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12/16/2005
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Lenovo Plans More Twists To Update An Old Favorite

Lenovo is shaking up the traditional design of the ThinkPad, including integrating phone features into the systems.

Lenovo is planning more shakeups to the traditional design of the ThinkPad, including integration of phone capabilities into the systems and advanced LCD technology for outside viewing.

The Purchase, N.Y.-based PC maker has begun telling some solution providers about plans for tighter integration of VoIP capabilities into ThinkPads, and Lenovo’s chief of design told CRN it’s on the table.

“I think people would really like to have fewer devices in their world rather than more,” said David Hill, Lenovo’s director of design. “Having to manage the data you have on the cell phone, and also manage on the computer is somewhat complicated. There could be advantages in being able to synchronize those.”

Hill stopped short of confirming that Lenovo has been mulling the integration of a bluetooth headset.

Channel sources say they’ve been briefed by Lenovo on plans for an aggressive design strategy, particularly the introduction of notebooks that leverage VoIP technology by streamlining the telephone technology directly into the systems.

“There is going to be a lot more R&D and new patents,” said one VAR, who has spoken to Lenovo executives.

Lenovo took over the former IBM PC business earlier this year and has since unveiled a series of new technologies, including a ThinkPad Tablet PC, wide-screen technology and notebooks with a titanium cover rather than the traditional ThinkPad black.

While the company has maintained a largely low-key presence in U.S. markets so far, that may be about to change. Earlier this month, Lenovo unveiled a new Web site—whichsideareyouon.com—which provides interactive tools to view the different flavors of ThinkPads currently on the market. The new Web site provides flash animations of colorful characters that argue the merits of traditional vs. newer ThinkPads—a bit of levity once unheard of at IBM.

Hill told CRN that among the less-flashy priorities at the company is the integration of antenna technology to maximize the connectivity of upcoming ThinkPads. “It’s a critical element of how you structure the design of the product,” he said. “It’s like a puzzle. All of these pieces have to fit together to optimize performance.”

In the United States, Lenovo has filed for at least two patents aimed at improving antenna design and connectivity in mobile PCs, according to records at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

And last month Lenovo touted two newly designed concept PCs, including a “Yoga” notebook that features a 180-degree adjustable display for more than one viewing angle. However, Hill said Lenovo has no immediate plans for introduction of the concept notebooks.

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