Lenovo has confirmed plans to launch a new ThinkPad laptop line, the SL series, with features and support services geared toward small and medium-size businesses.
Priced from $699 (approx £350) to $1,199 (£600), the laptops will come with online backup services and be aimed at businesses with up to 99 employees that can't afford an IT staff to troubleshoot their own laptop problems.
The online backup service will be a first for the entire ThinkPad line, said Charles Sune, worldwide segment manager for Thinkpad SL series. It will provide a way for businesses on a budget to back up data.
Also included is Absolute Software's LoJack technology, which can help track down stolen laptops. Additional security and support tools will be provided from Lenovo's ThinkVantage hardware and software line, including its Active Protection System, which protects data on a notebook's hard drive.
Lenovo has also pulled a page from its consumer-focused IdeaPad laptops in the SL series, sprucing up the ThinkPad design with a more stylish look and multimedia features such as a connector to display high-definition video and software for video creation. That's a shift away from the ThinkPad's traditional business focus, with the new look intended to make it more palatable for both personal and business use.
The SMB market is a fast-growing but price-sensitive segment, so Lenovo made some trade-offs in designing the laptops, Sune said. For example, the SL laptops will not come with the proprietary docking stations usually found on enterprise ThinkPads, but will include a USB-based port replication system.
The laptops will be formally announced in the next few weeks. Lenovo declined to give specific hardware details.
Lenovo has been pushing high-end models priced above $1,000, like the ultra-thin X300, but sees a new business opportunity among smaller businesses. Lenovo will target the products at Europe, the US, Greater China and Asia-Pacific, where SMBs will present the greatest opportunities over the next few years, Sune said.
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