Lenovo IdeaPad U1

Lenovo is introducing a rather intriguing new machine called the IdeaPad U1 which can function as both an 11.6 inch notebook and a tablet. But while most computers achieve this by allowing you to swivel the screen and fold it down over the keyboard, the Lenovo IdeaPad U1 has a detachable screen. What’s interesting is that the primary CPU and other core components aren’t tucked away behind the screen. Instead, there’s a secondary processor in the tablet portion of the U1, which means it’s kind of like having two computers in one.

In laptop mode, you get a fully functional Windows 7 system with a CULV processor, 4GB of RAM, 2 USB ports, VGA, HDMI, a webcam, and up to 128GB SSD.

When you detach the screen for use in tablet mode, you have a touchscreen device with a Qualcomm Snapdragon ARM-based processor, 16GB of flash memory and 512MB of RAM. The tablet runs Skylight Linux, a custom distribution designed by Lenovo. Odds are that this is the same OS that will be running on Lenovo’s upcoming smartbook.

The laptop weighs in at 3.8 pounds, while the detachable tablet weighs just 1.6 pounds. Thanks to the low power processor, you also get better battery life in slate mode. The battery is housed in the tablet, and provides up to 8 hours of run time in slate mode and up to 6 hours in laptop mode.

WiFi, 3G, and Bluetooth functions are also tucked away in the tablet. So it’s not like you’re getting two complete computers for the price of one. Oh, and that price? About $999.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the concept of a laptop with a detachable tablet. III developed a prototype device with two separate processors, operating systems, and the whole works this summer. And earlier today Freescale introduced a reference design for a $200 tablet with an optional keyboard/dock. But the Lenovo IdeaPad U1 is certainly the most powerful laptop I’ve seen along these lines, even if it does still use a Consumer Ultra Low Voltage processor and integrated graphics in laptop mode.

The nearly $1000 price tag might seem a bit steep. But if you were thinking about picking up a new notebook and a tablet this year, it might make sense to just buy a single device that serves both purposes. Or at least, that’s probably what Lenovo is hoping you’ll do.

via PC World and Engadget

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10 replies on “Lenovo’s latest notebook turns into a tablet (not how you think)”

  1. Oops…got the wrong E-mail address in the bottom…it should be ok now.

  2. This would be really interesting if the tablet was fully functional (running Windows 7) and the keyboard was only a docking/case.

    A netbook is interesting, a tablet is interesting, a convertible is interesting….But a device that can be both tablet AND laptop is really interesting. Why then make the decision of two separate computers?! 🙁
    I expect some case manufactureres or perhaps logitech will come with some “smart cases” with a keyboard for the tablets that will be developed.

  3. I browse in tablet mode, then decide to post something in a forum, so I attach the screen back to the keyboard to type. Now I’m in a different OS, so I don’t have the page open anymore… Is it just me or this two-computers-in-one is the dumbest idea ever?

    1. This would be a very nifty solution to what seems like a real problem — but for the goofy two OS issue. So instead of a monitor unit that’s a bonus low-powered tablet, how about a keyboard unit that is a power booster for a nicely powered tablet. There are some things I’d use a netbook/laptop for that I can’t use a tablet for, so keep a larger hard drive and extra RAM on the keyboard section for when I need it.

      1. As in: Make the keyboard a “docking station base” for the tablet?
        Not a bad idea.
        Why carry resources (keyboard, ram, disk, heavy batter, etc)
        around with you that you don’t need for basic tablet functions?

        1. I was thinking that it could be more like an enhanced docking station, to give a performance boost for the kind of things you’d probably use a more traditional laptop for, like video editing, say. I can picture taking the tablet to meetings, but needing the keyboard to work back in the hotel room later.

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