What do you do when all the tablets on store shelves look virtually the same? If you're Lenovo, you launch a tablet with a different design and get Ashton Kutcher to promote it.
On Tuesday evening, Kutcher, along with the China-based company, held a launch event in Los Angeles to announce the latest Yoga tablet, which has a unique cylindrical handle and can be used in three different ways. Similar to the company's Windows 8 Yoga laptop, the Yoga tablet has three different modes -- a tilt mode, where it can sit slightly propped up on a table, a stand mode, which lets you pull out a kickstand to stand it up, and a hold mode, where you use the handle to hold it.
"When you look at this you say, this doesn't look like anything else on the market," said Kutcher, who isn't only an actor now but also a "Lenovo product engineer. "This is not just another me too tablet."
Available with 8- or 10-inch screens, the tablet also has another trick in that circular base -- it contains a cylindrical battery that packs double the battery life of a typical tablet.
"A by-product of the design has given people a better way to hold it and long battery life," Lenovo's VP of Marketing Jeff Meredith told ABC News. According to Meredith, the tablets can last up to 18 hours on a charge.
But while the design and battery life might scream higher-end product, the 8-inch model starts at $249 and the 10-inch at $299. Compromises were made for that price, too -- the tablets have only 1280 x 800 resolution screens, which pales in comparison to the higher-resolution screens on the iPads or Google's Nexus 7. The tablet also runs an older version of Android -- Android 4.2.2 -- rather than Android 4.3
But Lenovo is hoping that many will be willing to live with some of those shortcoming for its other features. "It's one of the instances where we said we could make another tablet like everyone else's and slightly improve the resolution, but we thought maybe there is some innovation left in the category that is around the form factor," Meredith said.
And that's where Ashton Kutcher's marketing work should help too. Kutcher, who stars in "Two and a Half Men" and recently played Steve Jobs in "Jobs," is going to work as a "Lenovo product engineer" and will not only help with marketing, including tonight's big launch event, but also with providing design, specification and software guidance.
Both Kutcher's name and the interesting design of the Yoga will certainly help Lenovo in the coming holiday tablet wars, though it certainly still faces an uphill battle. Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX with the new Mayday customer support is being heavily advertised, and there are billboards for Microsoft's new Surface 2 everywhere you look and Apple's new iPad Air goes on sale this Friday, Nov. 1. The Yoga goes on sale at Best Buy and other retailers on Wednesday, Oct. 30.