It’s finally official. One year after wowing show goers at CES 2010, Lenovo is ready to launch its innovative IdeaPad U1, the so-called hybrid laptop that features a tablet screen and keyboard docking station, each with a dedicated processor.
Akin to the recently-revealed Asus Transformer, the IdeaPad U1 is a docking base that allows the Android-powered LePad slate to dock and become a notebook for extended battery life and access to a full QWERTY keyboard. Additionally, when docked, users will also have a USB port and an HDMI out at their disposal.
What sets the IdeaPad U1 apart from others, however, is that when the LePad is docked, it doesn’t just look like a notebook, it is one, and that gives the machine a whole new set of specs.
The most significant difference when the Slate is docked into the IdeaPad U1 is that, through the use of Lenovo’s Hybrid Switch feature, the operating system seamlessly switches to Windows 7, effectively making the device two different machines in one. On its own, the LePad runs on the LeOS, which is a skinned version of Google’s Android OS (Android version 2.2).
Likewise, when docked, the machine also uses a different processor: the IdeaPad U1’s Intel processor, which clocks in at 1.2 GHz. When solo, the LePad utilizes a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, which clocks in around 1.3 GHz.
Other changes when using the IdeaPad U1 include an upgrade in storage space–from 16/32 GB in Flash storage to 320 GB of space on a SATA drive–and a boost in memory, from 1 GB of RAM to 2 GB of DDR3 RAM. The docking station also has an HDMI port and USB slot, and it will support b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1.
Just the Slate
As a dedicated tablet, the LePad comes in at less than two pounds and half an inch thick. The 10.1-inch screen (1280 x 800) runs in both landscape and portrait modes. As mentioned, the LePad runs an optimized version of Android 2.2, which features apps Lenovo originally developed for its LePhone smartphone. It will also sport a two-megapixel front-facing camera, SIM slot, and a headphone jack. Lenovo claims the LePad will support Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 3G and Flash 10.1 when it ships.
As previously reported on TabletPCReview, the Lenovo U1 first appeared at CES 2010 with the LePad portion running a Linux-based OS. Lenovo delayed releasing the device in order to incorporate the Google Android Operating System.
Lenovo has not provided any specifics as to when the IdeaPad U1 with LePad will be made available in the United States. TabletPCReview pressed a rep who would not confirm that Lenovo is waiting for Google Honeycomb before shipping the tablet and docking base. Officially, and for the time being, at least, LePad will be a Froyo tablet — though we think Honeycomb may be in its near future.
The two components, however, will be made available in China in the first quarter of 2011. The slate can be purchased separately from the base, and will start at the Chinese-currency equivalent of roughly $520, while purchasing the two together will cost approximately $1,300.
Hands On Video
Secret Windows 7 Tablet
TabletPCReview met with Lenovo reps to discuss the tablet lineup and were pleasantly surprised to discover the IdeaPad Slate, a 10.1-inch Windows 7 tablet PC, complete with digitizer and pen. The unit we tested out was a prototype, so no release or pricing information was available.
This much we know: the tablet PC supports pen (Wacom was mentioned, but not confirmed) and multitouch with palm recognition; it has up to 2GB DDR2 memory and up to 32GB of storage; and it has an Intel processor. Also, it has the Lenovo FunNwork application manager, which is a skin that applied when the device in intended for casual use, proving easy access to common apps. However, like the HP Slate 500, the IdeaPad Slate will be targeted toward business users.
Additional Slate Images
Additional Reporting by Grant Hatchimonji