Lenovo on Monday introduced a low-cost mini-notebook, becoming the latest big vendor to enter the market for so-called "netbooks."
The IdeaPad S10 has a 10-inch screen and a keyboard that's 85% the size of a full keyboard. It is powered by Intel's recently released Atom processor for mobile Internet devices.
Netbooks are typically 10 inches wide or less and aimed at people looking for a lightweight second computer that they can take on the road to access e-mail and the Web. The computers, which cost less than $500, are also targeted at parents with school-age children.
The S10 has an LED backlit display, which consumes less battery power than a more common LCD screen, Lenovo said. The computer is about an inch thick, weighs a little more than two pounds, and ships with Windows XP. The S10 also has built-in Wi-Fi support, and two USB ports for connecting to other devices and transferring photos, music, and video.
Lenovo is offering two configurations. The base model comes with 512 MB of memory and an 80 GB hard drive. The second has 1 GB of memory and a 160 GB hard drive. Pricing starts at $399.
In entering the netbook market, Lenovo goes up against Hewlett-Packard, Asus, Micro-Star International Computer, and Acer. Dell has yet to introduce a netbook, but one is expected soon.
The most compelling reason to own a small notebook is to avoid carrying around a heavier and bulkier regular laptop. The low-cost notebooks offer a true Web browsing experience, which sets them apart from smartphones and other handheld devices.
Netbooks are not expected to attract the majority of consumers, according to IDC. Most will opt to pay a bit more for a full-size notebook that will become their only portable.
Worldwide shipments of netbooks will grow from less than 500,000 units last year to more than 9 million in 2012, IDC predicts. As a percentage of the total consumer PC market, the devices will remain under 5% through the forecast period.
Intel's Atom, introduced in March, is a low-power processor built specifically for the increasing number of mobile Internet devices, or MIDs. The chip is available in models ranging from sub-watt to 2.5 watts and can scale to speeds up to 1.8 GHz.