Tablets

Can Lenovo inject productivity into Android tablets?

See how Lenovo is using a combination of hardware and software to make Android tablets more productive with its new 10-inch ThinkPad Tablet.

One of my biggest problems with Android tablets is that they're not useful for much. The Motorola Xoom is the best industrial-strength tablet I've seen and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is one of the most elegant mobile devices ever built, but neither of them will let you access your Gmail account without an Internet connection.

I didn't realize how bad Android Honeycomb tablets were in terms of productivity until I used the now-defunct HP TouchPad, which runs circles around Android tablets and the Apple iPad in terms of its basic productivity features -- accessing email and calendar offline, copying and pasting between mail messages, quickly flipping between Web pages and email, quickly flipping between IM and your calendar, etc. That's why I praised the TouchPad as highly useful for business professionals.

Android tablets have a lot of untapped potential as business devices because of the flexibility of the platform. But, while devices like the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer have made strides in turning Android 3.0 into a more business-friendly platform, the best hope for professionals who want a corporate Android tablet could be Lenovo's forthcoming 10-inch ThinkPad Tablet.

Lenovo has recognized that it's going to take a mix of the right hardware and software improvements to make tablets useful for more business buyers.

On the hardware side, Lenovo has integrated a USB port for data transfer, a 3-in-1 card reader for media management, a Mini-HDMI for running a presentation, and a dock connector for using the tablet as a full PC at the office. The ThinkPad also offers accessories that can boost productivity like a padfolio cover that includes a keyboard and trackpad mouse and a digital pen for writing notes.

On the software side, the Lenovo tablet includes notetaking software for converting handwritten notes into digital text and drawings, Dataviz Documents to Go for working with Microsoft Office documents, Citrix Receiver for accessing corporate apps over the network, and Good Technology's enterprise software for highly-secure access to email, calendar, contacts, and corporate collaboration systems (for those companies that have Good for Enterprise on the backend).

Like the iPad, the ThinkPad Tablet starts at $499 for the 16GB Wi-Fi version and scales up from there. Lenovo has started taking pre-orders, with an estimated ship date of August 30. The handy padfolio case will run you an extra $100, the digital pen is another $30, and the dock is $60. Still, since this has the potential to be more of a laptop replacement, I expect plenty of suits to show an interest in this one.

Take a look at the three Lenovo slides below that show the ThinkPad's focus on corporate users, and then watch Lenovo's two-minute promo video to get a look at the real thing in action.

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About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

23 comments
birumut
birumut

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MrElectrifyer
MrElectrifyer

With windows Ei8ht runnin on this professional tablet, it just might be about time for my Windows Laptop to bite the dust :D

rhonin
rhonin

Looks like a solid Lenovo item. I could get one for 25% off (EPP) but decided not to as I currently have an ASUS Transformer with keyboard dock - the Lenovo doesn't look to give me anything more. I was surprised the Ideapad version had more options then the Thinkpad tablet - both running Android. I suspect I will wait to see what else they do with it. So far I am intrigued. If I did not have the Transformer I would have grabbed a K1. Now if the P1 was already out... :)

aflynnhpg
aflynnhpg

Great catch on that on Jason!!! I am going to throw away my Galaxy 10.1 in favor of one of those devices that checks Gmail without the internet. Please send me that list NOW!!!!!

lacrumb
lacrumb

"but neither of them will let you access your Gmail account without an Internet connection." Since when can you get any e-mail without an ISP connection? An ISP connection is internet.

anatoliyshudrya
anatoliyshudrya

Antitablet dude as well. I could not resist not getting this one. I really hope it will replace my ageing latitude D410. I really have had to debate between core I7 T520 laptop model and this tablet, but I guess it???s about time to move on. I hope accessibility features will not disappoint me because I???m really hoping to ditch my JAWS for windows and completely switch to alternative screen readers on android. Lots of nice hardware features on this one; although, it does not state anywhere if the battery can be replaced or upgraded and same thing with 3g capability. Lots of hopes in ThinkPad tablet, and hopefully Lenovo will not disappoint me as it previously never did.

GSG
GSG

on September 12th. I bought it because of the ports, the compatibility with Citrix, and the keyboard folio. I was pretty anti-tablet, but I felt this would be a lighter weight tool to cart around instead of my laptop, I hope it can make good on its promise, or I'll have an expensive doorstop.

charles.roach
charles.roach

Go ahead and buy Lenovo, share ALL of your information with the Chinese government.

dogknees
dogknees

Why is it we don't want vendor installed garbage on our PCs, but everyone seems to want it on their tablets/smartphones?

gembilt
gembilt

No matter how hard people like to look for alternatives to MS productivity suites, as long as MS Office essentially owns the enterprise market, the first question that matters is "How well does it work with the current version of Office?" . Dataviz Documents to Go goes a long way to answering this requirement. Always on network connections are the biggest current advantage of the BlackBerry devices in the Enterprise. Palm, and iPaq, are close, but the lack of always on networking knocks them down on the useful devices list. Essentially, I see a market for a 10" screen BBY, or a 10" screen Palm, or iPaq with always on network service, or something equivalent. This is getting close, but you still have to add the network, so any device that is always securely connected to the enterprise intranet and exchange server automatically wins... It would help if it's as drop and weather resistant as an adventure phone, with quick change batteries. I know, I'm Just dreaming now..

Ricky Tandiono
Ricky Tandiono

It's a good attempt by lenovo. but the the form factor is really not that good.(display, elegance, how thick, etc) the features are better than transformer with the card reader, hdmi, and especially the stylus (wondering if it's as good as HTC flyer). but how about the battery life (transformer can last up to 16 hours with the dock, will the keyboard prolong or even cut the battery life for lenovo ? ) anyway, for the offline email reading, we can do a workaround with email app like K9.

GSG
GSG

I see it as a solid competitor that will probably get the serious business market. The ability for a company to set up their own application store for their employees, plus the ports that are on it, makes it a good tool for the road warrior.

GSG
GSG

I'm in healthcare IT, and I'll be using mine at home and work. I doubt I'll be able to use a couple of my apps, but taking it to meetings where I can take notes, map data flow, and even handwrite a few lines of code and having it saved on the device will be a huge help to me. I'll also allow my co-workers to test some of our clinical applications on the device. We tested the iPad, and to stay it was less than stellar is an understatement.

RickVogelVTS
RickVogelVTS

You'll probably LOVE this tablet, but an i7 T520 is top of the line, and would be something you were happier with if you work in excel a lot, or do graphics editing, etc..., anything that would require a lot of processing power, expanded RAM, etc... If you're not in need of the i7 processor, and were just going that route to ensure you don't have to upgrade again for a while, you probably made the right choice on the tablet.

RickVogelVTS
RickVogelVTS

Lenovo produces some of the most secure devices on the planet. Just because they are a Chinese company does not mean they track the data usage on any PC or notebook sold. A) someone who tests or owns Lenovo products would have figured that out by now and alerted the world. B)Lenovo is an IBM spinoff that was purchased by the Chinese. They originated here, and do a lot of work with the US Govt/Military.

Ricky Tandiono
Ricky Tandiono

True about office app. up until today, I still have not find any office app that really can work well with MS office doc. Some maybe good in editing the word, but not the excel or the other way around. then if we edit the office file in android, it will jeopardize the formatting and my colleagues then will hate me :)

TNT
TNT

You're right about the need for MS Office apps, but Office 365 can answer that. As far as the need for the network, its no different from a laptop so I don't see that as a negative. Battery life is an important point and one that strangely isn't answered here. I agree with Jason that this is going to get some people looking twice before upgrading their netbook or laptop. And to think this is a first generation product for Lenovo. While I really have no need for a tablet (or another OS) is my life at present, this makes the future look much brighter for the tablet market.

RickVogelVTS
RickVogelVTS

It's a UBP powered keyboard, and sucks up about as much power as an optical mouse from my understanding. Also, it can be used in flight, which is a plus as most others only offer bluetooth, and you get stuck working directly on the touchscreen in flight mode.

GSG
GSG

I wasn't able to as no one around here has them in stock. I was interested in the display quality the most. As for the form factor and elegance, well, Lenovo devices are never pretty, but they are usually solid devices, and I'll take a thicker device as a trade off for the ports and slots that this one provides.

aflynnhpg
aflynnhpg

for very long. MS is already working on the next release that will exclude anyone who has attempted to code anything to work with their apps. If MS followed the file standards in place....well, no need to finish that thought, hat's not going to happen.

RickVogelVTS
RickVogelVTS

Size and weight differences between all of the tablets available is so minicule who cares. We're talking about less than a centimeter and less than a pound. I can tell you the weight comes from the gorrila glass screen and additional ports, which add durability and greatly enhanced functionality. If you can commit to over five units if you like it, I can get you on the short list for a demo unit. Our demo is on the way currently, and we have been helping Lenovo to launch the product for the past three weeks. If you call Lenovo for a demo, you're going to wait about a year, as their list is immense right now. I can tell you the reviews on it are good, and I can't wait to put it through it's paces personally.

Ricky Tandiono
Ricky Tandiono

Still waiting when I can try the lenovo, especially the pen. The pen from lenovo will be good if I can write and put my hand on the screen (unlike other pen where you need to hold it and cannot rest your hand on the screen). I tried the transformer.

RickVogelVTS
RickVogelVTS

Ricky, the 6 finger input screen is much more sensitive than other tablets on the market with four finger multi-touch capabilities. If you can commit to over five units if you like it, I can get you on the short list for a demo unit. Our demo is on the way currently, and we have been helping Lenovo to launch the product for the past three weeks. If you call Lenovo for a demo, you're going to wait about a year, as their list is immense right now. I can tell you the reviews on it are good, and I can't wait to put it through it's paces personally.