Detachable Lenovo laptop is two separate computers, runs Windows and Android

AI SaaS

Have you ever used a Windows laptop and thought, “Gee, I really wish this was also an Android tablet”? Does Lenovo have a product for you!

The Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 5 Hybrid laptop at CES 2024 is both a Windows laptop and an Android tablet. The bottom half contains all the usual Intel laptop parts, while the top half packs a Qualcomm chip and a whole duplicate set of computing components. A detachable screen lets both halves come apart and operate separately, and you’ll be spending your life riding the line between the Windows and Android ecosystems. Because you’re getting two separate computers, you’ll also have to pay for two separate computers—the device costs $2,000.

Because the device houses two computers, you can separate them and run them at the same time. Of course, the tablet acts as an Android tablet when it’s detached, but you can also plug the headless laptop base into a monitor and use Windows. Lenovo calls the tablet the “Hybrid Tab” while the bottom is the “Hybrid Station,” and the whole thing voltroned together forms the “ThinkBook Plus Gen 5 Hybrid.” The laptop base runs Windows 11 and has an Intel Core Ultra 7 processor, 32GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD, Intel graphics, and a 75 Whr battery. The tablet runs Android 13 on a Snapdragon 8+ gen 1 SoC, along with 12GB of RAM, 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage, and a 38 Whr battery.

Peripherals are all over the place. The tablet has four 1 W speakers, while the laptop base has two 2 W speakers. The laptop has a fingerprint reader and the tablet doesn’t, but the tablet has infrared face biometrics and the laptop doesn’t. The tablet has an unspecified front camera and two rear cameras: 13 MP and 5 MP.

The laptop has two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports—one on either side—and a headphone jack, while the tablet just has one USB-C port. The tablet’s USB-C port is on the bottom, but that’s not used for connectivity between the two halves; instead, there’s some kind of proprietary port. Interestingly, the laptop hinges are on the tablet half, making the tablet a bit heavier in tablet mode than it needs to be. Speaking of weight, the whole contraption weighs 1,755 g (3.8 lbs). The laptop bottom measures 9.4 mm thick, with a weight of 970 g, and the tablet is 6.6 mm thick with a weight of 785 g.

The two halves are so separate that you can just run them separately.
Enlarge / The two halves are so separate that you can just run them separately.

Lenovo

The idea is a strange one, given how heavy, expensive, and complicated this device will be. And Windows already has a full touch interface that works fine in a tablet form factor. Something like the Microsoft Surface Book built a whole PC into the top half of a detachable laptop, which powered the Windows laptop and Windows tablet parts without needing a whole extra computer in the other half. Windows can also run Android apps now, if for some reason you’re in love with the idea of tablet Android apps.

The only reason to have the whole extra Android computer is if you really like the Android tablet OS and Google’s tablet apps, which is hard for even most die-hard Android users to say. With an official build of Android, you’ll get the Google apps, which wouldn’t be available through the Windows Android store. Google has to individually approve your device to get those apps, so it’s interesting that the company is apparently OK with this wacky hybrid device.

The inevitable problem with having two totally separate computers in one device is that at some point, there will be data on one device that you want to access on the other. Lenovo says the Windows computer has a “Hybrid Stream” feature that will enable the “streaming” of Android apps from the tablet via a “Picture-in-Picture window.” That sounds a bit like Stadia, where inputs were sent to a remote device for processing and a video stream was sent back. Here, though, the “remote” device is just the top half of your laptop. There is also a “Tablet with Keyboard” mode, indicating that you can use the laptop’s keyboard and mouse with the Android tablet somehow.

Many questions remain. Lenovo doesn’t actually say how you switch OSes. The Android tablet supports pen input, but Lenovo doesn’t say the pen will work with Windows. It also doesn’t say that Windows can use the tablet’s cameras (though that would be possible over USB). Another thing that would be possible over USB but isn’t mentioned is mass storage access of the other device—both Windows and Android could be host devices.

The Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 5 Hybrid will be ready for all your mixed computing tasks in Q2.

AI SaaS

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