The inside story of Lenovo’s ThinkPad redesign

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“When you talk to end users about ports, they’ll tell you how much they need them. They’ll talk about the vast number of USB devices that they have. It’s easy to hear that and determine that you need five or more ports based on what these people report. When you watch these people work, however, and you’re more overt in your methods — you rarely see that happening.

Sometimes, there’s a conflict between what someone reports they need and what they require.”

So begins the backstory of the latest ThinkPad overhaul as told by Corinna Proctor, the senior research manager at Lenovo’s User Research Center. Clearly versed in the art of separating whimsical wishes from bona fide requirements, she spoke to me in a phone interview alongside two of her colleagues in the run-up to today’s unveiling of the redesigned ThinkPad T431s Ultrabook.

Lenovo IdeaCentre 600: Thinnest (Hottest?) All-in-One PC on the Block

Lenovo’s IdeaCentre 600 is a pretty splashy debut: Its first ever all-in-one is a simple curved slab that’s supposedly the thinnest all-in-one in the industry. Beyond the form factor—which borrows liberally from the new Star Trek and the iMac (the frameless black bezel looks like it was copy and pasted)—it’s actually a disappointingly standard all-in-one affair, with a smallish 21.5-inch screen and nothing you can’t get on the new Vaio LV.

And it’s missing, at least from the spec sheet, one of the Vaio’s killer features—HDMI in, which would let it be a total bedroom TV replacement. Still, it does have an awesome Swiss Army knife of a remote—it’s an air mouse, accelerometer controller for games and Skype VOIP handset (it acts like a cordless phone).