updated 06:20 am EST, Tue January 10, 2012
Our first look at two unique Lenovo PCs
Lenovo brought two last devices out for CES that Electronista had the opportunity to see first-hand. The IdeaPad Yoga is intended to take on the ultrabook (MacBook Air) and tablet (iPad) spaces at once through a unique folding design. Although it measures just 0.67 inches thick and 3.1 pounds, the 13-inch, 1600x900 screen has a unique 360-degree hinge that folds the display back completely to turn it into a heavier tablet, or partway to form a stand.
The notebook will accordingly be one of the first to ship with Windows 8. It runs an unspecified (likely Ivy Bridge) Intel core processor and so gets both the traditional Windows desktop or the Windows 8 remake. About 8GB of RAM and a 256GB solid-state drive should keep it fast.
While the Yoga was largely in the hands of a Lenovo staffer -- Microsoft told exhibitors they couldn't let non-developers touch the OS -- we already have impressions. The truth is, though, that it was simply too big as a tablet: at 13 inches, the screen and weight would make it undesirable to hold outside of resting it on one's legs. We did like the idea of Lenovo's historically good trackpad and quality keyboard carrying over.
Conversely, it's the size that works in the new IdeaCentre A720 desktop. It's entering the 27-inch all-in-one market dominated by the iMac, Its screen can either stand upright like a traditional desktop or fold down to become a touch table like the Microsoft Surface, just writ smaller. It uses a custom interface that we found simple, if somewhat limited. Many apps are also preloaded that take advantage of touch, although in the demo build we saw s heavy remake of games that suggest the focus is mostly for kids.
Inside, it too gets Intel's future Core processors and also comes with a blend of a 64GB solid-state drive and 1TB hard drive. NVIDIA provides dedicated graphics to keep up with the larger display. A front camera also exists for both chat and Lenovo's signature face recognition.
We had a large amount of fun with the A720, playing games and watching videos, but we have to wonder how long the novelty would last before it was turned off. Windows 8 still provides the legacy Windows desktop on Intel systems, and we suspect many are going to spend much of their time in the Windows 7 desktop. The surface is at least very stable when resting in its horizontal stance and encourages creative apps like the piano or two-player gaming.
As it stands, the Yoga's notebook/tablet design will only ship in the spring, alongside Intel's Ivy Bridge, while the A720 won't be ready until Windows 8, well into the second half of the year. No matter how appealing they are today, they may lose much of the luster by the time they ship. At $1,199 and $1,299 each, they may be too expensive to justify giving up an iOS, Android, conventional PC, or iMac by device to make this work, not when they cost half as much and provide much of what people want.