Lenovo's CES lineup: Flexible laptops, dirt-cheap tablets, and PCs that read your face

Tablets and laptops and all-in-ones, oh my!

Lenovo's new A-Series tablets

Lenovo's new A-Series tablets

In addition to claiming a record for the "World's most lightweight laptop," Lenovo is unveiling all sorts of other, less record-worthy (but still interesting) devices at CES 2015, from cheap Android tablets to flexible laptops and PCs that can read your facial expressions.

You get a tablet! And you get a tablet!

First up is Lenovo's new A-Series tablets, which Lenovo branded with the cringe-worthy (or journalist-worthy) pun "'A' Smart Choice for First Time Tablet Buyers." The "A" apparently stands for Affordable. Or Android. Or it's a meaningless product designation. Who knows?

Regardless, the new TAB 2 A7-10 and A7-30 are cheap Android tablets, running Android 4.4 until an unspecified date this spring when 5.0 Lollipop will drop in an over-the-air update. The A7-10 features eight hours of battery life, 8GB of internal storage, a MicroSD slot allowing for 32GB additional storage, a seven-inch display with 1024x600 resolution (ugh), and a 1.3GHz processor.

The A7-30 is basically the same device, except with optional 3G for voice calling purposes. You know, just in case you didn't think holding the Nexus 6's massive screen to your face made you look dumb enough.

The tablets ship between January and March of 2015 and start at $99, making them true budget devices. On the other hand, Amazon's six-inch Kindle Fire HD 6 is the same price with a higher 1280x800 resolution, and the seven-inch Kindle Fire HD isn't that far off at $140--though Fire tablets lock you into Amazon's ecosystem rather than the wide world of Android.

Touch your toes

Lenovo's FLEX line of touch-enabled laptops just keeps getting more flexible. Last year's Flex 2 featured a hinge that could bend 300 degrees. You could use it as a normal laptop or bend it so the keyboard laid flat on the table, acting as a stand for the touchscreen.

This year's Flex 3 hinge did some stretches and limbered up, meaning it can now bend the full 360 degrees. You can still use it as a laptop, or bend the keyboard all the way back and use it as an impromptu (and bulky) tablet.

The Flex 3 comes in 11-, 14-, and 15-inch models, with 8GB of RAM and a terabyte of storage. The 11-inch model is saddled with a diminutive Pentium processor and a 1366x768 screen, while the 14- and 15-inch Flex 3s get full Core i5/i7 chips and an optional 1920x1080 resolution.

The 11-, 14-, and 15-inch Flex 3 models come in at $US400, $US550, and $US580 respectively.

There's also the $US800 S41, which is a more performance-oriented option. The S41 looks like a bog standard laptop for low-end gaming, with a 14-inch 1920x1080 screen, a Core i7 processor, and "Nvidia Next Generation GeForce GPU." Whether that means a top-of-the-line 980M or something more middle-of-the-road, I'm not quite sure. And again, there's 8GB of RAM and 1TB of storage, or a 256GB SSD.

I'm tentatively interested in the S41 considering Lenovo took a decent stab at a gaming laptop with last year's Y50.

Set it and forget it

Finally, we come to Lenovo's desktop offerings: The B50, C40, and C50. Inspiring names.

Were you waiting for the day you could buy a computer with Microsoft's Kinect sensor basically built in? If so, Lenovo has the PC for you. The company's new B50 includes a 3D depth-sensing camera that the company describes thusly:

"The 3D camera features full 1080p color and a depth sensor to simulate depth-sensing and vision capabilities of human eyes. The 3D camera takes connecting, capturing and sharing and playing to a new dimension by enhancing video chats with virtual spaces, storing depth information for 3D editing and printing and interacting by responding to hands and finger movements and even facial expressions."

Personally I think that falls somewhere between creepy (the last part) and dumb (everything else), but your mileage may vary.

Besides the camera, the B50 all-in-one has a 23.8-inch 1920x1080 frameless IPS display, a 4th-generation i5 or i7, an Nvidia GeForce 820A 2GB graphics card, 16GB of DDR3 RAM, and a terabyte of hard drive or hybrid drive space. That's a perfectly capable mainstream (read: not gaming) machine, yet not exactly a performance behemoth considering its $US1250 price tag--but you're buying this thing just to mess with the camera, right?

The C40 and C50 are also all-in-one desktops with 21.5- and 23-inch 1920x1080 IPS displays (10-point multitouch optional). Again, these aren't exactly performance monsters, with 4th-gen Intel i5 processors and Nvidia GeForce 820A graphics cards, 8GB of RAM, and 2TB of storage. On the other hand, the $US430 and $US730 price tags should make these a much easier sell for budget-minded consumers.

Phew, we made it through all Lenovo has to offer at CES. Except, of course, that record-breaking LaVie laptop. Now that you survived, why not grab a Guinness (if you're of age, of course) and pop over to read that article?

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