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Lenovo announces two more IdeaCentre desktops

Lenovo announces the K320 midtower and C310 multitouch all-in-one.

In addition to the sharp IdeaCentre A300, Lenovo also announced two more straightforward PCs, both due out later this quarter.

Lenovo's new IdeaCentre K320 performance desktop. Lenovo

The IdeaCentre K320 is Lenovo's first foray into a performance-oriented tower system in the U.S. The spare Intel Core i3-based K320 will start at $600 when it launches on January 31, but with options including a Blu-ray burner, an ATI Radeon HD 5970 graphics card, and an Intel Core i7 860 CPU, you can get the price up to $1,999.

The $650 Lenovo IdeaCentre C315. Lenovo

The K320 could be competitive with the right configuration, but we're skeptical of the IdeaCentre C315. At $650 when it launches on March 1, this Intel Atom 330-based Nettop might cost $100 less than Gateway's recent ZX4800-02, but the Lenovo's performance will be significantly slower, with few discernible benefits other than its lower price to make up the difference. The Gateway's 750GB hard drive is beefier than the C315's 640GB upgrade option, and both offer touch software and a DVD burner. The Lenovo offers an ATI Radeon 4530 graphics chip as an option as well, but the default model boasts only an outdated Intel GMA 950 video chip.

We expect the budget all-in-one category will continue to be a major desktop battleground this year. Screens ranging from 20 to 23 inches (dare we say 24?) should be plentiful in all-in-ones under $1,000. The more interesting fight will be among CPUs in this category. As long as true budget desktop and laptop chips (like the Gateway's Intel Pentium Dual Core T4300 and AMD's underrated low-power Athlons) remain available in quantity, Atom-based Nettops like the IdeaCentre C315 will be a hard sell without a major incentive in price or features to differentiate them from their faster counterparts.

Asus is on the right track with its $600 Atom-based 20-inch Eee Top ET2002, but without some truly outstanding feature to offset their slow performance, 20-inch Atom-based Nettops like the Asus and the IdeaCentre C315 would be easier to recommend at around $500 or $550.