Lenovo looks to smooth out netbook line with IdeaPad update

Lenovo on Monday updated its IdeaPad S10 netbook, making it thinner and lighter, with a larger keyboard and touchpad in an attempt to make it easier to use.

The IdeaPad S10-2 netbook will also come with built-in 3G (third-generation) mobile broadband as an option, the company said.

The netbook's keyboard has been increased to nearly 90 percent the size of a standard laptop keyboard, which should give users the familiar feel of a fully functional laptop, Lenovo said. The netbook's weight, size and estimated battery life were not immediately available.

The S10-2 includes a 10.1-inch screen and will be available worldwide by the end of May starting at US$349. It will be powered by an Intel-based Atom N270 processor and will come with the Windows XP OS. It will support up to 1GB of RAM and up to 160GB of hard-drive storage. It will be available in designs of black, white, grey and pink. Integrated 3G will be offered in a few months, the company said.

The redesign is an attempt by Lenovo to iron out kinks in its netbook products as the category evolves. Netbooks are low-priced laptops designed for applications like Web surfing and basic word processing, but it have been criticized for limited hardware. An Apple official late last month trashed netbooks for having cramped keyboards and junky hardware.

Despite the obvious shortcomings of netbooks, low prices have fueled demand for them. IDC earlier this month said worldwide netbook shipments went up sevenfold to roughly 4.5 million during the first quarter of 2009 compared to the same quarter last year. It comprised approximately 8 percent of all PC shipments during the first quarter. Netbook shipments are expected to reach 22 million this year.

Lenovo was the fourth largest netbook vendor during the first quarter behind Acer, Asus and Hewlett-Packard, according to IDC.

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