Lenovo, Apple Look to Change the Laptop Market

News Analysis: Now that both companies have come out with ultrathin laptops aimed at different markets, can the rest of the industry be far behind?

A code name for a product in development says a lot about a vendor's intentions.

In the case of the ThinkPad X300, which went on sale Feb. 26, Lenovo used the code name "Kodachi" for the new laptop. The word describes a sleek, thin Japanese sword that falls between a full-length blade and a dagger.

With the ThinkPad X300, customers can expect a sleek, thin laptop with a 13.3-inch display that falls somewhere between a full-size notebook and the number of subnotebooks and ultraportable models that have entered the market in the last few years.

For more details on the ThinkPad X300, click here.

It's too soon to tell if the X300 will change the way vendors approach notebook design. However, the fact that this new ThinkPad, which offers a range of cutting-edge features from a 64GB solid-state drive, a 7-millimeter optical DVD drive and a less than 1-inch-thick design, comes to the market at the same time as the ultrathin Apple MacBook Air seems to demonstrate the types of designs OEMs might have in mind for future generations of portable, yet durable, notebooks.

While the MacBook Air and the X300 share similar features and design specifications, Roger Kay, an analyst with EndPoint Technologies Associates, said it's not fair to compare the two notebooks feature by feature. The X300 is geared toward enterprise users and business executives on the go, while the Air is mainly designed for consumers.

With those differences in mind, Kay and other analysts say Lenovo, as well as Apple, is taking a hard look at 13-inch screens as a way to bridge the gap between 12-inch subnotebooks and full-size notebooks with 14- or 15-inch screens.

"If there's one part of it that is a game changer it's that the form factor is lean and mean," Kay said. "With the 12-inch-wide model, it always feels a little small. With the 13-inch, it's a little more generous."