Lenovo’s ThinkBook Plus line of laptops are… weird. In the past we’ve seen the company release models with E Ink displays on the lid, secondary screens in the keyboard area, and other unusual designs.

So what’s next? According to leaked pictures posted to Chinese social media, a 2-in-1 laptop with a detachable display that functions as a standalone Android tablet.

While it’s best to take this leak with a grain of salt, the idea isn’t exactly a new one. Asus showed off 2-in-1 laptop at CES 2014 that featured a 13 inch tablet that could dual boot Windows or Android, and which could be docked to a keyboard for use as a laptop.

But that model never actually saw the light of day, reportedly due to pressure from Microsoft and Google, neither of which really wanted to see this sort of device hit the streets.

It’s unclear why Lenovo thinks it’s time to revive the idea for 2024. But while the company’s primary business is focused on more mainstream consumer and business-class computers, Lenovo has long been pushing the boundaries of what to expect from a laptop in case it stumbles upon an idea that could conceivably be the next big thing.

Lenovo was one of the first companies to launch a laptop with a foldable display. And now that it’s not alone in that space anymore, the company also offers a (slightly) more affordable model with two screens and a hinge.

The ThinkBook Plus series has been around since 2020, and has been a place where the company debuts even more niche ideas like laptops with both E Ink and color screens. So why not a Windows laptop that comes with an Android tablet?

After all, while Microsoft has put a lot of work into making Windows more of a tablet-friendly operating system in recent years (including adding support for Android apps), Android continues to have a head start in the space with millions of apps and games designed for touchscreen displays. And while you can install the Amazon Appstore on a Windows PC to access some of those apps, most are only available in the Google Play Store, which is what you get with most Android tablets that ship with Google Mobile Services enabled.

The leaked pictures don’t provide many details about the ThinkBook Plus 2024, so there’s no word on whether the processor, memory, storage, screen technology, or other hardware.

But it does look like the detachable tablet will support both touch and pen input. And the leaker suggests that while the display functions as a standalone Android tablet, the system will be “normal notebook” when the display is connected to the keyboard.

It’s unclear if that means there’s a single set of hardware (processor, memory, storage, etc) in the tablet, or if there are two of each, with the guts of a Windows laptop in the base and those of an Android tablet in the display section.

We probably won’t have to wait long to find out more – Lenovo typically announces new hardware during the annual Consumer Electronics Show, and CES 2024 is set to begin the second week of January, 2024.

via ITHome

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  1. Android tablet and Windows base? This is definitely more like the ASUS Transformer Book Trio (TX201L) than the cancelled Duet. The reason the dual-mode tablet was cancelled was because both Microsoft AND Google refused to support a device that would run both operating systems simultaneously on the same hardware. The only way left was to have two of everything. Two processors, two storage areas, two sets of RAM. Two separate sets of WiFi and Bluetooth. Separate batteries that would be used to keep both systems running, and software that could make use of the shared resources. Windows would see the tablet like any USB-connected Android device, except with special hardware that would let the base use the tablet as the main display. A later attempt would be the ASUS Transformer Book V: a 5-in-1 combination Android phone/Windows tablet/keyboard dock. Again, doubling up everything so they could run independently. I don’t personally recall if that ever made it into production, but I thought that was a truly fascinating combination.

    I personally owned a Trio. It was an amazing system that would turn heads, and it was a star at switching between power efficient low-impact use and higher performance productivity tasks. I imagine Lenovo’s version will too. Unfortunately, the Trio suffered from a lack of updates to its Android software that held it back, and the extra cost of doubled up, unusual hardware combination meant it was much more expensive than competitive 2-in-1 laptops. Also, in normal use, the tablet would need to be left on in order to use the display, and since the tablet would reboot randomly at inconvenient times, it occasionally got in the way of doing quick tasks when it was needed. At least the base unit can run independently with an external monitor.

    Fun thought: if Lenovo’s new system supports USB4/Thunderbolt, you could have your very own Matryoshka doll of a system that plugs the pair into an eGPU. 😛 I -almost- want it, but I’m still happy with my current 2-in-1, and I’m wondering when/if such tablet hardware is going to see Fuchsia.

  2. I still think in principle it’s better to visualize than have completely separate devices. A 360 degree hinge is FINE, and it’s simple, and it works. We don’t need to reinvent it. WSL is fine too once you’ve jumped through the poorly defined hoops and wrangle window 11’s distractionware. Waydroid is also fine except for that little problem where so much of Android stuff was compiled for ARM only.
    There’s ways of sharing storage with separate devices, but you’re really depending on both of them to be on, and with virtualization, you’ve got no choice, the host HAS to be on.
    Lets not complicate things with separate processors, batteries, memory and storage. Put the money you would have spent into better i/o and a better keyboard.

  3. Oh man, this is EXACTLY what I want. I’ve been saying for a while now I would love a device that functions like this. Essentially two different systems, and android tablet that when docked to the keyboard switched to the onboard system on the keyboard running Windows or Linux. I hate having two devices, that both need upgrades.

    I’ll be keeping a close eye on this and hope it comes to fruition

    1. yes I agree, but they would ideally be able to share storage and the android tablet would need to be able to use the keyboard if needed

    2. This is what I was seriously looking for from around 2016-2019. But I ended up settling for a detachable Windows PC since this concept wasn’t really available on the market.

      After long-term use, it became clear that trying to use a detached 12″ PC screen was too large and heavy to be used as a tablet. There are other inherent issues that prevent a 2-in-1 like mine from being able to function as a true tablet, none of which are due to a subpar design or lack of quality.

      I came up with what seemed like very improbable features for my ideal device, but then all of these hand-held compact PCs started cropping up with slightly differing form factors, close to just what I’ve been wanting. So for the past few years, I’ve been watching crowdfunding sites and mostly Liliputing, waiting for the right model to come along. I think this is the best option for a combined storage and device setup, unless a typical tablet experience, and with Android, is an important aspect to the user.

      Having the Android OS accessible separately would be useful, but I don’t see this being hugely beneficial because you could emulate Android on a PC or be better served with the necessity that is the smart phone. A detachable / ancillary E-ink screen on a laptop seems more useful to me because it makes reading for long periods on a computer less taxing, and while an e-reader is very helpful for portable reading, it presents as too specific a device and activity to warrant buying and carrying a separate tablet-sized device just for reading books.

      I’m always excited to see innovative ideas being explored by major companies, though.