Twenty years have passed now and a lot has changed. But in the world of technology, the ThinkPad brand is still kicking. And to celebrate its birthday Lenovo, which acquired the ThinkPad brand in 2005 from IBM, is releasing some new products.
"This is the tablet everyone is waiting for," Dilip Bhatia, vice president and general manager of the ThinkPad business unit, said as he showed the ThinkPad Tablet 2. The ThinkPad Tablet 2 runs Windows 8 and will be coming out at the end of October when Windows 8 is finally out.
The tablet is aimed, like most ThinkPads, at the professional set. It has a 10.1-inch screen and while it's only 9.8 mm thick it still has room for a full USB port on its edge. Inside it has a brand new Intel Atom processor and runs Windows 8 Pro, so it will be able to run all older Windows applications. (Windows 8 tablets based on ARM processors will only run new apps made for Windows 8).
But while the tablet has a lot of new features, it has one that has been a staple of ThinkPad tablets for years: a stylus. Hidden along the left edge is a digital pen with a red top. You will be able to take notes on the tablet using the pen but also then dock the tablet into a keyboard that will be available separately. The tablet, which we got to see today, is well made, though it was still an early unit.
It seems like a strong entry, but there will be lots of Windows 8 tablets in October, including two from Microsoft itself. Bhatia says is he is nevertheless confident in the second-generation tablet (there was an Android version released last year) and not worried, he says, about Microsoft's Surface.
"Microsoft is a strategic partner for us. The Surface has brought more excitement to the marketplace. The ThinkPad tablet is focused after the business individual; the Surface is more geared towards the consumer offering," he said.
In addition to the ThinkPad Tablet 2, Lenovo just started stocking shelves with a new ultrabook -- the ThinkPad Carbon X1. The thin, light laptop has the traditional Thinkpad look and feel but has some firsts.
"It's built of carbon fiber, the same material you find in a Dreamliner airplane that allows it to get better fuel efficiency savings. It's very tough," Bhatia said.
On top of that it has a new keyboard and trackpad that's coated in a rubberlike material. It's also the lightest 14-inch laptop on the market. It starts at $1,299 and while it runs Windows 7 now, it is Windows 8 ready and will only cost $14.99 to upgrade at the end of October.
Lenovo isn't commenting on the price of the ThinkPad Tablet 2, but we're going to venture a guess it will be a lot less than the first ThinkPad, which cost $4,350.