Radical dual-screen laptop makes debut

We thought we’d seen just about everything in the notebook world but Lenovo has just made us do a double-take. And we mean that quite literally.

The ThinkPad W700ds sports two screens. In addition to the superbright (400 nit) 17inch panel a smaller 10.6 inch display springs out from the right side of the lid. While the main screen is a traditional widescreen panel which can driven to 1920 x 1200 the secondary screen clocks sits in portrait mode (and thus clocks 768 by 1280 pixels).

While a double-display notebook has admittedly limited appeal Lenovo sees the W700ds as a beefed-up mobile workstation for designers architects engineers developers and even video editors who aren’t willing to lose a slab of their notebook’s screen to tool palettes live preview panes and other secondary elements.

Most of those users are already running two screens on their desktop so Lenovo’s strategy is to give them a similar working environment in a portable or at least transportable package.

In keeping with those roles the W700ds has high-end features such as built-in automatic colour calibration and support for RAID.

Like the ThinkPad W700 on which it’s based this juggernaut sports a 128cm x 80cm Wacom digitiser tablet parked to the right of the trackpad. And in keeping with its mobile workstation status tick-a-box options include Intel’s Core 2 Quad Core Extreme processor and Nvidia’s Quadro FX 1GB mobile graphics engine plus dual fans to kepe things cool.

There’s a maximum of 8GB of DDR memory and almost 1TB of storage bolstered by 4GB of Intel’s Turbo RAM for high-speed disk caching. And to ensure you can get this behemoth past Vista’s boot-up before its battery goes toes-up the W700ds packs a nine-cell battery.

Such a hulking hardware spec doesn’t quite make Lenovo’s twin-screen ThinkPad a threat to Apple’s MacBook Air – the starting weight for the W700ds is just shy of 5kg.

Want one all the same? You’ll have to wait until the W700ds makes its official debut at next month’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas… oh and you’ll need to have some $6000 on hand based on early estimates of a starting price around US$3600.