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IdeaPad U1, What We Wanted the iPad To Be 401

Xanator writes "With the announcement of the iPad, the Lenovo IdeaPad U1 Hybrid appears to have gone unnoticed, but maybe we ought to pay it more attention. It's a netbook with a removable screen that turns it into a tablet (switching OS from Windows 7 to a tablet OS within 3 seconds), and it appears to offer what many of us wanted from the iPad. Quoting Engadget: 'When docked, the U1 looks and feels like any other 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.'"
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IdeaPad U1, What We Wanted the iPad To Be

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  • by RobinEggs ( 1453925 ) on Friday February 12, 2010 @04:26PM (#31118032)

    What We Wanted the IPad To Be

    People keep talking as if Apple really missed the boat with iPad, but the truth is they only missed the boat for hard-core, tinker-happy nerds...and they've made a very specific point of missing that boat for at least the last decade. They're marketing to fanboys who want it to be trendy and 'just work', not to nerds.

    So it's nice that this might be what you hoped for from the iPad. But why did you hope iPad would be what you wanted in the first place?

  • nice, but (Score:5, Insightful)

    by orient ( 535927 ) on Friday February 12, 2010 @04:29PM (#31118122)
    Lenovo will, certainly, build a more affordable and compatible/open device than Apple. Their advantage will be the price, but Apple has the advantage of their OS and well known applications.
  • by Lally Singh ( 3427 ) on Friday February 12, 2010 @04:29PM (#31118130) Journal

    Mod Parent Up

    The point is that a good tablet with more functionality than the iPad requires a good amount of research into how to do tablet UIs. The WIMP system is pretty terrible for tablet computing. That's why the iPad's an overgrown ipod touch, to avoid having to either do the research or be sucky.

    Frankly, I'd love to see something designed for a stylus that also can take a few gestures usable for the hand holding that stylus.

  • by enryonaku ( 1441337 ) on Friday February 12, 2010 @04:30PM (#31118142)

    to demonstrate how the UI is laggy and the touch unresponsive?

  • Nice headline (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sootman ( 158191 ) on Friday February 12, 2010 @04:33PM (#31118216) Homepage Journal

    Who is "we"? I'm pretty happy with what the iPad is. Also, I'm happy to pay half the cost of an IdeaPad, and get it 8 months sooner.

  • Argh! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Friday February 12, 2010 @04:35PM (#31118272)

    Slashdot, goddamnit, you should be required to put the following text on articles like this --

    WARNING: This story reads like an advertisement.

    Because it is. If you were being fair and unbiased, you'd post links to all the other vendors' offerings and comparing them to the iTampon, so we could have a discussion about the state of the art, rather than one vendor's offerings. Boo. Hiss. Shaaaaaame. :\

  • by hilldog ( 656513 ) on Friday February 12, 2010 @04:36PM (#31118298)
    How are people going to use this anyway? As a big e-reader? game pad? movie player? Right now it all looks cool and shiny but who is going to spend a thousand dollars - or $999 as the article reads - for this? I love cool and shiny but I don't see adding this to my life unless I had a pressing reason to do so and touch screen isn't the reason.
  • Re:nice, but (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bearhouse ( 1034238 ) on Friday February 12, 2010 @04:37PM (#31118336)

    but Apple has the advantage of their OS and well known applications.

    Eh? The Lenovo runs Windows 7 and their Skylight UI is based on Linux.
    So urm, right, definite advantage for Apple on choice of apps, then...

  • Here's why. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 12, 2010 @04:39PM (#31118370)

    But why did you hope iPad would be what you wanted in the first place?

    Something more than a larger over priced iTouch?

    The Lenovo has a keyboard and the ports for connecting things like cameras.

    Apple lost a sale. I'm going to Lenovo - much more value too.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 12, 2010 @04:42PM (#31118474)

    Actually Apple does cater to the hard-code tinker-happy nerds in one case: OS X. An easy-to-use but technically advanced UI built on top of cutting-edge APIs and a certified Unix core? OS X is a nerd dream come true. It's hard to reconcile the Jobs that created NeXT, ported it to Macs, and kept building more goodies on top with the hacker-hostile control freak Jobs that released the iPhone.

    Of course by now we should have learned that Apple's not going to extend this hacker friendliness beyond OS X. But we can dream.

  • by iluvcapra ( 782887 ) on Friday February 12, 2010 @04:44PM (#31118508)
    Not being into this sort of thing, they probably didn't have an opinion one way or the other, and either didn't want to get into an argument with you, or were looking for cues from someone knowledgeable whom they knew, in order to decide what their opinion should be.
  • by jhol13 ( 1087781 ) on Friday February 12, 2010 @04:47PM (#31118570)

    I know some people will just "love" iPad ... but think, for a second, rationally.
    What the heck it is for? You cannot put even USB stick into it! You cannot run any "office" software, no IDE, not even Web with flash or even Java ... well you can read a pdf ... wow.

    There has to be a reason, for most people, to buy it, right? What it is? Price - no . Battery life - no. Connectivity - haha! Usablity - not even a test editor! Multitasking ... everyone remembers Microsoft idea of limiting this to three - can Apple pull out with one? I don't think so.

    I admit, I'm nerd the worst kind, but ... your question: I won't buy it if it does not do a single thing I want. And nobody I know neither, nerd or not.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 12, 2010 @04:48PM (#31118582)

    The iPad is the laughing stock of the computer world.

    It has become the poster child for joke overhyped products.

    Most of the Apple Hipster Douchebag Starbucks iPhone crowd are distancing themselves from the stench of the epic iPad fail.

    Apple is in full scale panic mode over Jobs "most important thing he's ever done" unveiling fiasco. Leaking various hints of hardware changes, getting the hardcore Apple friendly blogsphere to try to salvage the device, rumors of pre-launch price drops.

    Yeah, keep parroting that silly meme that it is somehow a tiny group of "hard-core, tinker-happy nerds" who aren't going to buy a piece of shit product like the iPad.

  • Re:nice, but (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sidnelson13 ( 1309391 ) on Friday February 12, 2010 @04:50PM (#31118648)
    You want choice, you can always go for one of these [alwaysinnovating.com]. I find it weird that I don't see as much coverage for this nice little product from a small company as I see for speculative, unfinished and proprietary products like this.
  • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Friday February 12, 2010 @04:51PM (#31118652)

    Agreed 100%. I also was more dismissive when I first saw the iPad, to the point where I wondered why it didn't have an add-on keyboard like always innovating's netbook (which this IBM slate seems to have copied in a way), but now I went through Apple's presentation days ago - I have to say this product might have a chance.

    Yeah, you can do a "million more" things on a netbook/notebook/desktop - but why would Apple try to have a new product compete with their own line-up, let alone all that is already out there. Looking at the iPad, I would say it's not in competition with notebooks, not even small ones. It's in competition with the Amazon Kindle and other e-readers. I owned a Kindle for about 3 weeks -- while I appreciate the battery life e-ink gives, it was bad contrast, slow rendering, and gives a horrible web experience. And that is what the iPad is aiming at -- much like how the iPod came into a marketplace that already had years of mp3 players.

    Idk if it will be successful, but I think the geeks dismissing it for the wrong reasons - the limited view of their own demographic, wants and needs.

    While I won't get one for myself, I'm thinking of getting one for my father. He wants to email and surf basically - but he never extensively used a computer in his life beyond an ATM or digital watch - and he still stumbles with the most basic laptops. He's not a stupid man, but doesn't have the benefit of our generation. Even many people in their 30s and 40s are like that - I tried teaching my uncle to use a computer - he just got a laptop. But its frustrating for us both --- when you use computers all the time, you just don't consciously realize anymore how many quirks and rules you put up with to use the thing. He wants to email pictures he took with a digital camera - damn, teaching concept of file systems, file size, possible resizing, etcetera. Not an easy task for a newbie.

    I think that's what the iPad is aimed at - making the computing experience as appliance like as possible. Push a button, the thing turns on. I thought the lack of keyboard would hurt it - but guess what - traditional tablets have been tried and none were successful yet. The first and second IBM video is extremely counter to this - just way too many active gadgets on the screen at once and touching that circle thing and dragging it is way too cumbersome (windows-like paradigm) instead of clicking something once and it doing what you want. The screen also seems way too big as a tablet, although the way it pops out is extremely cool.

    If Apple succeeds here, it's because they're going into an untapped market - not because they're doing what everybody else is doing (hint: tablets have been long made -- nearly nobody wants). It could flop tremendously as well, but I think the halls of Slashdot, populated by people to whom computers are second nature, are the wrong opinions to go by.

  • by coolgeek ( 140561 ) on Friday February 12, 2010 @04:54PM (#31118756) Homepage

    Nobody was very impressed with the initial release of the iPod either. It was overpriced, bulky, and seriously, $400 for a music player? Like the iPod, the iPad will evolve.

    Apple has succeeded in getting McGraw Hill signed on. Once you can buy textbooks for half the price, which publishers will happily do to make sure they destroy the used book market, every college student will have one. The iPad platform will evolve significantly before they graduate. When those students are in decision making positions, they will find problems that will be solved by the iPad, and buy more.

    And that's just one of its growth paths.

  • by friedmud ( 512466 ) on Friday February 12, 2010 @04:57PM (#31118848)

    - Price - Yes! Compared to an E-Reader like a Kindle DX for the same price... I'll take a device that can do hundreds of things well over a device that can only do one.

    - Battery Life - Yes! It gets 10 hours of battery... what more could you want from a device that does so much?

    - Connectivity - Yes! Wifi and 3G (admittedly expensive). Also.. you can connect a camera to it using USB or SDCARD (bottom of this page: http://www.apple.com/ipad/specs/ [apple.com] )

    - Usability - Definitely! Millions of people already intuitively know how to use one. Navigation is simple... interacting is simple. How would you make it more usable... and what the hell is a "test editor"?

    - Multitasking - No. I agree here... I hope it comes in OS 4.0... but it's not a show stopper for millions of people currently using iPhone OS devices....

  • Cute; but... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Friday February 12, 2010 @05:07PM (#31119064) Journal
    It is always nice to see one of the PC OEMs take a break from shoving intel reference designs into ugly boxes at lowest possible cost(don't get me wrong, this is their highest virtue, is what has made computers accessible to so much of the world, and is certainly what I prefer to buy; but it really isn't very interesting to watch) and go out on a limb a bit.

    That said, the concept doesn't really "click" with me. First, there is just the fact that complexity without very good reason is the enemy. If you hold price constant, increased complexity will tank your quality. If you hold quality constant, increased complexity will spike your price. The U1, compared to an ordinary netbook, has the disadvantage of two batteries(one primary, one embedded in the screen/tablet thing), two system boards(ditto, though the tablet one should be a lot smaller), and a potentially unreliable combination mechanical/electrical connector right at the hinge(when docked, the tablet unit will need to receive power, video, and data from the primary unit). This connector/hinge will have to survive numerous matings and unmatings and openings and closings without getting flaky or frustrating. If it rattles, or has to be docked two or three times to get it to go back into notebook mode, or has to be docked just right or whatever, that will be hugely annoying. I'm not saying that this will be impossible to get right, just that it will either drive up cost substantially, or not be done in a way that will still be endurable six months after purchase.

    Second, and ultimately much trickier, is the question of the relationship between the main unit and the tablet unit. TFA, and other articles, suggest that Lenovo has made an attempt to have some useful interaction between the two. If you are browsing a webpage on the main when you tear the tablet off, the page will be loaded in the tablet's browser, that sort of thing. I'd assume the same would go for a few common document types. That worries me. It is exactly the sort of thing that would work perfectly in sci-fi world, where people are constantly passing wireless screens from person to person, and human computers can interact with alien spaceships, and whatnot. Real world, though, it is going to get ugly. The main unit is running Windows 7. The tablet is running on an ARM core, so it is almost certainly running CE or Linux. This means that, for a subset of all common tasks, tearing off the tablet will provide almost seamless continuity, with the right wedge of helper software and a bit of luck. Open a PDF, peel off the tablet, read happily, hurray! However, the set of document types and system activities that are equally supported between full windows and linux or WinCE is far smaller than the total set of document types and system activities. Worse, the set has ragged edges.

    Consider, you open a PDF, tear off the tablet, read happily. It all works perfectly. Then, one day, it fails with some cryptic error. Whoops. That PDF had one of the newer PDF DRM schemes, and Adobe supports Reader on Windows more aggressively than whatever Lenovo has baked into the tablet. There goes your happy workflow. And, unless you are at least a little techy, and paying attention, you won't even understand why one thing worked and another didn't. Similar things can be imagined with regard to web pages, or word documents. Simply opening whatever URL was open in the foreground session of IE in the browser of the tablet should be trivial enough. Keeping cookies in sync might even be doable. However, there is surely a subset of sites that will absolutely freak out and refuse to provide anything resembling a continuous session when a user suddenly disappears from IE8 on Win7 and reappears on a completely different browser(and quite possibly IP, unless some funky network stack trickery is going on). Most likely, you'll just be kicked back to the login screen, and have to log in again using the tablet touch-keyboard, which will really break your flow. I'm sure some sites will work just fine, a
  • by Draek ( 916851 ) on Friday February 12, 2010 @05:14PM (#31119224)

    For a tablet/slate, I just want to run a few apps/games and get online. I want it to be easy. I don't really want to mess with the file system. I don't want a browser that's vulnerable to malware. I don't want to have to mess with drivers. I don't want to have to manually drag and drop or copy my music or pictures from my computer to my tablet (or worse, dick around with file sharing over a network). I just want the damn thing to do apps, games and Internet without any fuss.

    Good for you. I don't.

    I just wish some of the Apple fans on this website understood that concept.

  • by Draek ( 916851 ) on Friday February 12, 2010 @05:35PM (#31119734)

    Or they simply didn't like it. Why is that concept so hard to believe?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 12, 2010 @06:15PM (#31120470)

    The concept that you want a tablet that is a computer? Trivial. Very unimaginative, but trivial to understand. We're with you there, now what else do you have to show us? Your tablet-ready antivirus? Your flash-blocking plug-in? Your USB 3G dongle? Your 15 min battery life, your 3 lbs. external battery or your truly portable heat dissipator? When you're done, please be sure to tally the total and let us know how much you spent trying to put that laptop in a portable disguise.
    Sure we understand you, but if you want to stay stationary on a road labeled "Future" don't complain when you get trampled trying to reboot!

  • by Enderandrew ( 866215 ) <enderandrew AT gmail DOT com> on Friday February 12, 2010 @06:18PM (#31120544) Homepage Journal

    Most people here seem to insist you need a new OS and new UI for the tablet, but I expect most users will want to take their Windows apps with them in the tablet mode.

    Windows 7 added multi-touch gestures for precisely this reason.

  • Re:Here's why. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @12:04AM (#31124154) Homepage
    Computers (Personal Computers) stopped being a core business of pretty much anybody these days. There is little money in it and not much innovation by anybody. Apple is clearly getting into the consumer electronic end of things - computing appliances if you will.

    That's fine, there certainly appears to be a market for it. However, I don't see Apple dropping the MacBooks or the Mac Pro anytime soon. They do make money off them, they have largely recouped the R&D and marketing costs. They will continue doing what everyone does - improve processors, screens, batteries and other bits and pieces but I will hazard a bet that in 5 years, those computers look and act a whole bunch like the current models.

    If Apple just kept to those machines, it would be a much weaker company.

You can measure a programmer's perspective by noting his attitude on the continuing viability of FORTRAN. -- Alan Perlis