What does Ashton Kutcher have to do with a couple of Android tablets? We don't know either. What we do know is that Lenovo just announced a highly unusual device, and it's unique enough that Lenovo would have had our attention even if didn't use the "Jobs" actor as a spokesperson. What you see above is the previously leaked Yoga Tablet, which has a built-in kickstand that also houses a humongous cylindrical battery (one capable of lasting 18 hours, according to Lenovo). A little more memorable than Lenovo's previous Android tablets, wouldn't you say?
True to its name (it's named after Lenovo's convertible Yoga PCs), the screen can fold over, though it's not quite as flexible as the original. All told, it can rotate 135 degrees, allowing for three different usage modes. As you'd expect, you can use it as a traditional tablet with the kickstand closed ("Read mode") or you can open the kickstand so that the tablet's propped up on its own (that'd be "Stand mode"). But there's also "Tilt mode," which involves laying the tablet face-up with the cylindrical battery keeping the device slightly propped up, allowing for easier on-screen typing.
Lenovo Yoga Tablet hands-onSee all photos
Lenovo Yoga TabletSee all photos
Though its name would suggest otherwise, the Yoga Tablet actually comes in not one, but two sizes: 8 and 10 inches. Regardless, you're in for nearly the same specs, including a 1,280 x 800 IPS display, quad-core MediaTek processor, dual 5MP/1.6MP cameras and up to 16GB of built-in storage (complemented by a microSD slot). The design is the same too, with a textured plastic back that matches the other Android products Lenovo announced recently. The biggest difference, obviously, is the weight: the 10-incher comes in at 1.33 pounds, while the little guy weighs 0.88 pound. Either way, they're both pretty light.
On the software side, both devices run Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2. And this, dear readers, is where we might lose a few of you. As on Lenovo's other new Android devices, the software has been highly altered -- so altered, in fact, that there's not even the customary app drawer. Rather, you scroll from one home screen to another to find apps, just like you would on the iPad. Clearly, then (in case the no-name processor and mid-range specs didn't make it obvious), these tablets are for mainstream consumers, perhaps iOS users giving Android a shot for the first time. This isn't necessarily meant for the most hard-core Engadget readers, though even you guys gotta hand it to Lenovo for coming up with a truly original idea.
If you're so impressed you wanna buy one, the 8-inch version is going on sale tomorrow, October 30th, for $249 at Best Buy. The 10-inch model will be more widely available, with a price of $299. Additionally, Lenovo will sell an optional $69 Bluetooth keyboard cover, but it'll only work with the 10-inch model.
Daniel Orren contributed to this report.