LAS VEGAS — One of the most intriguing new computers at CES this year is Lenovo’s IdeaPad U1 “hybrid” laptop with a detachable screen that functions by itself as a wireless, touchscreen Web tablet.
In laptop mode, the system runs Windows 7 on an Intel Core 2 processor and weighs 3.8 pounds.
When the 11.8-inch, LED screen is detached and in tablet mode, it runs a customized version of Linux on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processor (the same hardware powering Google’s Nexus One “superphone” and the HTC HD2 Windows phone Steve Ballmer showed in his keynote tonight).
Detached, the tablet weighs 1.6 pounds. In either mode, the system has 3G wireless and more than five hours of battery life.
The tablet software has a four- or six-section display for running multiple Web applications at once.
Lenovo plans to begin selling the U1 on June 1 for under $1,000.
Details are still scarce on the Hewlett-Packard tablet that Ballmer revealed. He and HP CTO Phil McKinney both declined to tell me afterward how much it will cost.
It may be a tough sell if it costs much more than the Lenovo system, even if the U1 isn’t a full-powered PC in tablet mode.
But Lenovo is going to need more than groovy hardware.
If Apple releases a tablet at the end of the month, as expected, it’s going to be a great platform for app developers. They aren’t likely to flock to Lenovo’s unique new tablet operating-system anytime soon.
Here’s a video demo of the U1 by Jim Louderback: