When you think of a high-powered graphics workstation, the first thing which typically comes to mind is a huge, bulky tower chassis, packed to the brim with multiple processors, high-end graphics cards, and multiple hard disks. For the most part, this assumption is still fairly accurate, as these are the components which designers and artists usually require, and they aren't available anywhere else. Thus, artists have more or less been chained to their desks and their big, perfectly calibrated monitors.
This isn't to say that there aren't options for the mobile workstation user, however, they have never really been up to par with what you could accomplish with a full tower. Almost every major notebook provider out there has a mobile workstation product, although for graphic artists, the only truly well respected product lineup has been Apple's MacBook Pro series. Even with the most high-end MacBook Pro, however, you're limited to what you can physically stuff into such a small form factor. The solution? Go bigger. That's just what Lenovo has done with their massively large (and equally impressive) Thinkpad W700 model - the first laptop we've seen which not only meets, but surpasses what Apple's MacBook Pro can offer to the graphics professional.
While Apple tends to target the style-conscious designer types, Lenovo is going the other direction, providing a no-frills, high-end laptop which is absolutely packed with high-end hardware. This isn't to say that the Thinkpad W700 is un-attractive (it has its rugged, industrial charm), but it's clear here that style is not Lenovo's primary focus. So, what is Lenovo's primary focus? Performance. Lenovo is offering hardware options which Apple isn't close to touching with their new W700. With the Lenovo W700, you can configure systems with quad-core processors, up to 8GB of memory, multiple hard drives in RAID, and Nvidia's latest lineup of mobile QuadroFX graphics processors, none of which are available on the PowerMac lineup today. Not only does the W700 offer what Apple can't, it also offers configuration options which are unique to the rest of the PC space as well.
Some may assume that Lenovo is taking a brute-force approach to the mobile workstation market, but this is clearly not the case with the W700. Helping to refine this model are options for ultra-high resolution displays, optional hardware display color calibration (a Lenovo first), and an optional Wacom digitizer (another Lenovo first), all of which clearly show that Lenovo has the right frame of mind when attacking the mobile workstation market. In terms of its specification, the Thinkpad W700 looks very impressive - and we were lucky enough to get our hands on one of the first shipping models, which we will now analyze in great depth on the following pages. Enjoy!
Lenovo's (very-large) Thinkpad W700 Notebook - iPhone used for size comparison purposes.