Lenovo is to announce a partnership with Blackberry vendor RIM that it claimed will make it easier for laptops to synchronise email with servers.

The PC vendore will  provide a hardware and software bundle that allows ThinkPad laptops to sync e-mail with a server using Research In Motion's BlackBerry phone as an intermediary, the announcement is part of Lenovo's new Constant Connect programme.

Through Constant Connect, synchronising email with servers is a two-step process. First, ThinkPad laptops transfer e-mail back and forth with a BlackBerry using Bluetooth wireless technology. The smartphone then synchronizes laptop e-mail with a server using a mobile-phone network.

This could be useful in certain places like airports where users have to pay for Wi-Fi connections to sync email with servers. This technology does not use Wi-Fi networks, said Rich Cheston, distinguished engineer and executive director at Lenovo. Users may also prefer to see their email on a laptop with a bigger screen and full keyboard rather than on a BlackBerry, Cheston said.

The hardware comes in the form of a PCI Express card with its own radio and storage that plugs into a laptop. A user doesn't need to start a laptop, as the card replicates with a RIM device by drawing its own battery power. The real-time syncing can provide quicker access to e-mail where wireless connectivity is spotty, Cheston said.

Users will also have the ability to sort and get alerts when specific mails arrive, Cheston said. "Let's suppose I want to be notified when my wife sends me an email. I could have the card start blinking when the email comes," Cheston said.

The bundle costs US$150 (£104) and will be available in the second quarter in the US, with worldwide availability scheduled for the second half of this year. It works with BlackBerry devices supporting the operating system 4.2 or later.

On laptops, it works with Windows XP and Windows Vista and supports Outlook or other POP mail clients like Gmail, Cheston said. The company plans to add Lotus Notes support in the second half.

The technology works only with ThinkPad laptops based on Intel's Montevina technology, which the company started shipping in the middle of last year. The package syncs only email for now and plans to add calendar- and contact-synchronising capabilities later this year, Cheston said.