It’s official. Lenovo has taken the wraps off not one, but a trio of tablets: the Honeycomb-powered IdeaPad K1 Tablet for consumers and the business-centric ThinkPad Tablet, as well as the IdeaPad Tablet P1, which will run Windows 7.
While new Honeycomb tablets are always big news, the fact that the IdeaPad K1 and ThinkPad Tablet will be the first Honeycomb tablets certified for Netflix makes Lenovo’s announcement that much more newsworthy. Eager movie fans have been patiently waiting for Netflix on Honeycomb for what seems like ages.
Netflix is not all. The ThinkPad Tablet, which will specifically run Android Honeycomb 3.1, will support active N-trig pen input. Users will be able to navigate the device with the pen as a cursor and the on-board note-taking app, Notes Mobile, will support handwriting recognition, two features not found on the other Android pen tablets, the EVO View 4G and HTC Flyer. Finally, the ThinkPad will feature an on-board slot for docking the pen, which is lacking in the aforementioned HTC tablets and many Windows 7 slates.
According to Lenovo, the IdeaPad and ThinkPad will have digital right management (DRM) built directly inside, which will make them Netflix friendly. The Netflix can be streamed via the HDMI output and movies can be stored on the device for playing after download, even if the device is not connected (See update below). At launch, the Netflix app will be immediately available as an over-the-air update. It’s not clear if the app will be coming to other Honeycomb tablets, though it is available on the EVO View 4G, which runs Gingerbread (Android 2.3). However, because the DRM that enables Lenovo’s tablets to access Netflix is physically built into the ThinkPad and IdeaPad, we suspect it will be a while before Netflix makes its way to the Xoom or Galaxy Tab 10.1.
(Update 8/4/11: We’ve had a K1 review unit in-house, and thus far the Netflix app on the device does not seem to have an offline storage feature.)
The Lenovo IdeaPad K1 Tablet will have a 10.1-inch display (1280 x 800), Honeycomb (Android 3.1), and a NVIDIA Tegra 2 T20 1GHz dual-core processor. It will have 1GB of RAM and will be available with 16, 32, and 64GB of storage.
It will support 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and optional 3G (WCDMA/EVDO). It will have a microSD slot, microHDMI out, SIM card slot, mic, headphone jack, and two on-board speakers, in addition to a two-megapixel front- and five-megapixel rear-facing camera. Lenovo claims users can expect up to ten hours from the two-cell battery, and the K1 will weigh approximately 1.65 pounds.
In other words, it will be a lot like the other Honeycomb tablets on the market, sans the Netflix. Lenovo realizes that and will include Lenovo SocialTouch, which will act as a hub for all the user’s social needs, including email, Facebook, and Twitter, and a Lenovo App Shop that will single out the Android apps fit for Lenovo’s tablets.
The ThinkPad will sport the same screen size, resolution, and NVIDIA processor as the IdeaPad, but it will have an IPS Gorilla glass display. Also, it will be a bit larger due to the pen dock and full-sized USB 2.0 port, which will enable the ThinkPad to take full advantage of Android 3.1’s USB-hosting feature. It will also have a SIM card slot, 3-in-1 card reader, miniHDMI, microUSB, Wi-Fi, wireless LAN, Bluetooth 2.0, and a 3G option. Lenovo promises 8.7 hours of battery life with Wi-Fi on from the li-polymer battery.
Of course, this will be a ThinkPad, which includes IT-friendly goodies like security and anti-theft software, Citrix virtual application support, and secure email from Good Technology. The Lenovo App Shop can also be customized with corporate offerings and enterprise-approved apps. In addition, expect Documents to Go to come pre-loaded, along with 2GB of free cloud storage.
Lenovo will also be offering a leather keyboard folio that slots in and adds a full QWERTY and Lenovo TrackPoint, similar to the center nav knob found on ThinkPad notebooks.
Win 7 P1
Last but not least, the two-pound IdeaPad Tablet P1 will run most flavors of Windows up to Windows 7 Professional. It will also feature a 10.1-inch 1280 x 800 display and support an active stylus pen. It will have a 1.5GHz Intel Atom processor, up to 2GB of DDR2 memory, and either a 32GB or 64GB capacity. It will support 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and 3G. For ports, it will have a USB 2.0, microSD card reader, and docking port in addition to a two-megapixel front-facing camera
Pricing and Availability
The 32GB IdeaPad K1 and 16GB ThinkPad are now available for order online at Lenovo.com and at select partners. Both will ship in August for the same $499 launch price. For $529, the ThinkPad will be available bundled with the pen, and the keyboard folio will cost $99.
The 3G units will be available at a later, still unspecified, date. The ThinkPad Tablet P1 will be available in Q4, and there is no word on pricing.
I spent some brief time with both Honeycomb tablets earlier this summer, and of course Netflix and the ThinkPad’s pen functionality jumped out as key features. Since the original Galaxy Tab, one major knock against Android tablets has been the lack of movie/entertainment apps. Netflix, combined with Google’s own movie rental service, which is slowly making its way from the Xoom to other tablets, goes a long way to evening things up between the rivals.
One thing the iPad lacks – in fact, all mobile tablets lack – is true pen functionality. The HTC EVO View 4G and Flyer both support pen input, but it’s limited to their notes apps. Tap the pen to eithers’ home screen, and it only takes a screenshot. Honeycomb offers a ton of screen real estate thanks to its five homescreens, and swiping between them feels natural with a pen. Also, taking true notes that then convert to text, which can be exported as a PDF, feels like a revelation on an Android tablet, and helps turn what many consider consumption devices into more productive machines.