Lenovo 3000 N100 review

Price when reviewed

ThinkPads have hardly changed since Lenovo bought IBM’s notebook division, and the Chinese company has done a good job of evolving the brand. Its own cheaper 3000 range doesn’t have the same pedigree, but as this N100 proves, labels aren’t everything.

Lenovo 3000 N100 review

Despite being reasonably priced, the N100’s specification fares well against the competition. Computing power is provided by a 1.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5500, which is backed up by 1GB of 667MHz DDR2 RAM, an 80GB hard disk and Intel’s GMA 950 integrated graphics.

This gives the N100 a score of 1.00 in our 2D benchmarks, placing it mid-table for performance. Battery life is below average, lasting less than three hours with light use and over two hours under intensive use. But it was the second quickest to charge at 1hr 37mins.

The N100 is generally well endowed elsewhere. Four USB ports make for a fine desktop-replacement machine, as does the keyboard. Its positive key action means you can easily touch-type on it. We’d like to have seen separate Home and End keys, however (they’re shared with PgUp and PgDn), and the small Delete key sits, annoyingly, right between Insert and Print Screen.

Despite the price, Lenovo includes a fingerprint reader; however, without the added security of a TPM chip, this is more for convenience than data protection.

But there are no such reservations about the superb 15.4in 1,280 x 800 TFT. This may not be glossy or particularly high resolution, but it’s bright, evenly lit and up there with the best in this Labs.

Where the budget begins to show is in build quality. The chassis is tough enough, but its smooth plastics feel cheap and the shark’s nose design of the chassis is dated. Also, it isn’t the most portable here at 3.15kg including the power supply. Corners have been cut with the warranty as well, with just a meagre one-year return-to-base warranty. Finally, it’s the only machine here not to feature Gigabit Ethernet as standard.

But these shortfalls are outweighed by the N100’s advantages and, overall, the N100 is great value at this price. Add Lenovo’s excellent customer service and support, and it makes a decent alternative to the winners.

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