Ina Fried

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Lenovo Jumps Into Tablet Fray With Two Android Models and a Windows 7 Device for Good Measure

After sitting on the sidelines for much of this year, Lenovo is just about ready to enter the Android tablet market.

The company is announcing both a consumer model, the IdeaPad Tablet K1, and a more business-oriented product, the ThinkPad Tablet. The former features support for Netflix and a range of included entertainment software, while the latter features pen support and an optional plug-in keyboard dock. Both products have 10-inch screens, start at $499 and will go on sale in August, with pre-orders being taken starting on Wednesday.

“Tablets are extremely personal technology devices,” Senior VP Liu Jun said in a statement. “That’s why we’ve created a family of tablets that has something for everyone, including entertainment-friendly features and content for consumers, or business-friendly features to enhance productivity for professionals as well as security and manageability for IT managers.”

The IdeaPad includes 32GB of memory, while the ThinkPad Tablet comes with 16GB of memory and includes a variety of features aimed at offering business-level security and reliability. The initial ThinkPad model is Wi-Fi only, but Lenovo said 3G models are also in the works and should come shortly after the first ThinkPad Tablets hit the market.

Lenovo is planning its own Lenovo App Shop to provide access to apps customized and tested for its hardware as well as to allow businesses to serve up programs privately to their users.

The company is just the latest big name announcing plans for an Android tablet. Sony is also hoping to prove that taking one’s time can pay off, with its first Android tablets — the slate-shaped S1 and clamshell S2 — not expected until this fall.

The question is just how big the market is for Android tablets, at least at this juncture, with few apps available and a number of hardware makers already selling products, including Motorola, Acer and Samsung, to name just a few.

Lenovo also has plans for a new Windows 7 tablet, the IdeaPad Tablet P1, due in the fourth quarter.

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