Saturday, November 10, 2007

Lenovo's new ThinkStation: Slam dunk or technical foul?

It's not often that a press conference takes technology journalists to a sporting goods store, but that's exactly what happened Nov. 6 as Lenovo staged a televised press event at the NBA Store on New York's Fifth Ave. to announce its entry into a workstation market now dominated by Dell and Hewlett-Packard.

According to Lenovo, the new ThinkStation line of workstations marks the first new workstation brand to be trotted out by a major PC maker in ten years and marks Lenovo's first addition to its Think-branded products in five years.

By definition, a workstation is a musclebound PC with extra processing and graphics power for high-octane applications such as computer-aided design and digital content creation -- such the nifty graphics and videos you see during televised National Basketball Association games.

Lenovo is already the official computer of the NBA; which explains the reason for the press conference site. Its units are at courtside at all 29 arenas of the 30 NBA teams (the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers share the Staples Center). Company executives said the China-based company aimed to get a modest slice of the U.S. workstation market but sought to succeed in emerging markets overseas as well.

The single-processor ThinkStation S10 (starting at $1,199) will come with an Intel Corp. Core 2 processor while the dual-processor ThinkStation D10 (pictured at top, starting at $1,739) will use Intel's Quad-Core Xeon processors. Both models will come with nVidia graphics adapters and will feature second-generation PCI Express expansion slots, which allow for far faster graphics-data speeds than the original PCI Express standard.

Inside the easy-to-service ThinkStations you'll find room for an array of hard disks and lots of RAM as well as extra fans and huge heat sinks to keep things cool.

While the ThinkStations will come in black, their interiors will be quite green, according to the company. More than 50 per cent of the plastics used will be recycled plastics, Lenovo said. Despite the additional hardware, the units will be no noisier than far less powerful PCs, according to Lenovo.

On hand for the press conference was former NBA star and Basketball Hall of Fame member Bill Walton (at right in photo), who seemed to genuinely appreciate the extra processing power of workstations and said he couldn't wait to get his own hands on a ThinkStation.

"Intel doesn't have the out-front name, but they're the ones that make it work from the inside," said the almost 7-foot-tall Walton, who was joined by executives from Lenovo, Intel and the NBA as well as sportscaster Ian Eagle.

ThinkStation D10 photo courtesy of Lenovo.
Press conference photo copyright 2007, Stadium Circle Features.

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