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Partners: Lenovo ThinkBook Has A Winning Formula For SMBs

The notebook offers much of what business users love about the ThinkPad, but with pricing that's affordable for many smaller businesses.

Lenovo's new ThinkBook is a blockbuster offering for small and medium-sized businesses and the solution providers who serve them, partners told CRN.

The ThinkBook combines many business-friendly elements of the ThinkPad—including strong performance, durability and security—with a sleeker design and a price level meant to appeal to SMBs.

[Related: Lenovo Ramps Up Strategy To Continue Its 'Hyper-Growth' In PC]

"To me, the ThinkBook is just a slam dunk," said Joshua Boyd, founder and CEO of Nashville-based Computer Pros. "I think it's going to be big with SMB. It's got an aluminum body. It's thin and light. It's got a lot of things customers are going to want."

Ultimately, Boyd said, "I predict it'll be our best-selling computer this year, for sure."

A number of other Lenovo partners echoed the comments in interviews with CRN.

"I think they're going to crush it [with ThinkBook], I really do," said Andrew Stefansky, director of sales for Raleigh, N.C.-based BlueRange Technology. "We're excited to take it out there. It's new and fresh."

ThinkBook can fill a gap in the SMB market thanks to its design, features and pricing, said Pat Lonning, director of strategic partnerships and vendor relations at Virginia Beach, Va.-based Electronic Systems Inc. "It’s a game changer in the SMB market," Lonning said.

Unveiled at Lenovo's Accelerate 2019 partner conference in May, the ThinkBook is part of the company's aggressive growth strategy in the North American PC market.

Currently at third place in the market, Lenovo has its eye on reaching No. 2 within five years, said Matthew Zielinski, president of Lenovo’s North America Intelligent Devices Group, in a previous interview with CRN.

Lenovo saw market share of 14.9 percent in the U.S.-Canada PC market in 2018 overall, according to figures provided by research firm IDC. Despite showing strong growth, Lenovo still trailed well behind No. 2 PC vendor Dell, which had share of 25.8 percent in that market last year, and No. 1 vendor HP Inc., with 30.3 percent share.

"Our vision and our mission is to be 20 percent within three years, and No. 2 within five years," Zielinski said.

Zielinski said the ThinkBook is positioned to be a big competitor of Dell's Vostro and HP's ProBook lines of SMB notebooks.

"If you look at [ThinkBook] relative to what you'd expect from an SMB-grade device, it's just so much more than that," Zielinski said.

Design & Durability

The ThinkBook swaps out the classic black carbon-fiber chassis of the ThinkPad, and instead adopts an all-aluminum chassis with a "mineral gray" color.

The ThinkBook also features slim bezels around the display, and the display itself offers FHD resolution. The ThinkBook comes in two display sizes—13.3 inches for the ThinkBook 13s model, and 14 inches for the ThinkBook 14s.

Thanks in part to the small-bezel design, the ThinkBook is highly portable for an SMB-class notebook. The ThinkBook 13s measures 0.63 of an inch thick and has a starting weight of 2.95 pounds. The ThinkBook 14s measures in at 0.65 of an inch thick and weighs 3.35 pounds to start.

"A lot of devices sold into SMBs are bulky and big," Stefansky said. "To be able to get a sub-3 pound device in there, for the [same] cost as some of these, is unbelievable."

On durability, the notebook offers features such as a spill-resistant keyboard and the ability to withstand extreme temperatures.

"Many small and medium-sized businesses are looking for a durable, sleek-looking product," said Larry Fulop, vice president of Tempe, Ariz.-based MicroAge. "This fits nicely in that space. It's a very nice-looking product."

Overall, "I think there'll be a market in the SMB space, and maybe even in the lower-end enterprise space. I think it will cover both," Fulop said.

Performance & Features

The ThinkBook comes with powerful eighth-generation Intel "Whiskey Lake" processors—Core i5 and i7—which are the same CPUs that are found in many current ThinkPad models.

Notably, the ThinkBook 14s is configured with discrete AMD graphics. The 14s model comes with AMD Radeon 540X graphics and 2 GB of GPU memory.

Both models of the ThinkBook are generous on ports, with the notebooks offering one USB-C port, two UBS-A ports and HDMI.

Lenovo has built in a number of helpful features into the ThinkBook, as well. Those include the ability to quickly boot up and log in simultaneously--thanks to a power button that doubles as a fingerprint reader. "The fingerprint reader power button is a very nice touch," Boyd said.

Meanwhile, the ThinkBook offers hot keys that are enabled for answering or hanging up Skype calls; noise-canceling microphones; enhanced security via an integrated webcam cover and Trusted Platform Module encryption; and fast-charging capabilities. The ThinkBook provides standard business capabilities in security and manageability rather than full enterprise-class capabilities, which helps with affordability, Lenovo has said.

In addition, the ThinkBook includes support for docking via USB-C as well as a solid-state storage drive.

Pricing

For models sold through the channel with Windows 10 Home, the ThinkBook 13s has a starting price of $799, while the ThinkBook 14s has a starting price of $819, according to Lenovo. Windows 10 Pro adds $50 to those prices.

"Overall from what I’ve read and heard from customers, this product should fit a nice gap in the [SMB] marketplace," Lonning said. "Other OEMs' products are either priced too high, or don’t have as sleek a design."

Lenovo is offering a "very attractive price for a machine with these specs, especially the discrete graphics card," said Christopher Reid, president of San Rafael, Calif.-based Verus Technology Solutions. "We will definitely consider these for deployment to clients."

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