Lenovo finally confirms ThinkPad, IdeaPad release

China’s Lenovo thinks it has the guile to take on Apple in the increasingly crowded tablet market. Will it be competition or just another face in the crowd?

It’s impossible to say definitively how Lenovo’s options will perform, but knocking Apple from its throne seems a tall order that no one else has managed yet. With Lenovo considering Windows 7 – which, let’s face it, sucks on tablets – you could be forgiven for thinking this is yet another Me Too moment. 

A “ThinkPad” release has been rumoured for quite some time, and that’s what Lenovo is bringing to the tablet with its announcements. There are three altogether, an IdeaPad Tablet K1 aimed squarely at consumers, theThinkPad for business, and the IdeaPad for both home and office. The IdeaPad K1 and ThinkPad both run on the applauded Android 3.1 Honeycomb.

Lenovo’s Tablet K1 will be integrated with North American movie streaming service Netflix, which it is marketing as a unique selling point. It’s also highlighting HDMI and, strangely, the much-criticised DRM integrated in the Netflix playing machines. 

The tablets feature a dual core Tegra 2 under the bonnet. Lenovo says it hasn’t turned its back on Adobe’s Flash and there will be “low power consumption” for the battery life, which is a must for the fablet market.

The IdeaPad Tablet P1 ships with Microsoft Windows 7 for tablets which we have to say is an odd move. Windows 7 on tablets is clunky and hardly optimised for the nature of the devices. It says the 1.5 GHz Intel processor powered model runs on that OS so users can easily play about with Office documents on the go, but our experience is that doing anything with a Windows 7 tablet on the go is a frustration.

This is why the the IdeaPad P1 will ship with an optional stylus pen, which isn’t exactly the point of a touch screen device. We can’t help but feel a Windows 7 option is a marketing exercise to edge in on the tablet crowd as early as possible, rather than offering true functionality. It’s got a 10.1″ high definition screen, is 14.5mm thin and weighs under 2lbs. It’ll be available in the fourth quarter of this year but pricing hasn’t been announced.

The ThinkPad has a 10.1″ WXGA 1280×800 display and weighs 1.65 lbs. It has a 178-degree viewing angle which isn’t bad. Again, it’ll offer an optional stylus pen for the screen. You’ll find a USB port and a regular SD card slot, as well as a mini HDMI to connect to projectors. Weirdly, buying the tablet with a pen will cost $509, while without will be $479, for the 16GB model. The 32GB model with the pen costs $589. Lenovo says while it’s Wi-Fi only for now, a 3G option will be made available. It’ll be available for general orders in the States in August, and worldwide in the third quarter of the year. 

Lenovo’s consumer push is with the IdeaPad Tablet K1. 

A problem with Android devices is that there’s not a standard for screen size, leaving that instead to the manufacturers, so the app ecosystem can become skewed. Nonetheless, Lenovo boasts you can get all the usual stuff you’d expect, like Amazon’s Kindle app and games from EA. Its screen runs in HD on an 1280 x 800 resolution.

There is, again, a mini HDMI connection for syncing up to an HDTV or monitor. It also features a two megapixel front facing camera and a five megapixel one on the back. It weighs 1.63 lbs. It’ll have 32GB in storage. You’ll be able to order it in the US as of today if you’re lucky, but will become generally available come August – worldwide in the third quarter. It’s $499.

We’re sure the products will be elegant and meet the needs of users who prefer Android over iOS, but we’re not convinced Lenovo will manage to knock Apple from its perch. Where it might find some success is in IT departments which don’t trust the iPad in a corporate environment. 

The slew of tablets arriving in any market means, at the moment, slate launches are becoming almost non-news. Like in mobile, manufacturers are taking the clever opportunity offered by Google to flood the market with Android, increasing Google’s market share.

We won’t be surprised to hear at some point in the future that Android holds the lion’s share of the tablet OS in terms of units shipped, which is exactly what Google wants

Here’s the IdeaPad K1:

And here’s the ThinkPad:

Lenovo's ThinkPad