Lenovo’s upcoming ThinkPad W700 mobile workstations are loaded with high-end features, including Intel Core 2 Quad CPUs and Nvidia Quadro Express graphics, RAID storage, and built-in Wacom pen tablets. But one feature is as close to being genuinely jaw-dropping as anything I’ve seen on a laptop in a long time: an optional secondary 10.6-inch LCD display that sits to the side of the main 17-inch screen. (There it is on the left–I’m not entirely clear on where the secondary screen goes when not in use–whether it slides, folds, or detaches.)
My first take on the second screen was that it was wretched, pricey excess. But the W700 is aimed at CAD users and other types who want all the power they can get their hands on, and all the screen real estate, too. Portability is not top-of-mind for these folks, and I’ll bet that a meaningful minority of the people who buy the W700 spring for the second screen.
The W700ds (hey, wonder what the “ds” stands for?) will start at around $3600 and will ship in January.
Over at Computerworld, Eric Lai has a good piece on the W700 that says it’s apparently the first two-screen laptop. Not true, though it might be the first one that’s not an eccentric flop. Back in 2003 at PC World, we got in a Xentex Flip-Pad Voyager, a truly bizarre product that sported two screens, each of which could flip around independently–and it also had a keyboard that folded in half. I’m not positive if the Xentex ever actually shipped, but one surfaced on eBay earlier this year. (I stole the picture below from PCMag.com.)
Then there was the Estari dual-screen tablet PC.
The Estari reminds me of OLPC’s prototype for a second-generation XO laptop for kids in developing nations:
As far as I know, neither the Xentex nor the Estari are still out there. And the XO-2 isn’t due until 2010. Lenovo’s dualie workstation should have one market for itself: dual-screen notebooks that aren’t too bizarre, and which are meant for use by adults.
Oh, and the ThinkPad two-screener reminds me of two notable whacko-but-useful ThinkPads from the 1990s, the 701 (with its fold-out “butterfly” keyboard) and the 755CV (whose screen could be plopped on an overhead projector to project presentations):