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7/15/2008
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Lenovo Launches Centrino 2 Notebook Line

The sub-$900 notebooks offer small and midsize companies the latest mobile platform from Intel and built-in wireless connectivity to AT&T's 3G high-speed network.

Small and medium-sized businesses are a faster-growing segment of the business notebook market than enterprises. In 2009, the SMB segment is expected to account for 31% of the total notebook PC market worldwide, Lenovo said, quoting figures from IDC. In the United States, the number of notebooks sold to SMBs is expected to rise to 11.6 million units from 7.5 million last year.

SMBs, however, prefer sub-$1,000 notebooks, so Lenovo has kept the price of the new series down. The SL400 and SL500, which are available now, start at $799. The SL300, which is expected to ship Aug. 12, has a starting price of $899.

The other Centrino 2 business notebooks introduced by Lenovo Tuesday were the ThinkPad R400, R500, T400, T500, X200, and W500. The notebooks, which are set to ship in August, are available with solid-state drives, LED backlit displays, and GPS functionality. Prices range from under $1,000 to $1,999 for the W500.

The five consumer notebooks introduced two form factors to the IdeaPad brand, the 13-inch Y330 and U330, and the 14-inch Y430. The remaining Y530 and Y730 are 15.4 inches and 17.1 inches, respectively.

The notebooks, which are scheduled to ship in the fall, will be available in more choices of color, including Valencia orange, indigo blue, bold black, and crimson red. The machines include facial-recognition technology for logging on and optional Blu-ray DVD players on select models.

The systems include integrated cameras, built-in Wi-Fi support, and up to a 320-GB hard drive. The machines come preloaded with Windows Vista.

Pricing for the notebooks was not disclosed. However, Lenovo's consumer line in general is geared to the high end of the market, a segment where it would compete against Apple's MacBook.

"We're targeting customers who are very interested in highly engineered notebooks," Stephen DiFranco, VP and general manager of Lenovo's Consumer Group, told InformationWeek. "We're not interested in being another commodity brand in North America. Our line is not targeted at price."

Lenovo is a relative newcomer to the U.S. consumer market. In the first quarter of the year, it failed to crack the top five, according to Gartner. Dell was the largest computer maker in terms of shipments, followed in order by Hewlett-Packard, Acer, Apple, and Toshiba. Apple was the fastest growing of the top five vendors.

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