Product review: Lenovo 3000 N100

1 May 2007

This latest notebook (pictured) from Lenovo is aimed squarely at the business professional, and its lightweight feel and inbuilt biometric security would especially suit someone who travels a lot or attends meetings all day.

The Lenovo 3000 N100 comes in two sizes: the 14.1 inch and 15.4 inch. One would assume that for portability purposes you would have to opt for the smaller one and forego the pleasures of a larger screen. But as I reviewed the latter version, this was not so.

I was pleasantly surprised at how light the 15.4-inch notebook was for its size, a mere 2.8kg – due to its aesthetically pleasing silver chassis being made entirely out of plastic.

You may remember Lenovo’s first line of laptops, the C100, being clunky and chunky looking, but this new range is decidedly more streamlined and easier on the eye.

Like all standard notebooks on the market now, it comes with Windows Vista, is Wi-Fi enabled and has Bluetooth capabilities.

Last weekend I paid a visit to Carlow, Ireland’s first wireless-enabled broadband town, to give a new notebook a test run. As soon as I turned on the Lenovo, it was ready to pick up the Wi-Fi signal and quickly located my mobile phone via Bluetooth.

Its software package includes all the usual suspects, such as Norton Internet Security, InterVideo WinDVD and Adobe Acrobat Reader for reading PDF documents. Diagnostics software PC Doctor 5 and Corel Small Business Center with WordPerfect Office 12 are also thrown in.

There also is software on board for multimedia applications, namely Picasa, for managing all your photos and pictures, and WinDVD Creator for editing and creating your own DVDs and CDs.

With most people today using their laptop to mix business with pleasure, this model is a good compromise.

With only an 80GB hard drive, 1GB of RAM and a generic onboard Intel graphics card, however, it is definitely not a top choice for those with multimedia-heavy requirements.

It seems more than sufficient to meet the requirements of the average business person, with plenty of memory and RAM for throwing on your MP3 and photo collection as well.

The main selling point behind this notebook is the biometric security device, an integrated fingerprint reader. This means that once you have set up the fingerprint reader to take your fingerprint, no one else will be able to access your computer.

Forget Mission Impossible-style espionage where someone can access your system simply by using a fingerprint imprinted on a wine glass. This fingerprint reader is a small device to the right of the mouse pad that requires the user to swipe a finger over the reader, rather than press it down.

The fingerprint reader is managed by the OmniPass control centre. You can also use this biometric security to prohibit access to certain PC programs and as a replacement for all the dozens of passwords used when logging on to different websites.

I found that the notebook lasted for ages on standby but as soon as I started using it the battery life indicator took a nosedive in no time. For my needs, I would expect to be getting at least three and a half hours out of any notebook, but the Lenovo died on me in about two. Maybe it was because of being left on standby, but I have done this with other notebooks for more than a day and they didn’t drain as fast.

By Marie Boran