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Lenovo's new lightweight ThinkPad to ship this month

Trying to deal with a slumping PC market, Lenovo pushes out new ThinkPad ultrabook

Lenovo Monday said that its lighter, quicker ThinkPad, unveiled last spring as part of an effort to attract buyers more interested in smartphones and tablets than PCs, will go on sale later this month.

And its maker is hoping the new ThinkPad X1 Carbon laptop can help it overcome the sluggishness that has overtaken the PC market.

"Light, portable and fast charging, this is Lenovo's halo product," said Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group. "It is a showcase of what the company is capable of. It is kind of an anti-tablet, targeted at people who want the portability of a tablet but still need a notebook computer."

Arimasa Naitoh, Lenovo's ThinkPad chief designer, said on Monday that the company is looking to move beyond its traditional laptop strategy.

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the ThinkPad, first developed by IBM. The business was sold to Lenovo in 2005.

Lenovo, like other PC makers, is trying to figure out how to deal with the slumping PC market.

Last month, Gartner said that user infatuation with tablets and smartphones continues to hammer the PC market.

Industry analysts suspect that these numbers pushed Lenovo to come out with the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, part of an ultrabook category of thin, light, high-performing Intel-powered laptops.

The new device has a 14-inch screen, weighs in at 2.3 pounds and has an 8-hour battery life. It's expected to sell for $1,299.

Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, said IT managers have been looking for more thin and light laptops, like Apple's MacBook Air and now Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Carbon.

"PC makers need to diversify themselves. Lenovo is doing just that," said Moorhead. "They have a line of tablets and phones to accompany their notebooks and desktops. Business users will appreciate the classic Thinkpad keyboard but also enjoy the thinness and reduced weight expected in consumer notebooks."

Enderle noted that laptops won't fully disappear because users, particularly business users, need the larger screen, keyboard and power. But he does expect constant changes in the technology.

"I expect laptops and tablets to merge as a class at some future point, embracing the flexibility of the tablet but the functionality of the laptop," he said. "In the end, buyers are likely not willing to give either up but have sacrificed flexibility for functionality in the past, giving PCs the sustaining edge. Lenovo is stepping out as the PC company to watch."

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

Read more about hardware in Computerworld's Hardware Topic Center.


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