By Jared Newman | Tuesday, January 5, 2010 at 9:59 pm
You may have heard earlier this week about Lenovo’s IdeaPad U1, an 11.6-inch laptop with a fully detachable tablet screen. Lenovo had it on display tonight, and the press were clamoring to get a look.
Seeing the IdeaPad U1 up close, it’s hard not to get a bit giddy. You essentially get two machines in one, the base computer powered by a Core 2 Duo processor and the tablet running on a 1 GHz Snapdragon ARM chip. Peeling the tablet from its shell requires a simple pull away from the translucent red backing, then upwards.
Once separated, the tablet switches into a custom, Linux-based operating system that, sadly, is pretty jerky. However, the product is six months out, and Lenovo says they want to boost the smoothness factor before release. Otherwise, the tablet mode is easy enough to navigate, with four big panels for photos, videos, music and documents. There’s also a six-panel screen that includes a variety of widgets, such as weather and e-mail.
A couple other points of concern: the tablet’s screen got washed out pretty easily at off-angles — it was easy to notice this as other people handled the unit around me. And if you don’t like the red shell, too bad, because that’s all Lenovo has in store for now.
Still, the idea of a modular computer is exciting. It’s definitely possible to use both pieces at once, with the base plugged into an external monitor (or downloading files idly) while you browse away on the tablet. Put together, the computers combine resources, sharing storage and getting eight hours of battery life where the tablet alone gets less than five. Many of the other specs are up in the air, but you’ll definitely get 4 GB of RAM (512 MB for the tablet), 2 USB ports and a 1.3-megapixel Web cam.
Lenovo said they’re hoping to get the IdeaPad U1′s price under $1,000 for a May or June release.