Back in business
What a difference a year and a half makes. Back at the start of 2010 Lenovo was a pioneer in the ARM-based computing device market with the first ‘smartbook' and the UI hybrid notebook containing what has now become known as a tablet. We've embedded our TV coverage of the latter below, for old-time's sake.
Since then Apple has launched not one, but two iPads, and completely defined and dominated the nascent tablet market. As Apple was keen to point out in its recent earnings announcement, all its would-be competitors are struggling to get much traction. The smartbook concept has been abandoned by its originator - Qualcomm, and Lenovo as a tablet player consigned to the history books.
Until today, that is. Lenovo has finally entered the ARM-based tablet market via the only platform currently available to it: Android - in this case version 3.1 (Honeycomb). In keeping with its notebook strategy there's a serious, durable ThinkPad Tablet for business and a fun. colourful IdeaPad Tablet K1.
"The ThinkPad Tablet offers a selection of unique features that both business professionals and IT administrators prefer, including backend integration capability with Zero Touch deployment, full device and SD encryption, XML IT admin and ActiveSync policy support," said Liu Jun, SVP and president (?) of the mobile Internet digital home business group at Lenovo. "While the IdeaPad K1 offers entertainment-friendly features such as 40 boredom-busting apps."
Having gone all-in with Qualcomm back in 2010, Snapdragon has been given the boot in favour of NVIDIA's Tegra 2, which remains the default chip for Honeycomb tablets. Lenovo and NVIDIA are persisting with the same ‘Flash support' angle that RIM is with the PlayBook, but we're not convinced it means that much to the average punter.
"The Tegra 2 dual core processor is the perfect fit for Lenovo's tablets," said Mike Rayfield, GM of mobile at NVIDIA. "Consumers can now enjoy the whole web with Flash, console quality gaming and high definition video. These are a must have for today's tablets."
The business one has an optional ‘digitiser' pen, which is presumably similar to that found on the HTC Flyer, as well as an optional keyboard. It seems to have the full array of ports, slots and general tech furniture, including mini-HDMI. It has a 10.1 inch WXGA (1280x800) display, with Gorilla Glass. There's a pre-installed productivity app called Documents to Go, another called SocialTouch, and 2 GB of free cloud storage.
The K1 comes preinstalled with a bunch of apps you can get from the Android market for free, such as Angry Birds, but you do also get these Documents to Go and SocialTouch apps. It comes with front and rear-facing cameras, cloud storage, and a ‘premium' Lenovo App Shop (neatly avoiding Apple's legal ire there) offering apps that have been optimised for the tablet.
The IdeaPad K1 will be available in August, starting at £369, while the ThinkPad Tablet will appear in September, starting at £399.