San Francisco is a logical location for Chinese technology powerhouse, Lenovo, to hold their annual convention. Logistically, it’s generally in the center between China and their US headquarters in North Carolina. More importantly, San Francisco is still in a tech bubble with companies like Airbnb, Uber and Twitter representing the possibilities of innovation and creativity. So, on June 9th, Lenovo’s CEO Yang Yuanqing announced incredible new technology: the Moto Z modular phone, the world’s first Tango phone, and bendable cell phones and tablets. I can tell you first hand it’s all amazing! During the incredible announcements I was taking photos and tweeting with excitement. Little did I know that just a few dozen feet from me was Lenovo’s gaming team headed by Will Fu and Jeff Palumbo. Jeff, a fan of our Comics team, has been pushing his vision of a community-inspired gaming hardware division a piece at a time. And from humble beginnings great things are coming.
My interview with Lenovo’s Jeff Palumbo
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Lenovo is not a major player in gaming hardware. They are the largest manufacturer of computer hardware in the world and dominate in the business sector. They have plenty of innovations to their name such as the Yoga series of laptops and tablets. In speaking with CMO David Roman he confirmed Lenovo’s intentions with the Games division: they’re going to support it’s organic growth. In 2013 Lenovo launched the IdeaPad Y510p laptop. It was not billed as a gaming laptop but featured all the necessary hardware including two NVIDIA GT 750m video cards running in SLi. Jeff and Will agreed this was the birthplace of what has now become a legitimate line of gaming desktops and laptops. You won’t find hardware with aluminum chassis and multi-colored LEDs that scream “gaming laptop!”. Instead Lenovo has taken that Y510p and slowly improved upon both the interior and exterior. Back in 2013, GWW was a much smaller website with relatively small traffic. My review of the Y510p was the most visited page on our website by more than 400%. It was a gem to consumers that wanted a gaming laptop that could handle games at 1080p without breaking their wallet.
Lenovo’s first gaming laptop, the Y50, was value-priced at roughly $999 at launch in late 2014. It featured the NVIDIA GTX 860m GPU and a 15″ display. A 4K version was also released alongside a touchscreen version. The laptop was thinner and more powerful than the Y510p while maintaining the same black chassis with red trim and a back-lit keyboard. This iteration makes sense from an R&D standpoint but also, Lenovo stepped into gaming hardware in part due to the positive feedback the company received from fans of the Y510p. A smaller 14″ version was also released that featured an AMD video card and the same ability to upgrade the HDD/SDD and RAM. Also in 2014 Lenovo launched it’s Erazer line of desktop computers: the X310 and X510. These desktops did not carry forward the Y series colors and design but instead focused on upgrade-ability and the return of one-touch overclocking (turbo mode). I’m unaware of the commercial success of these desktops but I can confirm that in the United States Lenovo relied on eCommerce sales through Newegg.com and others, as opposed to a retail engagement.
Fast-forward to TechWorld 2016 in San Francisco where Will and Jeff showed me what happens when you combine the Y series laptops and Erazer desktops. I got to play on both the Y900 laptop and IdeaCenter Y900 desktop. These are beasts in their own right and demonstrated what’s possible when a small team at Lenovo listens to their community at LenovoGaming.com.
Expect full coverage of the Y900 laptop and desktop computers later this year, here at The Forge of GWW!