Lenovo brings Wii functionality to PCs

Lenovo's new all-in-one PC comes with a remote control that can be used as a motion-based gaming controller, like Nintendo Wii's Wii Remote.

Taking a page from Nintendo's Wii gaming console, Lenovo on Monday announced an all-in-one PC with a remote control that doubles as a motion-based gaming controller.

Like the iMac, the all-in-one IdeaCentre A600 combines a monitor and CPU in a thin system. It will be on display at the Consumer Electronics Show from January 8 to 11 in Las Vegas.

Its wireless remote control is similar to Nintendo Wii's Wii Remote, which allows users to interact with a video game by waving or pointing the game controller. Using motion-sensing technology, the Wii Remote becomes a racket when swinging during a tennis game, or a weapon when playing a fighting game.

Lenovo's gadget mimics the Wii's approach.

"We have an example of a bowling game [where] you can wave the remote and that actually controls your game," said Ninis Samuel, director of marketing strategy and programs.

The company is bundling some motion-based games with the PC to use with the remote-based gaming controller. Titles of the games weren't immediately available.

Lenovo is trying to capitalize on the trend of entertainment options merging into the PC. Few are able to play motion-based games, which could make this motion-based game controller a pioneer.

In addition to controlling TV functions and video recordings on the PC, the remote control can also be used as an air mouse that moves the mouse pointer when waved. It has some advantages over a conventional mouse -- it can function without being on a surface and be used at a distance -- when sitting on a couch, for example.

If the air mouse wasn't enough, the remote also works as a VOIP (voice over Internet protocol) handset. "If you have telephony software on your PC like Windows Live or Skype, you can use your remote to make those phone calls because it essentially can act as a phone," Samuel said.

The IdeaCentre A600 starts at a price of US$999. The desktop has a 21.5-inch screen that supports 1920 by 1280-pixel resolution for high-definition video playback. It runs on Intel Pentium Dual Core or Core 2 Duo mobile processors, supports up to 4GB of RAM and up to 1TB of storage. It includes Wi-Fi wireless networking and runs on the Windows Vista OS.

Options include the remote control, Blu-ray DVD player, a TV tuner and a Advanced Micro Devices' ATI graphics card. The desktop will be available worldwide by the beginning of March.

The desktop is part of a new portfolio of entertainment PCs that Lenovo plans to show at CES. The company is also rolling out a new laptop line, the IdeaPad Y series, which is targeted at mainstream users looking to create and view multimedia content. Lenovo has added features that can make watching movies an easier and enjoyable experience.

For example, the laptops have the "OneKey" feature, in which pressing one button "optimizes" the experience of watching movies by enhancing the sound and visuals, according to the company.

Another feature includes ambient light sensors that adjusts screen brightness based on the user's surroundings. "[It] uses a sensor on the actual lid of the laptop that senses whether or not you are in a darker or lighter room. Then it adjusts the brightness and the graphics to your environment," Samuel said. The feature is available only in the IdeaPad Y650 laptop, which has a 16-inch screen.

The IdeaPad Y series laptops come with screens ranging from 14 to 16 inches, run on Intel Core 2 Duo processors and include Windows Vista. The weight of the laptops ranges from 4.6 pounds (2.09 kilograms) to 6 pounds. The laptops will become available worldwide by the beginning of March, Lenovo said. Pricing was not immediately available.

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