Lenovo's ultra small PC with its Linux OS
Lenovo's ultra small PC with its Linux OS
[Click to enlarge image]

Lenovo Group Ltd of China revealed an ultra small prototype PC, which weighs only 300g, at the 2008 International CES. The PC employed "Menlow," a new platform that Intel Corp is planning to launch in 2008.

Lenovo will release the PC in China in mid 2008. Pricing will be Rmb4,999 (about ¥15 per Rmb1) including tax, Lenovo said. The company said it plans to expand the market for this PC to other countries excluding Japan in 2009.

The PC uses Linux as its OS. It targets startup time of 20 seconds, said Lenovo. Easy menu icons by purpose, such as "Internet," "Entertainment" and "Home," are displayed on the startup screen.

"We insisted on easy Internet access, considering the ultra compact PC as nothing but an Internet terminal," explained Gao Zheng, Product Planning Management Mgr, Consumer Notebook BU, Lenovo.

One of similar ultra small PCs is the Windows-based ultra-mobile PC (UMPC). However, Zheng said, "Ours is not a UMPC."

Asked what the differences are compared with UMPCs, he said, "Many UMPCs are designed for use on laps or desks and, therefore, are not easy to operate actually holding them in one hand."

He continued, "In addition, Widows takes a long time to start. It was our intention to make a handset that allows easy Internet access anywhere and also fits in a pocket."

Why has Lenovo chosen to enter the market for ultra small PCs, in which it has historically failed again and again? It is partly because the Internet has penetrated worldwide, with consumers poised to accept mobile Internet as an access form.

In addition, as in Japan, mobile phones are on the verge of evolution to an Internet terminal. For PC manufacturers, the mobile phone market, which sells more than 1 billion units a year worldwide, is an irresistible attraction.

"Many people are already making Internet access from mobile phones in Japan," Zheng said. "Japan is, however, unusual from a global perspective. The primary purpose of a mobile phone is making voice calls, even in the US. Accordingly, in markets excluding Japan, such terminals optimized for Internet access have greater market opportunities."

Major specifications of Lenovo's prototype PC are as follows. It is equipped with 45nm process "Silverthorne (development code name)" microprocessor, a 4- or 8-Gbyte SSD and a 4.8-inch 800 x 480 resolution LCD display. A wireless LAN, Bluetooth and EDGE or TDS-CDMA are supported. Continuous operation of the embedded secondary battery extends to 4 hours when browsing Websites, Lenovo said.

2008 International CES Special Site