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Lenovo makes computer play a family affair

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An image provided by Lenoovo shows the IdeaCentre Horizon Table PC that they say is the first “interpersonal computer.” It is a PC the size of a coffee table that works like a gigantic tablet and lets four people use it at once. AP /Lenovo

SAN FRANCISCO – Lenovo on Sunday unveiled a home tabletop touch-screen computer aimed at turning typically solitary online activities into family affairs.

The Chinese computer colossus proclaimed the arrival of the “interpersonal PC” with the debut of the IdeaCentre Horizon Table in Las Vegas, where the Consumer Electronics Show gadget gala is set to start.

“It’s definitely a new category; the world’s first home table personal computer,” Lenovo director of global marketing Dee Kumar said while giving AFP an early glimpse at the creation in San Francisco.

“This can be a full-power 27-inch PC, but at the same time we want families using this device,” she said.

The “multi-user, multi-touch, multi-mode” table computer with a starting price of $1,699 can be used by several people simultaneously for communal activities such as games or for individual endeavors such as updating Facebook.

“We want to take social to the next level,” Kumar added. “Smartphones and tablets provide one-to-one interaction, but it is great for a family to come back home and use this device to consume content.”

Lenovo worked with videogame industry stalwarts including Ubisoft and Electronic Arts to tailor titles for group play on Horizon table computers.

“These games are simple mechanics-wise but really fun to play in a social space,” Pixel, a member of an Ubisoft-backed group of girl gamers known as the Frag Dolls, said as she killed virtual zombies and raced cars on Horizon.

Lenovo promised to showcase a slew of Horizon games and applications at CES, which begins Tuesday.

Horizon is powered by Microsoft Windows 8 software designed with touch-screen controls in mind and recognizes commands from as many as 10 fingers at a time.

“Windows 8 definitely opened the doors to social with 10-finger touch,” Kumar said. “You are seeing touch interfaces on bigger devices, and this is kind of the next extension.”

Horizon weighs about 18 pounds and is built with a hinged stand in the back so it can be propped upright to serve as a television or desktop computer screen.

Wheeled stands and joysticks are among accessories sold separately. Lenovo said that Horizon table computers would hit the market by the middle of this year.

“Horizon makes personal computing interpersonal computing with shared, collaborative experiences among several people,” said Lenovo product group president Peter Hortensius.

Lenovo has been striving to become the world’s top computer maker and has made strides with a “protect and attack” strategy when it comes to market share.

Analysts have described Lenovo as a success story due to its tactic of fielding a diverse line-up of products in a global computer industry being roiled by the rise of tablets and smartphones.

Gartner Research in October released preliminary figures indicating Lenovo may have taken Hewlett-Packard’s crown as top computer maker in the third quarter of last year.

IDC figures, however, showed that HP retained a tenuous hold on the throne.

Still, “our protect-and-attack strategy is clearly working,” Kumar said. “We go after high growth areas and protect core business.”


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