The key selling point of the new ThinkPad 10, a 10-inch Windows 8 tablet, is not the tablet hardware itself, but the large ecosystem of optional accessories, designed to turn the slate into a laptop, desktop, or even a display kiosk. Lenovo's plan suggests the key to successful Windows tablet is the ability to also use it as an everyday PC, and that's especially true for the business users who stick to the venerable ThinkPad brand.
The tablet itself has an aluminum body, with a gorilla glass display at a very high 1,920x1,200 native resolution. An Intel Atom Z3795 quad-core processor is paired with 2GB or 4GB of RAM and either a 64GB or 128GB SSD, plus a digitizer pen and optional 3G/4G service, features rarely found in tablets.
But more interesting than that is the sizable array of add-on accessories, each designed to move the ThinkPad 10 past just being a slate-style tablet, and closer to being an everyday work machine.
The $129 Ultrabook keyboard is a keyboard stand that is close in size to a standard ultraportable keyboard, and includes a small but workable touchpad. The ThinkPad 10 can fold on top of the keyboard for easy clamshell-style transport.
The $119 tablet dock is very similar to other tablet docks we've seen, offering connections for a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and Ethernet, allowing you to set the ThinkPad 10 up as a desktop PC, or just prop it up in front of a small audience for video or PowerPoint presentations.
A $59 Quickshot cover is similar to the one we liked for the ThinkPad 8, with a fold-back corner to expose the camera lens for easy on-the-go photography.
Coming later in the summer are two further accessories. A $69 rugged case has a built-in hand strap and a thick outer layer to protect the tablet from bumps and keep the elements out, while a $119 touch case is a keyboard cover with a flat, touch-sensitive keyboard, similar to the touch version of the Microsoft Surface keyboard.
It's not that any of these accessories are particularly ground-breaking on their own. Instead, by having so many options all designed to fit one particular system, it's possible to pick-and-choose and create a very flexible collection of tools that allow you to use the ThinkPad 10 at work, at home, or on the road, even if you have to do a lot of typing.
The ThinkPad 10 and the first wave of accessories will be available in June in the US, with the tablet starting at $599. Global pricing and availability has yet to be announced, but that equates to £355 or AU$640 plus tax.