set up to stripe data across the disks (higher-performance 7,200-rpm drives are also an option). Whether it's for working with a CAD file or making sense of a large Excel file, no notebook on sale today even comes close to this computational monster.

A display two-fer

As if the system's main 17-in. display were not enough, touch the display's right side and a unique 10.6-in. screen pops out. The resulting composite screen can show images with resolution of up to 3200 by 1968 pixels, although there's an annoying 1-in. black strip separating the two displays.

This innovative graphics setup is powered by Nvidia's Quadro FX 3700M video processor with 1GB of dedicated video memory. The processor has the ability to grab another 1.8GB from system memory, giving it a total of 2.8GB of video memory.

It took me a little while to get used to the dual-screen setup, but I found that it worked surprisingly well. You can physically angle the smaller screen as well as drag and drop items between the two displays.

At one point, I dedicated the smaller screen to watching for incoming e-mails, while I worked with Word, Excel and PowerPoint on the main screen. Then I set the notebook up with a Photoshop image on the main screen and the application's color and brush controls on the smaller display. Later, I used the entire field of view and worked with a large 3-D CAD model while monitoring an eBay auction.

Lenovo's dual-screen ThinkPad W700ds.

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