LAS VEGAS — When Windows 8 ships later this year, its new Metro UI will work well on traditional notebooks, but you’ll want a tablet to really take advantage of some of its touch-friendly features. Due to ship at the Windows 8 launch, Lenovo’s groundbreaking IdeaPad Yoga notebook gives you the best of both worlds as its 13.3-inch clamshell design has a flexible lid that folds back 360 degrees, allowing you to use its touchscreen as a slate tablet or even a home Internet appliance.
We had a chance to go hands-on with the the IdeaPad Yoga this morning and came away impressed with its amazing hinge design, thin chassis, and super-bright high-res screen. On the outside, the notebook looks a lot like other ultraportable IdeaPads , with an attractive gray aluminum lid, sides, and bottom. The sides of the notebook measure just .67-inches while the entire system weighs just 3.1 pounds, making the Yoga officially an Ultrabook. Inside, the Yoga has the same, comfy faux leather palm rest we’ve seen on the U300 and the same island-style keyboard. Component-wise, the IdeaPad Yoga will sport an Ivy Bridge CPU, up to a 256GB SSD, and up to 8GB of RAM.
However, the Yoga’s bright touchscreen and 360-degree folding lid are the real stars of this show. The 400-nit screen sports a generous 1600 x 900 resolution and supports 10-finger touch. Using a drawing app in Windows 8, we were able to draw lines with several fingers at once. We were also able to hit a number of different keys on a virtual piano application by putting a whole hand down.
To fully take advantage of this screen, the IdeaPad Yoga’s lid bends backward like Jane Fonda doing a downward dog pose. You can rotate the screen half way and turn the Yoga into a tent-shaped device where the screen is propped up.
You can also prop it up so the screen is facing you while the deck sits behind it as a base. In this shape you could use the device like a touchscreen Internet appliance, launching recipes or videos in the kitchen. You can even use it like an all-in-one PC, if you attach a keyboard and monitor in this pose.
Of course, the most popular pose is likely to be the tablet pose where the screen is flipped around a full 360 degrees so the entire device turns into a slate. We’ve seen many convertible tablets that swivel their notebooks into this pose over the years, but the Yoga’s method of bending back the screen seems much sturdier and more elegant.
We can’t wait to play with a final production Yoga when the device ships sometime in the latter half of 2012. At this point, pricing is up in the air, though a Lenovo rep told us the company would like to come in below $1,000 though $1,000 to $1,200 is very possible.