CES: Lenovo Notebook Hybrid Features Detachable Tablet

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Lenovo’s IdeaPad U1 Hybrid aims to offer those of us hemming and hawing between a tablet and a full-fledged laptop the best of both worlds.

It looks and behaves like a standard 10.1-inch Windows notebook with the key difference being that the screen pops out of the computer’s chassis to become a standalone touchscreen Android tablet.

The product has actually been in development for a while. At last year’s Consumer Electronics Show, Lenovo showed off virtually the same setup except at the time, the company was in the midst of polishing its own proprietary tablet operating system. A few months later, Lenovo announced that it’d switch gears in favor of using Android on the tablet instead.

At this year’s show, Lenovo had the hybrid system on display yet again but pointed out that the package is currently only available in China. A company rep wouldn’t give me specific details on a U.S. version except to hint that we’d see something similar here in the coming months, but it wouldn’t be called the same thing as the system available in China.

The tablet, called “LePad” in China, can be purchased separately from the notebook portion for around the U.S. equivalent of $500. The notebook dock, which features separate processor, memory, and runs Windows 7, brings the total package price up to around the U.S. equivalent of $1300.

It’s a very interesting product and worked impressively well during the brief period of time I spent with it here at the show. It’s still a little expensive and clunky overall, but the idea represents a good first step in what we may expect to see from more and more manufacturers in the future—thin and light laptops that feature a standard operating system, processor and keyboard for getting work done, and double as tablets for more recreational tasks.