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Lenovo’s Android tablet turns into a Windows notebook

Jan 5, 2011 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Lenovo has reannounced a device that is part Windows notebook, part Android-based tablet. The IdeaPad U1 includes the 10.1-inch LePad, a device that has its own 1.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, plus a base unit with an Intel CULV (consumer ultra low voltage) CPU, the company says.

Lenovo's unusual combo device was originally shown off a year ago at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show, at which time the company said it would be released by summer for approximately $1,000. When that didn't happen, especially when in July a Lenovo exec said they would ship a standalone LePad Android tablet, many observers theorized the company had given up on the hybrid concept — but they were wrong.

U.S. availability hasn't been detailed, but the IdeaPad U1 (right) will now go on sale in China during the first quarter for approximately $1,300, according to Lenovo. The detachable screen, which can operate as an autonomous tablet device, is included in the above price but will also be available separately as the LePad (about $520), the company adds.

As it did last year, Lenovo is touting "Hybrid Switch" mode, whereby web pages that were open in one operating system are automatically opened in the other when the LePad is docked or undocked. Claiming that users can "seamlessly change operating systems," the company provided no further synchronization details, however.

Compared to the IdeaPad U1 announced last year, the 2011 version has the same styling, but its technical specifications have changed somewhat. For example, the tablet component was originally to have featured an 11.6-inch screen with 1366 x 768 pixel resolution and a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU.

Now, according to Lenovo, the screen is 10.1 inches. Resolution is now 1024 x 600, and the Snapdragon's clocked at a higher 1.3GHz, the Liliputing website adds.

As for the Windows-running base unit, this was originally to have had a dual-core Pentium CPU and a 128GB SSD (solid state drive). Lenovo now cites only an Intel CULV processor, but third-party reports suggest the device may use a Core i5 CPU teamed with a 320GB hard disk drive. Either way, if a monitor is connected to the base unit's video port, Windows can continue to be used even when the LePad is off doing its Android thing.

IdeaPad U1
(Click on either to enlarge)

According to Lenovo, the LePad includes a webcam, accelerometer, and Qualcomm-based 3G connectivity — the later presumably shared with the base unit when docked. It runs Android 2.2 with a custom interface adapted for the larger screen size, will support Flash Player 10.1 in the future, and "leverages the Android ecosystem that Lenovo has already established in China for the LePhone smartphone," the company adds.

Liliputing's anonymous story adds that when the IdeaPad U1 and LePad are launched in the U.S., the tablet device will run the forthcoming "Honeycomb" version of Android, which will be natively optimized for tablets. The complete IdeaPad U1 weighs about four pounds, while the tablet weighs less than two, the website adds.

Liu Jun, senior vice president of Lenovo's "Idea Product Group," stated, "Our IdeaPad U1 and LePad truly fit today's mobile lifestyle. Use the light-weight slate when you're mobile, and then simply slide it into the U1 base when you need to create and edit content. Consumers shouldn't have to adapt their lifestyle to technology, and this product definitely delivers twice the functionality and fun in one device."

Lenovo's IdeaPad U1
Source: Liliputing

Lenovo also provided brief details of a new netbook it said "may not be available in the U.S." — the IdeaPad S100 (below). Like the company's previous such devices, the device offers a "Quick Start" environment for online access without booting to Windows, a 10.1-inch display, 802.11b/g/n wireless networking, and optional Bluetooth, according to the company.

The IdeaPad S100
(Click to enlarge)

It's further said that the S100 has a "98 percent of full size" keyboard. Processor choices weren't detailed by Lenovo, but a separate Liliputing item claims the device will be offered with the Atom N455 or N475 single-core CPUs, plus an "Atom N570" (the latter mysterious offering could be a misprint referencing the 1.83GHz N470, but time will tell).

As we reported yesterday, Lenovo has also turned to AMD processors — the E-240 and E-350 — for its newly announced ThinkPad X100e. Finally, the company released six new IdeaPad laptops whose "Lenovo Enhanced Experience 2.0" software is said to let them boot about 20 seconds faster than the "typical Windows 7 computer," according to this eWEEK story.

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