It's the time of year when PC makers start announcing their new lineups for the summer and fall. One thing is very clear: Lenovo is stepping up its game.
The Chinese PC maker that has enjoyed much success from the iconic ThinkPad business notebook has faltered when it has come to consumer PCs in the U.S. But the new Netbook, notebooks, and all-in-one desktop that the company plans to announce Tuesday show it has had a reality check on pricing and the kind of features consumers are looking for.
Probably the product most indicative of Lenovo's shifted approach to consumer computing is a 13-inch notebook called the IdeaPad U350. As is the trend with notebooks now, it measures just an inch thick, weighs 3.5 pounds, and sports an attractive metallic finish. But the inside is more interesting: The U350 will come loaded with an Intel CULV (consumer ultra-low voltage) chip.
The CULV is Intel's newest chip, a low-voltage dual core chip for mobile PCs. It promises better battery life (the U350 says it will get four hours). But Lenovo is one of the first to use it. So far the only other company to announce using it is Acer, in its TimeLine notebook series.
And while getting one of these out ahead of Hewlett-Packard or Dell is aggressive, so is the price: the U350 starts at $649. For a full-featured notebook PC, that's a huge departure for Lenovo, noted Bob O'Donnell, PC analyst at IDC.
"$649 is good. Acer is at $599 (with its 13-inch TimeLine notebook), but Lenovo is in the ballpark and that is critical for them," he said.
While Lenovo certainly knows how to make a thin and light notebook--see the ThinkPad--it hasn't quite translated its expertise to pricing of consumer-oriented notebooks. But now Lenovo is clearly getting real: Without stating it directly, Lenovo has basically said that the U350 is going to take the place place of the IdeaPad U110 in terms of its importance to Lenovo's overall lineup.… Read more