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Lenovo shows W700 workstation class ThinkPad with built-in digitizer at SIGGRAPH 2008

System also features optional built-in color calibrator By John Virata

One thing about the notebook workstation market that tends to stand out every time Intel or AMD releases a new CPU is the seemingly lack of innovation. Manufacturers talk about graphics chipsets and processing power, but usually that is the gist of the innovation. Sure there may be other new features, but these usually don't change the game. At SIGGRAPH 2008, Lenovo introduced what can arguably be described as the most innovative workstation-class notebook computer of the year, if not the last several years.

Dubbed the W700 and scheduled for a September 2008 release date, the W700 sports all the features of its competitors with a few notable exceptions; the inclusion of a built-in digitizer (with 512 levels of pressure, no tilt) located on the notebook's palm rests, and the option to add a built-in color calibrator that Lenovo says will automatically adjust the display's color at up to half the time of external calibrators. In a demo at SIGGRAPH 2008 in Lenovo's not so secret meeting room, calibration was completed in less than 80 seconds.

I was able to briefly check the system out at the SIGGRAPH show and was fairly blown away at the fact that a Wacom tablet is built in. This Intel Core 2 Extreme Quad Core CPU-based notebook features a 17-inch display, a 7-in-1 memory card reader, and a slot that can accept a Compact Flash reader, an ExpressCard reader or a Smart Card reader. It supports up to 8GB memory, your choice of  NVIDIA Quadro FX2700 or 3700M graphics processors with up to 1GB dedicated graphics video memory to push the W700's 17-inch widescreen display. The 400-nit WUXGA display offers up to twice the brightness of previous ThinkPad mobile workstation notebooks, the company said, with more than 50 percent greater color intensity.

The W700 features a built-in Wacom digitizer that can be mapped to the entire screen or a user defined area of the screen.

The W700's display is powered by NVIDIA Quadro FX2700 or 3700M graphics processors.

For storage, the W700 features dual hard drives that can be configured in a RAID 0 configurations well as RAID 1. The second drive can also be solid state, all based on customer's build to order specifications. The optional Blue Ray disk drive can also be swapped out for a third hard drive if more storage is warranted. Pricing for the ThinkPad W700 starts at $2,978, with availability in September.

The digitizer is built into the palm rests.

So what's the benefit with this mobile workstation? For Photoshop and other digital artists who work with a Wacom tablet, the W700 offers the solution built in, so there is no need to carry unwieldy external tablets and the cords that come with it. With the optional built in color calibrator, the same holds true, no more hardware dangling off the display of your notebook, as you just set the system up to calibrate and close the lid, the calibrator and software does the rest.

What the W700 will offer graphics and other digital artists is the power of a workstation class notebook computer with the capabilities of a digitizer, in a single, unified machine. Is it revolutionary in the world of workstation class notebook computers? It's the first one on the market with a built in digitizer and calibrator, and frankly, I am surprised that it hasn't been done before. A digital artist asked for the feature, and Lenovo engineers helped to make it happen. For more information, visit www.lenovo.com.

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John Virata is senior editor of Digital Media Online. You can email him at jvirata@digitalmedianet.com
Related Keywords:notebook computer, workstation, media workstation


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