Lenovo U1 Vastly Different, Hopeless US Product?

Lenovo U1 Tablet

The expectation at any trade show is for company representatives to evangelize their products. As far as they’re concerned, they are promoting world peace, an end to world hunger, a cure for cancer, the second coming of Jesus…all wrapped in one tiny package. So it’s worth noting when one of them bluntly states to a reporter that they don’t think it’ll ever make it to market.

That’s exactly what happened with the Lenovo U1, the company’s tablet device which last year ran off Windows 7 when connected to a keyboard, acting as a standard laptop, and off a custom Linux-based UI when the screen was disconnected. This year, Lenovo showed off a nearly identical product, but with one notable change: the tablet now runs on Android. The laptop is still Windows 7.

But don’t expect it to hit the market in the US, at least not for awhile. One company representative, as I overheard a discussion with an editor at PCMag.com, said he doubts it’ll ever come to the US. “They’ll buy it in China. Nobody in the US would spend $600 for the tablet and another $500 for the laptop dock.” I’d say that depends, especially if that turns out to be the real price, but the Lenovo representative was confident the U1 wouldn’t see the light of day in the US.

As I did last year, I played around with the 10.1″ slate and it’s certainly interesting to use. The tablet feels very big, compared to both the iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tablet. The Android side uses a special four-pronged layout for apps, music, video and books, which is frankly convenient for the large device but nothing special. When connecting the tablet into the keyboard and locking it into place, it switched from Android to Windows 7 in about five seconds. Removing the tablet instantly starts Android.

The cool thing is that if you’re doing something in Android that can be done on your Windows 7 machine, like browsing online, the websites you kept open will automatically transfer to the Windows 7 browser when both devices are reconnected. But it may all be for naught, since we’ll likely never see it hit retailers.

James Pikover

Spawned in the horrendous heat of a Los Angeles winter, James was born with an incessant need to press buttons. Whether it was the car radio, doorbells on Halloween or lights, James pushed, pressed and prodded every button. No elevator was left unscathed, no building intercom was left un-rung, and no person he’s known has been left un-annoyed.

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