LAS VEGAS, NV (Autodesk University 2014) - Getting a mobile workstation used to require making a tough choice between power and weight. If you needed to use a CAD or CAE application on the road, or were shuttling between offices, the field, home, or trade shows, a 10 lb. mobile workstation was easier to move around than a desktop workstation, for sure, but you had to pity the poor dweeb in the economy seat of the airplane or in the airport, always scrambling to plug the 1 lb. brick transformer into a power outlet. They never did last long enough on a battery, no matter how big the battery. The “mobile” in mobile workstation was a relative term.
A new crop of mobile workstations is making the term mobile more fitting. Two were on display at Autodesk University.
David Harris, product marketing manager for Lenovo, not straining as he shows off the W550s
ThinkPads are THE business laptop of choice. They are the only laptops I have ever owned, starting with the ThinkPad 701 with the butterfly keyboard. ThinkPads are rock solid, and if you buy the maintenance (which I have needed no more than two times in 15 years), you can be assured of reliability.
Lenovo chose Autodesk University to introduce its latest, the W550s. It was so new they could not even show it turned on, because either Intel or NVIDIA had not had a chance to announce that the W550s was using its latest chips using less power. Finally, a workstation might actually last a full workday on batteries? Better than that, the W550s claims the longest battery life of ANY mobile workstation with 13 hours.
The first thing you may notice is that this mobile workstation is thin — really thin — as thin some of the thinnest laptops, except maybe Apple’s (less than 1 inch, according to the specs). It may not be the lightest mobile workstation even now, but at a shade under 5 lbs. (4.92 lbs. for non-touch screen), it’s definitely an improvement over its predecessor, the W540, which weighed in at 5.45 lbs.
Mobile workstations used to cheat the weight specs by ignoring the power supply, or “brick,” as they are known for their obvious similarity. But the W550s brick is less than half a pound. You can opt for a standard sized brick that you can leave on your office and use the smaller version on the road. The smaller version (45 watts) takes longer to charge, but that’s a small price for the weight that you may have around your neck getting from one end of O’Hare to another.
Though I’ll have to take their word for it, the W550s has a 3K display, with 2880x1620 display across a 15.6” screen. Icons get really, really small at that resolution, and I imagine with a 4K display, the icons are practically microscopic, but the W550s supports multiple monitors (up to three total) through a real docking station, where the laptop clicks securely into place rather than relying on a USB device pretending to be docking station which many other laptops seem to rely on.
The W550s has a dedicated numeric keypad, unlike some other mobile workstations that just leave a lot of space unused.
Nominated for TenLinks Autodesk 2014 Best of Show by:
|Roopinder Tara, TenLinks’ founder and CEO, has been in CAD, CAM and CAE business since 1984, including roles as CAD manager, senior engineer, manager of a CAD division, editor in chief of CADENCE magazine, conference chair, professor of engineering and CAD. He has a masters in engineering and is a registered professional engineer. More…|