Lenovo Makes Consumer PC Splash Ahead of CES

Lenovo plans to showcase its new IdeaPad laptops and IdeaCentre desktops at CES in Las Vegas. The company said the new systems will complement its existing ThinkPad and ThinkCentre business PC families, which span from home office to enterprise users.

"We're now bringing Lenovo's expertise in design and engineering to consumers with our Idea notebooks. We are confident we will grow our consumer business by blending innovative technologies like facial recognition with stylish designs to enhance the way people use technology in their personal lives," said Liu Jun, senior vice president and president of the consumer business group at Lenovo, Morrisville, N.C., in the statement.

Slide Show: See the new Lenovo Notebooks here

The new systems will be available in the United States and several other countries, including Australia, China, France, India, Russia and Singapore, among others, according to a Lenovo statement.

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The computers will be available through a variety of retailers including BestBuy.com, Micro Center, Newegg.com, Office Depot and Tiger Direct, Lenovo said.

One solution provider said that while he doesn't want to -- or plan to -- compete with retailers, Lenovo's push into the consumer space should help raise its profile and ultimately benefit the channel.

"If it helps them pick up market share, good for them. I don't like to have to compete with Best Buy -- in fact, I won't -- but it's a smart business decision for them," said Joe Vaught, founder and COO of PCPC Direct, a Houston-based Lenovo solution provider and member of the vendor's partner advisory council. "They won't put any dealers out of business with this."

Vaught pointed to IBM as a company that used its consumer strategy to help boost business sales. "Putting that IBM logo on everybody's desk helped sell servers. If Lenovo can get as many logos out there as possible, it will help ensure their success."

Lenovo bought IBM's personal PC business in 2005.

The new IdeaPad family includes features such as Multimedia Control Center software for playing movies, listening to music and viewing photos, Dolby Home Theater with surround sound and VeriFace Face Recognition to "make your face your password." The company disclosed details on three models, the IdeaPad Y510, Y710 and U110.

Designed as a versatile, all-in-one laptop, the new IdeaPad Y510 comes with a 15.4-inch widescreen display, Intel Core2Duo processors, integrated graphics, WLAN connectivity, five speakers with subwoofer, an integrated camera and a DVD-RW optical drives. Recommended pricing starts at $799.

For gamers, Lenovo's IdeaPad Y710 packs in a 17-inch widescreen display and halo lighting with a sleek blue metallic finish. Select models include two hot-swappable hard drives and Game Zone functionality, which adds enlarged directional buttons, four-user-customizable buttons and a secondary display showing system information such as CPU speed. It also adds a performance control switch with Turbo mode. It is built on Intel Core2Duo processors and includes ATI graphics, WLAN connectivity, five speakers with subwoofer and an optional Blu-ray DVD reader. Recommended pricing starts at $1,199.

Built to be light and portable, Lenovo's IdeaPad U110 weighs just 2.3 pounds and is 0.7 inches deep. It features an 11-inch widescreen display and a red aluminum alloy top cover. It adds extended battery life and optional solid state flash drives. Select configurations also include an "air-bag like" Active Protection System to protect the hard drive during a fall. It is scheduled for availability in April. Pricing was not disclosed.

Lenovo did not disclose details of its IdeaCentre desktop line.