Optical Media, Flash Memory, Connectivity
If you care about optical media, fret not, Lenovo has you covered. You can pick from a CD-RW/DVD-ROM, an 8x DVD-RW drive (which our sample was configured with), or if you really want to go all out, you can configure a Thinkpad W700 with a slim line Blu-Ray drive. As this screen has a high-enough resolution to support 1080P video playback, along with enough CPU and GPU horsepower to keep everything in check, Blu-Ray movie playback on this system is certainly possible without difficulties. In theory, of course, as we couldn't test this without the Blu-Ray drive option. It should be fine though. Our laptop came pre-installed with a copy of Intervideo's WinDVD for movie playback - it's likely that Blu-Ray equipped models will include a Blu-Ray capable version of some sort of media player.
The final aspect of storage which is worth mentioning is memory card support. As Lenovo is targeting high-end digital photographers with this machine as well, having support for a variety of high-end memory card standards is certainly appropriate. The W700 supports multiple configurations through its expansion bays on the left side of the laptop, which give you the flexibility upon ordering to choose what you want to support. The default configuration is two empty ExpressCard slots (54mm and 34mm). Lenovo lets you choose if you want to swap out the 54mm Express card slot for a Smart Card reader or a Compact Flash reader (which our sample had). On the front of the laptop, you also have a dedicated Secure Digital (SD/SDHC) card slot which is fixed in the bezel. You can leave your memory card reader at home, finally.
SD card support? Check.
Connectivity wise, the Lenovo W700 doesn't disappoint. Our system was equipped with an Intel PCI Express WiFi Link 5300 series card, which allows for connectivity between just about every Wi-Fi router, including 802.11 A/B/G series routers, along with 802.11N through Draft-N. You also have BlueTooth 2.0 wireless connectivity, a 56K modem (just in case), and a wired Gigabit Ethernet port which connects to the system via PCI Express. Lenovo also claims that they will be adding WiMax options sometime in 2008, although this will likely be dependent on WiMax roll-outs in larger markets.
Now, the connectivity options are great and all, but the one feature which really wows is Lenovo's Wi-Fi connectivity software. Typically, OEM-created software to handle network connectivity is far below the quality level of Windows's native Vista Wi-Fi software suite, which means we usually disable the bundled connectivity software. Lenovo has done some really great stuff on this end, though. Through their "Access Connections" software, you can see in a visual manner which Wi-Fi hotspots are the closest and giving you the best signal, along with which ones are locked. It's an amazingly simple but useful way for connecting to Wi-Fi hot-spots.
Access Connections - a beautifully simple way to locate nearby Wi-Fi spots.