Lenovo debuts Cingular-enabled laptop

Lenovo Group Ltd. will compete with Dell Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. for business users by selling notebook PCs with embedded wireless broadband access from Cingular Wireless LLC.

Owners of a ThinkPad T60 PC will be able to access 3G (third-generation) wireless WANs (wire area networks) near 20 U.S. cities without using a separate PC card, Lenovo said Tuesday.

The PCs will connect automatically to Cingular's 400Kbit/sec. to 700Kbit/sec network based on UMTS/HSDPA (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System/High Speed Downlink Packet Access). Cingular, of Atlanta, plans to extend this BroadbandConnect coverage to most major metro areas in the U.S. by the end of 2006.

Away from major areas, users will tap the 135Kbit/sec. EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution) network, available in 13,000 U.S. cities. People outside the U.S. will gain Internet access through EDGE or GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) networks.

The service could help Lenovo, of Purchase, N.Y., gain a much-needed boost in sales. Although it's the world's third-largest PC vendor, Lenovo has struggled to meet its profit targets in recent quarters, and learned last week it would be removed in September from Hong Kong's Hang Seng stock index.

The embedded wireless link will not be a unique feature in Lenovo PCs, but it will allow the company to stay competitive.

Vendors such as Sony Corp., Dell and HP have offered wireless broadband packages in their laptop PCs for years, using either an external PC card or built-in antenna, said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis for The NPD Group Inc.

"It is only in the last year that the services have become cheap enough, good enough in service, and ubiquitous enough in availability that PC makers were willing to design access right into the notebook, like Wi-Fi," he said.

Lenovo is selling the ThinkPad T60 for $1,899 with Intel Corp.'s Core Duo T2300 processor and an 80GB hard drive, or $2,259 with a T2500 processor and 100GB hard drive. Both versions weigh 5.1 pounds and have a 14.1-inch screen.

For Internet access, users must also purchase a Cingular contract for $39.99 per month in the U.S. ($59.99 for unlimited use). A full North American plan costs $109.99 per month, and an overseas plan costs $139.99 per month.


Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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