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Fusion of work and play shapes Lenovo laptops

Artists switch from easels to touch-screens
San Francisco (AFP) May 6, 2011 - Autodesk on Friday released a major update to SketchBook Pro software that has artists switching from pencils and paints to virtual canvasses on iPhones or iPad tablet computers. SketchBook Pro software upgrades were crafted to take advantage of improved features in second-generation iPads recently unleashed on the world by California-based Apple. "This is the biggest release we've had since last year when the iPad launched," SketchBook product line manager Chris Cheung said at a Digital Canvas exhibit of art made using the application. "It is more productive and, as a by-product, it is more fun as well."

The software lets people blend and texture colors as they would with oil paints or other mediums. Movements of fingers on gadget touch-screens are converted into virtual brush strokes. "This way, I have my whole art studio in my pocket," said San Francisco artists Julia Kay, whose works were among those in the exhibit. "If I get bored I can lean against a wall and make drawings in full color, every texture, and I don't have to clean-up afterward." Works by 82 artists were featured in the Digital Canvas exhibit in the Autodesk Gallery in downtown San Francisco.

Along with professional artists there were SketchBook users whose day jobs ranged from grade school student and farmer to surgeon and aerospace technician. Matthew Hall of Britain described studied at Winchester School of Art and Chichester University but veered away from painting for a decade while he focused on video. The he saw artists working on iPads. "Now I take my iPad everywhere, using the SketchBook Pro app to capture what's happening around me or what's banging around in my head at the time," Hall said in a description of his work on display at Digital Canvas. "Like the primal cave painters we are just creating lines on a surface with our finger," he continued. "I haven't enjoyed doodling this much since I was a child."

Jay Shuster, art director for the "Cars" film sequel about to be released by Pixar Animation Studios, said he did almost all the character design using Sketchbook Pro and credited the software with enabling him to work fast. "Every day, ever hour counted," Shuster said. "I think, in a way, going digital allowed us to finish 'Cars 2' in the time we did." He worked with SketchBook software on a Pixar-supplied tablet made by Fujitsu. California-based Autodesk specilizes in 2-D and 3-D design software. SketchBook Pro versions tailored for iPhones, iPads, and iPod touch devices were priced at $5 at Apple's online App Store. Autodesk also upgraded a version of the software tailored for gadgets powered by Google-backed Android software, according to Cheung.
by Staff Writers
San Francisco (AFP) May 7, 2011
Chinese computer colossus Lenovo is infusing its leading business laptops with more fun features as Internet Age lifestyles blur lines between work and play.

Lenovo was at the San Francisco headquarters of Dolby Laboratories this week to show off theater quality sound, rich viewing and quick graphics handling in a ThinkPad laptop computer line that has become a top choice for businesses.

"We are adding elements that are more relevant and interesting to consumers," ThinkPad marketing director Tom Butler said while demonstrating new features that included audio enhanced with Dolby Home Theater 4.

Long popular with big corporations, Lenovo recently launched ThinkPad models aimed at small businesses whose operators tend to shop for gear at retail shops and whose employees increasingly make work computers part of home lives.

"We see a clear merger of consumer and business in the small business space," Butler said.

"At the same time workers are using systems 24 hours a day, seven days a week," he continued. "They are taking them home and checking personal email, searching the Web, playing music videos and other multi-media."

Dolby software added to freshly released ThinkPad laptop models dramatically ramps up the quality of any audio from film soundtracks or music to Internet conference calls.

"Even though you are listening over stereo speakers we are able to create a virtual surround-sound experience," said Kevin Brennan of Dolby.

"We are trying to re-create the immersive, cinematic experience that you enjoy at the movies, but on your personal computer," he continued.

Lenovo is the first to put Dolby Home Theater 4 on a business computer, according to Brennan.

"Lenovo is walking the walk and talking the talk by incorporating new features," he said.

Digital lifestyle enhancements included game-speed graphics, vivid screens, and HDMI ports for routing films or other data-rich digital content to high-definition television screens or muscular speakers.

ThinkPad laptops had keys devoted to quickly launching multimedia and slot-loading for DVDs.

"There is going to be a coolness factor to Lenovo's brand," said Lenovo 'ambassador' Stephen Miller.

"Like houses and phones, a computer says something about who you are," he continued. "We understand there has to be this consumerization feel."

Lenovo is the world's top seller of business laptops and the fourth largest computer company overall, according to Miller.

Lenovo's Bill Dominici provided an early look at an Edge 91Z all-in-one desktop computer hitting the market.

All the computing hardware was built into a sleek 2.5-inch (6.4 centimeter) thick black monitor with a 21.5-inch (54.6 centimeter) screen boasting high-definition imagery.

The starting price will be $699 with a "rich configuration" to be sold for $1,100.

"It competes quite nicely against an Apple (computer)," Dominici said while showing a 91Z to AFP.

"The business employee is really starting to drive the decision around what they are going to have on their desktop or what notebook they are going to carry, whereas IT managers used to rule the roost," he added.

The Lenovo team was mum about any plans to field a tablet computer in a market dominated by Apple's coveted iPads. Butler said his company was tuned into the trend of tablets being woven into home and work life.

"The tablet is absolutely going to be part of the experience and the market," Butler said.

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Long queues for iPad 2 in China
Beijing (AFP) May 6, 2011
Apple fans queued up for hours Friday in China to snap up the iPad 2 as the updated version of the popular tablet computer went on sale in the world's biggest Internet market. Apple's four stores in Beijing and Shanghai began offering the Wi-Fi model of the lighter, thinner, camera-equipped touchscreen device, which went on sale in the US on March 11 and in countries across Asia last week to ... read more

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