CES-Lenovo, Qualcomm team up on Skylight "smartbook"

Tue Jan 5, 2010 12:01am EST

* Low-power device challenges Wintel netbook dominance

* Skylight weighs less than 2 pounds, priced at $499

By Gabriel Madway

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan 4 (Reuters) - Lenovo Group Ltd (0992.HK) on Monday formally took the wraps off its first "smartbook," a device that breaks free from the traditional Wintel hold on the mobile computing segment.

Lenovo's new Skylight runs on Qualcomm Inc's (QCOM.O) Snapdragon chip, which is also used in smartphones, and features an operating system built on Linux, rather than Microsoft Corp's (MSFT.O) Windows.

The Skylight is one of the first in what could be a wave of so-called smartbooks, hyper-connected consumer devices based on the power efficient ARM chip architecture, rather than Intel Corp's (INTC.O) x86 platform, which currently dominates the netbook market.

With a 10-inch screen and weighing less than 2 pounds, the device comes in blue or red and features a distinctive clamshell design, with a thin profile and rounded edges.

Lenovo, the world's fourth-largest PC maker, said Skylight boasts more than 10 hours of active battery life -- enough to watch two or more movies -- and has built-in WiFi and 3G connectivity so it can surf the Web from almost anywhere.

Skylight will sell for $499 in the United States -- a higher price than many netbooks -- starting in April. It will be available in Europe and China later this year.

Analysts say one of the keys to the adoption of ARM-based PCs is the operating system. Some consumers find it difficult to adapt to a non-Windows environment.

Ninis Samuel, consumer marketing director at Lenovo, said the Skylight's software is built on Linux but has been specifically customized.

"There is no exposure of Linux to the customers. What we wanted to make is an interface that's completely custom and easy to use."

In addition to Skylight, Lenovo also announced new devices in its traditional line of PCs, including new IdeaCentre all-in-one desktop computer, and IdeaPad consumer notebooks and netbooks. (Reporting by Gabriel Madway; Editing Bernard Orr)