Lenovo IdeaPad S12 first to implement ION on mobile platform

Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

Another step forward

Today is going to be an exciting day for NVIDIA and its team of ION product managers.  After the first retail system to use the chipset was unveiled last month as the Acer Aspire Revo nettop, it was followed by the first consumer ION platform motherboard from Zotac and today's product announcement is the first one that could be a truly revolutionary step for NVIDIA.  The Lenovo IdeaPad S12 will likely be an extremely popular choice of small notebook with a mix of size, speed and price.

The IdeaPad S12 will feature an Intel Atom N270 single-core processor running at 1.6 GHz and the NVIDIA ION chipset with a much higher performing graphics core than the Intel 945G chipset that other notebooks use.  Neither NVIDIA nor Lenovo is calling this computer a "netbook" though - and with a 12-inch screen it would be hard to classify it as one (especially with the recent news out of Microsoft for Windows 7 Starter Edition).  The keyboard on the S12 is full-size so users that were complaining about the typically shortened width of netbook keyboards will be glad to see that change made.

Update: Apparently in some documentation Lenovo is in fact calling the S12 a netbook.  Regardless, I think the term is over used and not warranted in this case.

Lenovo used NVIDIA ION’s revolutionary design to create a thin, lightweight, low-power laptop with a 12-inch screen and improved application compatibility. The Lenovo IdeaPad S12 has the graphics horsepower to support high definition media and many PC games which will not run on most low-cost small PCs. NVIDIA ION enables these capabilities with the industry’s best graphics performance for low-power CPUs.

With the integration of the ION chipset, the Lenovo IdeaPad S12 now gets a significant boost in gaming performance as well as H.264 decode acceleration (and Blu-ray support), transcode acceleration (with CUDA-based applications) and more.  Just as importantly, both NVIDIA and Lenovo claim this is done without a change in power consumption or battery life.  

The Lenovo S12 won't be available until later in the summer, sometime in the July or August time frame most likely, with a price tag under $600.  That definitely puts the S12 in a great spot in terms of price and performance but I am bit worried about the length of time between this product announcement and actual product availability.  We have already seen the netbook market beginning to compress slightly, and even though this unit wouldn't fit our technical definition of a netbook, its close enough that NVIDIA and Lenovo should be wary of missing the wave completely. 

Either way, the team at Lenovo seems to be excited about the S12 as well:

“NVIDIA ION is one of the latest technologies available for the PC industry for small, low cost laptop PCs, and we’re excited to be among the first to use it,” said Stephen DiFranco, vice president and general manager of consumer and commercial channels, Americas Group, Lenovo. “With its 12-inch display, full-size keyboard and rich multimedia options powered by ION, the IdeaPad S12 balances an improved computing experience along with the size and affordability many consumers are looking for today.”

The S12 will be offered in both black and white with a bit of added texture to the back cover.  More images below!

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