Lenovo 3000 V200 review

£1016
Price when reviewed

When it comes to ultraportable laptops, Lenovo (and IBM before it) has been responsible for some of the best we’ve ever seen. The ThinkPad range, such as the excellent T60, is quite simply legendary.

In comparison with Sony’s luxurious VAIO TZ11, though, opening the Lenovo left us with a slight feeling of disappointment. It isn’t just that it’s heavier at 2kg, nor that Lenovo has failed to make the V200 look even half as good – it’s the overall package. The screen has an unattractive 2cm bezel at the sides, and the orange/silver/black colour scheme makes the entire system look like a 1970s concept machine.

But looks aren’t everything, and once you get past the V200’s appearance it’s clear Lenovo hasn’t lost its touch when it comes to building notebooks. Type a sentence, for instance, and it becomes clear the quality of the keyboard is superb. And the V200 only qualifies as chunky in comparison to the sylph-like TZ11. It’s still just 35mm thick, and the screen feels a lot more resistant to abuse than the Sony’s supermodel-slim screen. The V200 also feels a lot more resistant to day-to-day office battering.

What’s more, the V200 eclipses the TZ11 when it comes to performance. The Sony sacrifices all-out speed for battery life with its ultra-low-voltage U7500, but the Lenovo has a Core 2 Duo T7300 at its Santa Rosa heart, with a core clock speed of 2GHz. This means performance is altogether more impressive, with the V200 scoring 0.92 in our benchmarks, a full 38% faster than the Sony. That won’t make a huge difference day-to-day, but intensive jobs will benefit tremendously. The V200’s other core specifications are equally practical. We’d like to see slightly more than the 1GB of RAM, but the 120GB hard disk will be plenty for mobile working and the odd video. Like the Sony, the V200 also packs in a versatile optical drive despite its slim dimensions.

A good mix of business- and consumer-friendly extras are on offer: there’s a fingerprint reader and TPM 1.2 chip to enhance security, plus an integrated 1.3-megapixel webcam in the top bezel and an SD card reader built into the side. We’re less happy about the two USB ports, though, as you’ll have to buy a port replicator (or USB hub) if you plan on regularly docking it. There is a mini-FireWire port and an ExpressCard/54 slot for extra expansion, though.

The 12.1in screen is a little larger than the TZ11’s 11.1in offering, but it shares the Sony’s glossy finish – and, inevitably, all of its associated problems for office work. Lenovo uses some of the extra area to increase the resolution to 1,280 x 800, and in general we found the screen pleasant enough to use. However, we did have problems with vertical viewing angles, with the top of the screen losing apparent brightness when tilted too far back. It certainly isn’t the sharpest screen we’ve seen either.

We were concerned that Lenovo’s inclusion of a faster processor would have a big impact on battery life, but in practice, we were pleasantly surprised. Under light use, the V200 ran for 5hrs 30mins – well above the average. The processor had a bigger impact in our intensive-use tests, as we were able to wring only 1hr 28mins from it – a far cry from the show-stopping performance of the TZ11. Still, even including the power supply the Lenovo weighs in at just 2.4kg, and you’ll have no problem tucking it into a crowded backpack. The only drawback is the battery, which protrudes from the back by about half an inch – another blow to the V200’s already wounded sense of style.

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