Monday, August 22, 2011

The Economics of Kim Kardashian

This economics-related post will be on a very odd subject: Kim Kardashian. While I personally dislike the socialite and television personality, she is a smart entrepreneur who has used her reality series "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" to catapult herself (and her family) into mainstream media. One may even argue she has become sort of a social icon. She may be easy on the eyes, but her success has more correlation with her marketing shrewdness than her looks. Today, Kim is amongst the most widely recognized figures in both social and mainstream media.

Interesting example, right?

I think this article from Yahoo! provides a great insight into Kim Kardashian's rise to prominence. For some familiar with current celebrity gossip, Kim just married NBA player Kris Humphries in a private ceremony over the weekend. The article goes on to detail how she probably earned a profit from the wedding, based on the exclusive deals made with People magazine, E! television channel, and a myriad of wedding services such as cake and wedding gown makers. One cannot but be impressed with this revelation -- even if only form a purely business standpoint. Weddings are amongst the most expensive special events out there and, given that she is a celebrity with money to spend, you can bet the wedding cost at least $1 million.

Think about this for a second: what makes Kim Kardashian a marketing juggernaut that all sorts of brands want her to become their spokesperson? On the surface, she appears to have no exceptional skill or talent besides looking prettier than the average female figure (keep in mind that "prettiness" is highly subjective). I'd argue that there are plenty of women better looking than her. However, very few have been able to transform themselves into a icon as she has. I think her success has been contingent on her ability to be associated with other celebrities, in addition to demonstrating a desire to become a household name. Amongst the many examples of this: she has been in relationships with arguably better-known celebrities like Ray J, Reggie Bush, and Miles Austin. More recently, she has been associated with Justin Bieber -- the perennial paradox of this wave of "new age" celebrities. Although these aforementioned relationships did not last, they lent Kim increasing exposure to the social media at large. At the same time, she has worked with E! television to expand on her television show. The results can be seen by her 2010 earnings of $6 million, purportedly higher than any reality star.

What Kim Kardashian represents is an example of how "web 2.0" has revolutionized our definition of marketing. Social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and even LinkedIn has allowed the general public to exert some influence on the mass media. Before these social networks came along, our relationship with mass media was a one-way street of reading/hearing whatever we were told by the newspapers, magazines, and television channels. But now, through these social networks, we are able to create some semblance of solidarity and voice our preferences -- in other words, our "word of mouth" can now penetrate those far beyond our immediate vicinity. And this is something companies have long yearned to see: what their target audiences are interested in, and the vehicles with which to reach these target audiences. Web 2.0 has allowed companies to rely less on marketing boutiques and their respective marketing research, and instead see the real-time trends -- all for free! For some companies, they seem to think Kim Kardashian as a fitting vehicle to push their products onto the general populace; others use Justin Bieber and Ashton Kutcher.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Closing of a Chapter (Mandy)

So we finally come to it, the ending of a chapter in my life with regard to this girl called Mandy. I have written about her extensively on this blog (look under the tag "Mandy"), namely because she had become such a major part of my life. Now it is all over. I can be a fool and continue my pursuit of her, but it would be in vain -- and plus, I promised her I would honor her decision.

One of the things I have been trying to more of it being straightforward with others and not "beat around the bush". Sadly, in hindsight Mandy and I could have had a relationship if not for my indirect approach to her. When I first met her almost 3 years ago, we were both college students taking part in a church conference. We quickly struck up a friendship due to being placed together in a group and talked to one another ever since -- albeit less frequent for the past year and a half. I will admit that it was love at first sight: she was stunningly beautiful, kind, and we appeared to get along very well. As a romantic person, I envisioned that we would later start a wonderful relationship that hopefully would have led to more. But that turned out to be just a beautiful dream.

To quickly recall what happened, I was turned down last winter after I finally mustered the courage to tell her about I felt toward her. (This is apparently a very unorthodox way of approaching a girl, as my roommate has since told me something about "playing the game".) Yet in my optimism and changed career fortunes, I decided to keep the hope alive and try again at another time. Last weekend during our beach retreat, I was pleasantly shocked to get her phone number with which, after some intense self-wrestling, I decided to ask her to get some coffee. We ended up settling on a phone call where I tried to ask her out again ("...I would like to take you out Saturday..."). Needless to say, she turned me down again and stated that she feels she is not ready for a relationship at this time. We talked about a few other things like our future plans before hanging up.

At first I was surprised at how well I had taken her response. I was very disappointed of course, but I respected her decision and told myself that there really is nothing I could do. But the next day (a Monday), I woke up feeling very much lost -- a feeling that intensified as the day went on and eventually turned into a depression. I started to deeply regret having approached her again so soon after getting her phone number, in addition to the realization that her decision was finalized certain things. It was a miserable thing to feel as it also dawned on me that Mandy had been an inspiration for many things -- e.g. going to the gym and working out. After work, I headed home and held a long-and-frank prayer -- a "crying out" to the Lord about my disappointment and loss. Thereafter I hit rock bottom, and then started to expel the negative emotions that had taken hold. The past few days have been a steady climb back to my normal self. Yet I realized that this experience has changed me significantly.

Not only have I become a little more jaded about this aspect of relationships, I also started to view Mandy differently. She remains a pretty amazing person, but I also came to see her as someone who is averse to taking chances. Or at very least slightly lacking for empathy; empathy is quite different from pity (for the record, I'd hate to go out on a pity date). I had put myself out there twice for her --something very difficult for guys to do-- yet she would not bulge. Is this because she's scared? If so, I have been absolutely terrified! I think a lot of times, women have this false impression that men are generally insensitive and therefore can be treated as such. However, that is a gross over-generalization: it takes tremendous courage and resolve to ask someone out. I went for it and chased after something that had become dear to me. I guess I am just deeply disappointed that I did not even get a chance to interview.

In sum, it is high time to bury this dream I have held onto for so long. It's the best for everyone involved. Looks like she is ultimately the Estella to my Pip, or the fire that might consume me completely had this continued.

TED Talk: Origins of Pleasure

I just watched this very entertaining yet at the same time, didactic TED talk on the subject of pleasure. More commentary to follow later...

The interesting thing is that this TED talk attempts to argue how the perception of beauty is universal due to evolutionary origins. Yet to me, the speaker fails; I just do not agree.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dealing with Unrealized Expectations

[Let me preface this post by saying that it will be more sentimental than usual because of my recent rejection by Mandy. In addition the term "unrealized expectations" is not the most pleasant-sounding, nor is it the most appropriate one. Perhaps a better one would have been "unfulfilled dreams".]

Expanding on a previous post about the song "I Dreamed a Dream", this one will be a reflection of how to deal with our perceived failures. A more honest definition could be when things do not turn out the way we expected/hoped them to. How do we really deal with this? Some try drown themselves in alcohol, or fall into depressions.

I think it would be good to open through recounting three episodes in my life where I had to deal with these so-called unrealized expectations. You will see that they were excruciatingly painful at the time....
  1. One semester suspension from college for plagiarism. When I first arrived in college around 5 years ago, I was a hot-headed freshman who had a very elevated image of himself. There was a definite arrogance about me that was created out of being admitted into one of the most prestigious colleges in the country --while having somewhat mediocre grades and standardized test scores. In other words, I viewed myself as an "untouchable". This facade came crashing down when I intentionally plagiarized on a writing assignment, was caught, and ultimately suspended for one semester. Although a single semester may not seem much, the fact that it would be the second half of my freshman year was monumental. Instead of settling down into the college life, I was ushered back to live with my parents for 5-6 months. I remember hating myself for having made the mistake, a hatred that intensified as my parents openly were embarrassed by my actions. I was told to avoid questions concerning my being home, to the point of marginally lying. During this time off, I worked at an Office Depot store close by as well as volunteered at a nearby fire museum. Eventually I was readmitted to college and returned for sophomore year, but the experience will always be with me. I vividly recall the hopelessness when I found out I would be suspended and the shame of having to tell my parents about what happened.
  2. Graduating without a job. As a member of the Class of 2010, I graduated from college with a degree in economics but into an economy in recession. Having had made no concrete post-graduation plans outside of working, it was incredibly stressful as the countdown to graduation started falling into single digits while I had no job offer. I had spent hours every day frantically applying to jobs but, perhaps due to my lowly GPA and/or lack of extracurricular activities, I received few opportunities to interview and zero job offers. The fact that I would have to return to live with my parents further added to my anxiety -- not that I do not love them, but it seemed an utter embarrassment. In my desperation, I contacted my dean about the possibility of delaying graduation by one semester (reasoning is that I had been suspended for a semester prior). She brought me into her office and offered me a medicine that I was not expecting: frankly telling me that I did not have the right perspective. I recall this conversation very well. The dean stated noted that I probably arrived in college with a very different image of where/what I would be four years later. But that this was okay and I should be grateful to have parents who would be willing to have me back with them. Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise, as it was an opportunity to reconnect with my family. Admittedly at the time I wished she had offered me a job instead, yet I came to understand the wisdom of her words. Sometimes it's okay to not have our ideals realized.
  3. Not having Mandy. (If you are a repeat reader of this blog, then this is a no-brainer. I've been writing about this girl under the tag "Mandy" for months now...) The night I returned from the beach trip, I decided to hold a honest conversation with Mandy and ask her out again. The optimism was spurred by two things: the message of a church conference we both attended, as well as her inadvertently giving me her phone number. Needless to say, I was turned down for the second (and perhaps final?) time. While I was disappointed at the time, the weight of that disappointment did not set in until the day after. I felt absolutely crushed yesterday, both emotionally and physically drained. To understand my reaction, let us backtrack a bit. I met Mandy more than 3 years ago during a summer church conference. At the time I had doubts in staying with the church but I fell in love with her immediately after meeting her. It's somewhat inappropriate but she was the major reason I stayed with the church for a months following that encounter. Ever since then, I have always tried to interact with her as much as possible -- because she grew became the "girl of my dreams" and a source of inspiration for many things I did. In my eyes, she was absolutely amazing and I longed to be with her. But I also understood the folly of my thoughts and received an impression that she did not feel the same for me -- yet I chose to persevere and ignore the signs. Last winter was the first time I mustered the courage to tell her about how I felt and...I was turned down. Though I vowed to stop my incessant dreams and pursuit, my own circumstances changed as I was offered a much better job here in Washington D.C. For this reason and a firm conviction that she was "worth it", I found myself lapsing against my self-promise and beginning to try to impress her. This culminated into the past weekend, when I felt we had renewed our rapport and that perhaps she realized I have much changed since our last interaction. So I gambled and asked her out. And...I failed. This time the effect was much worse, as she indicated that it was her and not me -- which meant there is absolutely nothing I could do. More heartbreakingly, she suggested that I try date other girls. I was appalled and depressed throughout yesterday; in hindsight this melancholy hit rock bottom sometime yesterday evening as I felt a combination of utter misery, hopelessness, and inadequacy. But after a feverish prayer and dialogue with a friend and my roommate, I began to slowly recover. (I suppose I recovered enough to be able to recount all of this).
I think it's safe to say that no one likes to have their plans foiled, because if you did, then that is borderline madness (!). We all aspire to hopes and dreams on everything from careers to relationships -- the pursuit of the so-called "perfect life". While this pursuit itself is a bliss --as it is a purely theoretical construct, for we humans are imperfect to begin with-- we must not abandon these aspirations. Sometimes inspiration is the greatest catalyst to change; other times, that catalyst arrives in the form of life experiences.

Having dealt with unrealized hopes/dreams myself (as recounted above), I empathize with anyone who also had these experiences. The reality is, unless one has been pampered from birth, we have all experienced disappointments in one form or another. There are different sorts of disappointments, of course -- which triggers different reactions from us. Whether it is from having a Starbucks barista messing up your special coffee order or being rejected by a significant other, it is debilitating when these occasions happen. Some respond with anger, others fall into a depression that may last for months or even years. Yet what we can take away from these disappointments is that they have strengthened our resolve and taught us valuable lessons about mistakes we might have made along the way. It can be hard at first, but we ought to remember disappointments for what they have taught us -- rather than delving into the "could have beens".

The above being said, I put together a brief list of take-aways from my own experiences in dealing with disappointments. These may not apply for everyone, but I do think they have universal applications:
  • Taking a risk and failing is infinitely better than avoiding the risk altogether. Deep down we are all afraid of taking risks ("risk-averse"): we play like to play it safe by maintaining a status quo rather than altering it, however ameliorating that change may be. But by not taking the risk, you create the much bigger inner monster called "Regret". Regret is like a seed that eventually grows into a tree within us. It may eventually dominate our thoughts and debilitates like nothing other. There's nothing quite like desiring to win but having the fear of losing crowding out the excitement of winning.
  • Seeking the help of others. Particularly in the U.S., we live in a culture that very much admires self-reliance and independence from influence of others. This is often a good thing, but can also be bad in instances where the help of another can exempt us from the growing pains of trying things on our own first. Ironically, most people jump at the opportunity of helping others yet refuse to ask for help in return. I think the main problem is pride. You have to be conscious of this when seeking exterior assistance. In my second example, the meeting with the dean transformed the way I looked at things.
  • Focus on learning from the failure/disappointment. This begins with refusing to scapegoat others and instead focus on your own shortcomings. What could you have done differently? If given a second chance, how would you change? The simple truth is, we learn so much more from our failures than our successes. In addition, failures toughens us mentally so we are better prepared for future encounters.
  • Fear is nothing but an artificial construct. Building off from a previous blog post about dealing with fears, in a very bizarre manner, we tend to feel very liberated when our fears are realized. Of course there are feelings of sadness and disappointment too, but we also sense freedom from our fears. This leads to the realization that fears had no influence on the outcome to begin with -- which we would do well to keep in mind.

Follow Up: Dow Jones Drops 513

When I last wrote about the precipitous drop of the U.S. stock market, it turned out to be the beginning (not the end) of some ridiculous movements. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 513 points on the day I wrote, which was followed by another drop the following day, then another, then a huge rebound, then another drop before finishing with a rebound. The net change from August 4th to today is actually very minor: less than 100 points. But as I noted before, the movements in-between offered a "golden opportunity".

The question on your mind is, what did I end up doing? For starters, I invested in most of the companies I had expressed interest in before: Pepco, Nokia, and Clearwire. I would have brought more of others, such as Ford and Morgan Stanley, but ran out of capital. My investment was pretty evenly split between the 3 companies I ended up buying stock in -- despite very different number of shares based on their share prices. Here is the breakdown:
  • 1215 shares of Clearwire @ $1.42-1.78-- I ended up buying more than anticipated because it kept falling. The buy-in was made in 3 different stages, coming to an average price of $1.73 per share.
  • 315 shares of Nokia @ $4.89 -- I brought less of Nokia than expected, due to the optimism on Clearwire and the realization that I wanted some stability in this capital influx. That so-called stability is in...
  • 200 shares of Pepco @ $17.64 -- I always wanted to own Pepco for their high-yet-constant dividends. When its price fell to below $18, I made a move to buy more than the originally-planned 150 shares.
As of today, I am up about 14% on this investment. It's nothing breathtaking but I'm happy with the results thus far. I have actually sold 200 shares of Nokia yesterday due to its price jump -- the goal is to buy back more eventually, when the price goes back down.

UPDATE 08-19-2011
Stock price of Clearwire jumped 30% this morning on rumors that Sprint is seeking to buy out the rest of investors (e.g. Comcast) in the company. Not sure why on earth Sprint would want to do that, but I'm happy at the news since it means the stock price has doubled since my purchase. This article also makes a compelling argument to buy even more in the company. I'm thinking about it. Nonetheless, I do not think Clearwire is something to be invested in the long-term of more than a year. The industry is simple changing too fast.

Xiaomi M1 Phone: a $310 "Superphone"?

Being back means that I will once again be providing some coverage of any exciting gadgetry or new technology announced. The latest is the so-called "Xiaomi M1" (translates to "smile" in Chinese) by a Chinese company of the same name. From all the information available, the company Xiaomi is a new Chinese start-up whose main goal is to profit from the ever-growing Chinese smartphone market. A combination of affordability and patriotism will surely score them points with at least the domestic population, if not across the seas too.

As reported by Engadget, the Xiami M1 is scheduled to be released in October 2011 but can be pre-ordered as recently as August 29th. It is an Android-running "superphone" that integrates Qualcomm new MSM8260 chipset that runs at 1.5 GHz, in addition to 1GB of RAM and a massive 4GB of ROM. Other features include a gigantic 1930mAh battery that promises at least 2 days worth of "real-life" usage, a 4-inch HD touchscreen, aGPS, Bluetooth, and a myriad of other sensors. What makes it very interesting --aside from the impressive specifications-- is its svelteness of mirroring the Apple iPhone 4's dimensions as well as weight. This seems to put it in the ballpark of the Samsung Galaxy S II too. Furthermore, the company announced that the superphone would ship with MIUI OS, which is a custom UI based on the Android 2.3 Gingerbread; owners of the device will even be able to flash whatever ROM their heart desires.

But by far the biggest draw for the Xiaomi M1 is its price: $310, or 1,999 renmenbi. While any other major handset manufacturer can probably build a phone with similar specifications, I highly doubt their price will be anywhere close to $310. You simply cannot buy an unlocked, dual-core superphone for that price. (For comparison purposes, the iPhone 4 retails starting at $649 unlocked or $199 subsidized from a carrier.) I am guessing that if this announced price holds, the Xiaomi M1 will make a killing against all its competitors -- possibly with the exception on the most fanatical of customers. It will create a market for itself.

While I personally will not be buying this phone (waiting to see what Nokia has in store), I can see the success of this phone radically altering the cell phone industry. It wouldn't be as revolutionary as what the iPhone has achieved, but will put heavy pressure for prices across the board to decrease. Customer loyalty holds little meaning when a similar alternative can be brought for 1/2 the price. In addition, I think this may mark a turning point for Chinese hardware manufacturers. Until now, manufacturers have been dominated by (outside of Apple), Taiwanese companies like HTC or Korean ones like LG and Samsung.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Music Liners -- "I Dreamed a Dream" by Glee Cast

Unless you are a connoisseur of Broadway shows, you probably never heard of the song "I Dreamed a Dream" until Susan Boyle's epic performance on Britain's Got Talent last year. This was precisely the case with me who, like many others, was mesmerized by Ms. Boyle's stunning rendition of the song originally from "Les Miserables". She ultimately did not win the competition, but brought attention to an awesome song.

To give some background, the Broadway show "Les Miserables" is based on a French novel of the same name by Victor Hugo. The story centered around the lives of ordinary Frenchmen living through the early 19th century France, from roughly 1815 to the beginning of the Paris Uprising of 1932. The ex-convict Jean Valijean is the protagonist who seeks redemption for his past deeds. In relation to the song, "I Dreamed a Dream" is sung by the poverty-stricken single mother Fantine about the hopelessness of her situation. She eventually dies and leaves her daughter at the mercy of a cruel couple.

"I Dreamed a Dream" is, as its title suggests, a song about the harsh realities of life. The theme of disappointment is revoked throughout, as the character of Fantine experiences the cruelty of abandonment, deceit, and being used by others. Overall, it is not an uplifting piece of music at all. But I appreciate the song for the counter balance it creates against the typical pop-ish and upbeat songs I listen to. Sometimes you realize that life is not all rosy as you had believed or imagined.

I like Glee's cover of the song, namely because it is sung from the perspective of one female to another. In the television show, the character played by (the talented) Leah Michelle performs it as a duet with her long-lost mother (played by Idina Menzel). Even though I was mesmerized by the rawness of Susan Boyle's performance, I liked this duet more for general listening purposes. The main thing is the word change in the line "And I still dream he would come to me..." to she.

To go through our standard practice of these posts, the lines from this song I really like are:
"Then I was young and unafraid, when dreams were made, used, and wasted."
"And still I dream she would come to me, that we would live the years together."
"But there are dreams that cannot be, and there storms we cannot weather."

All the above are pretty self-explanatory, since they capture the destruction of naive-ness and youthful optimism. When you are young or lack the experience, our notions of certain things can be the complete opposite of reality. You probably had dreams when you were younger about becoming an astronaut or something grand, right? But has that worked out? (If not, I sincerely hope you are content with the outcome.) Experience is a "no-frills" teacher who does not hesitate to subject us to pain if the need arises. What we also learn through the process is to be afraid at certain things, such as death of our loved ones.

Personally, I associate the song with Mandy and the realization that we may not be together as I had hoped and dreamed of. Until yesterday, I hardly ever given up the hope that she would respond positively to my advances and that we may become something. But the beach trip triggered a series of events that culminated in finding out that...I have no chance. So now, it truly is a dream that cannot be.

Back from Blogging Hiatus

Although I did not announce my absence from blogging, the important news is that now I am back. It's been a roller coaster of a week or so since I last blogged. The main explanation for my absence is that I went on vacation with some friends to Ocean City (MD) and, as much as I like blogging, it's a difficult endeavor when the sun is shinning and the beach is beckoning.

I will probably be elaborating on some of the following over the next few days but, to give a glimpse of the roller coaster ride I had been on, here are some key events that happened:
  • Ran someone over on my bike to work
  • Took and subsequently failed a waiver exam
  • Enjoyed the beach for the first time in 2 (?) years
  • Watched the sunrise twice
  • Was rejected again by Mandy
As you might surmise, the last bullet point was definitely the most pivotal one of the bunch. But all in all, it has been an adrenaline-filled week and a half. I am back and these "Chronicles" will continue.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Dow Jones Drops 513 = a Golden Opportunity

As a finance person, it was impossible to ignore the precipitous drop today of the U.S. stock market. The Dow Jones Industry Average (DJIA) dropped 513 points, ending the day at 11,384 (-4.3%). It is the worst single-day drop since 2008. The other stock indexes did not fare any better: the S&P 500 dropped 60 (or 4.8%) and the Nasdaq dropped 137 (or 5.1%). I am really glad I am not a trader on Wall Street, or involved in any facet of stock trading. Can't imagine the chaos on the trade floor.

But I like to believe I am a value investor. This means that amidst the black and gloom, I see a golden opportunity to invest in the market. As Warren Buffett so famously said, "You only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out." What he did not mention is that real profits can be made when swimming against this tide. Last time I made an investment into my stock portfolio was the summer of 2009. Earlier today I just wired a fresh investment into my brokerage account -- just looking for the transfer to be recognized now...hopefully by mid-day tomorrow. Sure I've been hit by today's negative stock movements, but do did everyone else.

So what companies am I eyeing? The usual culprits I mentioned in the last post apply. In particular, I have my sights on Nokia and Pepco Holdings. Yet I am not able to buy into all these companies, at least not without a massive influx of capital (which I neither have nor would want to throw down). Therefore I will be a bit choosy and select only a few:
  • Nokia (~500 shares) -- I am a fan of the company and believe in its comeback in the near future. There is no way the company's stock is worth only $5 per share. Considering its strong patent portfolio, market presence, and new partnership with Microsoft, its price ceiling should be at least double.
  • Clearwire (~1000 shares) -- I had not considered this company before but, after seeing its stock drop more than 25% today, I am going to take a gamble on it. Operating expenses may be up, but the company's technology still possesses tremendous potential for both wireless customers and land-based. The target price should be around $5 a share.
  • Pepco (~150 shares) -- Pepco remains a blue-chip company and therefore a prized asset if I can acquire for a discount. Its revenues are stable and pays a tidy dividend every quarter.
  • Morgan Stanley (~? shares) -- I used to own stock in Wells Fargo, but pulled out when its stock languished for about a year. Of all the major banks that remain, Morgan Stanley is not my first choice. That honor would go to JP Morgan or Goldman Sachs, but I cannot afford either of their stock. Morgan Stanley at $20 per share looks to be a reasonable consolation prize.
  • Increase my holdings in AMD and Ford -- I strongly believe that you can't hedge your bets too much when capital is lacking. There's a reason why I have holdings in both companies right now, and I believe in their future. Market studies just shown that AMD has increased its market share against Intel (albeit marginally) and I get excited every time I see a Ford TransitConnect on the road.
Back in 2009 when I entered the stock market, my portfolio went up 50% in the first year (thanks mainly to AIG and Ford) and doubled by the second year. Hoping I can replicate the same feat through all this drop.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

iPad Killer Alert: Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet

After lamenting last week about the unavailability of a solid alternative to the iPad (and even insinuating that I might even buy the iPad 3, whenever it comes out), I stumbled upon something that could be a "game changer". Yes, it is another Android tablet. But no, it's not like the other tablets released by the likes of Asus and Samsung.

The product I am referring to is a tablet made by Lenovo, now famous for its production of the ThinkPad products. The company is allegedly planning to release a ThinkPad-branded tablet on August 23rd. While the specs seem pretty standard (e.g. Tegra 2, 1GB ram, Android 3.1, dual cameras), there are a few things that make it truly stand out:
  • Vast array of ports -- one of the missing links of tablets is connectivity and Lenovo addresses the problem head on. This tablet will have a full-size USB port, a mini-USB port, SD card slot, and HDMI port.
  • Digitizer pen -- not only does the tablet have a built-in slot for the pen, but the pen allows a much wider array of uses for the tablet. The pen makes is perfect for students to take notes or for artists to draw on. Suddenly, it looks like I won't even have to buy notebooks for school anymore.
  • Price -- the retail price is rumored to be less than $500, perhaps at $479 for the 16GB version of this tablet. The base price does not include the digitizer pen, but it'd only be a $30 add-on.
  • Business usage -- tablets thus far have been mass-consumption devices. RIM took a step in the right direction with its PlayBook, but flopped on the hardware and software integration. Lenovo is primed to succeed in this area as they can leverage the security of its other ThinkPad products.
The more I read about this product, the more I like it. It's not exactly an "iPad-killer" but it holds tremendous potential. Given all the available information, I will make a premature prediction that this ThinkPad tablet will be the best Android tablet available. The only drawback I see is that age of the hardware, namely the Tegra 2 processor that will soon be replaced by the Tegra 3 ("Kal-El"). If Lenovo somehow sticks a Tegra 3 into this tablet, I will be placing a preorder at the earliest opportunity.

If you need any more convincing, check out the video below: