Lenovo announces enhanced second generation of SMB-focused ThinkBooks at CES

Lenovo’s other big commercial announcement this week is the ThinkReality A3 lightweight smart glasses, Augmented Reality goggles co-designed with Qualcomm for either a PC or Motorola phone environment.

The Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 i

Today, at CES, Lenovo will be announcing a refresh of their ThinkBook portfolio first introduced last year, explicitly for the SMB market. The new models are the ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 i, the ThinkBook 13x i, the ThinkBook 14p Gen 2 and the ThinkBook 16p Gen 2.

“We introduced the ThinkBook sub-brand last year, aiming it at SMBs,” said Kevin Beck, Senior Story Technologist at Lenovo. “Some don’t need all the features and functions of a business laptop. Their option has been consumer products, but they don’t have some business aspects. ThinkBook is designed to fit in that space, where they don’t need the full features of enterprise, but still need security and services.”

Beck said that the new set of enhancements responds directly to customer requests.

“As SMBs try to adapt to new ways of working, they tell us over and over it’s harder for them as smaller business to adopt new hybrid business models,” he noted. “That’s what ThinkBook is for, to empower employees of SMBs in the new world of very flexible working.”

Beck emphasized that changes to the ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 i – the Intel-powered model that lets users access the UI from the top cover, without having to open the notebook up – are significant.

“We have enhanced our ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 i in almost every way,” Beck said. “   The e-Ink display has increased from 48% screen-to-body ratio to 68%, to provide a larger 12-inch usable area. Resolution of that top cover display has also been increased to match the 2560×1600 resolution of the main display, so that you can now run productivity apps without having to open the lid of the  system.”

The second-generation model is also thinner (13.9mm) and lighter (1.3kg/ 2.87 lbs), and transitions to new 16:10 low blue light displays which also sees the STB ratio increase from 78% to nearly 90% for a virtually edge-to-edge screen experience.

“The touch interaction has been improved with a new garaged pen that will automatically launch select applications for greater usability, while a new optional ThinkBook wireless charging mat can wirelessly recharge the larger battery for up to 15 hours of battery life,” Beck indicated.

New versions were announced of Lenovo’s two AMD Ryzen-powered models, the ThinkBook 14p and 16p.

Lenovo ThinkBook 16p Gen 2

“Both of these are more for power users, with the ThinkBook 16p’s 16 inch screen and optional NVIDIA GeForce graphics making it more suited for creatives,” Beck said. “They come with a new AI-based noise cancellation algorithm for videoconferencing.” Other features on these models include a larger Touchpad, an ambient light sensing backlit keyboard that includes quick access conference calling keys, and smart functions designed to further enhance collaboration experiences.

“Both also have a diamond cut edge on the large trackpad, which gives a premium feel,” Beck added. “This is also replicated on the power button which doubles as a fingerprint reader for login security.”

Also announced was the next generation of the Intel Core-powered ThinkBook 13x i. At a slim 12.9mm thin and weighing less than 1.2kg/ 2.65 lbs, it basically has the same capabilities as the ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 i  — except for that e-Ink display on the lid.

The ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 i will be available in the U.S. from Q1 2021, starting at $USD 1549. The ThinkBook 13x i will be available from Q1 2021, starting at $USD 1199. The ThinkBook 14p will be available from Q1 2021, starting at $USD849. And the ThinkBook 16p will be available from Q1 2021, starting at $USD 1299.

On Sunday, Lenovo introduced another commercial product, their new ThinkReality A3 lightweight smart glasses, which are aimed at the enterprise market.

The Lenovo ThinkReality A3 smart glasses

“These ThinkReality A3 lightweight smart glasses are designed to be part of a larger solution offering to bring comprehensive digital solutions to help with intelligent transformation,” said Lee Highsmith, Senior Worldwide Competitive Analyst at Lenovo.

Lenovo is not new to the Augmented Reality space, but the secret sauce with the A3 is its being built on the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR1 platform, which provides stereoscopic 1080p displays that let the user see up to five virtual displays.

“We collaborated with Qualcomm on this for quite a while,” Highsmith said.

“It comes in two editions, one of which is attached to a PC, and the other to a Motorola phone,” Highsmith noted. “The PC one is the one meant primarily to support the multiple virtual monitors. It’s for use cases which requires this, but where space is limited, or there are privacy concerns. The Motorola one is an industrial edition, not for a desk, but for more complex work environments.”

Lenovo describes the A3 as fitting like sunglasses, and able to fit over prescription glasses, although no one looking at a person wearing them will confuse them with anything other than as a tech tool. Both versions also require being tethered to the device with a USB-C cable, which many desk users will find acceptable, but might be a harder sell with the phone in the field.

The ThinkReality A3 smart glasses will be available in select markets starting mid-2021, and unsurprisingly, with GA that far off, no pricing is yet available.