Are we seeing the beginning of a schism between similar consumer ultraportables? Some, like Acer's Aspire AS1410, seem to prioritize bang for buck. Others, like Lenovo's new IdeaPad U150, trade the rock-bottom pricing for a little more oomph and a sleeker design.
The IdeaPad U150 packs an 11.6" 1366x768 display, a dual-core 1.3GHz Pentium processor, Intel integrated graphics, 3GB of DDR3 RAM, 250GB of 5,400-RPM mechanical storage, 802.11g Wi-Fi, and a six-cell battery. Lenovo also pre-loads the laptop with Windows 7 Home Premium x64, and it claims the whole package is "under 3 lbs and 0.75" thin."
Provided 0.75" doesn't merely refer to the system's thinnest point, that's not far from MacBook Air territory: Apple's sleek laptop measures 0.76" at its thickest point, and it weighs exactly three pounds. Where Apple charges $1,499 for the Air, though, Lenovo is content to demand $699 for the IdeaPad U150. Folks with deeper pockets can opt for the $849 U150 model, which has a slightly faster processor, an extra gig of RAM, 320GB of storage, and 802.11n Wi-Fi.
Still, even at $699, the IdeaPad U150 is quite a bit pricier than Acer's Aspire AS1410. That system might have a slower dual-core CPU, less storage capacity and RAM, and a slightly heavier, potentially thicker frame, but it's available for just over 400 bucks at Newegg. The base config includes 802.11n, as well. (Thanks to Engadget for the tip.)