CES 2017: Lenovo Announces Amazon Alexa-Powered Connected Smart Speaker

PC maker Lenovo today announced its first smart speaker with Amazon's voice-activated virtual assistant built in.

Called the Lenovo Smart Assistant, the connected speaker integrates Amazon's Alexa Voice Services and offers the same speech-activated features as the Echo family of devices, but housed in a slightly redesigned unit.

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The speaker keeps the same cylindrical profile as Amazon's Echo, but with the microphone portion of the device in a slightly raised position, which Lenovo says offers better ventilation to cool the internal components. Lenovo's unit also has eight far-field microphones versus Echo's seven, with noise suppression and acoustic echo cancellation included for picking up voice commands from up to 16 feet away.

The Lenovo Smart Assistant comes in a range of color schemes including green, gray, and orange fabric. The speakers will ship in May for a price of $130 (less than Amazon's Echo at $180). Lenovo is also offering a Harman Kardon edition of the Smart Assistant featuring better sound quality for $180.

Amazon's Alexa Voice Services API is expected to crop up in a number of new third-party products at this year's CES. Microsoft has previously teased third-party devices using its own Cortana virtual assistant technology.


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Lenovo Announces New ‘ThinkPad’ Docks Equipped With Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C Ports

Lenovo recently announced a pair of docks in its "ThinkPad" accessory line, including one equipped with Thunderbolt 3 and one with USB-C (via Anandtech). The ThinkPad Thunderbolt 3 dock includes a Thunderbolt 3 port, two DisplayPort options, HDMI, VGA, Gigabit Ethernet, a headphone jack, and five USB-A 3.0 ports, with one that is always powered.

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Both images show the ThinkPad Thunderbolt 3 dock

The company said that users can connect as many as three displays to the Thunderbolt 3 dock, with two coming off the dual DisplayPort streams, and another connected to an extra Thunderbolt 3 output. One display will get up to a 3840 x 2160 resolution at 60Hz, while two displays will have the same resolution at 30Hz. In terms of power, the dock comes with a 135W adapter, with up to 65W of power to a connected laptop. The Thunderbolt 3 dock is likely to work with the new Touch Bar MacBook Pro, but Lenovo hasn't specified compatibility yet.
The dock ships with a 135-Watt AC Adapter, which provides up to 65W of power to the laptop, and the remainder for powering the accessories. There is also a power button on the dock to control the ThinkPad power state when docked, which is nice since the laptop could easily be closed when docked.
The USB-C dock has a similar look and number of ports when compared to the Thunderbolt 3 version. It includes a single USB-C port, three USB-A 3.0 ports, two USB-A 2.0 ports, two DisplayPort options, VGA, Gigabit Ethernet, and a headphone jack. A single display can be driven with 3840 x 2160 resolution at 30Hz, or the dock can power two displays with 1920x1080 resolution at 60 Hz. The USB-C dock includes a 90W power adapter, with up to 60W of power to a connected laptop.
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Users will be able to purchase the ThinkPad USB-C dock in January for $199.99, and the ThinkPad Thunderbolt 3 dock in February for $279.99. More information about the ThinkPad line, and other Lenovo products, is likely to be announced at CES in January.


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Motorola gives up on smartwatches, for now

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Motorola’s Moto 360 was the first Android Wear smartwatch with a circular design — a trait later taken up by most Android smartwatches — pushing the company to the forefront of the wearables market. However, it now appears we won’t see a new smartwatch under the Moto brand anytime soon. 

Lenovo, the parent company of Motorola, told The Verge that it’s not planning to release a Moto smartwatch in time for the next major version of Google’s smartwatch platform, Android Wear 2. 

According to Shakil Barkat, head of global product development at Moto, the company doesn’t “see enough pull in the market” to launch a new smartwatch. He did leave open the possibility of a Moto smartwatch at a later date, saying that customers might eventually start valuing gadgets on their wrists more than they do today.  Read more…

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