Despite some recent strides to engage the channel, Lenovo is still receiving mixed reviews from VARs as the PC vendor prepares to battle titans Dell and Hewlett-Packard.

The Raleigh, N.C.- based company has earned some points with the channel, especially on price, but many resellers remain troubled by the vendors lack of name recognition among end-users, especially in the Small and Medium Business, where it had hoped its low-cost 3000 series would play well against Dell and HP.

Most believe it will take some time for Lenovo to establish itself as a world-class solution within the channel and separate itself from IBM. Still, several VARs said the wanted to company to keep the IBM name since it still resonates with SMB and enterprises customers.

“You still get a sense that they are stumbling through the woods,” Brain G. Deeley, the manger of Graymar Business Solutions in Timonium, Md., told Channel Insider.

Click here to read more about Lenovo’s channel strategy.

“Now and again, we can see a patch of daylight and then they bump into a tree or they take two steps back,” Deeley said. “They keep wanting to separate from IBM, but there is strength in the Think Pad brand and they should still embrace that. That brand help build up IBM and it will help Lenovo build up, too.”

Those branding issues have hurt the company. One Gartner analysts said that the lack of name recognition, coupled with some of its problems in engaging the channel, have slowed its sales in North America.

In an e-mail response, Steve Mungall, Lenovo’s vice president of Channels and Transaction Sales Strategy said only that the vendor is listening to partner concerns and feedback.

Click here to read more about Gartner’s view about Lenovo and its channel strategy.

Some VARs would like to see Lenovo expand its own product line. For example, Deeley would like Lenovo to offer a server solution, like IBM’s server line, to go along with its 3000 series.

Several VARs said that they understood that the company still was sorting through some management problems that were left over from the IBM purchase. These resellers hoped that Lenovo would begin to sort out those concerns soon.

Still progress is noted.

Dan Schwab, vice president of marketing for D&H, which distributes Lenovo products, said that the company has made strides by aggressively pricing its own brand of computers.

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The desktop in the 3000 line starts at $349 and the notebook is priced at $599.

With those prices, Schwab suspects that Lenovo can offer VARs an affordable solution for their more cash-conscious SMB clients.

“I think Lenovo has gained a lot of traction,” Schwab said.

John Gombocs, the president and CEO of Digital Security Group of Martinsburg, W.Va., said he was impressed enough with a recent pitch from Lenovo that he decided to test out the 3000 series notebooks.

“They were very conscientious about it and they explained it in a logical manor,” Gombocs, who mainly sells security solutions to law enforcement, said about Lenovo’s efforts to establish its brand within the channel.

“They really explained who they are now and why they are different as opposed to what they were before, when all the problems were occurring,” Gombocs said.