Opinion: Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 missing the only spec that counts

Lenovo has announced it's upcoming Windows 8 tablet, but without a price there's no way to even begin to evaluate it against rival tablets.

Lenovo has revealed its planned Windows 8 Pro tablet--the ThinkPad Tablet 2. It seems to have reasonable specs for running Windows 8, but Lenovo failed to provide the key information that everyone is really interested in: the price.

The ThinkPad Tablet 2 boasts an Intel Atom processor (although Lenovo didn't provide any more specific details about exactly which one(s) it plans to offer) in a 10.1-inch tablet a mere 0.39 inches thick and weighing in at only 1.3 pounds. The ThinkPad 2 will also have a micro SD memory card slot, mini HDMI and USB 2.0 ports, and a docking connector, along with a 2 megapixel front, and 8 megapixel rear camera.

Impressive? Who knows. Specs don't matter in the real world. Rivals of the iPad have been beating the Apple tablet on paper since the tablet wars began, yet almost none of them have delivered a tablet experience even remotely close to what the iPad has to offer.

As if that's not bad enough, most of the iPad rivals have had retail price tags on par with the iPad - or even higher. If the base iPad is $500, and an alternate tablet with better specs that beats it on paper retails for $600 it seems like a reasonable comparison. The continued success and dominance of the iPad, and the anemic sales of all competitors suggests otherwise, though.

There are two reasons rival tablets have to be more aggressive with pricing. First, there is a perception that Apple products are expensive. The iPhone, iPad, iMac, MacBooks and other Apple gear have earned some sort of badge of elitism. The current reality doesnt seem to support the theory any more, but in the mind of consumers Apple products are expected to cost more, which makes a rival tablet retailing at the same price as an iPad seem expensive by comparison.

The second as mentioned above is that its about experience, not specs. How responsive is the touchscreen display? Are there quality apps available to do what you need to do? Does it work smoothly and seamlessly with your other devices and data? There are competitors finally able to rival Apple in this area, but most tablets fall short.

That isn't necessarily a deal-breaker, though. It's OK to miss the mark a bit on the performance of the tablet as long as its reflected in the most important spec: the price. Someone who pays $500 for an iPad competitor may be disappointed, but if that same tablet only cost $300 it could be a tremendous bargain.

Look at the success of the Kindle Fire and Googles Nexus 7. Granted theyre smaller tablets so youd expect them to cost less anyway, but both are solid illustrations that a reasonable tablet priced right can be a huge success.

That brings us back to the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2. How will it compare against the Microsoft Surface? Were not sure yet. Will it perform? We wont know until we can use one in real life and get some hands on experience with it. Should you buy one? Theres no way to answer that until we have both hands on experience, and a price.

It looks compelling. But, it will be much more desirable at $400 or $500 than it will at $1000, so without a price its virtually impossible to judge.

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Tony Bradley

PC World (US online)
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