With Intel and Vodafone along for the ride, Lenovo today launched a brand-new SL range of small-business-focussed ThinkPads, refreshed the T series (performance), R series (mainstream) and X series (ultraportable) notebooks, and introduced the W series of mobile workstations.
All of the new ThinkPads are equipped with Intel's latest Centrino 2 (Montevina) technology, and most come with integrated 3G connectivity (courtesy of an Ericsson module) at no extra cost to the user — the 'hit' is shared between Lenovo and its network partner Vodafone, which offers a free 30-day trial out of the box.
Another innovation, which should cause many a small business to prick up its ears, is Lenovo's ThinkPlus Secure Business suite of services. Available for either a one- or three-year period, this includes: an on-site next-day warranty upgrade; repair or replacement of systems damaged by liquid spills, drops or electrical surges; and secure off-site storage for business-critical data. A few months down the line, Lenovo will add priority support call routing and one-stop hardware and software support to create a comprehensive ThinkPlus Complete IT package.
The new SL-series ThinkPads come in 13in. (SL300), 14in. (SL400) and 15in. (SL500) models and show their heritage in most respects:
However, when you close the lid you'll find a most un-ThinkPad-like glossy top cover:
We can only assume that the SME users whom Lenovo claim have been clamouring for such styling are fond of wiping off fingerprints.
The SL series includes a number of other consumer-style features such as a Blu-Ray option and HDMI-out for movie-watching, but retains trusty ThinkPad favourites like hard disk anti-shock protection, system management software plus fingerprint reader and webcam options. The SL400 and SL500 start at £650 (ex. VAT) and are available now.
The X200 is a 12in. wide-screen ultraportable that's lighter than its X61 predecessor but fits in a bigger keyboard. With built-in 3G, GPS, claimed battery life of nearly 10 hours and, further down the line, solid-state storage options, this looks a tempting system for the mobile professional who wants something a bit classier than a low-end 'netbook'. There's no pricing information yet, and some may be put off by the lack of a touchpad:
Also on show at Lenovo's London launch were examples of the new R and T series ThinkPads. Prior to the advent of the SL range, the R series was the most 'affordable' ThinkPad range: among the features it lacks is integrated 3G as standard and Intel's VPro remote management technology (now upgraded with AMT 4.0 in the Centrino 2 platform). The flagship T series includes vPro, as well as high-end options such as switchable discrete/integrated graphics and solid-state storage.
Finally (and not on show at the launch) there's the W500, which is the first in a new range of workstation-class ThinkPads with all the OpenGL graphics and ISV certification demanded by that market. We'll bring you more on this intriguing product as more details emerge.