Design Accessories

The ongoing saga of the ThinkPad external keyboard design has been very entertaining to follow. Blog statistics and media reaction would suggest that I am far from being the only one interested in this hot topic. SInce I last blogged about our newly introduced keyboard, and the "crowd sourced" methodology we used to design it, I've seen over 250 comments posted with thousands of visits by readers like you. It's very rewarding as a designer to see this kind of a reaction to what we tried to do. I think Lenovo is pioneering the use of blogs to guide design directions. Having the views of the people who buy and use the things we design is a gift.  In reading the many blog comments it's obvious to me that there continues to be interest in a wireless version. The data from our original study didn't indicate enormous interest in this feature, but maybe things have changed. Is the time is right for us reconsider a wireless version? I asked my team to put together a new survey specifically on this topic so that we can learn more. Where do you want to use...

Continue reading “Wireless ThinkPad Keyboard. The People’s Choice?”

  ThinkPad sleeve  For years I've tried to find a nice simple sleeve for my ThinkPad. I like them because they offer very convenient protection for those trips where a traditional carry case and all the assorted compartments just aren't needed. You would think that finding a simple sleeve design would be easy, but it isn't. Most sleeves are offered in goofy colors or with ridiculous patterns smeared all over them. I wanted a sleeve that was truly ThinkPad worthy. I could never imagine pulling my ThinkPad out of a pink sleeve sporting some sort of daisy motif.  People would ask "what have you done with the real David Hill? " Something just doesn't seem right about this The hunt for sophisticated simplicity is finally over. We just released ThinkPad branded sleeves with an appropriate design. There is a 12" and 15" version . I'm already using one of the early samples for my machine. It has my full endorsement. I also plan on using these new ThinkPad sleeves to store our precious design...

Continue reading “Stop Going Sleeveless”

Family of ThinkPad cases ThinkPad carry cases are a special kind of "software" design that my team supports. Forget pixels, icons, scrolling and clicking. This is more about fabric, straps, zippers and snaps. The design requirements and constraints for carry cases are also very different from the typical hardware or GUI project. By comparison lead times are quite short, very little tooling is required, and we don't know exactly what will be on the inside. Obviously they must provide a nice place to hold and protect your ThinkPad, but everything else is up to the user. Part of our design process includes field testing of prototypes in order to gather user feedback and tune the designs.  When I travel I usually have my airline tickets, passport, travel AC adapter, cell phone charger, digital camera, pad of paper, pens, pencils, business cards,tape measure, and of course my ThinkPad. I don't carry much else in my case.  The trick for designing one of these is to allow for flexibility. If the compartments are too object specific they may not map to the users needs. It's also important to choose materials that are both durable and useful. The interior of our cases are a silver grey nylon, not only to enhance the appearance, but to also make it easier to find things inside. Have you ever tried to look for that tiny black USB key, or similar object, buried deep inside a all black case? This is even worse...

Continue reading “ThinkPad Case Study”

  ThinkPad USB port replicator with digital video If you saw my desk at work you would find a stack of action items, pencil drawn concept sketches, and a zillion notes to myself.  In addition to this typical executive/designer stuff, I also have a  a large ThinkVision monitor, an external ThinkPad keyboard, a set of  great looking speakers, and a rarely used mouse. Since I  use a ThinkPad X300,  I don't have a traditional bottom-side docking connector available to me. It just would not have fit without making the product significantly thicker. A classic ThinkPad docking solution just won't work for me.  I don't use these acessories all the time, but when I do,  they are a pain to connect.  There are  way too many cables that need to be continuously connected and unconnected to my ThinkPad to make me happy. I know there are others out there who share my plight, I choose to call them the "docking connector challenged" crowd.  We started working on the design solution many months ago and just recently announced a new ThinkPad USB port replicator with digital video. This device provides a quick and easy connection to the things I use with my ThinkPad. Simply connect via a single USB cable  for access to your monitor, internet connection/LAN, headphones/speakers, USB printer, keyboard, mouse, and other USB devices. We made sure to include...

Continue reading “Design Connections”

We recently introduced an innovative accessory that expands portable storage while enhancing data security for ThinkPad fans. My team really enjoys designing these kind of accessories. It gives them a chance to imagine how to connect ThinkPad design DNA to a product that often is highly unique and allows us to enhance the ThinkPad user experience. We have done designs for ThinkPad external keyboards, travel mice, and carry cases in the past. Yes they are black with a small red accent, but we strive to give them all a innovative twist that drives desire. The design challenge for the ThinkPad USB Portable Secure Hard Drive, I prefer to call it "the vault," was to create an object that linked to the ThinkPad design essence but also embodied the appropriate design solution for such a critical product. We wanted it to look simple, solid, and of course ultra secure. I think we achieved that goal. One review I read recently remarked that using it "will make you look, feel more important than you are" and that it would be handy for you always on-the-go, James Bond types. Sure Bond wants one, but so do I. I can close my eyes and imagine pulling this one out of the glovebox of my Aston Martin (If only I had one) in order to thwart yet another...

Continue reading “Secret Agent Envy”