Lenovo is looking to change the way business users interact with their ThinkPad laptops and tablet notebooks.
On Sept. 15, Lenovo plans to start offering multitouch capabilities with its ThinkPad X200 tablet notebook and its ThinkPad T400s laptop. In addition, Lenovo plans to release a new technology called Simple Tap as part of its suite of ThinkVantage technologies, which are bundled with its ThinkPad machines.
The new multitouch capabilities of the Lenovo ThinkPad X200 and T400s are partly the work of Lenovo's own engineering and the efforts of the manufacturers that supply display technology for the ThinkPad line. (Lenovo declined to discuss its specific suppliers.)
In addition, while Lenovo developed the Simple Tap application itself, the technology is meant to complement the multitouch technologies that Microsoft is including with the release of its Windows 7 operating system. The Lenovo Simple Tap application is available for download Oct. 22 - the same day that Microsoft officially releases Windows 7.
For years, tablet PCs from the likes of Lenovo, Dell and Hewlett-Packard offered simple touch-screens that usually respond to a stylus pen or a single human finger. The Lenovo multitouch technology found in the displays of the ThinkPad X200 tablet and the T400s laptop bring touch capabilities to laptop screen in much the same way PC makers are now offering touch capabilities with all-in-one desktop models.
For example, the multitouch screen with the ThinkPad X200 tablet allows for the use of two or more fingers to manipulate images on the screen itself. A user can increase or shrink the size of a picture on the screen by pinching or zooming. The technology also allows a user to flip through document pages or files found on a Web page.
The idea behind multitouch is to make the ThinkPad X200 more accessible to the types of workers that use tablet PCs, such as doctors, nurses, government workers, real estate agents and insurance adjusters.
Lenovo is also brining the same technology to a more industry standard laptop - the recently announced ThinkPad T400s - that can be used by employees in specialty fields such as computer animated design (CAD). Eventually, Lenovo sees the technology making its way into more typical corporate environments, although company spokesmen declined to discuss which ThinkPad laptops are slated to get the multitouch screens next.
In addition to the multitouch displays, Lenovo plans to offer Simple Tap with the X200 and the T400s. Here, Lenovo is looking to technology built into the firmware to eliminate the reliance on the physical keys of the laptop.
The technology allows a user to create small tiles on the screen that correspond to the physical laptop. For example, a user can create a tile that turns the wireless radio on or off, or a tile that shuts the entire laptop off. Simple Tap also allows a user to customize a tile to launch a PowerPoint presentation or call up a specific business application.
Lenovo plans to start selling the two notebooks with multitouch screens later in September. The ThinkPad T400s starts at $1,999, while the ThinkPad X200 tablet begins at $1,654.
Lenovo is also planning to update its ThinkPad X200 tablet with a new screen that offers better outdoor viewing. This 400-bit screen is coated with a thin, anti-reflective glare that offers better viewing in direct sunlight. The anti-glare technology for the ThinkPad X200 brings the starting price up to $1,704.