Remember last year at CES 2010 when Lenovo made a huge scene with the tablet / netbook U1 Hybrid, which ran Windows when docked and Lenovo's Skylight Linux in tablet mode? And then Lenovo killed Skylight in favor of Android and put everything on hold? Well, it's back -- and we just got some serious hands-on time with production-ready Chinese versions of what's now being called the IdeaPad U1 Hybrid with LePad tablet. Things have substantially changed for the better in the past year and since we saw a pre-pro model last month -- in addition to Lenovo's skinned version of Android 2.2 (called LeOS, sigh), there's now a newer 1.3GHz Snapdragon in the LePad and an 1.2GHz Intel Core i5-540UM in the U1 base, with an optional i7 available. Switching from Windows to Android just requires disengaging the latch on the base -- the flip to Android is basically instantaneous, while getting back to Windows takes a few seconds. The U1 base is much nicer than the unit we played with last year -- it's been restyled and features a chiclet-style keyboard and dimpled trackpad. Best of all, the LePad now features a 10.1 1280 x 800 capacitive multitouch display, instead of the floppy resistive unit we saw last year. Both pieces are pretty thin individually, but docked up it makes for a pretty chunky laptop -- but you are getting two machines for the price of one.

Now for the bad news -- the LePad will run for about $520 when it arrives in China this quarter, but the full U1 kit will run $1300. There's also no US availability or pricing right now -- and Lenovo told us the U1 won't hit the States until it runs Android 3.0, so we could be waiting months while the company reskins the OS. And we might have to wait even longer for Lenny to retool the LePad to meet that supposed dual-core CPU requirement -- but then, it's already been a year. We can wait a little longer, we suppose. You know, for love. Video and PR after the break.

Lenovo IdeaPad U1 Hybrid / Le Pad

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Lenovo U1 Hybrid with LePad hands-on

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Best of Both Worlds: Lenovo's Dual Mode Hybrid System Embraces Android Slate

LePad Multi-touch Android slate for mobility & U1 laptop base for full Windows 7 experience

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC – January 5, 2011: Lenovo today announced the IdeaPad U1 hybrid with LePad slate, a unique two-in-one device that combines the mobility of a media rich HD slate with access to Android applications and a keyboard base that provides a full Windows 7 computing experience. Offering great performance, both separately and together for a unique Hybrid Switch dual mode capability, Lenovo delivers consumers an uncompromised mobile and computing experience.
"Our IdeaPad U1 and LePad truly fits the mobile lifestyle," said Liu Jun, senior vice president, Idea Product Group, Lenovo. "Use the light-weight slate when you're mobile, and then simply slide it into the U1 base when you need to do content creation. Consumers shouldn't have to adapt their lifestyle to technology, and this product definitely gives them the best of both worlds."

LePad Slate – Light, Long-Lasting and Application Rich
At under two pounds and only half an inch in thickness the extremely portable LePad, powered by Qualcomm's SnapdragonTM processor, keeps users incredibly mobile all day with up to eight hours of battery life. LePad is available in four stylish colors with two different textures: scarlet, white, brown leather textured and black leather textured. The 10.1-inch widescreen and rich high definition LePad slate runs in landscape and portrait modes, giving users the ability to consume content such as video, surf the Internet, access social networks from their fingertips, as well as tap out messages and email. It also has a front camera for taking pictures or video chat.

"We are excited that Lenovo has chosen our Snapdragon processor to power the LePad slate," said Luis Pineda, senior vice president of marketing and product management for Qualcomm CDMA Technologies. "Lenovo's innovative 3G connected slate, powered by our Snapdragon platform, enables a high performance, always connected experience for consumers on the go."
Built upon Android 2.2., Lenovo customized the LePad slate with an optimized Android media experience on LePad's larger screen size, starting with an attractive 4-pane easy to use interface and a distinctive Lenovo developed push service that gives you your email, news, and other content in real time, eliminating the need to constantly open a browser and log in. LePad leverages the Android ecosystem Lenovo has already established in China for the LePhone Smartphone. LePad users, in addition to enjoying many preloaded applications, also have access to thousands of custom Android apps from China's top content partners that are optimized uniquely for its large screen. Lenovo plans for LePad to support Adobe Flash Player 10.1 to provide users an uncompromised web browsing experience

IdeaPad U1 for a Complete Laptop
For users who need the full functionality of a mainstream laptop for doing content creation with Windows based productivity applications, the LePad can slide into the U1 Base. The IdeaPad U1 hybrid transforms the user interface on LePad into a Windows 7 laptop with a full keyboard. The base features a Windows 7 Home Premium operating system and an Intel CULV processor. With Hybrid Switch feature, users can seamlessly change operating systems to support continuous web browsing experience.

Pricing and Availability
The Lenovo IdeaPad U1 with LePad will be available beginning in China in Q1. The LePad slate can be purchased separately from the U1 Base. The LePad slate starts at approximately RMB 3,499 (approximately US$ 520), and the U1 hybrid laptop starts at approximately RMB 8,888
(approximately US$ 1,300). Detailed pricing and availability for other markets, please contact your Lenovo representative.

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Lenovo LePad tablet and IdeaPad U1 Hybrid return with Android 2.2 in tow