Just when we were ready to accept the stuttery nature of our Netbook HD video playback, along come Nvidia and Lenovo at long last to change our expectations. The IdeaPad S12, arriving in August, will be the first Netbook sporting discrete graphics from the Nvidia Ion processor. With power similar to the 9400M chipset already in Apple's 13-inch MacBooks, IonNetbooks promise full-HD video output and actual gaming performance--not that we'd want to try Crysis on it anytime soon. However, according to Nvidia, Spore, Call of Duty 4, Portal, and World of Warcraft will all be very playable indeed.
The price is right, too--$499 for the Ion-packing S12, with a 12.1-inch, 1,280x800 screen and Atom N270 processor. For 50 dollars less, an Ion-free S12 can also be yours (though we don't know why you'd possibly want that). The Ion claims a 10x performance boost on existing Netbook integrated graphics with "nearly identical" power consumption. HD H264, VC-1 and MPEG-2 "won't be a problem," say Nvidia. Do we dare believe?
Available in white or black, the 1.14-inch-thick, 3.7-pound S12 has a six-cell battery, 1 GB of DDR2 RAM, a 160 GB HDD, XP Home, a 1.3-megapixel Webcam (stop us if this sounds familiar), and 802.11 b/g wireless.
Other notables: an Express Card slot, 3 USB 2.0 ports, a multitouch trackpad, HDMI port with the Ion model, a full-size keyboard, and Lenovo's Quick Start, VeriFace, and OneKey Rescue System for making backups.
For the price and the size, is this an ideal gaming Netbook? Or is it, in fact, just a variation on 12-inch notebooks? We're not even sure it matters, because for the price, it sounds like an excellent proposition indeed.