BEIJING – Lenovo teased the press and analysts with planned new products and product concepts last week at its first Tech World, where the company also talked up its five-year vision for computing and emerging technologies.
The new products spanned the tech gamut from laptops to the company’s first streaming-media device that displays smartphone- and tablet-stored content on a TV. The company also unveiled a proprietary enhancement to Microsoft’s Cortana personal assistant.
Long-term product concepts included a smart watch with a second screen that uses optical reflection to create a large virtual image. The company also demonstrated a concept smartphone that projects a large virtual touch screen onto a table from which users can enter data into productivity apps.
Here are the details:
Lenovo plans August availability of its first streaming- media device that displays smartphone- and tablet-stored content on a TV. The $49 Lenovo Cast plugs into a TV’s HDMI port via included 1-meter cable to stream on- and off-line pictures, audio, 1080p video, and games from DLNA- or Miracast-enabled smartphones and tablets. With Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n, Cast streams from a distance up to 20 meters (66 feet) through walls. The distance when sending 1080p video is limited to up to 15 meters over the 5GHz Wi-Fi band and up to 5 meters when sending 1080p video over the 2.4GHz Wi-Fi band, the company said. It features an HDMI 1.3 port with HDCP 2.0 copy protection.
The hockey-puck-shaped device comes with a bracket for mounting on the back of a TV and measures 2.76 inches in diameter and 0.59 inches in depth.
People “want to share a variety of content from their smartphones and tablets, such as online videos and games, with friends and family on a larger screen,” said Liu Jun, Lenovo executive VP and president of the mobile business group.
Three new Lenovo laptops available to U.S. consumers in June include an entry-level Ideapad 100 with 14- and 15-inch screen options starting at $249 and two step-up Z series models starting at $499. Prices go up with options. All run Windows 8.1.
All are designed for “customers who want simple and functional design,” said Bai Peng, VP/general manager of Lenovo’s notebook business unit. But the entry-level Ideapad is targeted to entry-level users looking for an all-around device, while the stepup 14-inch Z41 and 15-inch Z51 are targeted to multimedia users, he said.
In new product concepts, Lenovo showed a two-screen smart watch and a smartphone that projects a virtual touchscreen onto a table. With its Magic View smart watch concept, Lenovo said it wants to make a wrist-worn wearable more usable by adding a second screen to remove the size limitations of the main screen. The second screen uses optical reflection to create a virtual image, enabling users to see a virtual display more than 20 times larger than the watch face display, the company said. Users would be able to follow a map, view photos or even watch a video, the company contended.
To make smartphones more usable, the company demonstrated Smart Cast, a technology that builds a laser projector and infrared motion detector into a phone to project a large virtual touch screen onto a table. From the virtual touchscreen, users can type on a keyboard and enter data into productivity apps, such as calculators and PowerPoint. The projector also lets users display video and presentations on a wall and play games.
For the nearer term, REACHit, Lenovo’s extension of Microsoft’s voice-controlled Cortana virtual assistant, will extend the search capabilities of Cortana for Windows 10 devices with the ability to search for content across any connected Lenovo PC or tablet running Windows 10 and across many major Cloud services. Without REACHit, users can search only for files on the device they are currently using and OneDrive.
In other concept demos, Lenovo’s ShenQi subsidiary showed 3D printers that can print food out of substances such as chocolate and a smart-home control center incorporating Wi-Fi. The company is also exploring emerging fields such as robots and drones.