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Lenovo to show first tablets at CES

Two tablets launching this week

Lenovo will show its first tablets this week as it moves to make a mark in the fast-growing market led by Apple's iPad and Samsung's Galaxy Tab.

Lenovo executives said two consumer tablet devices will be shown at CES (Consumer Electronics Show), which will be held in Las Vegas between January 6 and 9, where further details about the products will also be shared.

The tablets will be targeted at consumers at multiple price points, said Nick Reynolds, director of global marketing of the product group at Lenovo.

The tablets could include the LePad, which is based on Google's Android OS and is due for launch early this year.

The company has been designing tablets for more than a year, but no product has yet reached the market. At last year's CES the company showed the IdeaPad U1, a hybrid PC that included a detachable touchscreen that could be used as a tablet. The device was due to ship in the second half for under $1,000, but the product has been delayed.

A Lenovo executive also told IDG News Service that the company could launch a ThinkPad tablet for businesses as an expansion to its business laptop offerings.

Tablet shipments are growing at an explosive rate, driven by Apple's iPad, and research firm Gartner has pegged tablet shipments to reach 54.8 million in 2011. Lenovo will join a crowded market that includes Samsung, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Research in Motion and Toshiba.

Gartner in November also said that tablets could displace around 10 percent of PC units by 2014.

Lenovo's Reynolds said that the new tablets could have an impact on its netbook sales, but not sales for its mainstream laptops.

"Slates, netbooks are quite similar in terms of consumer usage habits and the consumption of media," Reynolds said. "But we're very confident it's not going to affect our notebook sales."

Lenovo also announced new ThinkPad laptops including the X120e ultraportable laptop, which is powered by AMD's upcoming Fusion processor. The processor combines a CPU and graphics processor on a single chip.

The X120e has 65 percent faster graphics performance and 30 percent longer battery life compared to its predecessor, the ThinkPad X100e laptop, said Luis Hernandez, executive director of Thinkpad transactional business at Lenovo.

The Fusion processor "gives users an enhanced experience because the CPU and GPU are on the same chip," Hernandez said.

The laptop has an 11-inch screen, and an HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) port to connect the laptop to displays like high-definition TV sets.

"It might look small, but it's a pure business class device," Hernandez said.

The X120e will be available in February in multiple configurations, with prices starting at under $400 in the US.

The company also announced new ThinkPad Edge laptops for small- and medium-sized businesses with Intel's next-generation Core processors, which are based on the new Sandy Bridge architecture.

The ThinkPad Edge E220s and E420s laptops are less an inch thin, and will come with screen sizes of 12.5 inches and 14.1 inches, respectively.

Some E420s models include Lenovo's RapidDrive technology - which combines hard drive and solid-state drive storage - for laptops to boot up around 30 percent faster than the previous generation of Edge laptops, Hernandez said.

The laptops will have Wi-Fi, and optional 3G and 4G (Wimax) mobile broadband connectivity options. The laptops will be priced starting at $749 in the US and ship in some parts of the world starting in April.

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