Lenovo Touches Up Laptop, Tablet Screens

Lenovo on Tuesday unveiled two new computers with multi-touch capabilities that let users employ four fingers on the screen.

The new PCs are the ThinkPad T400s laptop and the X200 tablet PC.

Lenovo ThinkPad T400s laptop

Lenovo ThinkPad T400s laptop
(click image to enlarge)

Lenovo also unveiled SimpleTap, a feature that lets users access hardware functions such as adjusting screen brightness or locking the screen.

Both the T400s and X200 are available now. They will leverage Windows 7’s touch capabilities when that operating system hits the shelves.

More Details on Multi-Touch

ThinkPad T400s laptops are aimed at engineering and design professionals. Its multi-touch capabilities will allow for up to four fingers to be used at time, letting two people collaborate on the computer by touching the screen together, Lenovo said.

Lenovo ThinkPad X200 tablet

Lenovo ThinkPad X200 tablet
(click image to enlarge)

The ThinkPad X200 tablet already supports one-finger touch, and multi-touch will let users use more gestures, such as pinching, tapping and flicking to go through documents or Web sites instead of using a mouse. This closely resembles the way the iPhone works.

“On a tablet form factor, where you can work on a flat surface, four-finger touch may actually make more sense, because that makes it easier to collaborate,” Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, told TechNewsWorld.

Lenovo optimized the firmware for both devices to compensate for less precise taps on the screen such as when users are closing windows or navigating the Start menu, for example.

Why Multi-Touch?

“We’re introducing multi-touch now because this is the time for multi-touch PCs,” Lenovo spokesperson Kristy Fair said. “People are more familiar with touchscreens, and touch is becoming part of life now,” she told TechNewsWorld. “Also, the cost of displays has come down, and they offer better features and functionalities.”

“Granted, users have to put the mouse down, but this can cut the completion time for a visual product from days to hours,” Enderle said. “For large objects or for folks who can manipulate several things at once, true multi-touch is a powerful tool.”

He expects other vendors to move to multi-touch and, later, to go beyond four-finger touch.

Both the T400s and X200 run Windows Vista now. Users can upgrade to Windows 7 when it is available on Oct. 22, Fair said.

On SimpleTap

Both devices feature SimpleTap, a technology that gives users access to hardware-based functions. Users double tap the screen anywhere to launch SimpleTap. This then opens up a grid of tiles. SimpleTap’s grid tiles offer hardware-based functions such as turning on or off the wireless radio or microphone, previewing scenes in the camera, adjusting the volume or screen brightness, or putting the device in sleep mode. To exit SimpleTap, users tap the screen once.

“SimpleTap’s a nice differentiator which allows touch to be more aggressively used to launch applications,” Enderle said. “I expect it to become more widely adopted over time.”

Tech Specs

The T400s has an Intel Core 2 duo SP9400 processor running at 2.4 GHz, or an SP9600s running at 2.53 GHz. It comes preloaded with Windows Vista or an XP Professional downgrade. It also has various office and other applications preloaded.

It has Intel Turbo memory; a 14-inch WXGA display with a resolution of 1,440 x 900 pixels, and is optimized for voice over IP (VoIP), with a 2 MP camera, improved speakers and dual digital microphones.

The T400s supports WWAN, WiMax, WLAN and Bluetooth. It has one standard USB 2.0 port, one powered USB 2.0 port and one eSATA/USB 2.0 combination port. For security, it has an integrated fingerprint reader.

The T-400s’ screen has anti-fingerprint coating. It is available at US$1,999.

Lenovo’s ThinkPad X200 tablet offers a choice of three Intel Core Duo processors, rated at 1.6 GHz, 1.86 GHz and 2.13 GHz. It runs Windows XP Tablet Edition 2005 or various flavors of Windows Vista.

It supports Intel WiMax/WiFi and Intel Wirless WiFi cards. It also supports gigabit Ethernet, integrated WWAN with GPS, and Bluetooth. Weight with an eight-cell battery is 3.88 pounds. The tablet comes with Acrobat reader; antivirus software and other applications preloaded.

Users who work out of doors can get an optional super-bright screen for the X200. “I think this feature will be a requirement in all laptops before too long,” Enderle said. “People like to work outside and generally can’t with the vast majority of products.”

The X200 is priced at $1,654 with the multitouch screen and at $1,704 with both the multitouch screen and the super-bright outdoor screen.

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