Lenovo guns for post-PC era with hybrid tablets & convertible laptops

by Doug Drinkwater

September 5 2013

The ThinkPad Yoga will run the still-to-be-launched Windows 8.1 on release
The ThinkPad Yoga will run the still-to-be-launched Windows 8.1 on release

PCs may still be the “core” business at Lenovo but the world’s biggest PC maker is still preparing for life after the desktop with new hybrid tablets and laptops.

BERLIN, GERMANY: Lenovo announces its latest products at the IFA tech exhibition in Germany this week and spent the lead-up to the show talking up new products and its positioning in the market.

The firm touted taking over from HP as the leading supplier of PCs globally and across big markets like China, Russia, Germany and Japan, and also detailed its standing as the number two player for smartphones in China and as number four globally.

Perhaps with all this in mind, Lenovo detailed how its latest array of products will help the firm become the leader in the “PC Plus” world.

“Simply put, we want to be the leader of multi-mode computing,” said Nick Reynolds, Lenovo's executive director of worldwide product marketing, on how new products blur the lines between different form factors. “It’s about making computer experiences better.”

Hybrid tablets, Ultrabooks & a slick new smartphone

Lenovo is demoing 13 new products in total at IFA, spanning from convertible laptops and tablets to a new smartphone and a table PC that is aimed squarely at business folk. Here’s a breakdown of the new products on show:

The 14-inch and 15-inch Flex laptops have 1366 x 768 resolution displays, fourth-gen Intel Core processors (up to Core i7) and both run Windows 8. They can be fitted with solid-state or hard-disk drives, and other useful features include USB 2.0 and stereo speakers. The laptops will start from $629 when they come to market later this year.

The Flex 20 is the company's second table PC (after the IdeaCentre Horizon 27) and can be used in flat or stand mode.

The model has a 19.5-inch 1600 x 900 resolution display, the Intel Core processor (up to Core i7), Dolby v4 audio technology and launches with Aura multi-user software, which is essentially a multi-media collaboration portal for watching movies and manipulating photos. “It’s like something out of Minority Report”, said Reynolds.

The Flex 20 – which starts from $899 -- comes pre-loaded with games from top publishing companies, including Ubisoft, and can be purchased with physical gaming accessories including joysticks and digital dice.

(Image: Lenovo's Flex 20 has collaboration software for editing photos and watching movies)

The Yoga 2 Pro is the company’s follow-up model to the original Yoga and has an improved 13.3-inch 3200 x 1800 resolution display, longer battery life (eight hours) and is 10% lighter.

The device is powered by an Intel Core processor, the new Windows 8.1, up to 8GB of on-board memory and up to 512GB of SSD storage, while the device hinge allows for 360 degree rotation -- meaning you can use it in tent, stand, tablet or laptop mode.

The Yoga 2 Pro is due to hit U.S. retail stores for upwards of $1099 this holiday season.

The most impressive feature though arguably lies is the ‘Yoga Picks’ software which recommends apps depending on what mode you are using.  As one example, Lenovo officials say that Picks could recommend the Zinio magazine reader when using the device in tablet mode.

The tablet also boasts voice control for doing things like changing volume and some interesting apps like PhoneCompanion for copying content from web and sending to your phone, and Photo Touch for customizing photos.

Described as a “true convertible Ultrabook”, the ThinkPad Yoga is geared up for mobile professionals and offers a 1366 x 768 or 1920 x 1080 resolution display, up to Core i7 processors and connections for USB 3.0 and mini HDMI.

The Windows 8.1 device also allows workers to use the device in the four different computing modes, comes with up to 1TB of storage and offers the chance to hot-swap batteries when it is still running. TPM and NFC support comes included, and there’s an option to add a digitizer pen.

Lenovo’s new mobile products weren’t just concerning hybrid devices though with the firm also unveiling a new standalone tablet and smartphone, which both run Android.

The Vibe smartphone is part of a new range and boasts Gorilla Glass 2, a quad-core Mediatek 1.5GHz processor, Android 4.2 and so-called “20-20 vision display” with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 (441 pixels per inch).

Geared up for photography enthusiasts, it has dual-facing cameras (13MP rear-facing, 5MP front snapper), with the latter offering a wide angle lens and fixed focus. The 13MP snapper has BSI sensors, autofocus and LED flash while photo software is on-board for tweaking night-time photos.                                               

The smartphone, which comes with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, will launch in China next month before rolling out internationally in December.

The S5000 is a super-slim tablet at just 7.9mm thick and offers different versions for Wi-Fi and 3G. As with the Vibe, the tablet has dual-facing cameras (1.6MP front, 5MP rear), while the reasonable 1280 x 800 resolution display promises high brightness at 350 nits and wide viewing angles of 178 degrees.

The tablet, which is to launch in Q4 for a price that is still to be confirmed, runs Android 4.2, offers a Mediatek 1.2GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, a USB port and a six hour battery life when watching HD videos.

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