Lenovo is getting deeper into the tablet fray, announcing that the ThinkPad Tablet, the company's first business-class Android-based tablet, is now available for sale through the computer vendor's network of U.S. business partners and online with models starting at $499. Additionally, the company noted Seton Hall University would be the first educational institution to deploy the ThinkPad Tablet when 350 students begin using it this fall.
The ThinkPad tablet, which runs Google's Android 3.1 "Honeycomb" mobile OS, offers an optional digitizer pen, full-size USB port, full-size SD card slot, mini-HDMI (mini-High-Definition Multimedia Interface) for connecting to external displays and a keyboard folio case with optical TrackPoint. The tablet also provides access to more than 250,000 applications in the Android Market as well as the curated Lenovo App Shop, a fast track to the leading apps that are certified to work on Lenovo products and are malware-free. Pricing for the 16GB model is $499 without the digitizer pen, or $529 including the pen. Pricing for the 32GB model with the digitizer pen is $599, and pricing for the 64GB version with the pen is $699. Pricing for the optional keyboard portfolio case is $100.
"The ThinkPad Tablet gives mobile professionals the most intuitive user experience available on a tablet today, thanks to its unique pen-based handwriting-recognition technology," Dilip Bhatia, vice president and general manager of Lenovo's ThinkPad business unit, said in a statement. "We wanted to replicate the way people work naturally with pen and paper by allowing them to digitally write, draw and create content while also optimizing the ThinkPad Tablet for business with a layered security solution and full IT management."
With Documents to Go by DataViz, users can view and edit Microsoft Office documents while synchronizing with their desktops via USB or Bluetooth. The tablet's pen and virtual desktop support via Citrix Receiver allow users to leverage their corporate tools without being in the office. Lenovo's SocialTouch application keeps track of email, calendar notices and more, and OoVoo makes videoconferences possible by using the Tablet's front-facing camera.
The tablet's layered security solutions include full encryption (including SD card), remote wipe and disable via Computrace to combat theft, and full VPN support. In addition, IT managers can configure security and device settings with custom corporate preloads from Lenovo's Imaging Technology Center. The open API set allows for zero-touch deployment and management though LANDesk.
"CSC sees a rapidly growing market opportunity for an enterprise tablet device that will enrich our clients' experience with the cloud and provide the quality and highly secure standards that are required by today's dynamic businesses," Nick Wilkinson, president, of market and product strategy for the managed services sector at CSC, said in a statement. "Lenovo has a proven track record of launching enterprise-quality devices, and we are excited to be working with the ThinkPad Tablet and expect to drive toward integration with our vertical specific services in the near future."
In an interview with the Financial Times, Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanquing had some challenging words for Apple and the company's iPad tablet, which currently dominates the market. Lenovo officials plan to hit areas of the market that the pricier iPad may not reach, Yang said.
"We will be one of the strongest of the players in this area," he said. "Apple only covers the top tier. With a $500 price you cannot go to the small cities, townships, low salary class, low-income class. I don't want to say we want to significantly lower the price; rather our strategy is to provide more categories, to cover different market segments."