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Lenovo Makes Consumer Push With 'Idea' Line

Lenovo, the Chinese PC vendor that purchased IBM's PC business in 2003, is making a big consumer push behind Windows 7 with six new PCs in its 'Idea' line of products. Idea is to consumer what Think – notably the ThinkPad – is to business products.

While the official launch of Windows 7 was last week, Lenovo decided to wait until after the initial flood of hardware releases in hopes its news would stand out. Today, Lenovo introduced three notebooks and three desktops in the Idea line, which follows new ThinkPads announced earlier this month.

"When we first launched the Idea business way back at CES in January 2008, many people asked me whether we were serious in entering the consumer market, and whether it would be difficult struggling against established competitors," Liu Jun, president of the Idea Product Group at Lenovo, said in a Webcast on Monday morning.

"The answer to this question then and now is yes. Yes, it has not been an easy journey, but at 18 months since launch, we are well on our way to success," he said.

The new line ranges from ultra-thin laptops to all-in-one desktops. Lenovo also announced tweaks to the existing Lenovo Ideapad U350 ultraportable and the S10-2 netbook. All of the new "Idea"-class products feature something called the "Lenovo Enhanced Experience," which the company said stems from a collaboration with Microsoft to improve Windows 7 performance on Lenovo hardware.

Jun said he expected Windows 7 to boost PC sales for two reasons: "One, everyone in this industry understands Windows 7 is an outstanding operating system. Customers have been waiting for this product for a long time. The second reason is for more than one year, Lenovo worked closely with Microsoft engineering to optimize Lenovo PCs for the Windows operating system."

Faster startup and shutdown

Lenovo says that its machines boot up to 33 percent faster and shut down up to 50 percent quicker than comparable systems due to the optimizations made with Microsoft.

The Idea line also has many features found on the Think line of business laptops, like one-button data backup and recovery, built-in antivirus scanning and system repair tools. Another optimization for Windows 7: the OneKey Rescue System 7.0 backs up data twice as fast as previous versions.

IdeaPad Y550P is the power user laptop, starting at $1,399. It has an Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) Core i7 processor, discrete nVidia GPU with 1GB of video RAM, a 15.6-inch widescreen display. On the lower end of the scale, the IdeaPad U550 has the same 15.6-inch wide screen monitor but a Core 2 Duo processor, lower-scale GPU as well as integrated graphics, so you can switch between performance and lower-power graphics. The price starts at $650.

The thinnest and cheapest of the bunch is the IdeaPad U150, starting at $585. It's just 0.5 inch thick and weighs only 2.9 pounds but backs in an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, an 11.6-inch display, and up to a 320GB hard drive or a 64GB solid-state drive.

All-in-one desktop

Lenovo is entering into the all-in-one desktop market with the IdeaCentre B500, a 23-inch high definition screen with a built-in Intel Core2 Quad processor, up to 8GB of DDR3 memory, 1TB of hard disk space, discrete graphics, the ooVoo video camera, a VoIP handset, air mouse and media remote. Pricing starts at $649.

Finally, there's the IdeaCentre K300 desktop PC for power users, starting at $499, with a quad-core processor, RAID hard drive support and a power control switch to adjust the level of power the system needs. The Lenovo H230 is a mid-range desktop, starting at $449.

All systems are available now.