I was wowed when I played with a prototype of this device. It is about the slickest piece of hardware I have seen in a very long time. It is one of those truly innovative products that I want to show off to everyone and makes me proud to be associated with Lenovo. Don’t underestimate the WOW factor. This is a game changer implementation that I expect to be copied sooner rather than later by many in the industry. Open up the IdeaPad U1 and you will find an attractive but otherwise unremarkable ultraportable notebook. Using Lenovo’s Enhanced Experience technology, it boots up Windows 7 quickly, and its Core 2 processor opens and runs applications smartly. Your favorite YouTube video runs as you expect it would. It IS a PC after all. A few astute people might judge from the fingerprints that it features a two finger multi-touch display. We chose resistive touch instead of capacitive touch to keep it thinner. However, as many reviewers have said so far, it does not act like clunky resistive touch. It acts like a capacitive touch system. But even with that, it would not be more remarkable than any other multi-touch notebook on the market, and not that much different than our new IdeaPad S10-3t. What makes this machine special is the extra latch located along the top of the display. Once you slide that switch, the display separates from the base and that is when the magic happens. Now you’ve got a highly portable multi-touch slate tablet PC in your hand.
That YouTube video you were watching – it keeps playing without a glitch. That marathon web browsing session with 35 open tabs – it’s still there. Your Facebook chat session continues unabated. Since it has 3G and Wi-Fi built inside, you can continue to surf the net while still sitting on the toilet or anywhere else for that matter. Interestingly enough, there are 2 Wi-Fi cards – one for each half of the system. If your base is downloading, that download will continue. Compute. Download. Wander. When you later rejoin the two halves, your data is automatically sync’d between the two halves and you keep on going as if nothing has happened. This magic is possible because this computer is actually two computers. The bottom half contains a Core 2 processor, standard HDD, memory, and battery which runs Windows 7. The top half has a 1GHz ARM processor with its own dedicated memory, storage, and battery. Running on the slate portion of is a version of Linux with the same “Me” centric interface that is found on our just-announced Skylight smartbook. Unlike Windows, this is a task based interface and has web, Facebook, YouTube, calendar, and other functions in an easy-to-navigate “six up” grouping. When the two halves are joined, web tasks are actually running simultaneously on both halves. (For you techies, I don’t know all of the implementation details of how it works and how the discrepancies in processor performance are handled – it is early hardware after all.) When joined, the PC is smart enough to share resources like batteries, ports, and storage. Separating and docking is very fast. The team has a design goal that the switch between modes should happen in three seconds or less. Any more and the end user loses patience. The industry may be waiting for another famous (vaporware) product, but I highly doubt it will announce at our IdeaPad U1’s planned $999 starting price point. Plus, with Lenovo’s IdeaPad U1, you will have the benefits of both worlds: full-function PC capability and full-size keyboard for getting real work done, PLUS the freedom to roam for those times when you want to be light and mobile. We are not making you buy yet another device to keep up with and figure out how to sync. We are giving you two devices in one.