Lenovo Launches Tablet PC

Lenovo Group Ltd. has unveiled a new Tablet PC, the company's first mobile computer launch since the acquisition of IBM's PC Division last month.

Lenovo Group Ltd. has unveiled a new Tablet PC, the companys first mobile computer launch since the acquisition of IBMs PC Division last month.

The ThinkPad X41 Tablet PC includes a writable slate with a 12-inch screen as well as a full-size keyboard. Sporting a quad-metal alloy hinge that lets it look like either a slate tablet or a notebook, the tablet weighs a mere 3.5 pounds, said officials at Lenovo, in Purchase, N.Y. It runs Microsoft Corp.s Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005.

The X41 Tablet PC also comes with a digitized pen and a fingerprint reader, as well as all the functions found on the existing X41 ThinkPad notebook PC.

IBM avoided this market because its past efforts at tablets had flopped and because company officials thought the market was too much of a niche at the time.

Members of the ThinkPad team said they still see dont see the Tablet PC as a horizontal-market product. But in the past year or so, customers in industries such as health care, insurance and energy have been asking for such a product from IBM, officials said.

"Everything we have done with tablets up-to-date has been as a secondary system," said Kevin Wilson, product line manager for desktop hardware at Duke Energy Corp., in Charlotte, N.C., and an eWEEK Corporate Partner. Duke Energy generally uses IBM/Lenovo PCs and notebooks but also uses a handful of tablets from Panasonic Corporation of North America. "A convertible from IBM [Lenovo] would be the first we would look at to be a primary system," Wilson said. "Its our primary provider, and it uses parts and pieces were familiar with."

The X41 Tablet PC was in the works at IBM well before the Lenovo acquisition, officials said.

"When Microsoft first came out with the operating system, it did so with the thought that this was a great horizontal platform," said Mike Hagerty, worldwide manager for the ThinkPad X Series. "Were coming in now because we see interest from a few key vertical markets."

The X41 Tablet PC is slated to be available this week. Pricing starts at $1,899.