I met with a number of Lenovo designers last nght, including Tomoyuki Takahashi, who was part of the team that designed the original ThinkPad. The company was showing off some experimental concepts, about half of which were consumer and home electronics devices. I saw a half dozen silver Lenovo-branded cell phones, home stereo components, and one big LCD TV with a built-in camera. There was also a PC that looked like a big, chrome toaster, the implication being that it's about as easy to use as a toaster. Also on display were two actual production models (sold only overseas for now) that recently won design awards from a German design institute. Lenovo's Yoga laptop, which we'll soon be testing in CNET Labs, features a highly adjustable display for multiple viewing angles. Lenovo's Sundial PC (pictured) has a rising stand, an interactive touch screen, and a cool spinning dial that functions as a sort of media center application chooser.
I also got a look at some experimental ThinkPad concepts. One was a tiny, PDA-sized model, with a neat, flip-out keyboard; another resurrected the butterfly keyboard; and yet another had a keyboard that lifted up slightly out of its tray to reveal ports and connections along its side. Lenovo also showed off a laptop that neatly transforms into a desktop PC: the mousepad pops out and becomes a multimedia or presentation controller, the keyboard pops off and works as a standalone wireless keyboard, and you can prop up the laptop like an upside-down V to work like a display. And it also works as a tablet.
Other computer concepts included an all-in-one-style PC, but with a twist. Conventional all-in-ones tie the display to the components, so you can't really upgrade one of them separately. Lenovo's all-in-one accomodates any number of display sizes and types, and I saw it configured with a couple of different LCD panels. In addition to detachable cameras and speakers, it also had a small, circular, swivelling footprint. And it looked good from behind--one of the major shortcomings of most office PCs.
Finally, Lenovo showed me a business desktop PC with a nice suitcase design. Notable features included a big, sturdy handle, components that tidily folded out of the box, and all of the ports and connections located on top--rather than behind--the system, for easier access. Good stuff.