Update: The tablet is on display at the Intel booth and has been confirmed as the Tab-Book H160, as sliding transformer. Other sources have reported that LG has no plans to bring the device to the US, but our source from the company with whom we spoke was adamant that it will see a stateside release.
The last tablet we saw from LG, the G-Slate, came out back in 2011 to lukewarm reception. Since then all has been quiet on the LG tablet front, at least until now.
During my visit to the LG booth on the CES show floor, I took some time to check out the area where the company's Optimus G smartphone was being shown off. Though it wasn't the focal point of the kiosks, I couldn't help but notice that there was an unfamiliar tablet being used to display information about the phones. I knew it was a relatively recent device, however, as there was Windows 8 branding down on the bottom part of the bezel.
Could this be some sort of new LG Windows 8 tablet that had yet to be announced? Or was it just a Windows 8 tablet that I didn't recognize?
After some initial inquiries, I was pointed in the direction of a product manager who informed me that yes, this was indeed an LG tablet, but he could not disclose any information about it, not even the name. I asked if it was an overseas-only model -- LG is, after all, a South Korean company -- but he confirmed that this tablet will see a release in the United States, though he refused to provide even a general timeframe.
One of the curious aspects of the tablet was that it seemed to have two layers to it, suggesting that it was maybe some sort of transformer or hybrid, but I wasn't allowed to handle it myself to see what exactly was going on with it. When I first asked the rep at the kiosk about it, she referred to it as a "tab book." When I asked her what exactly that meant, she said she didn't know, but was positive that it was being dubbed a "tab book." Such a name implies that it could open like a book with a second screen (something like the design of the Kno before it was scrapped), or perhaps there was a keyboard inside so it could transform and be used like a notebook.
So I looked around on all edges of the device, but I couldn't find a hinge. This led me to wonder if maybe it was a sliding transformer, where the top layer (with the display) could slide back to reveal a keyboard and then be angled or propped up so the whole thing could be used like a notebook.
Regardless, it seemed clear to me that there was some sort of second layer beneath the screen just by looking at the edges; there's a remote chance that their sandwich-type look formed by two distinct parts is just some whacky design choice, but it begs the question of why LG would choose to make the tablet so thick, if not for a secondary aspect like a keyboard?
The rest of what I could make out included a power switch, camera button, and open microSD card slot on the right side, and a volume rocker and some other kind of switch on the left edge. It's possible that it was just a cover for some kind of port (SIM card?), but again, the tablet was in a dock and I couldn't handle it for myself.
To the right of the top edge, there were full-sized USB and HDMI ports, along with a proprietary charging port. To the left, I could see a micro-USB port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a hard reset button.
And unfortunately, that's about all we can tell you. We may not know much about the device right now, but what we do know for sure is that it runs Windows 8 and it's coming to the United States eventually, so keep an eye out for any news about this mysterious "tab book" that LG is cooking up...hopefully we'll hear something official soon.
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