At Government Technology magazine, we see quite a few sleek-looking laptops.
So the Lenovo 3000 N100 isn't one of them - big deal. Rather, with its ultra-large, white letters on black keys, plenty of wrist room and a mere 5.9 pounds for a 14.1-inch screen, it says comfort - really loud and clear.
The other thing it says loud and clear is, "Help is only a button away." And it really is.
Above the laptop's keyboard, the Lenovo Care button, clearly indicated with an orange toolbox logo, isn't just a simple road map to a resource center, but also to defragmenting your machine, backing up data, managing security and other important things that are usually buried in the maze behind the start button.
Another nice feature of the machine is the point and click touchpad, which lets you tap your finger on the pad instead of clicking the buttons below.
In practice, however, it wasn't easy. I often found myself too heavy-handed for this particular touchpad. If I let my finger linger for a second while finding my way through a Web site, it would automatically click wherever my cursor was and whisk me away to another page or highlight large portions of a page, as if I had selected them. Even with some practice, I still could't completely get the hang of it, but fortunately these incidents could be fixed by hitting the back button.
What never let me down was the fingerprint reader. It was so easy to set up, I barely remember doing it. I only entered two fingerprints although there was room for more, and the reader was so accurate, it rarely asked me to reswipe.
The Lenovo 3000 N100 also has some impressive multimedia capacity. It comes with an optional camera that can take pictures and record movies. It sports four USB 2.0 ports (three vertical and one horizontal - a nice feature for a laptop); a 4-in-1 card reader; a PCMCIA slot; and also has S-Video, VGA, RJ11, RJ45 and 1394 FireWire (4-pin) connections.
The test unit came with Windows XP Professional, but according to the Lenovo Web site, it's fully Vista-ready, as long as you are too.
The Lenovo 3000 N100 is also ready for action and lots of it. I downloaded a free trial of Adobe PageMaker, opened a few Internet windows, got a couple of instant message conversations going, and the laptop handled it easily.
I should note, however, that the machine was a bit stubborn at first. For the first few weeks, whenever I opened the My Computer window, it froze. Control+Alt+Delete had to bail me out a few times. When I finally decided to report the problem to our tech guy, it was gone. And I was left muttering, "But I promise ... it wasn't working." Eventually the laptop and I reconciled, and everything has been swell since.
Overall, the Lenovo 3000 N100 may not be the belle of the ball. But sometimes, it's all about personality.
Rating: 3 stars