Lenovo unveils multi-user 'table PC'

New device can lie flatfor playing digital board games or be used upright as desktop computer

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 January, 2013, 4:21am

Lenovo yesterday took the wraps off a coffee table-sized personal computer designed for multiple users at the world's largest consumer technology trade show, as it embarks on a major corporate reorganisation.

Lenovo said the new IdeaCentre Horizon, which features a 27-inch multitouch display and Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system, marked the company's entry into the nascent "table computer" market segment.

Launched on the eve of this week's International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the Horizon supports touch-screen game-play among several users when used flat on a surface to play digital board games such as Monopoly.

The device can also be adjusted upright at a 90-degree angle for use as an all-in-one desktop computer, with separate keyboard and mouse, at an individual's home or office.

"We've seen technology shifts across the four screens, from the desktop to the laptop, tablet and smartphone, and yet … there is still room for technologies like Horizon that bring people together," said Peter Hortensius, the president of Lenovo's product group.

Horizon, which will sell from early this summer for US$1,699, comes with a set of accessories, including four joysticks and so-called e-dice and strikers, to enable a gaming experience that combines the physical accessory with on-screen action.

Analysts, however, expect the new Lenovo table computer to remain a niche product that will see little demand this year.

"It's another 'hero' product that will sell poorly, just like Lenovo's [internet-connected] smart TV line," said Alberto Moel, a senior analyst at Bernstein Research.

Bryan Ma, the associate vice-president for Asia-Pacific client devices research at technology analyst firm IDC, said he had doubts the Horizon would be able to change how consumers interacted with their personal computers, smartphones and media tablets, "which is on a very individual basis".

"Lenovo's concept of its table PC is kind of a throwback to the times when families used to physically gather around a coffee table to play board games, or to listen to the radio," Ma said. "I'm sceptical until I see a killer app or usage model that will convince many consumers to buy this kind of product."

But Ma credited Lenovo for including some major games and applications developers to help launch the Horizon table computer. These included Electronic Arts, FableVision, Open Labs, Ubisoft and FilmOn TV.

Lenovo, the world's largest supplier of personal computers, has quietly started implementing a corporate reorganisation that will see its operations run in two business groups by April, according to a copy of an internal memorandum obtained by the South China Morning Post.

The mainstream consumer and commercial Idea-brand computers, media tablets, smartphones and "smart" televisions will fall under the Lenovo Business Group.

The premium Think-brand consumer and commercial personal computers, servers and storage systems will be under the Think Business Group.