Lenovo targets business users with widescreen notebook

Widescreen version of ThinkPad line competes with Dell for business users

Making an effort to compete with Dell for business users, Lenovo Group has launched a widescreen version of its ThinkPad line of notebook PCs.

The ThinkPad T60 will use a 15.4-inch widescreen, yet hold its weight down to 5.1 pounds, lighter than any comparable notebook from the top five PC vendors, Lenovo said Tuesday.

The company also hopes that adding this feature will regain consumers' confidence after Lenovo was forced in September to recall the batteries from 526,000 ThinkPad models -- including the T60. Like notebooks sold by competing vendors Dell, Apple Computer and Toshiba, those computers used lithium-ion batteries manufactured by Sony, whose faulty design could lead to overheating and fire.

Lenovo already sells widescreen notebooks in other product lines, such as the Z-series and 3000-series for small businesses, but this is the first widescreen model for corporate users, said Rajat Aggarwal, product marketing manager for the T-Series at Lenovo.

Those customers can already chose a T60 notebook with 14- or 15-inch screen, but have recently been asking for the full widescreen version, allowing them to display more columns on an Excel spreadsheet, show multiple windows and fit better onto airplane tray tables, Aggarwal said. In another nod to high-end users, the notebook will be capable of running Microsoft's new Vista OS, with a dual-core Core 2 Duo processor from Intel Corp. and graphics card from ATI.

Despite this package, Lenovo is lagging behind its rival PC vendors in delivering widescreen notebooks to the business market, analysts said.

"Lenovo is playing catch-up in the widescreen game," said Samir Bhavnani, research director at Current Analysis. "Lenovo is a little late to the game because Dell's entire lineup of corporate systems is available in widescreen right now. Dell just identified a market shift before Lenovo did."

Still, the product should be popular with Lenovo's core audience, the corporate user, Bhavnani said. Since acquiring IBM Corp.'s notebook PC division in 2005, Lenovo has succeeded at preserving the ThinkPad brand's history of innovation, rolling out features such as the tablet PC and integrated wireless broadband.

Lenovo is selling the ThinkPad T60 notebook with 15.4-inch display for US$1,399 in the base model. Users can upgrade to a version that works as a laptop workstation for faster numeric computation or to run the Vista Premium OS.

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