A year ago, Lenovo's bold concept device, the IdeaPad U1 Hybrid, astonished us not only for its neat transforming design and its detachable tablet, but for anticipating the year in tablets to come. Indeed, we're still wondering how laptops and tablets can play well together.
Back then, the U1 had a tablet running a Linux-based Skylight OS developed by Lenovo, while the base laptop it attached to had undefined specs. Now, the U1's specs are clear: Windows 7 Home Premium and a 1.2 GHz Intel CULV Core i5-540UM CPU, 2GB of DDR3 RAM, and a 320GB hard drive, along with one USB port and HDMI.
The tablet is now called LePad, and is a 10.1-inch Android device running a custom LeOS variant. The screen has a 1,280x800-pixel resolution and the tablet still runs off a Qualcomm Snapdragon 1.3 GHz processor. The LePad has 1GB of RAM on its own and either 16 or 32GB of flash memory, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, EVDO/WCDMA 3G, a SIM slot, and a 2MP Webcam.
Lenovo promises a seamless transition between Android and Windows 7 operation with Unique Hybrid Switch Technology, will allow a continuous Web-browsing experience.
For now, the LePad and U1 Hybrid will only be available in China, starting in Q1. The LePad on its own will start at around $520, and the U1 Hybrid laptop will start at a pricier $1,300, although that also includes the LePad. We're very curious to see what a year has done to make the U1 a device more palatable as an actual product. More will be posted once we've seen it more detail at CES 2011.