Lenovo targets businesses with new budget ThinkPad laptops

ThinkPad L series, priced starting at $649, keeps prices down by using lower-resolution screens and doing away with options like solid-state drives

Lenovo is updating its ThinkPad line with a new series of budget laptops designed to help it reach a wider audience of business users.

The ThinkPad L series is designed to provide a lower-cost alternative to Lenovo's standard, higher-priced business laptops, said Rajat Aggarwal, worldwide product marketing manager for Lenovo's ThinkPad line.

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The first models, the L412 and L512, will start at $649, Aggarwal said. Lenovo made several tweaks to the systems to keep prices down, like using lower-resolution screens and doing away with options like solid-state drives (SSDs). The laptops are offered with a choice of Celeron, Core i3, or Core i5 processors.

Lenovo is positioning the laptops as entry-level systems for large enterprises. They are supposed to be distinct from the ThinkPad Edge laptops that Lenovo introduced earlier this year for small and medium-sized businesses, which come with chips from Advanced Micro Devices.

The new laptops come at a time when enterprises are taking longer to refresh their client PCs. Just last week, Intel CEO Paul Otellini said enterprises were still being careful with spending, and updating laptops on an as-needed basis. IDC has said PC shipments are growing again, but that purchases are being driven by consumers.

The picture changes with geography, however. Aggarwal said there has been an uptick in business laptop purchases in emerging markets like China, and Lenovo hopes to attract more of those customers with the L-series line.

The L412 and L512 have 14- and 15-inch screens, respectively. They come with Microsoft's Windows 7 OS and up to 320GB of storage. They use integrated graphics from Intel, although AMD's ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5145 graphics card is an optional extra.

They are due to go on sale in the middle of May, Lenovo said. It could not immediately provide international availability.

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