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|Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet|
Lenovo’s vaunted ThinkPad franchise, which entered this world as an IBM product and wound up with Lenovo when it bought IBM’s PC business in 2004, hasn’t made much in the way of radical departures of any kind in the past decade.
Built in basic black, with the red Trackpoint button and designed primarily for the enterprise rather the consumer space, the ThinkPad has been a staple of Fortune 500 businesses and a stalwart product for Lenovo channel partners. So when it became clear throughout the market that more IT dollars would be spent on thin-and-light tablets, Lenovo got to work adapting the ThinkPad to the new use patterns and market for the new form factors.
So here we have the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet, which Lenovo unveiled in August and has now made available for review. We’ve had the opportunity in the CRN Test Center to review most of the major tablets launched to market through the channel this year, and Lenovo launched its tablets only after competitors like Apple, Toshiba, Fujitsu, Acer, Samsung, Viewsonic, Hewlett-Packard, Research In Motion and others launched theirs. We were curious to know whether the additional time Lenovo took to launch the ThinkPad tablet made a difference.
The ThinkPad Tablet we reviewed was built with an Nvidia Tegra 2 dual-core processor at 1.00 GHz, a 10.1-inch WXGA display with Corning Gorilla Glass, and native USB 2.0, Micro-USB, and full-size SD card slot, with a mini HDMI output. The hardware specifications are in line with what an enterprise would find acceptable.
On the CRN Test Center scale, the ThinkPad Tablet weighed in at one pound, 10.8 ounces. It’s a thicker device than competing tablets like the iPad 2 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, but that’s the tradeoff with the number of media ports built into the device.
Lenovo pre-loaded the tablet with Android 3.1, which enterprises are still mulling – given the plethora of valid concerns over security for the open-source platform that was created by Google. However, Lenovo has taken a few approaches to make the platform more appealing to the enterprise – namely creation of the Lenovo App Shop, an online store of Android apps that have been vetted, quality-tested and security-tested by Lenovo.
It’s not a bad app store, either. For example: Lenovo presents a number of solid productivity apps, including PDF readers, business card scanners, signable document creators and texting apps. For anyone who has waded into the deep and unknown waters of the Android Market, the Lenovo App Store is just an absolute welcome development.
But that’s not the best part of the Lenovo Tablet. There are three stellar features to this tablet that separate it from others: its digital pen; its selection of pre-loaded apps; and the customized GUI.