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Lenovo Says Customers Don’t Want Slates



It is the supposed Year of the Tablet and an era where Apple has put all eyes on Slates. No matter. Amidst the release of updates to its ThinkPad line including the X201T Tablet PC, Lenovo is saying that its customer research is telling it that they don’t want slates. CNet is reporting the following quotes from Mika Majapuro, senior worldwide product marketing manager at Lenovo:

“We of course build plastic mock-ups that we show (to customers)…we had a slate form factor. The feedback was that for (our) customers it will not work because of the need to have (a physical) keyboard.”

And Lenovo apparently didn’t just listen to its business customers:

“These were 14-year-old kids, who, I thought, would be most willing to try a virtual keyboard but they said no, we want the physical (built-in) keyboard.”

Keep in mind this is PR speak and that Lenovo has a huge investment in the ThinkPad Tablet line. My hunch is that they are playing wait and see, along with just about everybody else who is serious about the form factor. That said, perhaps we’re seeing the beginning of a some sort of distinction when it comes to Tablet PCs and Slates, although it is going to take more than just PR speak to draw those lines clearly in these early days.



  1. GoodThings2Life

    02/23/2010 at 9:58 am

    I want a slate… as long as the on-screen keyboard experience is decent enough that I can touch-type adequately when I need to and as long as I can hook up a keyboard if I need to. The Windows 7 onscreen keyboard is pretty nice, so with a decent multi-touch screen I think I could be efficient with it and pair up a Bluetooth computer at my desk for longer efforts.

    Of course, I also think having an HP slate for walking around the office and my 2730p for more intense actions (and syncing them up) would be ideal for me.

  2. Sumocat

    02/23/2010 at 10:01 am

    PR speak or not, it sounds accurate to me. I work in slate mode most of the time, and as much as I’d like a new slate to play with, I can’t get my mind past the practicality of a convertible.

  3. Feral&oy

    02/23/2010 at 10:14 am

    And it brings us back to the T1100.

  4. Thomas

    02/23/2010 at 10:28 am

    I’ve had an HP Tx2000 for 2 years, and it’s been fantastic. Onenote really made it useful. It’s an ebook reader, note taker, planner, sketchbook, and research platform. I scan everything I get on paper into it. But nothing beats input like a physical keyboard. My dream computer right now is an X200 tablet… I wish they were a little less expensive, though.

  5. Mike

    02/23/2010 at 11:05 am

    I like the idea of both in one unit. The TC1100 type of tablet where when I am in the mood to just read, I can take the screen but not the keyboard. The rest of the time I need a keyboard and on-screens take up all the room on the screen and are not fast enough.

  6. ChrisRS

    02/23/2010 at 11:16 am

    I WANT A SLATE. I want large screen and powerful processor. I have owned used and liked 14″ Acr and Gateway TcbletPCs. A SLATE version could be lighter and eliminate the problematic hinge. These convertables were built and marketed as notebooks with tablet capabiliies, at reasonable prices. A Slate with USB or Bluetooth keyboard and mouse is ergonomically superior to a notebook or convertable.

    ALL Slates to date have put a priority on portability, been underpowered, specialized, and come at a premium price. The market has not been receptive to this sort of slate. The market has yet to see the slate that i would like and buy.

  7. RJ

    02/23/2010 at 12:29 pm

    The problem with Slates is that all of them either lack Active Digitziers, or the few that do always seem to reach the $2-3000 price ranger. I can get a convertable model with the same, if not better, specs and a active digitizer for much less.

    If there was a slate Tablet PC with an Active Digitizer for under $1000, I’d buy it in a heartbeat. I know the T1100 pretty much fits that bill, but you can only buy them in used condition which I’ve hadn’t had much luck with in the past.

    Also, convertables give you the best of both worlds, and when you close it in laptop mode, it protects the screen, where as a slate you would need to have a case to protect it.

  8. BurningOrange

    02/23/2010 at 12:47 pm

    lenovo doesn’t make a slate because customers don’t want a slate ?
    well, i’m not a lenovo customer because i want a slate.

  9. Jeff Jackson

    02/23/2010 at 2:07 pm

    I want a slate with a keyboard dock. I use a Gateway C120-x. I NEVER use it in laptop mode on my lap. It’s always on a desk when I do. When portable it’s usually in slate mode. Actually I want a slate with a easle flap. Sometimees I do reading with it sitting on a table with the screen turned around backwards. Let’s me sit with the screen much closer, especially if there’s a plate of food between me and the computer.

    • ChrisRS

      02/23/2010 at 4:40 pm

      I use the Screen Backwards mode when docked at work. I have an external monitor, keyboard and mouse. Sometimes I positions the Tablet PC in Portrait mode, when I am working with portraite type documents. (With a 14″ pottrait screen, letter size documents fit the screen at about 100% leaving room for the “Ribbon” on top.

      At home, I often use the Notebook configuration. For long periods of use, I add a USB Keyboard and mouse and elevate the screen, if I will not be doing a lot of inking. (Ergonomicly, a detached keyboard is better.)

      I would prefer a slate to a convertable, but none are offered with the screen size, power and price point I want.

  10. Fred

    02/23/2010 at 2:51 pm

    A Slate could make sense if the weight is 3 pounds or less

    • ChrisRS

      02/23/2010 at 4:24 pm

      I suspect you mean that you would like a slate that weighed three punds or less. For the powee and screen size I would like, I am willing to have a Slate that weighs more than 3 pounds.

      There is room in the world for both of us!

  11. Scott

    02/23/2010 at 3:59 pm

    I can see why people are reluctant to even think of buying a slate.

    The convertible format is a “safe” and “practical” choice. It’s perfect for those that want to try a tablet pc but need the reassurance that they still have a regular laptop if they find they don’t like tablets. It’s also a good compromise if you don’t think you’ll be walking around with the thing too much since they have more mass than a typical slate. And it’s the only way to go right now if it is to be your only computer.

    Buying a slate was a huge leap of faith for me in 2005 since I hadn’t even seen a tablet pc of any kind at the time. I bought a slate (st5022) for several reasons: for its relatively light weight (3.75 pounds with extended battery), for its long battery life, and because I already had a powerful desktop machine at home for heavy work.

    There’s a huge inverse relationship between weight and cost in the world of laptops, but I was willing to pay the price (adding to the leap of faith) because I wanted the relatively light weight. That relationship is still there and I’m going to have to pay again in the near future, but it’ll be worth it…especially if it has an i7-620um or an i7-640um processor (hear that HP/Fujitsu/Motion?). I can live without touch/multitouch, but I’ve got to have my Wacom active digitizer! Of course, those specs would be good for any tablet (though quad core would be cool).

  12. Joe

    02/23/2010 at 4:14 pm

    I’m with those who wants a newer tc1100 myself. I like having a slate, but with the flexibility of a keyboard if necessary. Hell, make it a very portable USB keyboard if you don’t want to redesign a dock interface for it.

    But for strictly taking notes, I find myself using the tc1100 way more often than my convertible Dell XT.

  13. tal

    02/23/2010 at 4:16 pm

    My personal opinion is that Slate will win the MID and UMPC 10″ segment.

    iPad is rubbish in my book …

    • tal

      02/23/2010 at 4:17 pm

      smaller than 7″ was my original text before automatic editing by the page.

  14. Tim

    02/23/2010 at 5:54 pm

    Personally, I’d have to agree with those polled in Lenovo’s research. Quite simply, I love my T5010 and I couldn’t imagine working with only a slate. The added practicality of a convertible tablet is why I think that mainstream laptops could do with being replaced by them.

    Compared to a regular laptop, outside of a potential for size loss and, depending on your intended functionality (ie games), some performance loss, there are seemingly no downsides (ignoring cost, which is always the killing factor).

    Compared to a slate, the downsides of a convertible are obvious: weight. However, I believe the upsides of performance, practicality, and having a real all-rounder machine greatly outweigh the mobility of a slate. As a student, I don’t write with my tablet in my arm, so I cannot speak to the actuality of use, but it seems to me that 4-5lbs isn’t a terrible high weight to hold up. I do carry my laptop with me in a backpack everywhere, and, especially compared to the other items I have to carry, the laptop is no strain.

  15. sipp11

    02/23/2010 at 9:02 pm

    With any company besides Apple, Lenovo might be right. But with the power of persuasive by Apple, they just can create new segment of market while nobody can.

    • MurphysLaww

      02/24/2010 at 9:26 am


      It’s not really HP’s fault that the TC1000/1100 didn’t take off. OneNote was just starting, and you couldn’t get textbooks or many consumer books in e-format. It was a near perfect device without applications to make it useful. I had one, with the craptastic transmeta processor, but it still worked and was on an Apple level of elegance. HP NEEDS TO MAKE MORE. In fact, Microsoft needs to subsidize HP to make more. If they could sell them for less than $600, they might compete with the iPad. Flash+Wacom > iPad. It’s right there for them, they just need to make it happen.

      I think Apple’s even smarter than we give them credit for. They know what market they are going for, they just aren’t showing all their cards until they get some sort of publisher agreement done, likely with CourseSmart. The iPad will end up focused on college students, and then will likely make it into secondary schools as well.

      If they get the wifi version down to $399, they won’t be able to make them fast enough, and 50% of college students will be reading their texts off of them within two years. That’s 9 million sales in the U.S. alone.

      Why would a student not choose to save $200 per semester on textbooks, and get a text that is searchable by word or phrase? That’s how much I saved this semester by buying texts for my Lenovo X61. I’d like to see a v.2 version with handwriting, as I take most of my notes in class in handwriting. personally, I don’t need handwriting recognition, as I don’t ever convert it to text.

      I have a three and four year old, so I’m assuming I’ll have 3 iPads in the house by the end of the year.

  16. Brett Gilbertson

    02/23/2010 at 9:36 pm

    Slates all day and every day for me. I held onto the TC1100 for a long time before I realised that I didn’t really use the keyboard much at all… The dock is essential as I always use a keyboard there, but not much when mobile.

    Handwriting recognition is running between 35-40 wpm for me on Win 7… iPhone Virtual Keyboard < 20 wpm. Sure handwriting is not as fast as typing, but it's not far off and it's a heck of a lot easier in many places.

    Switched to Motion slates and haven't looked back. First LE1700, now J3400 and C5 gen II. I also have a fujistu T4310, Gigabyte M1028, Viliv X70 and S5, but the C5 is what I always go for. Compact, easy to hold and best screen ever – 180 degree viewing and reflective / transflective display for sunlight reading.

    Was sitting out on the patio reading this article on the C5 in fact! Lovin' it!

  17. klucon2

    02/24/2010 at 3:03 am

    I would want to have a slate as well + Lenovos Bluetooth keyboard(which they are hopefully working on). I think that would make a pretty good setup. You have your lightweight slate and if you ever need to do some typing, just take out your keyboard an type.

  18. MurphysLaww

    02/24/2010 at 9:40 am

    yes, we do. We just want it elegantly done like the HP TC series.

    If HP doesn’t bring it back, it will basically be giving the education market back to Apple and will likely rank as one of the biggest marketing blunders in technology marketing.

    The device as initially sold was one of the greatest designs of the modern computer era.

    If there had been e-texts available and OneNote/gobinder had been sorted, and the economies of scale allowed pricing in the $5-600 range it would have been ubiquitous in the education sector.


  19. EG

    02/24/2010 at 6:35 pm

    I’ve had both and I now see little point to a slate. You’d think they would be lighter, but Fujitsu knocked that reason pretty much out of the water. With a slate, you need to have a keyboard…for those times when the OS bombs and you want to paste back an image of your drive. You need to have a hard shell case or the screen will eventually be damaged (that’s how I lost one slate). You need to carry a stand with a slate so it will stay at the angle you want to view it. Ha, guess what. The keyboard on my Fujitsu fills every one of those functions for the same weight point as the slate it replaced. Spin the screen around and it functions exactly like a slate (or a slate on a stand).
    So what is the point of a slate again?

  20. Nameless

    02/25/2010 at 1:29 am

    I lean toward convertibles for a general-purpose Tablet PC that also doubles as my primary notebook, since I have to have the keyboard in that case. When the keyboard jack on my TC1100 broke, it frustrated me whenever I had to input text in something that wasn’t OneNote (where I just write it in rather than futzing about with XP’s Tablet Input Panel).

    But if we’re talking more of a supplementary system, then I’d love a slate-or, better yet, a Microsoft Courier booklet-so long as the screens are high quality with excellent viewing angles, there is Wacom pen functionality, it’s light, and has long battery life. This 14″ Gateway convertible is lacking in viewing angles (average-quality TN screen, I’m guessing), portability (over 6 pounds!), and battery life (I get around two hours on a single 8-cell with about 90% of the original capacity remaining), making it more of a notebook with a built-in Wacom Cintiq. And since I had to sell the TC1100 to afford the new machine…

  21. Fleon

    02/25/2010 at 8:30 am

    Well, I could care less about a slate. I do however want Lenovo to go back and take a look at the studies showing the benefit of a 4:3 tablet over a 16:9 one.

    Still no 4:3? Still not upgrading. Until my x61 dies, it looks like.

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