SAN JOSE, Calif. – Lenovo will debut at the Consumer Electronics Show Wednesday (Jan 5) an Android-based tablet that snaps into a docking station to become a Windows notebook. The IdeaPad U1 Hybrid, initially available in China for the equivalent of US$520, is a redesign for Android of a Linux system Lenovo showed at CES last year.
The so-called LePad slate uses Android 2.2 as a tablet and Windows 7 when docked in a notebook shell. The tablet uses a 1.3 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon and the notebook is based on a 1.2 GHz Intel Core low-voltage notebook processor.
The slate supports both EVDO and wideband CDMA versions of 3G cellular, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi and comes with 16 or 32 GBytes flash. The notebook only supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and has a 320 GByte serial ATA hard drive.
The full hybrid will cost the equivalent of US$1,300 when it becomes available in China before April. The relatively high cost stems from the designs need to duplicate much of the electronics to support both an Android tablet and Windows notebook. Only the 10.1-inch LCD is shared between the systems.
"The [IdeaPad] user experience, content and even the applications have been customized for the Chinese market," said a Lenovo spokeswoman. "However, we do plan on offering similar slate products to the U1 outside of China and in the U.S. sometime later this year," she added.
Both products are under-configured in I/O. The slate only has a SIM slot and a headphone jack. The notebook has just one USB and one HDMI port.
The tablet weighs less than two pounds and is half an inch thick. Lenovo suggested it is still working on support for Adobe Flash 10 on the device.
Lenovo will be challenged to gain traction on the Apple iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab, already well established in the market. The IdeaPad offers differentiation in being able to dock into a notebook, but the addition is a costly one.
In terms of the tablet itself, the iPad and Galaxy Tab are already available at similar prices to the IdeaPad. The Lenovo system is just one of many tablets expected to emerge at CES.
Lenovo has not announced any update on its Skylight, an ultrathin smartbook based on the Snapdragon SoC and launched at CES 2010. Like last year's hybrid system, Lenovo said Skylight was pulled from the market while designers moved it from Linux to Android.