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Microsoft made waves in June -- and apparently some 'frenemies' -- when the software titan announced Surface, a sleek Windows 8 tablet that will bear the company's logo when it goes on sale this fall.
Now, it's Lenovo's turn to show off its technical and industrial design chops.
Lenovo's ThinkPad Tablet 2 sticks close to the brand's conservatively chic business IT aesthetic, meaning that crisp design elements and black and charcoal hues abound. Fronted by a 10.1-inch screen, the device is 9.8 millimeters thick and weighs 1.3 pounds.
Running Windows 8 Pro on an Intel Atom processor, ThinkPad Tablet 2 is a big departure from its predecessor, an Android powered unit that operated on ARM chips. With its x86 underpinnings, Lenovo argues that the device can seamlessly slot right into existing corporate IT environments.
"Using Windows 8 Pro and the Intel x86 architecture, IT managers can provide for VPN access, utilize existing Windows management tools, manage application deployment and block users from installing certain apps," says Lenovo.
Security features help cement its role as a business slate. Lenovo's tablet supports both internal and external encrypted storage support. An optional fingerprint reader provides a biometric alternative to password storage.
The touch-enabled business slate also supports an optional digitizer and keyboard dock. An array of ports, including HDMI and full-sized USB, helps the device maintain compatibility with peripherals like monitors and printers. Front and rear cameras and noise-cancelling microphones round out the package.
In terms of mobile Internet access, the company is planning 3G and 4G wireless models. While pricing details are being kept under wraps, the ThinkPad Tablet 2 is expected to ship in time for the Windows 8 launch on October 26th -- notable since Microsoft's own x86 Surface won't hit retail until well after the operating system and the Windows RT version of the company’s tablet hits shelves.
And if Lenovo has any qualms about Microsoft entering the tablet wars with its own hardware, it's not revealing them.
Unlike Acer, whose CEO, JT Wang, warned that Microsoft's moves could alienate hardware partners, Lenovo is touting how its cozy ties with Microsoft is furthering tablet innovation. "For the next generation of Lenovo PCs, designed to be great with Windows 8, we’re working closer than ever with Microsoft Corp. and our silicon partners," stated Dilip Bhatia, vice president and general manager of Lenovo's ThinkPad Business Unit, in remarks to the press.
"Today we are excited to reveal the fruit of this collaborative co-engineering, the ThinkPad Tablet 2, a joint effort between Lenovo, Microsoft and Intel," he added.