RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — William Amelio takes his job as missionary for Lenovo quite seriously — so much so that he seeks out individual users at airports as he travels the world.

In an interview with The New York Times published Saturday, Amelio said ThinkPad laptop users are liable to get a surprise if he spots them.

“I travel a lot and I carry a bag of red dots, the ThinkPad TrackPoints,” Amelio said, referring to the red cursor control that’s an alternative to touch pads. “When I’m in an airport and I see somebody with a ThinkPad, I’ll walk up to them and quiz them and get some instant customer feedback. Then I give them a few red dots. If I give them my card, too, they never believe who I am.”

As a globe-trotting CEO of an international computer manufacturer that is moving its headquarters to nearby Morrisville, Amelio still has to be primarily concerned with large accounts. For example, Lenovo is still trying to recover from the security flap generated when the U.S. State Department bought 16,000 Lenovo PCs, many of which were made in Raleigh. Some people in Washington objected, saying Lenovo as a Chinese-owned (not true) company poised a security risk. The State Department ended up promising none of the machines would be used to handle sensitive information.

Asked about the State Department situation by The Times, Amelio replied:

“It’s dying down dramatically. I personally spent time in Washington, along with other key executives, to help educate a lot of the lawmakers. The issue isn’t associated with hardware at all. It’s associated with a common problem in the industry: the potential or ability for someone to put viruses in PC’s. We’re confident all our Lenovo computers don’t possess any backdoor surveillance equipment, spy chips or the like.”

I wonder what the reaction would have been if Amelio had started handing out red dots to the D.C. bureaucrats? (You know, as in Communist China –)

For the complete interview, see: www.nytimes.com/2006/07/29/technology/29interview.html?_r=1&ref=technology&oref=slogin

In other news, Lenovo recently received another boost from PC World.

The magazine’s most recent “ultraportable laptops” chart is again topped by Lenovo’s X60 model “thanks to its excellent performance (including stellar battery life) and top-notch design”.
New to the list is Lenovo’s 3000 V100 model. “This ultraportable model comes in at a lower cost than the flagship ThinkPad X60s – and it doesn’t match its pricier sibling’s excellence of design,” PC World said. “Most notably, the keyboard took a little getting used to, and we hated the ultrastiff mouse buttons, to the point that we found it necessary to switch to an external mouse.”

For details, see: www.pcworld.com/article/126583-1/article.html

Over at Engadget.com, Lenovo receives some kind words for incorporating AMD Athlon dual-core processors in its ThinkCentre A60 desktops.

“Their new ThinkCentre A60 features those snazzy Athlon 64 X2 dual-core processors in the high end, along with options for Athlon 64 and Sempron chips for the budget conscious,” Engadget reports. “The systems are targeted at medium to large businesses, and carry all the necessary network niceties for managing, upgrading and accessing the workstations. The integrated nVidia GF 6100 graphics aren’t anything special, but a PCI Express slot should ease your visual woes. Dual SATA HDD slots, DDR2 memory and six USB 2.0 ports are all available, and there are options to fill those slots accordingly. Lenovo should be shipping these soon, with base models starting at around $800.”

For more, see: www.engadget.com,%20www.engadget.com/2006/07/28/lenovo-unveils-amd-based-thinkcentre-a60/