Lenovo launches IdeaPad S12, the first Nvidia Ion-powered netbook

US$449 netbook targets TV, multimedia lovers

Targeting TV and movie lovers, Lenovo Group Ltd. today announced the first netbook that can be equipped with Nvidia Inc.'s Ion platform for high-definition video.

Due in June, the 3-pound IdeaPad S12 will be the second product from a major PC maker to come with Nvidia's Ion, which combines Intel's popular Atom N270 CPU with Nvidia's 9400M integrated graphics chip.

Acer Inc. has already released an Ion-powered mini-desktop PC, the AspireRevo nettop.

Microsoft Corp. has also given Ion its stamp of approval to run the upcoming Windows 7 operating system.

Nvidia has faced trouble gaining acceptance for Ion, due to Intel Corp.'s aggressive bundling of the Atom CPU with its own integrated graphics chips.

Indeed, IdeaPad S12 buyers who choose to swap out the customary Intel integrated graphics chip for Nvidia's more-powerful GPU will have to pay $50 extra on top of S12's US$449 base price, said Charles Farmer, market manager for Lenovo's consumer notebooks and desktops group.

However, it will allow owners of the S12 to watch TV shows or movies at 1080p high-definition on either the netbook's 12-inch screen (1280x800 resolution) or on an external TV via an HDMI-out port, he said.

The S12, which follows Lenovo's earlier S10 netbook and follow-up S10 with a higher-capacity battery, will also be the first netbook to sport a keyboard the same size as conventional, larger laptops.

The S12 will run Windows XP on a 160GB hard drive and willl come in two colors, black and white.

Farmer declined to confirm if the S12 will be offered with Windows 7 after the operating system's scheduled release this fall. He also declined to comment on whether Lenovo will add DVD drives to its S-line of netbooks.

Asus Inc. is releasing the 1004DN netbook with a DVD drive starting in the mid-$500 range.

Despite the S12's 12-inch screen, Farmer was hesitant to declare the supersizing of netbooks a definite trend.

The "sweet spot of the netbook category, where all of the competition is, is still at 10-inch screens," he said. "We'll see what happens in the future."

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Eric Lai

Computerworld
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