There has been a lot of pondering about exactly which niche the tablet PC will fit into in today's tech-centric mobile world. At this year's CES trade show in Las Vegas, Lenovo hopes to answer many of those questions by merging the familiarity of a laptop and the convenience and portability of a tablet PC into one package. The main innovation in the IdeaPad U1 is a detachable tablet PC screen which has its own operating system and processor but when docked in the laptop body shares both battery and processing power.

Lenovo is dubbing the IdeaPad U1 a hybrid notebook and while it's too early for exact production specification, the company has confirmed that when in notebook mode, the IdeaPad U1 will run on Windows 7, be powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, include an integrated webcam, echo canceling microphone and sport 3G wireless connectivity.

When the 11.6 inch HD LED screen is released using a slider catch at the center top of the clamshell lid, the user is presented with a fully functioning, independent multitouch tablet PC. If the user had a particular web page open when detaching the screen, the unit will continue from the same point without interruption. Different flavors of interaction are presented on a choice of sectioned display modes running on Lenovo's new Skylight operating system powered by an ARM processor (based on Qualcomm's Snapdragon chipset platform).

Lenovo's Hybrid Switch technology will see a user being able to painlessly jump from notebook mode to multitouch tablet and then synchronize back again to work as one - sharing battery and processing power, wireless connectivity, data and documents.

Launching the product, Lenovo's Liu Jun said: "By fusing the functionality of a notebook with the slate tablet's rich multitouch entertainment and mobile Internet experience, U1 provides consumers the freedom to choose the device they prefer for any activity."

Taking a refreshing step away from the Apple-esque approach to new product announcement, Lenovo features the IdeaPad U1 (available from June 2010 for an estimated US$999) on a special web page that showcases some of the company's current and forthcoming products. A new web-on-the-go smartphone, the smartbook which features the same operating system as the tablet part of the U1, more devices in the IdeaPad range and some all-in-one PCs are also shown.

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