updated 11:30 am EDT, Thu September 1, 2011
Lenovo IdeaPad U300s gets US lanunch details
Lenovo contributed its own share to the just-expanding ultrabook category by formalizing the US launch of its new IdeaPad U notebooks. The 13-inch U300s is just 0.6 inches thick but uses a mix of its all-aluminum body and Intel's laminar jet cooling to give it a fast processor. It can still run a Core i7 processor and lets the keyboard and rear hinge serve as vents.
In keeping with the MacBook Air that inspired it, the U300s depends on a solid-state drive for storage and has an oversized trackpad. It finds room for both USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports and theoretically gets eight hours of battery life.
Regular-thickness alternatives will also be available. The similarly-screened U300 and the 14-inch U400 take advantage of the extra bulk to add an optical drive and use AMD Radeon HD 5470M video with a wider range of Core processors. They can still have the option of an SSD, but rotating hard drives are standard and scale up to 1TB.
Battery life goes down on these models, at six hours on the U300 and seven for the U400.
Making flash standard ups the minimum price on the U300s to $1,195. More conventional buyers can get the U300 for $799 and the U400 for slightly more at $849. All of them should be available to buy in the US in October.
Lenovo has repeatedly tried to challenge the MacBook Air and inadvertently began competition early with the ThinkPad X300 in February 2008, a month after Apple showed its own design. Most of these have been enterprise-focused ThinkPads that were increasingly priced above what Apple could manage. Intel's decision to enshrine the Air design philosophy in the ultrabook concept has given Lenovo an opportunity to bring the concept to a much more affordable level.