Design ThinkPad

ThinkPad 8 comfortably at home in the Tablet 2 Bluetooth Keyboard

ThinkPad 8 comfortably at home in the Tablet 2 Bluetooth Keyboard

Every once in a while something happens that we didn’t plan for and it turns out to be a positive. I like to refer to this as a “happy accident”. Bob Ross, host of the popular public television series "The Joy of Painting," was also a fan of this phenomenon. He was the master of turning a seemingly misguided slip of the brush into positives like a picturesque knot-hole on a gnarly old oak tree.  The end result was usually more interesting than what he had intended. For a listing of the top 25 happy accidents click here. “There are no mistakes, just happy accidents.”  Bob Ross Our newly announced ThinkPad 8 tablet is a great product with accessories like the Quickshot smart cover and a forthcoming protective case. We did not, however, design an accessory keyboard specifically for the product. Keyboards have a pretty hefty development price tag and the predicted sales volumes were not so high. A Tablet 8 dedicated keyboard accessory just didn’t make the cut. Portrait or landscape, the choice is yours Interestingly enough, my design team discovered something along the lines of a happy accident for the new ThinkPad 8 tablet. It fits perfectly in the trough of the ThinkPad Tablet 2 Bluetooth Keyboard....

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Selfie taken with the Quickshot feature in the Lenovo men's room mirror  : )

Selfie taken with the Quickshot feature in the Lenovo men's room mirror : )

Technical specifications are important when we develop new products. They must have the right combination of battery life, ports, memory configurations, weight, screen size/resolution, and of course processor performance. This has been true for years within the computer industry. At Lenovo there will always be lots of technical wizards working on this stuff. In a rapidly changing tech world, people also demand an emotionally satisfying user experience. When my team was creating the design of the ThinkPad 8, we expended significant energy shaping such an experience.  During the design concept phase we focused a lot of our attention on trying to develop a feature that would elicit a positive emotional response. We brainstormed for days working in small tiger teams looking for the right stuff. We talked about supporting multi-mode functionality with innovative stand, ensuring the tablet was narrow enough to be held comfortably with one hand, and the importance of overall fit and finish. After much debate and study, we ultimately decided we needed to do those things well, but we also needed something new. It was time to invent. We thought there might be a way to create something that would simplify the photo- taking experience. Due to its portability, the ThinkPad 8 actually makes a great camera. I personally hate trying to take photos with a larger tablet, they’re just too unwieldy to use quickly or discreetly. Seeing people take photos on large tablets...

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Clocks from the design center help keep things synchronized

Clocks from the design center help keep things synchronized

As many of my followers can tell, of late I’ve been conspicuously absent from the blogosphere. It’s nearly been a year since my last post about the ThinkPad Anniversary and an event we hosted at the MoMA. Some people have even speculated that I had died, gone into exile on a deserted island somewhere in the South Pacific, or mysteriously left Lenovo under cover of darkness. Perhaps Mark Twain said it best with his famous quote, “The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” The simple reality is that blogging takes significant time, especially if you want to do it right. Lately, I just haven’t had the time required. I’ve been working nearly around the clock on strategic design projects for Lenovo. Over the last year I’ve been to Italy, Germany, Japan, and of course China so many times I’ve lost count. Keeping the design trains running takes a lot of horsepower. Unfortunately, blogging had to take a back seat. I pioneered blogging at Lenovo with its inaugural blog Design Matters. It launched shortly after the landmark acquisition of IBM’s PC business. At first, I was a bit apprehensive about blogging but I quickly discovered that it was a wonderful way to have an interactive dialogue with people and get real-time feedback. It’s also a superb creative outlet for me personally. I like it. Now the time is right...

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ThinkPad Yoga Dons Black and Business-Ready Features Fom the original bento box inspired design, to the butterfly keboard on the ThinkPad 701 from 1995, to the twist of a screen on the ThinkPad Twist, along with the introduction of the sleek X1, and now the ThinkPad Yoga-- history continues to be made as the ThinkPad knows no limits. The new ThinkPad Yoga borrows the flip and fold, four mode design from the original Lenovo Yoga to create its own space for business customers with its performance, security and productivity features as well as customization options. The 12.5-inch magnesium alloy ThinkPad Yoga offers a stunning visual and intensive multimedia experience starting with choices of a Corning Gorilla Glass HD IPS or a FHD IPS display (optional digitizer and pen available for the FHD display) running Windows 8.1. For a responsive touch experience, use its 10-finger touch screen running Windows 8.1 or its oversized five-button glass trackpad optimized for gestures. Designed for maximum comfort in all modes, the ThinkPad Yoga features a unique lift and lock system created for tablet mode. The system automatically lifts and locks the keys on the machine’s keyboard in place for a streamlined feel. Additionally, ThinkPad Yoga features the legendary ThinkPad keyboard with optional backlit models and models with Near Field Communications (NFC) to easily share data between devices. The ThinkPad Yoga has the key performance technologies...

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ThinkPad Tablet 2

ThinkPad Tablet 2

Following on from our third article, "Developers on ThinkPad Tablet 2: User Experience/Hardware", we once again speak directly with the developers. In this fourth article, we focus on the software development directly affecting the user experience. We interviewed two engineers from the software department: one who worked on device drivers for the legendary 700C digitizer pen model and the 750T, in addition to APS (Active Protection System) development, and another who was temporarily posted to Microsoft, and has experience with BIOS development and development of the original Tablet.   - What are your thoughts now that software development for the Tablet 2 is over? Yomo: Though I say it myself, the fact we completed it feels like a miracle (LOL)... With software development for a regular product, you can usually get things working and carry out tests smoothly about three months into development, but it took a long time to get off the ground with the Tablet 2. It really came down to the wire in the end. Maruichi: Developing new BIOS, OS, and ThinkVantage software from scratch for a product was a new experience for us. In the past we've always had a base to work from for at least one of these, and when a problem arose during development we could rule out this stable base to identify the cause of the problem more easily. However, this time we had to build...

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