updated 12:55 pm EST, Sun November 13, 2011
Lenovo roadmap tips low-cost ThinkPad and new X1
Lenovo may be one of the first Windows PC builders to significantly undercut the current MacBook Air in price. An escaped roadmap (PDF) has a 14-inch "mainstream" ThinkPad ultrabook arriving in May or June. At a price closer to $800, it would be significantly less expensive than the current model.
A 13-inch "premium" model, meant as a sequel to the ThinkPad X1, would also arrive around the same time. Both would use Intel's upcoming Ivy Bridge processor architecture and its matching platform, Chief River.
An interim update coming sooner is the ThinkPad X1 Hybrid, the roadmap gave out. The 13-inch ultraportable should dual-boot both Windows and a customized version of Android with the same front end as the IdeaPad K1 but also an advantage in battery life. Similar to the largely discarded Linux boots of before, the leaner mobile OS should both start up faster and double battery life to 10 hours for those who only need basics like the web, music, and e-mail.
The X1 Hybrid would ship later this month. Although no price is available, it's unlikely to drop below $1,199.
Lenovo's schedule points to the company swinging more of its lineup towards ultrabooks beyond just the current X1 and the IdeaPad U300s and trying to create a more substantial price difference. At present, its ultrabooks are roughly on a price parity with Apple's 13-inch system and are more expensive than other Windows alternatives, which dip to $899 for the Acer Aspire S3 and ASUS Zenbook UX21. Unlike in traditional notebooks, where Lenovo and others are free to use cheaper materials and slower processors, the ultrabook space defined by the MacBook Air requires that they use more advanced materials like aluminum and similar low-voltage but high-performance chips.