Lenovo unveils hardware duo -- desktop and netbook

Netbook aimed at education market, while desktop focuses on manageability

Lenovo Group Ltd. yesterday hit two different markets with dueling announcements.

The PC maker Tuesday announced a new ThinkCentre desktop with added remote manageability, as well as a low-cost netbook for the education market. The desktop is expected to start shipping in December and the netbook is slated to hit toward the end of November. The company yesterday also unveiled the ThinkServer line of servers.

"Lenovo is trying to hold on to that business market," said Jim McGregor, an analyst at In-Stat. "With the desktops, they're going toward a manageability platform for business. It can be upgraded remotely; they can be monitored remotely. IT can even recognize hard drive problems or a virus attack before the user does."

The new ThinkCentre desktop -- the M58/M58p -- uses Power Manager, which is designed to lower energy costs by enabling system administrators to remotely monitor and adjust the amount of electricity used by the PCs. For example, Lenovo noted that the PCs can be programmed to shut down evenings or weekends.

The ThinkCentre M58/M58p also supports Hardware Password Manager, which enables administrators to remotely check on various system passwords and deal with issues that arise with them.

Lenovo is also following the recent trend of PC makers churning out mini-laptops with the unveiling of its IdeaPad S10e netbook. The company noted that the ultraportable is designed for students in K-12, as well as those in college. Weighing in at less than 3 pounds, the netbook runs Microsoft Windows XP Home or SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop from Novell.

"I think it's good for any company to get into the mobile area," said McGregor. "The market is moving faster than anyone predicted. … And, yes, I think it's important for them to get into [netbooks]. Everyone is targeting Internet accessibility."

Netbooks are relatively inexpensive, small form-factor notebooks designed for basic applications, such as Web surfing, e-mailing and music downloads. They're designed to use less power than traditional laptops and aren't robust enough for serious power users or gamers.

On Tuesday, Dell Inc. also unveiled a new netbook -- the Inspiron Mini 12. And Acer, which is considered to be out front in the netbook market, came out with the Aspire One mini-laptop in June.

Earlier this month, Gartner Inc. reported that mini-laptops have been keeping the PC market from sinking badly in the tough economy. A strong push from a new slew of mini-notebooks is bolstering what otherwise would be a soft PC market.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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