Lenovo Readies Three New Tablets Running Android, Windows
Lenovo is firing on all cylinders with a new lineup of three — yes three — new tablets, two running Android and another running Windows 7. Lenovo’s goal is to provide a tablet for every possible scenario, for every need, for every person in your household. Have they succeeded? Am I excited? All this and more, coming up …
Lenovo has surprised me in the past with its engineering efforts, building quality hardware while working to making Windows as friendly and optimized as possible. If I wasn’t an Apple fan, I would likely own a Lenovo product. That being said, I’m both excited and apprehensive about Lenovo’s tablet strategy.
Lenovo’s three new 10-inch tablets are:
- IdeaPad Tablet K1 – for the general consumer
- ThinkPad Tablet – the working man’s tablet
- IdeaPad P1 – the Windows tablet, which Lenovo says is for “home and office” use.
Both the K1 and ThinkPad tablets run Android 3.1 Honeycomb, and Lenovo is creating excitement around the tablets by reporting they will be among the first Honeycomb tablets to run Netflix. The tablets also include DRM built into the hardware, so users can plug the tablet into a larger screen using the the HDMI-out port and stream Netflix in all its 1080p glory.
The Android tablets feature Nvidia’s Tegra 2 dual-core SOCs (system on a chip), which have been designed to provide an overall faster experience than some other mobile CPUs out there, churning through Flash and 3D graphics with improved battery life. I’ve yet to play with a Tegra tablet myself, so I’ll be looking forward to testing one as soon as my name comes up on the (presumably) very long waiting list for review units. The Windows-based IdeaPad includes an Intel 1.5 GHz CPU and feature 2GB of DDR3 instead of the 1GB of DDR2 the Android tablets are working with. All the tablets have a 1280×800 resolution screen, with front and rear cameras.
Lenovo has taken extra special care in developing the ThinkPad tablet for the business customer. A digitizer pen can be included with the ThinkPad, in addition to a keyboard case with optical touch pad. Lenovo promises data will be secure thanks in part to Computrace anti-theft software, which can also help IT admins manage the devices. The ThinkPad also includes a standard USB port for compatible peripherals, a built-in SD card reader that supports SD card encryption, and 2GB of free cloud storage.
Finally, Lenovo is sporting its own Lenovo App Shop, designed to provide Lenovo-sanctioned applications that have been pre-tested for compatibility on Lenovo tablets. Movies, books and other purchasable multimedia will also be available at the App Shop, and Lenovo will host enterprise applications and provide a private corporate app store for businesses that deploy ThinkPad tablets. It’s an interesting move, since it sounds a lot like Cisco’s Cius strategy.
Pricing, too, is mildly exciting: The 32GB IdeaPad Tablet K1 is priced at $499, while the business-ready 16GB ThinkPad Tablet costs $509 with the pen. More expensive 3G models will become available “shortly after launch,” according to Lenovo. There’s no price tag yet on the Windows-based IdeaPad P1 tablet, which Lenovo has slated for a Q4 2011 release. The K1 and ThinkPad tablets are available to order, but they won’t hit shelves until August 2011, at which time it will be available in retail outlets and traditional channels as well as from Lenovo channel partners.
The business tablet arena is still any vendor’s game to win, and despite Cisco’s enthusiasm behind the Cius, it’s an expensive (however robust) strategy. Lenovo’s enterprise-level security may answer the needs of the corporate world, but the IdeaPad will (sadly) be another stylish Android tablet in a sea of millions (though the Tegra chip may make it stand out as a top performer). As for the Windows tablet, I wish Lenovo wouldn’t waste its time. Maybe that’s why it’s slated for a Q4 release.