In my previous post I mentioned that we’d have offerings for those who wanted a ThinkPad in something other than a black, rectangular box. We have two of them which announced yesterday: the ThinkPads EDGE and X100e systems. In introducing these systems, we wanted to extend the appeal of ThinkPad while offering something that looks different and has a different feature set to reach a different target audience. I’ve read the comments from other reviews on the web and I’m mystified. How can there be so much excitement about the X100e and so much outcry about the EDGE series? But perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself. First, my take on the two:
I am sure that many will be tempted to call the X100e a netbook, but to do so is to lump it in a category to which it does not belong. A netbook is a system designed to consume information, not to create it. Netbooks are optimized for portability and price points and give up a lot to get there. The X100e is different. First, even with the new, improved Intel Pine Trail platform, the Atom processor is intentionally kept at a low performance level. Yet, to jump up to even Celeron level processors is a large jump in cost. Today there is not a processor/platform offering from Intel which can fit in that gap. Thus, for the first time ever, we are introducing an AMD processor in a ThinkPad notebook. This processor has better performance than an Atom, yet still allows for aggressive price points. Unlike the Atom processor, it also comes with a stability message for corporate roll outs. Second, when we looked at ThinkPad’s target market, business customers, they told us that they needed a lower price mobile computing offering designed for business, not for consumers. These customers wanted things like global availability, better durability, corporate operating systems (so they can connect to their network domains), and commercial warranties. Third, you’ll see that while the X100e echoes ThinkPad design, it breaks new ground (for ThinkPad anyway). It has up to three color choices (country dependent), including black. We’ve used the same touch and feel keyboard guts, but the key tops are decidedly different. They are discrete islands which many people say evokes the latest designs from Sony and Apple – both known for their design. Before any purists deride it, at least try it first. If you still don’t like it, choose a T or another X series. We’re not changing the keyboards on those. This is also our first X series with a touch pad built inside in addition to a TrackPoint. This alone increases its market opportunity by 50%. If you don’t like it, Fn+F8 will allow you disable it. If you (shudder) don’t like a TrackPoint, that same key combination will allow you to turn that off instead. Since it is a ThinkPad, it will have things like the Active Protection System, spill resistant keyboards (though no drainage system), ThinkVantage Technologies, a common power adapter, and better than your average notebook durability.
When looking at the ThinkPad EDGE series, you can see that the designers were on the same team as those who designed the X100e. Indeed, there was some considerable debate as to whether we should have branded the X100e an EDGE system considering how close they look to one another. In the end, since both machines are targeted at different markets with different values, the team decided to name them as you see today. We are targeting the EDGE series squarely at small business up to about 100 employees. Our research has shown that these people value trendy design aesthetics in addition to wanting a quality-built machine. They probably don’t have a dedicated IT team and are highly reliant on their business partner or vendor to provide support. Our competitors have noticed this as well. Acer’s Timeline, HP’s Probook, and Dell’s Vostro all are marketing to this category of buyer. Like the X100e, the ThinkPad EDGE comes in multiple color choices (varies by country). It has a similar keyboard layout that uses the touch and feel “guts” of its other ThinkPad siblings while evoking a more modern look on the surface. Unlike similar looking keyboards from our competitors, the proof is in the touch and feel. Typing is believing. Since these machines carry the ThinkPad name, they need to be worthy of it. We took the first step by using the ThinkPad touch and feel keyboard, but also added other ThinkPad standard features like TrackPoint + large touch pad, the Active Protective System, and a spill resistant keyboard. These machines also ship with many of our ThinkVantage Technologies like Rescue and Recovery, System Update, Access Connections, and Password Manager. If you want Accidental Damage Protection, you can get that too. The EDGE target market also wants features like powered USB ports (check), HDMI ports (check), multi-card readers (check), and 3G connectivity (check). To help meet varying needs and price points, you’ll also be able to choose this machine in either AMD or Intel configurations. From a “green” aspect, these systems ship in 100% recycled and recyclable packaging printed with non-toxic inks. All machines are Energy Star 5 certified, EPEAT Gold certified, and have Lenovo’s Power Manager which offers far more granular control than standard Windows power management. Most significant in my mind is that we are using our same technical support team as for our other Think product offerings. I know that outsourced support is a hot topic for many. I won’t say much else other than to mention that if you are a US based customer, during most hours of the day your call will get routed to Atlanta, Georgia. (It’s hard to get people to work at 3 a.m.). In other countries we also have won awards for our technical support, so you’re likely to get a better than average support experience there too. Quality. Durability. TrackPoint. Active Protection System. Stellar keyboard. World-class service and support. ThinkVantage Technologies – THAT’S what makes them worthy of the moniker “ThinkPad," not what they look like. ------------------------------------------------- Check back tomorrow for a new post from CES.