Lenovo Thinkpad W700 Mobile Workstation

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Input Devices

One of the joys of having a huge behemoth of a laptop is that you have room for a proper full-sized keyboard. As someone with long fingers, finding a laptop keyboard which allows me to write quickly and without an un-natural amount of typos has always been a losing battle. However, the Thinkpad W700 has a full sized keyboard with true 100% sized keys, along with a full number pad on the side. Typing on the W700 compared to a traditional laptop keyboard is like night and day - it's incredibly easy to work on and typing feels very natural on this unit. The only major differences in the layout of the W700 keyboard and a typical desktop keyboard is the placement of the Insert/Delete block, which is placed directly above the Back space key.

Finally! A true full-sized keyboard!

In standard Thinkpad fashion, you have the little red-nubbin Touch-Point in the center of the keyboard which can be used for mouse movement. Even if you don't use this for mouse movement, it does not get in the way of standard keyboard typing, so we have no qualms with it being there. The Touch-Point works in conjunction with a series of buttons which sit just south of the Space Bar which allow for different types of mouse clicks and scrolling styles.

The standard red Thinkpad nubbin.

Thinkpad touchpad with scroll controls.

The W700 is also equipped with a traditional touchpad, which is up to par with what we would expect from a high-end laptop. The touchpad supports two buttons and horizontal and vertical scrolling by default, and has a very good feel to it. There is a small indent below the two trackpad buttons which allows your fingers to rest slightly under the buttons, which actually feels quite natural and helps long term usage become less of a nusiance. The trackpad feels sturdy and reliable during day to day usage, and is one of the better trackpads we've used. If you want to opt for a mouse instead, Lenovo has USB ports on both side of the laptop for easy connectivity (two ports on the left, three on the right).

Now, some of you may be curious as to what the "giant" trackpad is on the right side of the palm rest. Of the people whom the Lenovo W700 was shown to, this was most often their first question after proclaiming how large the notebook was in size. "Is it ljust a big trackpad?". Nope - it is not a trackpad. In reality, this large, rectangle shaped area on the palm rest is a major Lenovo innovation, as this is a fully functional integrated Wacom tablet, built right into the palm-rest. This is seriously cool technology at work here, folks. Lenovo has built in logic that disables the panel when it detects your wrist is above the panel, as it is when you are typing, as to not move the cursor when you don't mean it to be moving. If the system also detects you are drawing on the panel with your left hand, it can disable the scrollpad as well as to not interfere with your tablet work.

Integrated Wacom digitizer with handy pen storage on the right side.

Having an integrated Wacom panel built right into the notebook allows for a highly flexible pen-based drawing interface, which works in conjunction with a digitizer pen which fits into the side of the notebook. Wacom tablets are highly flexible and can be used in a lot of different scenarios, but are excellent for hand-drawing and hand-writing, both of which are impossible to replicate with a mouse or a trackpad. In our testing, we found the tablet to be very easy to use, right out of the box as it is pre-configured. We did, however, find that the pen often got stuck in the side of the laptop and would not pop out every time we asked for it, which is troublesome given that this is a brand new laptop.

Of course, not every graphics workstation user equires a tablet interface, and as such, Lenovo offers this as a customizable option for an extra ~$125. While it's a smaller panel (5" wide x 3" tall) compared to most external units, it's also priced accordingly and is very reasonable from a cost / portability perspective. If you're a designer or artist who uses a Wacom tablet, the thought of having a panel integrated into your laptop to take with you wherever you go (and not having to carry around something extra and having to constantly plug it in) will likely sound pretty appealing. After showing this to an artist friend who uses a Wacom tablet on a daily basis, seeing the W700's integrated panel made her proclaim "that's hot".  We couldn't agree more - and we're not even a Wacom tablet users, but this is a very innovative piece of technology here, and we'realways happy to see fresh ideas making their way to production.

There's one more extra interface option, although this one is built in standard. To the right of the Wacom tablet, you have a small piece of transparent plastic slightly embedded in the panel. This is an integrated fingerprint reader, which allows you to lock the laptop with a fingerprint instead of a traditional password (or both for two-factor authentication). For a high-end workstation user who might have sensitive data on the laptop, having biometric security support is a huge win, and having it included by default just shows how Lenovo is committed to the technology. The fingerprint scanning system is quick, accurate, and we've never run into a false positive authentication - although sometimes we have to run our finger over the scanner several times in order for it to give us the OK to enter our system.

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