Lenovo is previewing a new type of hybrid PC at the Consumer Electronics Show this week featuring laptop and tablet capabilities. Called the IdeaPad U1, the hybrid device has a base that functions as a laptop and a detachable screen that doubles as a multi-touch slate tablet. Moreover, each component has its own dedicated processor and operating system.
Lenovo also unveiled two new netbooks this week, including the company's first netbook to offer tablet capabilities. Though Lenovo previously entered the netbook market in the fourth quarter with its IdeaPad S10, the company hopes to differentiate its offerings from those of netbook market leaders ASUS and Acer.
Netbooks accounted for around 15 percent of worldwide notebook shipments in 2009, according to iSuppli. "When you consider that netbooks were not on sale at the beginning of 2007, the segment has grown hugely in a very short space of time," noted Matthew Wilkins, a principal analyst at the research firm. So having a strong presence in netbooks "allows an OEM to capitalize on the growth this segment has achieved," he said.
Two PCs In One Package
Featuring a footprint about the size of a sheet of notebook paper and tipping the scale at 3.8 pounds, the IdeaPad U1 sports an 11.6-inch LED screen and Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system. In addition, the U1 comes with a video camera, two stereo speakers, and an integrated microphone featuring echo cancellation.
The notebook and tablet are designed to work in tandem as a clamshell laptop that harnesses the computing resources of both devices. When operating as a combined unit, the two microprocessors become synchronized to work as a single unit.
Lenovo hybrid switch technology enables the processors in the notebook and tablet to toggle back and forth. Additionally, users can be surfing the web in laptop mode and continue from the same point without interruption after detaching the screen for tablet mode.
But when the multi-touch display is detached from the device, it becomes an independent slate tablet that weighs 1.6 pounds. The tablet, which operates in portrait or landscape modes, integrates an ARM-based microprocessor that runs Lenovo's customized Skylight operating system.
A Netbook/Tablet Combo
Both the laptop and tablet sides of the IdeaPad U1 are designed to deliver more than five hours of 3G web browsing. Slated to become available at the beginning of June, the IdeaPad U1 will be priced at $999.
"By fusing the functionality of a notebook with the slate tablet's rich multi-touch entertainment and mobile Internet experience, U1 provides consumers the freedom to choose the device they prefer for any activity," Lenovo Senior Vice President Liu Jun said.
Available now at prices that start at $499.99, Lenovo's IdeaPad S10-3t is the company's first release of a netbook/tablet combo with multi-touch capabilities. The new machine integrates instant-on quick-start technology and automatic hard-drive protection against drops and falls.
To convert the S10-3t netbook into a tablet, swivel the device's 10.1-inch screen 180 degrees and fold it over. The new hybrid machine integrates NaturalTouch -- a touchscreen technology that Lenovo says is more responsive to fingertip movements than conventional pressure-touch technology.
The IdeaPad S10-3t sports a low-power Intel Atom processor, a 1.3-megapixel webcam, a 320GB hard drive, two USB 2.0 ports, and a six-in-one memory card reader. Wireless connectivity options include WiMAX, Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n), and Bluetooth.