Lenovo announces dual-screen Thinkpad

  • Research Triangle Park (NC) – Lenovo today announced the world’s first dual-screen notebook, which may give the idea of a mobile workstation or business desktop replacement notebook new meaning. The Thinkpad W700ds adds a slide-out display to the system’s main 17” screen to duplicate a desktop dual-screen environment. The privilege of owning one of these notebooks comes at a price – in terms of weight, battery life and money.  


    The Thinkpad team has had fantastic ideas to enhance the usability of its mobile computers in the past – we especially remember the Thinkpad’s butterfly keyboard in the mid-90s. But few of these ideas actually survived and we are not sure whether the dual-screen notebook approach has the potential to last.

    Lenovo’s new Thinkpad is designed as a 17” mobile workstation that is 0.5” thicker than its W700 predecessor and hides a 10.6” slide-out display in its lid. The main screen offers a resolution of 1920 x 1200, the smaller screen (which can be angled towards the user) 768 x 1280, which is about 40% of the screen real estate of the main display. Realistically, the 768 pixel width is not enough to comfortably browse web pages or to edit text documents, presentations or large spreadsheets. In everyday use, the display may be limited to secondary applications such as instant messaging, video calls or emails.

    Compared to the W700, which is already a substantial notebook, the ds version packs an additional 2 lbs and weighs about 11 lbs. Add the power adapter and you are at 13 lbs and even that may not be the final word, especially if you are adding a second or third hard drive. The measurements are 16.1”x12.2”x2.1”.

    The core hardware components of the W700ds include Intel Core 2 processors (quad-core available), Nvidia workstation graphics (Quadro FX 3760M), 4 – 8 GB memory and a hard drive capacity of 320, 640 or 960 GB. Prices for a W700ds base model start at just under $3700, while a quad-core model with Nvidia’s workstation graphics chip will break the $5000 barrier. Add more memory and max out the storage space and you will see a bottom line that exceeds $6000.

    There are plenty of reviews of the W700ds already available on the web and it appears that this system is not exactly as mobile as your average notebook. Not only is it bulky and heavy, its battery time is also well below two hours - if both screens are used. The battery times published in the reviews we have seen range from about 95 to 110 minutes with a standard 9-cell battery.
    If you are looking for a notebook with more battery time and do not need the second screen, Lenovo is now offering what the company describes as “one of the thinnest and lightest 16-inch laptops.” The Ideapad Y650 is just 1” thick (at its thinnest point) and weighs about 5.6 lbs. The Y-series, which is also available with a 15.6” or a 14” screen, can be configured with up to 4 GB of DDR3 memory and up to 500 GB of hard drive space.