Lenovo has become the latest IT vendor to begin integrating high-speed mobile data into its laptops.
On Tuesday the company announced that it had signed a deal with Vodafone to allow Lenovo laptops to carry 3G, GPRS and, in the future, HSPDA connectivity. HSDPA, also known as Super 3G, is being rolled out by network operators this year and is much faster than standard 3G services.
Lenovo will add this integrated networking to its ThinkPad T60 and X60 notebooks. They will be available in some European countries, including the UK, France and Germany, in the second quarter of 2006.
While HSPDA support will not be available immediately, ThinkPad customers will be able to upgrade their notebooks to this faster technology in the future, Lenovo said in a statement.
Last week, Dell became the first major systems vendor to announce that it had signed a deal, again with Vodafone, to start selling laptops with integrated wireless broadband — including support for HSDPA — sometime in the second quarter.
Up to now, the take-up of data services on mobile phones has been slow and analysts have argued that services like HSDPA have needed the backing of the major systems vendors before they will become popular. But systems vendors have been reluctant to commit to selling systems using the mobile standards because of the high cost of using mobile technology for data.
Lenovo's new service, when available, will allow users to access email, the Internet and corporate servers through the Vodafone network.
HSDPA can already support download speeds of up to 1.4Mbps, and incremental upgrades expected to raise this to 10Mbps by 2008. In tests carried out by ZDNet UK, peak download speed was measured at 1.29Mbps with an average over 10 minutes of 480Kbps. 300Kbps streamed video displayed perfectly.
Lenovo claimed that its Access Connections 4.1 software will simplify the process of connecting to the various wireless networking standards that the laptops will support.
"Vodafone helps us extend the mobile computing environment," said Marc Godin, vice-president of notebook marketing for Lenovo. "Our new Access Connections 4.1 software works with Vodafone's 3G network, enabling users to move seamlessly from one available network connection to the next without downtime or costly help desk calls."