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Lenovo's 3 New Tablets Pack Some Surprises

Lenovo jumps into the tablet wars with Android and Windows 7 devices--hearty competitors with a few special features.
Lenovo Takes On 7 Rivals: Tablet Faceoff
Slideshow: Lenovo Takes On 7 Rivals: Tablet Faceoff
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There's a Lenovo app called Social Touch that the company says will aggregate all of your social networks--for now, that's Facebook, Twitter, Google Calendar, and email. The device also comes pre-loaded with more than 40 apps--including Amazon's Kindle reader, Rovio's Angry Birds, Zinio, Adobe, and Netflix (Lenovo says that these are the first Android devices certified to stream Netflix). The theory here is that when people get their tablets, they just want to start using them--they've no desire to spend hours downloading apps. Good point.

What's more, Lenovo has created what it calls the Lenovo App Shop. These are apps that have been tested and validated for the Lenovo tablet--a nod to, among other things, some of the malware issues in the Android Marketplace, perhaps; but the company also said that it supports business apps, so corporations can privately have their own apps in a version of the store, just for employees. Essentially a company would buy application licenses, and distribute these to employees; Lenovo helps manage and meter those licenses. While we're starting to see the concept of a business-oriented app store emerge, this is the first vendor-supported version we've seen. Bravo.

From a security standpoint, the ThinkPad offers data encryption, SD card encryption, lost device wipe and disablement, Computrace monitoring, and a host of other security options. It also comes with Arc Sync, which includes 2 GB of cloud storage for free. The ThinkPad includes DataViz Documents To Go for viewing business documents.

With this tablet, enterprise customers get a great deal of what Lenovo offers with its notebooks, including the company's ThinkPlus Support, Tablet Protection, Imaging Services, and more.

The IdeaPad Tablet P1 also is aimed at business customers, but Lenovo says that its main target is likely to be small or medium-sized businesses. The tablet runs Windows 7 on a single-core 1.5-GHz Intel processor. It's a 10.1-inch device with 1280-by-800 resolution, a single front-facing camera (2 megapixels), and weighs a hefty 1.75 pounds (probably all of that extra Windows code). It's 14.5 mm thick and can run for 6 hours, likely because it doesn't include some of the low power consumption chip technology seen in other tablets.

It's a bit curious why Lenovo would bother with such a small market, but company representatives said that there is, indeed, a market for it. Lenovo wouldn't comment on its plans for Windows 8, but perhaps an early play into the Windows tablet game positions the company for such a transition. Or perhaps there are simply incentives coming from Microsoft. Having Lenovo as a tablet partner can't hurt.

The IdeaPad K1 costs $499 (32-GB model) and is available for order starting Wednesday, July 20, and ships in August. The ThinkPad starts at $479 (for the 16-GB model), and you can order it starting August 2, according to Lenovo. With the digitizer pen option, the price is $509, and the optional keyboard portfolio case is $99. The devices will be available through Office Depot and other retailers (including on Lenovo.com). A 3G version of the ThinkPad will appear sometime shortly after launch, Lenovo said. The K1 comes in black, white, red and brown; and the ThinkPad is just black. The IdeaPad P1 will be available in the fourth quarter of 2011.

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