Lenovo continues consumer push with new laptop

PC maker looks to new IdeaPad model to help it expand beyond business market

Continuing its dive into the consumer market, Lenovo Group Ltd. today unveiled another IdeaPad laptop.

A clear takeoff on its popular and well-branded ThinkPad series of notebooks, the IdeaPad U110 notebook PC is focused on the consumer, rather than the business user. Today's release expands Lenovo's IdeaPad family, which the company kicked off in January with the unveiling of the first laptop and desktop models in the new line.  

"Lenovo has very high-quality machines, and I think the time is right for them to try to break out of the corporate space," said Dan Olds, an analyst at the Gabriel Consulting Group Inc.  "There is a significant market for unique systems that do several things well, like work plus entertainment."

Unlike Lenovo's basic black ThinkPads, the IdeaPad U110 is touted as an entertainment-oriented and even fashion-oriented laptop. Being sold with either a black or red cover, the new laptop has a textured metal finish, a frameless screen and weighs in at only 2.3 pounds.

The computer also has VeriFace Face Recognition, which is designed to allow users to log in quickly and without using passwords. The new IdeaPad also uses Dolby Home Theater and MultiMedia Control Center, while running a 120GB hard drive and up to 3GB of memory. The laptop runs Microsoft Windows Vista. "They're taking a shot at reaching a new kind of hybrid customer," said Olds. "For example, college students, who grew up with a laptop, use it for everything from school work, or a summer job, to iTunes to watching movies and surfing the Web. They are, in a lot of ways, power users -- big multitaskers who want battery power and full features. Another type of hybrid user is the business person for whom the dividing line between work and home has disappeared. They'll use the same laptop for serious work and serious entertainment. These folks will demand a high-quality system and have the money to buy whatever they want."

Olds also said Lenovo is making a smart move by coming out with a laptop that has some style.

"It's hard to differentiate your product when you're making laptops. They all use the same processors, have the same operating system," he added. "You can add some style to the mix, but the systems have to be high quality to begin with in order for this to be successful, which is why Sony does pretty well in this area and why Lenovo has a good shot."

The IdeaPad U110 has a starting price of $1,899.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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