Lenovo outs its Honeycomb tablet designs

Lenovo has announced its first tablets to run Google's Android 3.1 'Honeycomb' operating system, in teh shape of the consumer-oriented IdeaPad K1 and business-centric ThinkPad Tablet.

Based on Nvidia's Tegra 2 ARM-based dual-core system-on-chip, the tablets are in many ways similar but with a very different focus: while the IdeaPad K1 looks to provide an entertainment device for consumers, the ThinkPad Tablet is more serious in its approach to the proddable PC paradigm.

The IdeaPad K1 is due to ship with an impressive array of pre-loaded content from the likes of video-streaming service Netflix, e-book seller Amazon, Flash creator Adobe, games publishers Electronic Arts and Rovio, productivity specialist Dataviz, and electronic magazine distributor Zinio.

Lenovo has confirmed that the tablet will include Adobe Flash 10.3 'Plus,' which adds support for digital rights management to enable film rental for online and offline use, although the latter will have to wait for an application due to be released "at a later date shortly after launch."

Social networking gets a look-in thanks to a Lenovo-specific app called SocialTouch. Designed to provide a single point of access to numerous social networking services, including Facebook and Twitter, the app will tie in to the tablet's five-megapixel rear and two-megapixel front cameras.

The tablet's 10.1-inch, multi-touch display has an impressive 1280x800 resolution, allowing for native video playback at 720p. For those hoping for 1080p support, a mini-HDMI port is included with full High Definition output capability.

The ThinkPad Tablet, by contrast, ditches the consumer-friendly bundled software in favour of some more enterprise-friendly features. Dataviz's Documents to Go is included as standard for Microsoft Office compatibility, while Citrix Receiver virtual desktop software and LanDesk zero-touch deployment capabilities are included.

Security has clearly been a key design principle with the ThinkPad Tablet: Computrace tracking technology is included to retrieve or secure the device should it be lost or stolen, and secure e-mail software from Good Technology is bundled as standard.

Featuring a 10.1-inch IPS display protected by Corning Gorilla Glass, the ThinkPad Tablet certainly looks impressive enough. The company's decision to add an optional stylus to the mix could leave its users feeling a little twentieth-century in the days when everyone's poking at their fondleslabs with their fingertips.

Both devices will include access to the Android Market, plus a special app store dubbed the Lenovo App Shop containing software specifically designed or certified for use with the tablets. Although details of the software included in the shop aren't yet available, the company claims it will encompass software from a broad range of categories including music, film, books, productivity, social networking, and gaming.

While the specifications seems solid enough, Lenovo risks being seen to be outdated in launching with Android 3.1: while Honeycomb is proving hot stuff in the tablet world, Google has already finalised Android 3.2. If it doesn't make the update available close to launch, Lenovo could find itself losing out to rivals like Asus and Motorola.

Both tablets are expected become 'generally available' in August in the US, although UK availability has not yet been announced. US pricing is set at $499 for a 32GB IdeaPad K1, with business buyers expected to to pay $479 for the 16GB ThinkPad Tablet model, $509 with the stylus, and $589 for the 32GB edition with stylus.

The Android tablets are to be joined by the IdeaPad P1, which swaps the Nvidia Tegra 2 processor for a 1.5GHz Intel Atom and ditches Android for Windows 7, but Lenovo has yet to announce pricing on that model.