Dublin (Ireland) – Chinese computer company Lenovo today launched its 3000 series of desktops and notebooks aimed at the SMB market. The range is a sub-$800 spread targeting small companies with limited IT resources. Lenovo said that the systems announced include a software package that cuts down on IT tech support resources.
Lenovo generated some substantial waves when it forked out a pile of cash last year for IBM’s personal computing division. The firm’s goal is to expand from its dominating market position in China to become a worldwide player. But Lenovo’s success thus far has been based entirely on the old Soviet and Chinese adage that “quantity has a quality all of its own.” While Lenovo has been very successful at transitioning IBM’s business and at leveraging existing sales channels, the company has not been able to establish itself as a household, or at least board room, name. According to an agreement with IBM, existing products, such as ThinkPad notebooks, will continue to carry the IBM brand for another four years.
If Lenovo gets its way all this is due for a change in the first half of this year. There’s not only an aggressive ad campaign, but there will be new products as well. The company today announced a new range of specifically Lenovo-branded notebooks and PC’s aimed at the SMB market. The 3000 series debuted today, and due to be rolled out in phases in the first half of the year, is intended to appeal for customers in the SMB market, in which the company is pursuing a strategy of coexistence for its Lenovo and IBM branded machines.
The IBM Think series will continue to fight in the higher-end enterprise with $500 to $1500 price points; the new Lenovo branded 3000 machines will seek to increase the company’s presence around the lower-end, in a sub-$500 market.
Showing a predilection for meaningless numbers heaped upon meaningless numbers that seems to be so ubiquitous in the technology market these days, the 3000 series notebooks will be known as the Lenovo C, N and V Series respectively, and the 3000 series desktops as the Lenovo J series.
Only the C100 notebook is available for purchase today and will weigh in at 6.8 pounds and have a choice of Pentium M or Celeron M processor to run under the hood. The usual connectivity options come standard – 802.11 wireless as well as 10/100 Ethernet and optional Bluetooth, four USB ports, a Firewire and S-Video slot.
Lenovo promises five hours of battery life as standard with room to expand the battery capacity at extra cost.
Rolling on from the C100, the N100 14.1″ and 15.4″ widescreen models will be available in late March, and the V100 12″ widescreen is due by the end of Q2 2006.
The J100 desktops come in small form factor or tower variants, though none were shown at the launch event we visited. We have been assured that they were just a bit late and will be launching with the rest of the Lenovo products on schedule. Lenovo is promising a choice between Intel or AMD processors, including the Pentium 4, Celeron D or Sempron or Athlon processors.
However Lenovo engineers were very sketchy on the precise technical details of either the notebooks or the desktops at the time of launch and couldn’t provide us detailed tech specs either. As for the build quality of the notebooks we saw, while they did seem sturdier than comparable Dell or HP notebooks around the critical screen area, they did not leave the same impression on us as Thinkpads. Spokespeople pointed out that, also in this case, you get what you pay for.
Other than design, Lenovo was keen to highlight its after sales support and software solutions included with the 3000 series machines. Similar to the ThinkVantage software on IBM machines, the Lenovo Care Tools are designed to cut down on technical support bills and time for small businesses who cannot afford either one.
The software purports to manage backing up of machines, with a one button restore, as well as more mundane issues such as password recovery, which can take up a substantial amount of time in many organisations. The systems will also come with third party software including, Google Toolbar, Desktop and Picassa.
Lenovo’s new products are likely to help the company to establish a strong presence among business users and conquer the lower-end of the business market. How the market, and the competition, will react remains to be seen.