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When the Lenovo 3000 C Series launched with the C100 early last year, Lenovo decided to take the budget laptop’s design in a different direction. Bad idea. The C100 looked hideous compared with its sleeker siblings, the 3000 V100 and 3000 N100.

Suffice it to say that Lenovo heard the rants and is ready for round two. The Lenovo 3000 C200 sports a new design that’s more consistent with the rest of the 3000 series, and it adds brand-new components that make it one of the most affordable business laptops in the market.

When the 3000 C100 first hit my bench last March, it shared the traditional dark interior and, frankly, cheap looks of the Dell Inspiron B130. The C200 has a much sleeker design. Its silver cover curves toward the front bezel, giving it a slimmer silhouette. Though at 6 pounds it’s no lightweight (some of that can be attributed to its large 15-inch screen), it’s still lighter than the 6.8-pound Dell Inspiron E1505 and its 15.4-inch display. The C200 screen’s XGA (1,024-by-768) resolution is standard for a budget laptop, and the screen also offers antiglare coating.

The C200 features built-in Bluetooth, something you don’t normally find on budget systems. It comes with a dual-layer DVD+R burner just like the Inspiron E1505 (Core 2 Duo). It has four USB ports, and it also has two things that are missing from the Lenovo ThinkPad T60: A FireWire connection and an SD card reader. The LenovoCare software suite isn’t as feature-packed as the ThinkVantage suite (found on ThinkPads), but you do get utilities such as Access Connections (network management) and Rescue and Recover (backup and restore).

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