Lenovo will offer a competitor to the MSI Wind and ASUS Eee PC in October

Looking to get in on the hot low-price notebook market, Lenovo is launching its own bargain laptop offering to compete with small notebooks, such as the MSI Wind and Eee PC.  The new laptop, the IdeaPad S10, will ship in October in time for the Christmas season.  It will retail starting at $399.

The new notebook features a small footprint with a 10.2 inch LCD screen.  The dimensions of the notebooks are 9.8 x 7.2 inches. Weight is 2.4 pounds with the lightest configuration.  The notebook is also "super-slim", according to Lenovo, measuring in at approximately 1 inch thin.  The device features a slightly-shrunk keyboard which is 85 percent of the size of a standard full-function PC keyboard. 

As far as looks, the IdeaPad looks rather slick with a variety of finishes.  It can be ordered in "classic white", "bold black", or glossy "ruby red".  The white models will have a grayed base.

A couple steps are taken with the design to insure long battery life, a big concern for ultra-portables.  First, it uses LEDs to backlight the LCD more effectively than traditional designs.  Secondly, it uses Intel's popular Atom processor, in particular the 1.6 GHz N270 with a 945 GSE express chipset.

As the laptop is designed to be used primarily as an internet/word processing machine, connectivity is another major focus.  Lenovo added WiFi (b/g), Bluetooth, Ethernet, and an Express Card slot, in order to allow users to get broadband by a variety of methods.  The device will also feature 2 USB ports, a 4-in-1 multi-card reader, and a built-in web camera for video messaging.  Graphics will be provided by an Intel Integrated Graphics GMA 950 chip.

The notebook will be sold in two different configurations.  The first has 512 MB of memory and an 80 GB hard drive.  The second, which likely be priced somewhat higher, ups the memory to 1 GB and features a 160 GB hard drive.  No solid state drive options have been announced yet.  Both configurations come with Windows XP preinstalled, courtesy of Microsoft's stay of retirement on XP for ultra-portables.

The notebooks will be available through a number of major retailers, through Lenovo's partners and direct through Lenovo's website.  

Liu Jun, senior vice president, Consumer Business Group, Lenovo states, "IdeaPad netbooks are the latest in a string of recently announced Lenovo products, designed specifically for consumers worldwide and developed through our heritage of technological innovation and exceptional engineering. As rapidly as the technology changes, today’s consumers are looking for mobile products that feature the best of basic computing functions in an extremely compact and affordable form, and Lenovo designed the IdeaPad netbooks for that purpose."

Lenovo also hinted that some countries will have 9 inch screen smaller version available and that Linux preinstalls would also be available in some countries.  It is unclear whether the U.S. will get any of these options.

One key factor in the notebook's success or failure will be the battery life.  Initial metrics place the life at around 3 hours with 3-cell battery, and up to 6 hours with 6-cell battery, but final measurements remain.

Lenovo's computer lineup, for those unfamiliar, is actual derivative of IBM's former offerings.  The Chinese company purchased IBM Personal Computing Division from IBM and rebranded it to launch its computing efforts, back in 2005.

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