You say there's nothing new to sell?

Printers, PCs, monitors, even network hardware and some backup systems all have the same problem: they've become so commoditized, there's little in the way of margins. So we get out of selling hardware and go for the value-add services (much like IBM did when it got out of the PC business altogether).

There's nothing left to sell that's really different from a million other products – or is there? Lenovo, the people who took the PC business off IBM's hands back in May 2006 for a mere $1.25 billion, this week showed some imagination. Yep, something actually new and different. Something we haven't seen before.

Yesterday (that's Aug. 12, 2008 if you have come here from the future) Lenovo announced the ThinkPad W700. Check it out: the W700 is a 17-inch high-gamut widescreen mobile workstation engineered with, as Lenovo's press release screams, “game-changing technologies and innovations to exceed the demands of the most data and graphics-intensive users.”

This is cool stuff: The W700 features the industry's first built-in digitizer and color calibrator in a mobile workstation and combines these innovations with first-in-market technologies such as new NVIDIA Quadro FX mobile graphics with support for the upcoming Intel mobile quad-core processor.

To put that into terms we can better understand, a digitizer is a pen tablet, just like that Wacom tablet used by engineers, graphics artists, photographers, and page-layout designers. It's light years better than screwing around with a mouse to do image editing and design.

As exciting as that is, it's just one piece of the story. High-performance users will benefit from the built-in color calibrator. The calibrator automatically adjusts the display's color in up to half the time of many external calibrators (like the X-Rite i1 or DataColor Spyder), resulting in the accurate, true-to-life color rendering. Color is critical, and accurate color is, well, everything.

The W700 also features optional dual 200GB hard drives with RAID (levels 0 or 1), up to 8GB of high-speed DDR3 memory, and a Blu-ray DVD burner/player. Prices start at $2,978 and climb from there, depending on configuration.

Ok, I'm sounding a bit like a commercial, and I don't mean to. I do know this: here's something that's new, different, and priced well beyond commodity levels. There's opportunity for some serious margin here. The ThinkPad W700 will be sold through Lenovo Business Partners. Are you one?

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