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January 05, 2009

Lenovo Gives New Meaning to Remote VoIP

Nintendo’s newest game system, Wii — though it’s been out for more than two years now, so it’s not really all that new anymore — has really caught on, and for good reason.  Not only does it offer a variety of options for gameplay including online connectivity, along with many other nice-to-have features, its wireless motion sensitive technology is something its competitors, Microsoft’s (News - Alert) Xbox and Sony’s Playstation, do not.

Indeed, the motion sensitive controllers make for a remarkably entertaining experience, regardless of the game — not to mention providing valuable exercise.  
The popularity of the system is evidenced two years after its initial release in North America by its noticeable absence in retail and online outlets this past holiday season — though the savvy shopper could easily find one on Craig’s List.
Well, Lenovo (News - Alert), which, as many in the business world will attest, still produces some of the finest laptops available, is taking a page out of the Nintendo playbook with its IdeaCentre A600 all-in-once desktop PC.
Yes, the A600 is sleek, sporting a monitor and thin CPU in one, but for Wiiers, it also comes with a motion sensitive remote control that delivers functionality like the Wiimote control, allowing for the same exciting gaming experience.
The new PC from Lenovo looks to further the current trend of combining entertainment and computers, while adding the latest gaming technology that has left store shelves bare.  Of course, the controller itself does little without games to go along, and Lenovo says it is looking to bundle some of the games with its newest PC.
But that’s not all. 
Naturally, as any good remote control should, the A600’s also allows control of the PC for standard video functions, as well as a wireless mouse (much like Nintendo’s controller moves the hand on the TV screen).  This functionality can be increasingly useful when viewing video content or for use in conjunction with wireless keyboards.
With a 21.5-inch screen designed for HD video playback, the optional Blu-ray DVD player becomes an enticing add-on, along with a TV tuner and advanced graphics features. And with WiFi (News - Alert) connectivity, the A600 easily finds its place in today’s connected home, to which a growing number of WiFi-enabled devices are being added — including the Wii.
Of course, with the ability to easily connect PCs to larger HD televisions — even as easily as via WiFi in some cases — the A600 brings the convergence of computing and entertainment to a new level.
And finally, what really makes the Lenovo A600 remote a complete communications tool is it functionality as a wireless VoIP handset.  Skype (News - Alert) users — or those with any other PC-based VoIP service for that matter — can use the remote to place low-cost or free phone calls. 
In fact, despite the A600 being designed primarily as a consumer product with its heavy focus on entertainment features, it certainly boasts the processing and storage capabilities of a business machine as well. It’s not unlikely that it will find its way into at least a number of small businesses and SOHO environments, especially with the VoIP capabilities of the remote, which will eliminate the need for a separate VoIP handset.
All that remains now is for Lenovo to develop a laptop with like features, and it will have truly created an all-in-one unit combining communication, entertainment, business productivity, and mobility. With the fondness of many businesses for Lenovo laptops — a carryover from its IBM (News - Alert) branded days, such a laptop should have little problem finding its way into the business world, especially with the growing use of video and VoIP communications.
The new A600 will come with a base price of $999, and is expected to be available in late March.

Erik Linask is Group Managing Editor of TMCnet, which brings news and compelling feature articles, podcasts, and videos to nearly 3,000,000 visitors each month. To see more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Erik Linask

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