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Lenovo launches first Ion netbook

Lenovo launches first Ion netbook

The Lenovo S12 is the first Ion-based netbook to hit the market - but is likely to come at a significant cost premium.

Anyone sick of the poor graphics performance on netbooks – and with high hopes for Nvidia's Ion platform – would do well to take note of Lenovo's latest offering.

Official announced yesterday, the IdeaPad S12 is the first commercially available netbook to feature Nvidia's nifty Ion platform – and finally bring decent graphics performance to the diminutive little devices.

Capable of decoding 1080p via hardware acceleration and with full 3D capabilities – raising the possibility of semi-serious gaming on a netbook for the first time – the Ion platform combines Intel's staple Atom processor with a GeForce 9400M core with full support for DirectX, OpenGL, and CUDA-based applications.

A decent graphics platform requires a decent screen, and while the IdeaPad S12 has a larger-than-average 12” display it is somewhat let down by the 1,280 x 800 resolution. Although the resolution is higher than most, it's a halfway house – slightly higher than 720p, not fully capable of 1080p. Thankfully, Lenovo is also set to offer a HDMI output as an option on the S12, giving the Ion platform a decent resolution screen to do its tricks on.

Slimmer than average at under an inch thick, the S12 makes use of the additional diagonal size forced upon it by the larger than average screen to fit a decent-sized keyboard into the case. Storage is via a 250GB or 320GB mechanical SATA hard drive, and all models feature 1GB of RAM with Bluetooth, 802.11 WiFi, and an integral webcam as standard.

If you're eager to get your hands on some Ion goodness, you'll have a bit of a wait: while the US will be getting a base-specification model by the end of June for just shy of $450 (£280) this will not feature Nvidia's Ion, instead opting for the more traditional Intel GMA graphics chipset. Ion-enabled units will be coming later this year – at an as-yet unannounced price premium.

Do you think that Nvidia's Ion platform is the way forward for netbooks, or has the company completely missed the point of netbooks by concentrating on gaming and HD playback performance? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

9 Comments

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perplekks45 26th May 2009, 12:33 Quote
Netbooks with 12"? I thought it was all about the ultimate portable machine <=10"?

Anyways, I'll wait for a serious review of anything based on Ion. While promising a lot I'm not sure if it's worth the premium for me as I will NEVER use a netbook for gaming. In my eyes, and feel free to call me old-fashioned, desktop PCs are still the way to go for gaming.
Saivert 26th May 2009, 12:40 Quote
"netbook" means just as much as what you put in it. they will milk this new buzzword just as any other.
But MIcrosoft seems to have finally nailed the definiton with the new hardware limits the impose on Windows 7 Starter Edition. No more than single core processor, not more than 1.6Ghz and 10.1 inch is the max.
perplekks45 26th May 2009, 12:48 Quote
How good Ion doesn't aim for that market, eh? They just miss these specs by almost 100%. :D
Tejstar 26th May 2009, 13:23 Quote
rembo666 26th May 2009, 18:29 Quote
It's a pity that Microsoft got in bed with Intel on the netbook definition. I would love to get a netbook, but 1024x600 (or whatever it is for 10 inch screens) resolution is not enough. I need at least 800 vertical lines to be able to effectively do my work. If the 12in netbook market survives the screwing by MS and Intel, I'm definitely getting one ( once Win7 comes out).
Skiddywinks 26th May 2009, 20:10 Quote
If I buy a netbook at all, it is likely to be an Ion based one. Will be following this closely.
david fretwell 26th May 2009, 20:55 Quote
Not that bothered about Ion in a netbook, the screens are to small for you to appreciate 1080/720p but in a mini atx motherboard it will make a killer HTPC
pendragon 26th May 2009, 23:15 Quote
this isn't a netbook .. but it does look like quite a nice sub notebook :) .. I'm all for the Ion platform
Jipa 27th May 2009, 06:22 Quote
I spy with my eye, something that is made of fingerprintplastic. Sigh, not you too, Lenovo!

Manufacturers: DO NOT USE THE ****ING TRENDY SHINY PLASTIC ON YOUR PORTABLE DEVICES, IT WILL LOOK LIKE **** AS SOON AS THE GADGET IS USED. In real-life people have greasy fingers and there's dust in the air. Just accept it and act accordingly.

I'm so fed up with the gloss plastic, it's getting even more common and annoying than bright blue leds.
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