Lenovo takes second stab at consumer market

Its new IdeaPad laptop is as nearly as skinny as Apple's MacBooks

Lenovo on Monday unveiled its 2009 lineup of consumer desktop and laptop PCs, led by a new IdeaPad notebook that is as nearly as skinny as Apple's latest offerings.

The IdeaPad Y650, which sports a 16-in. widescreen display, measures just one inch thick -- a hair more than the unibody aluminum MacBook and MacBook Pros introduced in October by Apple. Those laptops measure 0.95 inches thick.

The 5.6-lb. Y650 uses carbon fiber for strength. It starts at US$1,199 and comes with a 16:9-format glossy LCD display, JBL speakers and a two-finger multitouch trackpad.

Lenovo's other new Y series of notebooks -- the Y450 and the Y550 -- also include 16:9 glossy displays and multitouch trackpads, according to Ninis Samuel, global director of consumer marketing strategy and programs at Lenovo. Samuel spoke at a news conference held before CES.

Lenovo also introduced a new all-in-one desktop, the A600. It features a frameless 21.5-in. 1,920-by-1,080 pixel, hi-def resolution LCD screen that is just over an inch thick, too. "We're going to show at CES that we have some extremely attractive designs that people will be proud to be associated with," said Craig Merrigan, vice president for global consumer marketing.

Well known for its 16-year-old line of ThinkPad business laptops, Lenovo at CES last year released its first batch of consumer PCs outside of its home market of China.

Its IdeaPad Y series of mainstream consumer laptops was followed by a fashion-conscious ultraportable, the U110, last year, and a low-cost S10 netbook mid last year.

Lenovo's efforts to cross over from the business to the consumer realm haven't borne fruit yet. Its share of the global PC market in the third quarter of 2008 was 7.4 percent, down from 8 percent in the prior year, according to IDC.

Lenovo's shipments grew at half the year-over-year rate of the market as a whole, as the company "struggled to gain traction as small business spending slowed," according to IDC. Lenovo ranked fourth worldwide, behind Hewlett-Packard, Dell and a surging Acer.

To support its new offerings, Lenovo plans an extensive promotion tied with the upcoming Star Trek movie, said Merrigan.

The A600 starts at $999 and will be available in April. It competes with HP's line of TouchSmart IQ all-in-one multimedia desktops, though it lacks the HP machine's touch-screen capabilities.

Besides Intel Core 2 Duo processors and ATI Radeon graphics card technology, the A600 comes with home theater features such as a built-in subwoofer, digital TV tuner and options such as a Blu-ray Disc player or the Windows Vista Media Center edition.

The Y550, with 15.6-in. screen, and the Y450, with 14-in. display, will start at US$829. All three laptops will be available in March and come with a black hexagonal print on the lid and a copper trim. They will be slightly thicker than the Y650.

Lenovo is building in some social networking and security software to its S10 netbook, but otherwise leaving it unchanged, said Samuel.

While Lenovo is striving for thin with its consumer PCs, it's bulking up its corporate products. Its latest ThinkPad, the W700ds, weighs 11 pounds and comes with two LCD screens.

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Eric Lai

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