MWC 2013: Lenovo Announces Three Android Tablets

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

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IdeaPad A1000 for teenagers, A3000 for people allergic to Nexus 7, and S6000 for the living room

During Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Chinese computer manufacturer Lenovo announced three new tablets in its IdeaPad range.

The newcomers will be “competitively priced”, and aimed at different segments of the market: the seven-inch A1000 and A3000 will appeal to users on a budget, while the premium 10-inch S6000 was designed to offer maximum performance in a thin and light package.

All three devices will go on sale in the second quarter of 2013.

I’ve seen you somewhere before

In the West, Lenovo is best known for the ThinkPad brand, which it acquired when it took over IBM’s PC business in 2005. The company has rapidly extended its presence as a mobile player over the past two years and now ranks as the world’s third largest maker of “smart connected devices”, according to IDC.

Lenovo A1000At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, Lenovo had launched a selection of six different smartphones, although most of these are unlikely to appear outside of China. The situation is different with tablets – all three are scheduled to make an appearance in Europe.

The A1000 and A3000 both measure seven inches across, and the manufacturer is clearly excited about the new form-factor. “We’ve noted that seven-inch tablets are well accepted, particularly by young, active users who are always on the go, so we’ve created devices that address these customers’ needs, as well as devices for more demanding gamers and multimedia users,” explained Chen Wenhui, vice president of the mobile business unit at Lenovo.

The IdeaPad A1000 is aimed at first-time tablet buyers. The basic specifications include a 1.2GHz dual-core processor and on-board storage of up to 16GB, extendable to 32GB through a microSD card slot. The addition of Dolby Digital Plus enhanced audio and large speakers leave no doubt this is a tablet for a younger audience.

Lenovo A3000The IdeaPad A3000 is 11mm thick, weighs 340g and packs a 1.2GHz quad-core chip into its small frame. The In-Plane Switching (IPS) LCD screen offers wide viewing angles and is capable of displaying 1024×600 resolution, slightly below the standard set by Google’s Nexus 7 and Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD. Obviously, the tablet comes with Wi-Fi connectivity, and there is an option to add 3G HSPA+ to increase its mobile potential.

Meanwhile, the ten-inch IdeaTab S6000 is billed by Lenovo as a fully-featured “home entertainment centre”. According to the company, its “super-slim profile” ensures that “you will be the envy of the coffee shop while you enjoy movies and games”. At 8.6mm, the device is actually pretty far from being “super-slim”. For comparison, Sony’s recently announced Xperia Tablet Z is just 6.9mm thin, and the iPad Mini – 7.2mm.

S6000 comes with a 1280×800 IPS LCD display and is powered by a 1.2 GHz quad-core processor. The tablet has a micro HDMI port on the side, and can be easily connected to a TV or a monitor. Just like A3000, it offers optional mobile connectivity with 3G HSPA+. Despite its premium aspirations, description of the tablet actually lists “digital microphone” as a feature. Surely that’s going to send sales through the roof?

Lenovo S6000All three new tablets are powered by processors made by Mediatek, which were officially launched in December 2012. Last year, this Taiwanese company made the headlines when it became the first to produce a commercial quad-core System-on-a-Chip.

“The MediaTek team provides genuine support and has helped us cut our time to market significantly. In this way, Lenovo stays ahead of the crowd, delivering outstanding products that meet our customers’ needs,” said Wenhui.

The new tablets will support Lenovo Mobile Access, a service which allows users to get their devices online (via either 3G or Wi-Fi) straight out of the box, with Lenovo as a network provider. Mobile Access is available in most Western European countries, including the UK.

Earlier this year, Lenovo announced it would divide the company into two business units – the Lenovo Business Group, which would continue to manufacture mainstream devices, and the Think Business Group, which would take over the ThinkPad PC brand and enterprise products.

The company has previously expressed interest in acquiring struggling Canadian smartphone manufacturer RIM (which has since changed its name to BlackBerry), in order to solidify its position on the mobile device market.

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