The power connector on the right hand side for the laptop is rather thick and plugs in on the right hand side. Next to this is one of the three USB 2.0 ports, which have been spread around with one at the rear and one on the left.
Also on the right are the 56k modem, and the Fast Ethernet port. It’s a sign of the times that I’m actually surprised that Gigabit Ethernet isn’t supplied. There’s a dual-layer DVD burner drive included and above this is a on/off switch for the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Next to this is the multi-card reader. The arrangement of this all is quite compact, which might bother the fat fingered, but that’s what you get with an ultra-portable.
On the left-hand side is a VGA output, handy for presentations and the audio ports. There’s also a mini-FireWire port. Above this is an Express card slot. One could view this as forward thinking, but the fact is that one of the the most useful additions right now is a 3G data card, and these aren’t yet available in Express card format. The only port on the rear is a single USB port.
On the left you’ll also find the grille output for the CPU heatsink, but I found that the notebook ran pretty quietly and didn’t get overly warm after prolonged use. This is no doubt largely due to the heat efficient Core Duo T2400 processor. There’s a Gig of RAM running in dual-channel mode but there’s no room for any extra without changing the modules.
So how did this little mini marvel perform? For comparison I choose the similarly specced Samsung Q35, which is also around the same price. The Lenovo has a faster CPU to the Samsung review sample and did outpace it in SYSmark 2002 and in PC Mark 05. However, the Samsung should now be available with the same CPU as the Lenovo V100 but at the same price. This is all well and good, but when it came to battery life the Lenovo got well and truly pasted by the Samsung.
Of course the Samsung had a six cell battery with it, whereas the one included in the Lenovo is only a three cell. The larger one on the Samsung sticks out of the rear but it’s more than worth it. The 94 minutes of DVD playback from the Lenovo was truly poor and in all honesty, there’s little point in a notebook being ultra portable if it won’t last you long out in the field. A six cell battery should be available from Lenovo as an extra and we’d only consider this notebook with one.
Aside from this the Samsung is a more stylish overall package but the excellent keyboard and the web cam may sway some towards the Lenovo.
In addition the Lenovo also carries with it the excellent IBM ThinkVantage recovery software on a hidden partition. I had occasion to use this when our normal recovery routine didn’t work. The process took a very long time to get back to the factory default setting but it worked very well and is a great safety option should your installation get messed up. What’s more, it’s great not to having to worry about hunting round to find recovery CDs.
At first glance the V100 suffers for looks and build quality compared to a genuine ThinkPad. However it does bring many ThinkPad features to a more affordable price point. I wouldn’t consider it though unless it’s paired with an extended battery as the standard one is far too weedy.