Lenovo has just introduced a new laptop called the IdeaPad U1 Hybrid, featuring a revolutionary concept that may (or may not if you think about it in terms of the old car-boat “hybrid” idea) catch on. This hybrid laptop-slash-tablet separates itself from hundreds of other standard twist-and-fold tablets by coming with a pair of everything: two separate processors, two operating systems, two storage drives, two graphics chipsets, and two sets of separate memory. What for? That makes up for the “Hybrid” part: the laptop’s touchscreen display separates from the base for use as an independent, power-efficient, lightweight, multi-touch tablet.
When the 11.6-inch LED-backlit screen splits from the base for tablet use, the U1 Hybrid switches to a basic system that uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon ARM processor, 512MBs of DDR memory, the Snapdragon’s integrated graphics, a Skylight Linux operating system, and a 16GB flash drive for storage—good for running the most basic apps for on-the-go computing (or “on-the-can computing” if you’re like us who just can’t disconnect from The Matrix for a few minutes). The Skylight Linux interface can do the basics: Web browsing, document-viewing, and multimedia playback—pretty much all the stuff you can do on one of those old first-gen netbooks that ran Linux, and you’ll be doing it in comfort, thanks to the multi-touch screen.
Docking the slate back onto the keyboard base in its notebook form gives you the full PC experience: in this mode, the system seamlessly reverts back to a standard Windows 7 environment that runs on an Intel Core 2 Duo U4100 processor, 4GBs of DDR3 memory, integrated Intel graphics, and a storage option for a 128GB SSD drive.
Common components such as the system’s battery and wireless connectivity is on the slate for use in both modes, while the standard PC ports (USB, VGA, HDMI, Ethernet) and card reader line the dock’s edges.
The whole thing weighs a combined 3.8 pounds, but the clear advantage here would be the weight when used in tablet form, with the top half weighing only 1.6 pounds. To give you an idea of how big a deal that is, Sony’s $1,299 super-slim VAIO X, one of the world’s lightest laptops when it was released last year, weighed 1.6 pounds. You know what else weighs 1.6 pounds? A 1.6-pound puppy. (a sickly, 10-month-old, ill-tempered Chihuahua, to be more specific.)
The dual-system hybrid is a bit costly though (you’re paying for a pair of everything after all): the U1 Hybrid’s price starts out at $999—roughly the same price as two Lenovo Ideapad U-350 laptops (give or take a few bucks) or somewhere between 2-5 playful chichuahua puppies.