Note: The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of Local Tech Wire and business editor of

MORRISVILLE, N.C. – just keeps rolling out trend-setting machines at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the latest being a “hybrid” notebook that actually is two PCs in one package.

Touted as the first PC that “provides consumers with two PCs in one device,” the IdeaPad U1 packs a multi-touch slate tablet as well as a traditional notebook.

The two can be separated and operate independently since each contains its own processor and operating system.

What’s next from the world’s No. 4 PC maker that’s based in Morrisville – triplets?

The U1 announcement comes hours after Lenovo formally introduced its “Skylight,” a so-called “smartbook” that has the size of a netbook (10 inch screen, weighs less than 2 pounds) yet is equipped with chips that enable it to switch automatically between 3G wireless and Wi-Fi networks through Qualcomm’s new Snapdagon chips.

Here’s how Engadget describes the U1:

“When the screen is locked into its upright position in the laptop’s chassis, it’s powered by a CULV Intel Core 2 Duo processor and runs Windows 7 Home Premium. But when the screen is pulled from its shell it morphs into a Qualcomm Snapdragon powered-multitouch slate with a 16GB SSD that boots Lenovo’s customized Skylight Linux interface. Two processors and two operating systems? Hybrid is right.”

In the U1, Lenovo engineers have packed into a “footprint” about the size of an 8×11 piece of paper a 11.6 inch high-definition multi-touch screen that runs Windows 7. The entire package weighs less than 4 pounds.

Like the Skylight, the U1 also can navigate between 3G and Wi-Fi.

The slate portion of the U1 weighs a mere 1.6 pounds.

So how might a user employ two machines at the same time?

“Using Lenovo’s Hybrid Switch technology, the two PCs can seamlessly toggle between the two processors,” a Lenovo spokesperson says. “For instance, users can surf the Web or watch a movie in laptop mode and then continue from the same point without interruption if they detach to tablet mode.”

In announcing the U1, Lin Jun, senior vice president for the Idea Product Group at Lenovo, calls it “a game-changing technology in the PC industry that lets user switch their PC experience within a single device to match their dynamic lifestyle. By fusing the functionality of a notebook with the slate tablet’s rich multitouch entertainment and mobile Internet experience, U1 provides consumers the freedom to choose the device they prefer for any activity.”

The tablet screen can be subdivided into as many as six sections for multitouch access to a variety of Web applications at once.

Each part of the U1 also has a battery life of up to five hours.

Plus, the U1 comes with a built-in video camera, microphone and stereo speakers.

The U1 will go on sale June 1 with a retail price of under $1,000.

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