Lenovo ThinkPad X Series

Lenovo ThinkPad X Series

The other day I mentioned that a Lenovo executive admitted in an interview with APC Magazine that the company is thinking about developing a business-class netbook as part of its ThinkPad lineup. Right now Lenovo’s only netbooks are 9 and 10 inch models in the consumer  oriented IdeaPad line.

At the time, this looked like big news. But you know what? It’s also old news. It turns out that Lenovo published an article on the same topic on the company’s own blog two weeks ago.

The interesting thing is, Lenovo seems to be asking customers what they would like to see in a ThinkPad branded netbook. There are inherent tradeoffs in any netbook. They tend to be small, light weight, and cheap. And that means they’re not particularly powerful and may not be well suited for some business uses.

So what does that leave? Would a ThinkPad netbook basically be identical to an IdeaPad S10 but with a boxier, blacker case? Or would you want to see a faster CPU, more security features, a better display, a different pointing device, or other featuress? And how much would you be willing to pay for them. You can let the folks at Lenovo know by leaving comments on their blog, but I’m also curious so feel free to sound off in the comments of this blog as well.

via SF Examiner

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29 replies on “Lenovo wants your input on a ThinkPad netbook”

  1. And one more thing… This may not be the 800 pound gorilla, in the netbook room, that nobody notices, but it’s at least a 60 pound chimp. In any case I think it needs a little more ink:

    The screens are short. With the 16:9 aspect ratio and 1024×600 pixels, web pages and document pages require a lot of vertical scrolling and large graphics can’t be seen all at once. Widescreen equals short screen. This is even more important with a business netbook.

    This problem has been attacked in several ways. Some browsers, such as Chrome, give you more vertical room. Two finger trackpad scrolling and the much better Lenovo TrackPoint (pointing stick and 3 buttons) keep you from having to find and stay on the scrolling tab, which is a great help in long pages.

    A lot of software, such as MS Office, has been written so that some menus require 768 vertical pixels to keep the bottom of the menu and buttons such as “OK,” “Cancel,” etc, from being off the screen and inaccessible. The introduction of 1366 x 768 displays on netbooks is the most direct attack. But some people complain that they have to squint to see this.

    Make the screen taller. Hint: the bezel at the top of the X61s screen is only one centimeter wide. The bezel at the top of the Eee 1000HE screen is 2.25 cm wide. I think you could find room for a few pixels there.

    What’s so magic about the 16:9 aspect ratio? I really don’t think that many people use their netbooks mainly for viewing 16:9 movies, and even if they do, would it kill them to have a little black space at the top and bottom of the screen? I personally wouldn’t mind a 5:3 ratio and would like even better my old friend 3:2, the 35mm film ratio.

    If you wind up with a netbook that’s 8 x 9.75 inches instead of 7.5 x 10.25 that’s fine with me. I’d love it. I’m not looking for a fashion clutch, I’m looking for a tool.

    Why did all the manufactures jump on the 16:9 aspect ratio? Is it because warehouses are full of cheap digital picture frame screens of that shape? Is that the netbook’s dirty little secret? (This might also explain the trend toward glossy screens.)

    I’d like to hear some thoughts about this. Since this thread seems to be petering out, I’m going to copy this to the general discussion forum, https://www.liliputing.com/forums/index.php?topic=608.0 and I guess I’ll also copy it to the Lenovo blog.

  2. The Ultimate Netbook: Think Sony P done right (bigger).

    Using the Thinkpad Trackpoint & 100% sized keyboard but maintaining the wider format. You get a 11-12″ screen with the footprint of a 10″ netbook. Dial back Sony’s ridiculous res to the soon to be standard 1366×768. You have usable resolution on a screen large enough to not require squinting. Take the Asus/MSI over/under-clock to the next level with 1.12/1.66/1.84Ghz & focus on reasonable sized SSDs (32+GB) for the power savings & performance balancing act. As much performance as possible is great but battery life is key. 8-10hrs would be great but 6+ (in the real world) is required. Find a way to fit an expresscard/34 slot without losing too much and you’ll be at the head of the class for expandability. And finally build quality, build quality, build quality.

    Such a netbook could command a (relatively) premium price and sit between the std netbooks and ultraportables.

  3. I know many people would hate it, but I would gladly trade the trackpad in for just an eraser tip if it meant smaller size.

  4. seems to be a very clear consensus: nobody here actually wants lenovo to make a *netbook.*

    1. I don’t agree, people are just working through the issues. To work through the issues you must be willing to make a concessions to one of four things. Price, features, size/weight, or power consumption. The point is to make something that is made from the ground up for the home use and make it suitable for low-end business use. If there are no concessions for business what is the point, just hand out Samsung NC10s. The question is what do you REALLY need for business.

      My list
      – 64 bit and capable of running Win 7
      – Large screen/keyboard — 10″+ screen w/full or 95% keyboard.
      – Shock proof case, HDD, etc
      – Some sort of ‘security’ above and beyond a current netbook
      – Slighly more processing and video power.
      – Better range of connectivity WiMAX, Wifi, 3G/4G, EDGE, etc

        1. wrong, it gives you something using the cheap AMD Congo platform or Nvidia Ion2 platform.

  5. I own an S10e, and very much like the machine, however a device useful for business and thus worthy of a thinkpad brand requires more.

    It needs more desktop space:
    1366×768 would be a much more useful resolution than 1024×600, it allows side-by-side multi-tasking, therefore I would want one of the new 11.6″ screens that are becoming available.

    It needs a real CPU:
    Atom is far too compromised for even basic COMPUTing tasks, therefore I would want either the AMD Conesus CPU or a putative .45nm Via Nano.

    It needs a real GPU:
    We are entering the age of prevalent GPU acceleration of basic COMPUTing tasks, a fact compounded in the ‘netbook’ sector by the necessity of low power CPU’s. This make an OpenCL compliant GPU an absolute necessity, therefore I would want either the AMD Conesus GPU (780G) or the nVidia Ion GPU (9400m).

    This level of power will require a six-cell battery as a baseline, and i’d like it to be flush with the chassis, fortunately an 11.6″ chassis would have room for exactly that.

    If the device described above has the same (or better) build quality as the S10e then you really would have created a worthy mini Thinkpad.

  6. A Lenovo netbook should keep the same keyboard and TrackPoint that the X61s has. This keyboard is only 0.2 inches wider that an Eee PC 1000HE keyboard! Yet, with the thin bezel, there’s room for a 12 inch screen.

    The TrackPoint and it’s 3 buttons are much more positive and reliable and easier to use than a trackpad. The middle button, in combination with the Trackpoint, is the quickest, easiest, and most precise scrolling mechanism I’ve ever used. This precision and utility is more valuable than the zooming and other novelties of the trackpad, which would be obviated.

    The display should have a height of at least 768 pixels, and I would not object if it deviated from the short format of the netbook and added an extra half inch or more of height, which would allow more room for a bigger battery.

    The very latest battery technology should be used in the netbook, to try to approach the life of the X61s’s 8 cell extended battery. The large battery should be integrated from the start, as with the Eee 1000HE, rather than starting with a small battery and letting the bigger one protrude.

    There should be an option for purchase with 3G such as Qualcomm’s Gobi Global Mobile, which supports both EV-DO and GSM, so a buyer could choose his own provider or change providers or travel anywhere in the world without having to change cards. Or a functional mini-PCIe slot should be left open to accomodate such a card later.

    And of course it should be black, flat, and matte, with flat edges, sharp angles, no glitzy trim, and for heaven’s sake none of the ridiculous glossy, shiny surfaces.

    P.S. I plan to post this at Lenovo also, and thanks for listening 🙂

  7. To be honest Lenovo already make what I think is one of the best very small sized notebooks there is in the U110. I have had about 6 different netbooks so far and for each one I have used it until the novelty wore off and then went back to my regular laptop. But the U110 (I am typing on now) is different. Having the slightly bigger screen (11″), the 1386×786 resolution, the quick core2duo processor, great size keyboard, largish trackpad, metal casing and general high quality build has made the difference.

    I now have an ultra portable laptop as opposed to something I was carrying round in addition to my laptop. I was also once a macbook air owner, this is the size and shape that apple should have used. If you haven’t seen the Lenovo U110 look it up, it has been reduced in price here in hong kong by 40% recently.

  8. It has to work well… see the catastrophe that is the SL series to know what NOT to do.

  9. Here is a copy of what I posted on their site:

    Make it a netbook, not a ultralight notebook. But do make it a Thinkpad. What are the distinguishing features that seperate a Thinkpad from the rabble who wish they were one?

    1. Keyboard and pointer. Lose the pad, everybody else has one of those and we who love driving stick have been left with only the Sony which has it’s own issues.

    2. Build quality. Nuff said.

    3. Appearance. Black. Slab. Matte.

    4. Designed for a corporate (not home) setting. Docks, fingerprint readers, TPM modules.

    So let those well known features that customers associate with the ThinkPad brand drive the design and see where it leads you. Begin with a typical ThinkPad keyboard without a pad. There is your form factor, buy the best matte display that will go over that and attach with good Thinkpad hinges. Keep the weight around a kilo and aim for as thin a black slab as you can manage while keeping the battery life at least four hours of actual use.

    Remember that this is a netbook so oodles of onboard computing and storage isn’t required but connectivity options ARE. Corporate types are much more likely to spend OPM on 3G connectivity. Dictating one provider would get in the way of existing wireless relationships so avoid bundling and/or locking.

    If you can get a webcam and/or fingerprint reader in without impacting size and weight do so. A TPM would really make the corporate IT folks happy since a netbook is probably at more risk of loss and theft than a full notebook.

    As for the computing innards you have two paths. Boring corporate Intel CPU + Win7 is probably the right choice for a Thinkpad but if ARM can really give all day computing offering it as an option might be worthwhile. Lots of use cases would really go for all day in the field without a charger.

    Storage should be Flash. I know that is controversial but capacity is increasing, price is falling and by the time a new design gets to market offering 64 and 128GB options should be doable on an upmarket item such as anything bearing the ThinkPad logo must be. And leaving the spinning storage out of the design gets a lot smaller lighter end product.

    1. +1

      a good keyboard (aka full sized) without trackpad sounds like a perfect form factor. tied to a decent matte screen (make that 800 pixels high) and somewhat of an option between really portable and all-day battery life, and i couldn’t care less about any other features.

      1. > and somewhat of an option between really portable and all-day battery
        > life, and i couldn’t care less about any other features.

        I would argue different. All day computing is a “do or do not” sort of thing. If you have to tote the adapter around battery life isn’t that important anymore. So either put enough to allow people to cut the cord or give it a few hours of battery and be done with it.

  10. I want a free netbook. A 100% free (as in freedom) machine, right down to a free bios.

  11. I would love to see a 10.1 inch ThinkPad, with the same sturdy keyboard and the red pointing stick in the middle, with the new intel atom chipset and better resolution then standard netbooks, and we cant forget about the 160 gb hardrive running Windows 7 Business or Ultimate. for $400-550 price range. You would see these things fly off the shelves for business users. I own a T30 which I had for 5-6 years I use it as a server for my network and its great, so you can only imagine how cool it would be to have that same reliability in a netbook.

    1. “with the same sturdy keyboard and the red pointing stick in the middle” …

      Well, if you want the same keyboard, the 10″ screen will have to have a huge bezel, and there is really no point in that. Just go with 12″ thin bezel, as in all recent X series models. Well… unless you want lenovo to necro the split keyboard design that IBM used in one of its early models…

      1. Well not in actual size, but with same layout. I do realize the keyboard would be a little smaller but I could deal with a 92% keyboard.

  12. Here is what I posted to that blog…

    Well, if it is going to be a netbook you still need to keep it small, light weight, and relatively inexpensive. But you can be small lightweight and inexpensive ‘for a business laptop’. The idea is to cut size and cut frills that are frills.

    I hate to say it but just make an 11″ model of your ThinkPad X200s with maybe an Intel® Atom 230 with a dual-core that comes out in September. If that can be matched with a NVIDIA ION then you have the basic platform for a workable low-end Business Netbook if you can shave the price down to $750. That seems pricey for a netbook, but if you can offer what is nearly a ThinkPad X200s for half the price with a few concessions to high end parts you have a winner.

    I’m saying take that case design and philiosphy they had with X200s and shrink it and put in less expensive yet still sturdy parts and they have a great netbook. Also by waiting until teh dual core Atom comes out they also can have Win 7…and yes Atom 230 is 64 bit so it can run Win 7 Professional I would assume. You have to figure the line in the sand needs to be 64 bit, right?

    1. I agree with you for the most part. As for me, I’d definitely get a model w/ 12″ screen and regular keyboard + trackpoint. I did, actually, get one 4 months ago, instead of getting an NC10 (which was then not available in Canada, and generally overpriced when imported from US/UK).

      Also, funny that people are mentioning a price point of $750. Really, take a look at the basic config of X61s, the X series model that was most recently phased out (for no apparent reason other than to make space for x300/x200):
      – core2duo 1.6ghz
      – 12″ 1024×768 screen
      – intel 3100
      – 1gb ram
      – 80 gb hd
      – lan, wifi
      – vista home basic

      Price during the Christmas promo was 540 CAD (@ that time 1 USD = 1.2 CAD if I recall correctly). It was even cheaper during the same promo in US. Also, since Windows license is ~50, this thing CAN be sold for ~500 CAD and still bring in profit. Now, I understand that that was a promo and all, but come on, it was 4 months ago, and the prices on electronics keep going down. Seriously, why bother w/ atom, ION?

      Also, when buying X61s, you had an option to add BT, N-wifi, better screen, get a spare 8 cell battery, docking station. You can also load up to 8 gb ram (I dont know what would you need it for, but you can do it).

      Some may say that 12″ is too big for a netbook, but I don’t agree at all. The size is minimally bigger, but the crappy screen bezel is gone. Weight is 2.7 lbs w/ 4cell, and weight, not size, is the defining factor for me when discussing portability of a netbook.

      // I know I’m repeating myself w/ the x61s story, but I just want to make a point – You can have all that you ask for for ~$500, no need to pay ~$750 for it :). If they could (and did) sell X61s for $500, why not simply bring back this model, offer it w/ Ubuntu, and sell this as their netbook offering?

      1. Battery life of X61s suffers because of its overkill cpu/etc.

        Imagine what that 8cell battery would give you with an Atom (especially almost SoC one that Intel is supposedly brewing) and PixelQi screen.

        1. True, while I wouldn’t call X61s’ CPU “overkill”, I wouldn’t mind being able to squeeze some more juice from the battery and get 10~12 hrs on one charge. I focused more on the price aspect, indicating that if you can get 1.6 c2d ulv + intel gma 3100 for $500, the atom option should not cost more than that, considering that atom is cheaper

          1. With the things it’s sensible to run on an ultraportable, any mutlicore cpu is an overkill. And for some hypothetical “core 2 solo ulv” even 1 GHz would be probably more than enough with those tasks, especially given high IPC of core architecture.

  13. Here is what I posted to that blog…

    Well, if it is going to be a netbook you still need to keep it small, light weight, and relatively inexpensive. But you can be small lightweight and inexpensive ‘for a business laptop’. The idea is to cut size and cut frills that are frills.

    I hate to say it but just make an 11″ model of your ThinkPad X200s with maybe an Intel® Atom 230 with a dual-core that comes out in September. If that can be matched with a NVIDIA ION then you have the basic platform for a workable low-end Business Netbook if you can shave the price down to $750. That seems pricey for a netbook, but if you can offer what is nearly a ThinkPad X200s for half the price with a few concessions to high end parts you have a winner.

    I’m saying take that case design and philiosphy they had with X200s and shrink it and put in less expensive yet still sturdy parts and they have a great netbook. Also by waiting until teh dual core Atom comes out they also can have Win 7…and yes Atom 230 is 64 bit so it can run Win 7 Professional I would assume. You have to figure the line in the sand needs to be 64 bit, right?

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