While big-screen notebooks have become popular these days, Lenovo has taken the trend one step further. Its Lenovo 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 this week.)

In other words, Lenovo's ThinkPad W700ds bends and breaks many of the rules of mobility. But beware: this weighty notebook has a weighty price tag to match - over £3,500.

Visit Business Advisor for the latest business IT news, reviews, tips and tricks - plus sign up for our unique and FREE business IT newsletter

See our Laptop Advisor website for expert reviews of today’s best laptops, plus read our essential advice to make sure you choose the right specs

At 4.96kg and measuring a gargantuan 410x310x522mm, the Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds is about as big as a notebook gets these days. With its huge AC adapter, the Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds has a ponderous travel weight equivalent to four of Apple's MacBook Air systems; it's sure to overwhelm any airline tray table.

Clothed in ThinkPad basic black, the Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds has the best components available, starting with a 2.53GHz 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, 5,400rpm hard drives that are set up to stripe data across the disks (higher-performance 7,200rpm 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 the Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds - a computational monster.

NEXT PAGE: double the display

While big-screen notebooks have become popular these days, Lenovo has taken the trend one step further. Its Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds mobile workstation has two screens, together with a quad-core processor and the best graphics this side of a desktop PC.

Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds: a display two-fer

As if the Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds's main 17in display was not enough, touch the display's right side and a unique 10.6in screen pops out. The resulting composite screen can show images with resolution of up to 3200 by 1968 pixels, although there's an annoying 1in. black strip separating the Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds's two displays.

This innovative graphics setup is powered by Nvidia's Quadro FX 3700M video processor with 1GB of dedicated video memory. The Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds's processor has the ability to grab another 1.8GB from system memory, giving it a total of 2.8GB of video memory.

It took us a little while to get used to the dual-screen setup, but we found that it worked surprisingly well. You can physically angle the smaller screen as well as drag and drop items between the Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds's two displays.

Visit Business Advisor for the latest business IT news, reviews, tips and tricks - plus sign up for our unique and FREE business IT newsletter

See our Laptop Advisor website for expert reviews of today’s best laptops, plus read our essential advice to make sure you choose the right specs

At one point, we dedicated the smaller screen to watching for incoming emails, while we worked with Word, Excel and PowerPoint on the main screen. Then we set the Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds up with a Photoshop image on the main screen and the application's colour and brush controls on the smaller display.

Later, we used the entire field of view and worked with a large 3-D CAD model while monitoring an eBay auction.

NEXT PAGE: more than meets the eye

While big-screen notebooks have become popular these days, Lenovo has taken the trend one step further. Its Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds mobile workstation has two screens, together with a quad-core processor and the best graphics this side of a desktop PC.

Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds: more than the displays

The Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds is more than a one-trick pony. It's the first traditional notebook to include, along with the usual touchpad, a second, much larger touchpad that can be used for controlling the cursor, signing digital documents, sketching a map or just doodling. There's even a handy place on the side for stowing the included stylus.

Although visuals dominate the scene with the Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds, letters, symbols and numbers matter as well. The notebook has a keyboard that is on a par with that of a desktop PC - it offers 18.7mm keys that have a generous 2.4mm of depth and a separate numeric pad. There is also a pair of LED lights that illuminate the keys.

Visit Business Advisor for the latest business IT news, reviews, tips and tricks - plus sign up for our unique and FREE business IT newsletter

See our Laptop Advisor website for expert reviews of today’s best laptops, plus read our essential advice to make sure you choose the right specs

For those who prefer a pointing stick over a touchpad (or vice versa), the Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds has both; there is also the now-expected fingerprint scanner.

Around its edge, the Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds has an array of ports that's second to none in the notebook world. In addition to the expected connectors for USB (five of them), FireWire and audio, the W700ds also includes three ports for external monitors (VGA, DVI and the newer DisplayPort) as well as two Express Card slots.

NEXT PAGE: dock of the day

While big-screen notebooks have become popular these days, Lenovo has taken the trend one step further. Its Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds mobile workstation has two screens, together with a quad-core processor and the best graphics this side of a desktop PC.

Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds: dock of the day

For those who split their time between road and office, the Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds has a convenient docking station that can power the system, has a good variety of ports and adds four USB ports as well as a SATA connector for hooking up a hard drive. A bonus is that it uses the same - albeit large - AC adaptor. On the down side, neither the system nor the dock has an HDMI connector for mating it with a large-screen monitor.

It's no surprise that the Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds is a communications powerhouse with Gigabit Ethernet as well as 802.11 a/b/g/n wireless networking. There's a 1.3Mp webcam on top of the display.

As far as software is concerned, there's Lenovo's usual group of helpful utilities - software for connecting to Wi-Fi networks, creating a recovery DVD, managing power use, updating software and more. There are also apps for using the stylus, videoconferencing (using Skype) and calibrating the colour on the system's monitors. The Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds uses Windows Vista Business with Service Pack 1 updates and has a one-year warranty.

All this adds up to the most powerful notebook we've seen. The Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds attained a phenomenal score of 1,210.9 on PassMark's Performance Test 6.1, about 50% higher than HP's Pavilion HDX 9203 and closer to a gaming desktop PC or high-end workstation.

Visit Business Advisor for the latest business IT news, reviews, tips and tricks - plus sign up for our unique and FREE business IT newsletter

See our Laptop Advisor website for expert reviews of today’s best laptops, plus read our essential advice to make sure you choose the right specs

The Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds's 7,800 milliamp-hour battery pack was able to power the system for a reasonable 2 hours and 34 minutes on a charge while working on a wireless network. While the Wi-Fi is able to move only a middling 12.3Mbps of data over an 802.11g link 5ft from the router, it had an exceptional range of 150ft.

While vendors such as Acer, Toshiba and HP employ big-screen notebooks in the name of entertainment, the Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds is all about business, making it perfect for everything from editing video to working with high-end computation and visualisation programs.

Computerworld.com

Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds: Specs

  • Intel Core 2 Quad (Q9100) 2.26GHz Processor with 1066MHz FSB and 12MB L2 Cache
  • PCI/PCI Express
  • 4GB PC3-8500 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM (2x SODIMM)
  • 200GB Serial ATA Hard Drive
  • BD (Blu-ray) drive (24X CD-ROM)
  • 17in TFT with integrated camera WUXGA 16.77 million colours, 1920 x 1200 Pixels
  • AC97 Audio CODEC, 2 x 2W Integrated Speakers, External VGA, RJ-45, 5 x USB, IEEE 1394, Microphone In Jack, Headphone/Line out, RJ-11, Docking/Port Replicator, Realtek RTL8111C Ethernet 10/100/1000 Mbps Integrated, Intel WiFi Link 5300AGN IEEE 802.11 a/g/n, nVidia Quadro FX 3700 with 1024MB DVMT (Dynamic Video Memory Technology)
  • Microsoft Windows Vista Business 64 bit Edition
  • Lithium-Ion, 9-cell battery
  • 170W AC Power Adaptor
  • 410x310x522mm
  • 4.96kg
  • Intel Core 2 Quad (Q9100) 2.26GHz Processor with 1066MHz FSB and 12MB L2 Cache
  • PCI/PCI Express
  • 4GB PC3-8500 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM (2x SODIMM)
  • 200GB Serial ATA Hard Drive
  • BD (Blu-ray) drive (24X CD-ROM)
  • 17in TFT with integrated camera WUXGA 16.77 million colours, 1920 x 1200 Pixels
  • AC97 Audio CODEC, 2 x 2W Integrated Speakers, External VGA, RJ-45, 5 x USB, IEEE 1394, Microphone In Jack, Headphone/Line out, RJ-11, Docking/Port Replicator, Realtek RTL8111C Ethernet 10/100/1000 Mbps Integrated, Intel WiFi Link 5300AGN IEEE 802.11 a/g/n, nVidia Quadro FX 3700 with 1024MB DVMT (Dynamic Video Memory Technology)
  • Microsoft Windows Vista Business 64 bit Edition
  • Lithium-Ion, 9-cell battery
  • 170W AC Power Adaptor
  • 410x310x522mm
  • 4.96kg

OUR VERDICT

The Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds is about as expensive as it gets these days. However, if your work (or play) requires this level of power and performance, it's well worth the price and weight.

Find the best price