Lenovo Finalizes U1 Hybrid Tablet Notebook
Roughly a year ago, Lenovo made noise at CES 2010 for the IdeaPad U1 Hybrid notebook. It looks like a regular Windows 7 laptop, but — pop the screen out — and it’s a tablet that potentially competes with Apple’s iPad. In 2010 the tablet was set to run a custom version of Linux that Lenovo had built. But Lenovo put that on hold. Why? Because now the IdeaPad U1 hybrid is actually shipping Q1 2011 in China and it’ll be running Android 2.2 instead. Here’s the scoop…
Plain and simple, you can by the LePad by itself (full size image here), running Google Android 2.2 for around $520, or you can buy it with the U1 base for $1300. The specs are as follows.
- 1.3Ghz Qualcom Snapdragon
- Less than 2LBs
- 10 inch screen (1280×800)
- Front facing camera
- 16/32 GB Flash RAM
- SIM Card Support
- 8 hour battery
Like previously stated, it will be running Android 2.2, but Lenovo has customized Android with an experience that will be optimized for the 10 inch screen (likely to avoid waiting around for Google’s Honeycomb release). There will also be a Lenovo-developed push service specifically for real-time news and e-mail, so users can get at information on the fly, instead of having to load up apps. Of course, the LePad will run all the other Android apps that the platform supports. And when you’re done with Android, all you have to do is pop it back into…
The IdeaPad U1 Base:
- 1.2 GHz Intel Ultra-Low Voltage CPU
- Full-sized keyboard
- 2GB DDR3
- Windows 7 Home Premium
- HDMI Out
- 320GB SATA
This hybrid approach is certainly novel, but when it failed to materialize at all last year, I doubted how much people really wanted this form factor. I also wondered and if the technology was half-baked. But it looks as though the real stumbling block was the proprietary Linux distribution the tablet was running. Preliminary hands-on test with it at CES 2010 were mixed. An Android base with a Lenovo Skin is most definitely a better long-term approach to usability.
The price tag seems right for everything that the slate is packing, though the base itself doesn’t seem to warrant a package of $1,300. Maybe something closer to $1,000 would be a better price point, in my opinion. Still, it’s the only notebook/tablet combo out there…so far.
We’ll see what CES 2011 brings and we’ll be sure to compare and contrast all the competition.
Meanwhile, does anyone in the channel feel this form factor would be helpful for their workflow or every day computing needs? For me, it seems like I’d have to try it out and see if it really ‘works.’