New Lenovo Boasts Top-Flight Performance
Our chart of ultraportable laptops this month hosts both stalwarts and newcomers. Lenovo's classy ThinkPad X60s retains the number one spot and our Best Buy nod, thanks to its excellent performance (including stellar battery life) and top-notch design. The other two returning systems are the fourth-ranked Fujitsu LifeBook P7120 Notebook and the fifth-ranked HP Compaq nc4200 Notebook PC.
Two machines make their debut: the HP Compaq tc4400 and the Lenovo 3000 V100.
The HP Compaq tc4400 is a compact, convertible tablet. The $2179 model's design features such thoughtful touches as a fingerprint reader at the top of the screen--so it's usable in both tablet and laptop modes--as well as a Ctrl-Alt-Del button at the side of the screen, for easy access in tablet mode. However, this laptop is a bit bulkier than you might expect of an ultraportable. In addition, the device weighs 4.6 pounds, a little heftier than competing ultraportables we've seen. Its WorldBench 5 performance was quite strong (it achieved a score of 88); but its tested battery life, though good at 4 hours, 11 minutes, was more ordinary.
The other new kid in town is Lenovo's 3000 V100. This ultraportable model comes in at a lower cost than the flagship ThinkPad X60s--and it doesn't match its pricier sibling's excellence of design. Most notably, the keyboard took a little getting used to, and we hated the ultrastiff mouse buttons, to the point that we found it necessary to switch to an external mouse.
Design complaints aside, however, this system didn't skimp on either features or performance. It includes such niceties as an ExpressCard slot and instant-on multimedia. And its performance rocked the house, earning the V100 a high-flying WorldBench 5 score of 93, the third-best result that we've seen for an ultraportable. Its battery life was decent enough, too, running just over 4 hours in our trials.
Each of the four other models we tested this month had shortcomings that kept them off the chart. Acer's TravelMate 3002WTCi looks sharp, costs a reasonable $1199, and weighs just 3.2 pounds, but it lacks an integrated optical drive; and when you add on an external DVD-ROM/CD-RW combination drive and power supply, its travel weight soars to 5.3 pounds.
Averatec's $1399 AV1150-EW1 and $950 AV2260-EH1 differ slightly in specs and size, but neither packs performance punch, and each has a mediocre keyboard. HP's $1649 Compaq nc2400 offered nearly 5 hours of battery life, but the lithe, compact unit performed poorly, placing last among notebooks tested under WorldBench 5.
Melissa J. Perenson
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