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Lenovo's new S-series laptops bridge the ultrabook-netbook gap, starting at $499 (hands-on pictures)

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Lenovo's adding some non-netbook laptops to its S-series line.

Lenovo S-series
Lenovo S-series

Not so long ago, Lenovo's S-series stood for inexpensive, underpowered netbooks. That seems to have changed: Lenovo's new IdeaPad S300, S400 and S405 are still fairly budget-friendly machines, but sport the latest low-voltage Intel Ivy Bridge and AMD Trinity processors, not to mention slimmer, wider designs which may help consumers mistake them for pricier ultrabooks at the check-out counter. Externally, all three laptops are practically identical and have the same 1366 x 768 screen resolution, so there's only the thickness of the bezel around the screen a clue to help you tell them apart. The S300 has a 13.3-inch screen, while the S400 has a 14-inch screen, and is oh-so-slightly deeper and thinner.

Both the S300 and S400 come equipped with ultra low voltage Intel Core i3 or i5 processors, while the S405 gets a quad-core AMD Trinity chip, and both of the 14-inchers can add an optional 32GB solid state drive for improved boot performance. Each machine weighs under four pounds and measures less than one inch thick, and you'll get a fairly decent array of ports in that space, including an Ethernet jack, three USB ports (including one USB 3.0 socket), HDMI, and an SD card reader. We're also hearing that they may have optional AMD Radeon 7450M graphics. If you're looking for a laptop on the cheap, you can find them beginning in August starting at $499.

Ross Miller contributed to this report.