A few days ago, HP announced the Specter Foldable PC. It’s designed as a 3-in-1 hybrid. It can act as a standalone 17-inch Windows 11 tablet, or fold into a 12.3-inch laptop with the included keyboard. And you can even use it full screen with kickstand as a desktop computer, again with the included wireless keyboard.
This hybrid design will actually be released, though at a whopping $4,999.99 price tag. This is the latest in a long list of devices that have been created to be used as more than just a laptop or just a tablet.
It brings to mind a very strange device that was first announced in January 2010 at CES. Lenovo revealed its plans for the IdeaPad U1 at the trade show. This was supposed to be a combination of a laptop and a tablet but in a very strange combination of hardware and software.
Engadget posted Lenovo’s full press release that first revealed the IdeaPad U1:
When the IdeaPad U1 is in its traditional clamshell form, the system features an 11.6-inch HD LED display and runs Windows 7. When the 1.6-pound multi-touch display is removed, it becomes a standalone tablet with a powerful ARM processor, powered by Lenovo. Custom Skylight OS.
As the press release notes, the operating system the Lenovo IdeaPad U1 used when the 1.6-pound display was separated from the laptop’s 3.7-pound Windows 7 base was its own operating system, which was based on Linux. Lenovo stated at the time:
Users can switch between the six-section display and the four-section display. The U1’s six-section display is designed to enhance the mobile Internet experience by allowing users to easily access multiple web-based applications simultaneously such as email, calendars, RSS readers and social networking websites. The four-section screen display option is ideal as a media center on your PC such as photos, music, videos and viewing/editing documents.
When I plugged the monitor back into the laptop’s base, it ran Windows 7 like any other laptop. Engadget had more information on the hardware specifications of this hybrid PC, as it runs on an Intel CULV processor when in laptop mode, and a Snapdragon CPU when the display is used as a standalone tablet. It also had 128 SSDs of notebook-style storage, while the tablet had eight hours. Battery life while in laptop mode was 10 hours, and the standalone display can last about eight hours on a single charge, CNET said. It supports both WiFi and 3G wireless network.
The Lenovo IdeaPad U1 certainly received a lot of media attention at CES 2010, winning a number of awards from media outlets like CNET, which named it the best PC of the show. The Wall Street Journal also named it one of the 10 best gadgets at CES 2010.
Lenovo said the IdeaPad U1 will launch in June 2010 for $999. However, that date came and went without any such release. In September 2010, The Wall Street Journal reported (via PC World) that the company had decided to postpone the release until 2011 “because it does not meet the company’s standards” and also said that the product might get a redesign.
In January 2011, Lenovo demonstrated the new version of the IdeaPad U1 at CES. Liliputing got some hands-on with the new version, which now features a detachable 10.1 tablet running Android 2.2 with Lenovo’s own custom UI. The plan was to launch the product in China first, at a price of $1,300, and then later in the United States.
However, the product has not actually been launched anywhere, at least officially. Engadget revealed in July 2011 that the device had already reached the FCC for approval, but that’s as far as it has gone. The IdeaPad U1 was certainly a product ahead of its time, but it appears the company has quietly canceled its launch. Today, the idea of a hybrid tablet and laptop is so popular, we have to wonder if Lenovo’s product serves as inspiration for those future hybrid devices.