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Lenovo may undercut Apple with $800 ultrabook, X1 Hybrid

updated 12:55 pm EST, Sun November 13, 2011

Lenovo roadmap tips low-cost ThinkPad and new X1

Lenovo may be one of the first Windows PC builders to significantly undercut the current MacBook Air in price. An escaped roadmap (PDF) has a 14-inch "mainstream" ThinkPad ultrabook arriving in May or June. At a price closer to $800, it would be significantly less expensive than the current model.

A 13-inch "premium" model, meant as a sequel to the ThinkPad X1, would also arrive around the same time. Both would use Intel's upcoming Ivy Bridge processor architecture and its matching platform, Chief River.

An interim update coming sooner is the ThinkPad X1 Hybrid, the roadmap gave out. The 13-inch ultraportable should dual-boot both Windows and a customized version of Android with the same front end as the IdeaPad K1 but also an advantage in battery life. Similar to the largely discarded Linux boots of before, the leaner mobile OS should both start up faster and double battery life to 10 hours for those who only need basics like the web, music, and e-mail.

The X1 Hybrid would ship later this month. Although no price is available, it's unlikely to drop below $1,199.

Lenovo's schedule points to the company swinging more of its lineup towards ultrabooks beyond just the current X1 and the IdeaPad U300s and trying to create a more substantial price difference. At present, its ultrabooks are roughly on a price parity with Apple's 13-inch system and are more expensive than other Windows alternatives, which dip to $899 for the Acer Aspire S3 and ASUS Zenbook UX21. Unlike in traditional notebooks, where Lenovo and others are free to use cheaper materials and slower processors, the ultrabook space defined by the MacBook Air requires that they use more advanced materials like aluminum and similar low-voltage but high-performance chips.

ThinkPad X1 Hybrid

by MacNN Staff



  1. slapppy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Its the only way

    The only to compete against Apple is to sell your POS at a LOSS. Subsidize with with more POS or sell one POS at a loss and give another or two POS for Free. Then cross your fingers that the user will think its good enough and buy some extra POS from their POS and upgrade to another POS when the contract runs out. Which usually doesn't happen, because by then the user is ready to jump off a cliff using their POS.

  1. Bobfozz

    Joined: Dec 1969


    They still THINK

    it's the hardware don't they? Yes, Apple's hardware is great, but it's the OS stupid.

  1. iphonerulez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    What makes undercutting

    Apple's price even more stupid, is that with Apple's economies of scale, Apple could easily sell their products for less and still come out ahead but don't need to because consumers are willing to pay for the rest of Apple's package. Higher quality products with great customer support. Plus, you can only get OSX on an Apple product so there's nowhere else to go. Rivals cutting prices on their products only hurts them in the end because they'd have to sell far more products to make up the profits Apple will be getting. A company with $82 billion dollars in cash has so many short-term and long-term options it honestly just puts so much pressure on competitors. Apple is a well-oiled, lean machine from top to bottom. The Apple retail store ecosystem is a killer against rivals. Unfortunately, the first thing Wall Street is going to say is that Apple will lose notebook market share because they're charging too much for a product that's similar to the Windows ultrabook and consumers will go for the cheaper product. Wall Street always says that because that's their mentality even if it's not a winning strategy.

  1. aduffbrew

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Undercutting has never been a problem for PC. If they manage to make it look and work great, well, that's a different story. I greatly admire Apple and thoroughly enjoy their products. But if Microsoft taught us anything, it's that innovation dies when there is no true competition. For Apple's sake, I hope someone manages to pull off a truly stunning "ultrabook." Even then, we just don't see the same level of integration of software services from Redmond so by "stunning," I mean breath taking, jaw dropping revolutionary in order to compensate.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. canonsucks

    Joined: Dec 1969


    You Mac Lemmings Bought Right Into the Headline

    Who said it was a MacBook Air killer? Not Lenovo. Think Again.

    Some hack working for MacNN wrote this inflammatory headline and got all you Mac lemmings riled up, didn't he? He got you three mouth breathers hook, line and sinker.


  1. lockhartt

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I think it's wildly optimistic... think that anyone can get an ultrabook down to $800 or below right now. With hard drive prices about to go through the roof, and high-density, small LCD panels in high demand, I don't see it happening. And even if they did accomplish it, the dual-boot concept is not really going to appeal to much of anyone... most will just stay in Windows 7 and have devastatingly short battery life. Not to mention, it's hard to look at the X1 and not think what a crime it is to try to put 2011 technology inside a an exterior design from 1995... it just kills all the s*** of the ultrabook concept :/

  1. qazwart

    Joined: Dec 1969


    We'll See

    The Acer offering Ultrabook is also $800, but most reviews have clearly stated that the MacBook Air is worth the extra money. Acer, in order to save money, had to use a plastic body, and a dual SSD/platter drive system. The OS is on the SSD, so it can boot in two seconds, but the programs and files are on the old physical drive which eats battery life and slows down the response. We'll see what the Lenovos look like when they actually hit the market.

  1. davesmall

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Ford Granada

    Years ago Ford introduced an, ahem, Mercedes Benz killer named the Ford Granada. It was shaped like a Mercedes. It looked a little like a Mercedes, I made the mistake of buying one for my wife.

    Lesson learned. There is no substitute for the real thing. Cheap is cheap (and not just the price).

    A cheap imitation MacBook Air running Windoze is also going to be a very poor imitation.

  1. Paul Huang

    Joined: Dec 1969


    The Granada never looked like a M-B

    For decades, the German division has produced fine cars while the US division has produced mostly lackluster junk. Finally, the German-designed Ford are available here now. GM is rebadging the German Opel as Saturn and now Chevrolet.

    They might as well buy the Macs, put in Windows, and tape over the Apple with their own logo. It might save more trouble that way.

  1. SockRolid

    Joined: Dec 1969


    MacBook Air also runs Windows

    That's the real killer, isn't it? For now, anyway, you can run either OS X or Windows on any Mac. Status seekers can go either way. So why not get the real deal? Just get the MacBook Air.

    I say "for now" because it's inevitable that Apple will migrate at least some of its laptops to a custom ARM-based design. Absolutely guaranteed. It would give them a further cost advantage since they wouldn't be forced to pay boutique prices for Intel processors.

    "Won't run Windows," you say? Well Steve Ballmer disagrees. He thinks Windows 8 should run on ARM chips instead of Intel chips. Playing right into Apple's hands.

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