Lenovo may be a name new to most people and rightly so. Until last year, it wasn’t widely known outside its native China. However, with the acquisition of the IBM hardware line, Lenovo suddenly became the world’s largest unknown notebook brand.
The Lenovo 3000 C100 is the first machine we’ve seen that hasn’t used an IBM casing and from first impressions, we're impressed. IBM may have been the businessman’s favourite but the 3000 line is for the man in the street looking for a bargain notebook.
There are clearly two sides to this machine, the first is the downside: in order to keep costs down, the 3000 uses an Intel Celeron M 370 (1.5GHz) processor, which is not only not only last year’s technology but even in the scheme of things is strictly a budget chip.
If you only want to surf the web and write documents, then it’ll be fine, just don’t expect miracles for less than £400. It’s backed by 512MB of DDR2 memory, and a 40GB hard drive, which are the minimum you should expect at this price.
On the plus side, this machine feels great. The plastic casing is solidly and extremely well built. It may be a budget machine but it doesn’t feel like it. The keyboard is solid and the large keys feel extremely comfortable as you type.
It weighs 2.9kg, so you can just about carry it around with you. And if the battery life has anything to do with it, you will. We regularly got as much as 6 hours from the battery – more than enough for most people.
Wireless networks can be configured thanks to an 802.11b/g adapter, and a 10/100 Ethernet card allows connection to fixed networks.
A front-loading CD rewriter enables the backup of files, and will also play DVDs. Connectivity is also good; S-Video and VGA-out sockets enable connection to external monitors, TVs and projectors.
The screen is a decent size, measuring in at 15 inches. It doesn’t have the glossy coating or widescreen aspect ratio you’ll find on more multimedia-centric machines but for basic tasks it large and clear enough. On the plus side, if you’re using it out and about, the lack of a glossy coating means you won’t get glaring reflections.
The graphics are in line with the Celeron processor, so you’ll find an Intel 915GM chip handling things. This is fine for word and other office tasks, as well as watching DVDs but don’t even think of playing games.
Yes, compromises have been made in the choice of processor but this helps keep the price so low, it’s hard not to be impressed. What really stands out about the Lenovo 3000 C100 is the build quality and the battery life, neither of which we were expecting in a machine costing so little. If you can live with the basic performance, then you have yourself one bargain notebook.