Lenovo launches first Ion netbook

May 26, 2009 // 11:53 a.m.

Tags: #cuda #geforce #geforce-9400m #ideapad #ideapad-s12 #ion #lenovo #netbook #nvidia #nvidia-ion #s12

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.
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