Lenovo's shape-shifting laptops, tablets receive a facelift

Lenovo's Carbon X1 ultrabook slide shot

Lenovo's Carbon X1 ultrabook slide shot

Lower pricing hasn't stopped Lenovo from adding a gaggle of new features and innovations to its latest hybrid laptops and tablets.

Lenovo announced the new detachable Miix 2 and Yoga 2 laptop-tablet hybrid, which carry lower starting prices of $499 and $529, respectively. The highly anticipated ThinkPad X1 Carbon, which starts at $1,299, has an innovative reprogrammable keyboard that can adapt to applications. The 27-inch Horizon 2 all-in-one PC allows content and apps to be pulled from smartphones, tablets and other PCs.

The new models are thinner and lighter, and step up performance with Intel's latest Atom chips, called Bay Trail, and fourth-generation Core processors, nicknamed Haswell. The new PCs were announced ahead of the International CES show in Las Vegas.

Yoga 2 hybrid

The Yoga 2 is the thinner, lighter and cheaper successor to the original Yoga laptop announced last year. The current Yoga 11S starts at $799, while the Yoga 13 starts at $849.

The Yoga can double up as a tablet, with the screen capable of twisting 360 degrees around and folding into the base of the laptop.

"The Yoga 2 advances the design and gets to mainstream price points," said Nick Reynolds, executive director of marketing for Lenovo business group.

The hybrids will come in models with 11.6-inch and 13.3-inch screens. The screens are available at up to a resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels. The Yoga 2 PCs will ship this month.

Starting at $529, the 11-inch model is 17 millimeters thick and weighs 1.3 kilograms. It has a quad-core Intel Pentium processor and a 500GB hard drive.

The 13-inch model starts at $999, is 17.3 millimeters thick and weighs 1.5 kilograms. It is performance-oriented, with a Core i5 and 500GB SSHD (solid-state and hard-drive combination) storage.

ThinkPad X1 Carbon ultrabook

The innovative ThinkPad X1 Carbon is a refresh of the company's popular laptop introduced in 2012. Starting at $1,299, the laptop "is the world's lightest 14-inch ultrabook," Reynolds said. It is 17.7 mm thick and weighs 1.27 kilograms. The laptop will become available in January.

It has Haswell processors and offers nine hours of battery life. Another new feature is an "adaptive keyboard," in which the keyboard's function buttons can be reprogrammed to work in accordance with programs.

"As I launch one application such as a Skype call, it will dynamically change those keys to have Web conferencing or VOIP conferencing applications. If I change that once again over to an Internet browser, it will adapt those keys to functions that are relevant," said Matt Bereda, marketing director for Lenovo's Think Business Group.

The goal is to make it easier for users to access functions when most needed. It is easy to reconfigure the adaptive keyboard, Bereda said.

Horizon 2 all-in-one table PC

The original Horizon all-in-one table PC drew a lot of attention at last year's CES. This year, Lenovo is introducing its successor, Horizon 2, which is 26 percent smaller at 19.8 millimeters, and marginally lighter at 7.62 kilograms.

The all-in-one has a 27-inch screen and starts at $1,499. The PC will have a Haswell processor, and an option of a 3200 x 1800-pixel display.

Lenovo's Reynolds said the Horizon PC is more "interpersonal" with its ability to allow multiple people to work with it. The all-in-one can be laid flat on a table, which could allow multiple users to play a game, paint, or even play different instruments at the same time.

"It becomes a really collaborative computing device," Reynolds said.

One way the Horizon has become more collaborative is through an interface called Aura, which allows the PC to access content, contacts or apps from smartphones, tablets or other PCs connected via NFC or Wi-Fi. With specific Android apps, shaking a smartphone can "drop" content or apps from the handset to the Horizon.

A shipping date for Horizon 2 was not available.

ThinkPad 8 tablet

Lenovo's ThinkPad 8 tablet, which has an 8-inch screen and Windows 8.1, is priced starting at $449. It is 8.8-mm thick, and weighs around 400 grams. It runs on Intel's quad-core Bay Trail processors. It can also function as a basic PC when a monitor is connected through a mini-HDMI port.

ThinkPad 8 has a high-definition screen, Lenovo said. It will become available this month.

4K laptops

Lenovo is also bringing 4K to mainstream laptops. Lenovo is offering optional 4K resolution screens with the 14-inch Y40 and 15.6-inch Y50 laptops. The Y40 has an Advanced Micro Devices graphics card, while the Y50 has an Nvidia graphics card. The laptops, which start at $999, are part of Lenovo's high-end laptop lineup for gaming and professional use. The new laptops are faster and more power efficient than previous generations, Lenovo said.

Miix 2 detachable hybrids

Lenovo is betting on detachables like the Miix 2 to grow in the stagnant PC market. Miix 2 models include detachable 10- and 11.6-inch screens. The screens can be pulled out from the keyboard base to become a tablet.

"You have the option to use the Windows 8.1 touchscreen tablet or attach it back to its base for a full laptop experience," Reynolds said.

The 10-inch Miix 2, priced at $499, is 9.2 millimeters thick, weighs 0.58 kilograms and has an Intel Bay Trail processor. The 11.6-inch model starts at $699 and has a Core i5 processor and 256GB SSD storage.

Both the Miix models offer "all-day battery life," Lenovo said. The PCs have screens with a 1920 x 1200-pixel resolution, JBL speakers, 2-megapixel front and 5-megapixel rear cameras, and micro-SD slots. Optional 3G is available.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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