When closed the IdeaPad U1 Hybrid looks like a regular laptop, and with a rounded aesthetic and a red shimmery paint job it's a nice looking one. Under the lid there's chiclet-style keyboard surrounded by a fun rubberized palmrest with integrated touchpad. When docked, the U1 looks and feels like any other snazzed-up laptop, with an Intel CULV processor and a 128GB SSD running Windows 7 Home Premium. You actually wouldn't know there's a slate hiding in there -- until you pull it out and watch it switch to Lenovo's Skylight UI, a process that was smooth and quick for us. Lenovo says the goal is for the full switch to occur in under 3 seconds, and the U1 delivered, as far as we could tell.
The slate itself is essentially a touchscreen version of the Skylight smartbook: it runs the same Skylight OS on a similar Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU, and it seems to be pretty quick, though there's a bit of lag in between switching windows. (To be fair, we were playing with a super-early pre-production unit.) The GUI is slightly different than the Skylight -- it's built around a six-panel interface, which can be customized with email, calendar, RSS, and social media widgets, and there's a second four-panel screen with image, music, video, and e-reader widgets that's especially finger friendly.
The tablet also turns into a pretty good e-reader; we flipped to portrait it to read a preloaded PDF and the accelerometer kicked right in.
w's the touch experience? Well, the resistive 11.6-screen supports multitouch, (Lenovo wasn't saying where it came from) and though it was responsive, it was far from flawless; we had to double tap a few times to make sure our touches registered. It's also a little bit loose, although we expect that'll be cleared up by the time the U1 ships. The on-screen keyboard is big enough for entering a URL here or there, but you're not going to want to type an email on it. Unfortunately, the screen itself was pretty abysmal, with terrible horizontal and vertical viewing angles -- it basically disappeared at 45 degrees off axis. That's probably not optimal for a hand-held device, and we're hoping Lenovo sorts that out before release.