LAS VEGAS – Lenovo, the world’s number two PC company, held court at its traditional UltraVox Restaurant location in the Venetian Hotel during the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), and it truly rocked the show.
It was there that rock band The All-American Rejects performed on Tuesday night, surrounded by the latest laptops, desktops, smartphones, tablets and TVs featuring the Lenovo brand.
That’s right, Lenovo is expanding beyond PCs and entering the TV market — at least, in its China homeland. The company, which operates its executive headquarters in Morrisville, hopes to take a larger piece of the $1 trillion consumers will spend on consumer electronics in 2012.
Lenovo’s approach actually embraces many of the big trends at this year’s CES, so by breaking down its products, it’s possible to get a good picture of the consumer electronics industry. One trend at CES this year was watching companies expand beyond their core consumer electronics. TV maker Vizio showcased a new PC, game accessory manufacturer Razer entered the tablet market and Lenovo is expanding to TVs, smartphones and tablets. Lenovo’s “four screen” approach actually connects to another big trend that has been evolving over the past few trade shows – the cloud. The company’s “personal cloud” vision marks a transformation of the company from a “personal computer” manufacturer to a “personal cloud solution” provider that integrates hardware, software and cloud computing together.
Lenovo is also getting smarter in the application space, launching new apps today for education. (Read more here.)
Breaking Down Barriers
Just about every major consumer electronics company had some form of cloud infrastructure set up to allow consumers to easily connect to their entertainment, games and other content seamlessly from the screens that occupy their daily lives – smartphones, televisions, computers and tablets. Sony, for example, is embracing the cloud for games, music and movies between its new PS Vita portable entertainment device and its PlayStation 3.
Liu Jun, senior vice president and president, Mobile Internet and Digital Home business group, explained that Lenovo is breaking down the barriers of device differentiation and weaving together hardware, software and cloud services that are connected, experiential and dynamic.
“We understand our users need more than just the traditional keyboard and screen for a truly satisfying digital experience,” said Jun. “Our Personal Cloud vision integrates all devices, from tablets to TVs, for a comprehensive mobile Internet experience anytime, anywhere.”
Most big companies were pushing new forms of “smart” consumer electronics across the 1.851 million net square feet of show floor in the Las Vegas Convention Center and neighboring hotels. “Smart” is actually just another name for connected devices, although the concept between what’s a television and what’s a PC is blurring. And that’s just one reason that Lenovo is expanding into these markets. For the past three years, 3D has been everywhere at CES. And 2012 was no exception.
This year featured more prototype autostereoscopic (glasses free) 3D TVs and larger, thinner stereoscopic 3D TVs. Lenovo taps into both of these trends with its 55-inch K91 smart 3D TV. Lenovo’s approach to 3D TV separates it from most of the competition. Although for now, the company is focusing solely on the huge Chinese market.
At its core, the K91 is a television with an Android tablet built-in. The TV runs on QualComm’s 8060 Snapdragon dual core CPU and features 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage, and a 2GB SD card. The TV utilizes the Android 4.0 operation system, also known as Ice Cream Sandwich. This tablet brain will enable a host of functionality, including games like the HD offerings currently available across Android tablets. The TV will also offer Video On Demand (VOD), Internet applications through the Android Market and Lenovo Store, and traditional TV programs. The online HD VOD is tailored to an individual consumer’s viewing history, and delivers the best picture and audio quality with 3D FPR technology delivering flicker-free video on a full HD IPS panel at 240hz with SRS TruSurround. The built-in 5 megapixel Webcam opens up face recognition technology for security benefits and advanced parental control. And speech recognition technology allows for hands-free commands. The TV is also compatible with smartphone, PC and tablets for cross-platform and cloud functionality.
With the PC business slumping, in part because of the explosion of tablets, Intel is hoping its new line of Ultrabooks will jump start the business. Lenovo demonstrated a new convertible Ultrabook, the IdeaPad Yoga, which is essentially a 13.3-inch tablet that features a 10-point multitouch display and comes with an attached keyboard. The device is expected to run on the new Intel Ivy Bridge process and comes with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. The device is only 0.66 inches thick and weighs 3.1 pounds and provides eight hours of battery life on a single charge. The Yoga’s adjustable hinge allows the notebook to be folded 360 degrees into a tablet, or used as a stand like an easel. The Yoga will debut later this year with the launch of Microsoft’s Windows 8 and will retail for $1,200.
The Laptop Market
Lenovo is targeting the business traveler with its ThinkPad T430u Ultrabook, which will launch in Q2 for $850. Running on Intel’s new processor, this laptop equips business users with the same thin and light designs found in consumer Ultrabooks. The device features a matte finish that’s soft to the touch and an aluminum top cover. It’s compact — less than 0.8-inches and less than four pounds – and sports the new island-style keyboard.
Also on display at CES was the IdeaCentre A720, a 27-inch, all-in-one PC measuring just 24.5mm thick. Packed inside this powerful device is a 1terrabyte hard drive, 64GB SSD, Dolby Home Theatre V4 audio and Nvidia GeForce graphics. The PC features a 10-point multitouch display and will retail for $1,300.
Another PC on display was the 13.3-inch ThinkPad X1 Hybrid, which doubles the CPU performance and quadruples the graphics performance of previous Lenovo laptops. The hybrid doubles as a second PC thanks to its battery-stretching Instant Media Mode (IMM), which gives 10 hours of life to entertainment. IMM includes a Qualcomm dual core processor, up to 16 GB of memory and a custom Linux-based operating system. The laptop features Dolby Home Theater v4 sound, an HDMI port and Intel Wireless Display technology to connect and stream 1080p video wirelessly to a TV or projector. The laptop will retain in Q3 for $1,600.
Although the industry is evolving, Yang Yuanqing, chairman and CEO of Lenovo, said that the PC market isn’t going away anytime soon. He believes innovation will continue in PCs, just as it has in smartphones and tablets.
“Many people think traditional [PC] innovation is coming to an end,” said Yuanqing during the Lenovo press conference at AquaNox. “But we believe in the exact opposite.”
But the company is expanding beyond its core PC roots just as tablets and smartphones experience exponential growth. Lenovo showed off its IdeaTab S2 10 at CES. Thinner than its predecessors, the IdeaTab S2 10-inch is just one-third of an inch thin and weighs just 1.1lbs. The tablet runs on the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 8960 dual core CPU and Android 4.0 operating systems. Its detachable design, combined with a light keyboard dock, can deliver 20 hours of battery life, which is great for both entertainment and productivity.
The latest smartphones shown at CES are the equivalent of PCs from just a few years ago. Lenovo’s S2 smartphone includes the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon technology and Android 2.3 operating system. The device includes a unique Kernel-level security system to protect personal data, prevent phishing, and control network and SMS traffic. Users can also take advantage of its 8 megapixel super camera to capture panoramic photos while traveling. And like its television and tablet, this new smartphone connects to the cloud and offers instant syncing for photos, music, videos and personal information with a dedicated online storage space for easy sharing across multiple devices.
With Americans expected to spend over $202 billion on consumer electronics this year, Lenovo has a line-up that will likely attract a larger audience to its brand. The company is evolving beyond its core business to try to engage a larger piece of the evolving consumer and business markets.
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