Lenovo LePad Tablet to Launch Worldwide in June: Report

The Lenovo LePad tablet will, following a release in China, ship abroad, a spokesperson reportedly confirmed. Though a U.S. debut still isn't a definite.

Lenovo reportedly plans to sell its LePad tablet worldwide in June after an initial launch in China, though it's unclear which markets it will be headed for and whether the United States will be included.

In the Feb. 17 report, PC World quoted Jay Chen, a spokesperson for the company, as the source of the information.

The fourth-largest PC maker worldwide, Lenovo introduced the Android-running LePad-modeled after its LePhone-in July 2010 with the promise of a launch before the end of the year. The company put the brakes on that launch, however, and at the Consumer Electronics Show in January showed off the LePad again with its hybrid IdeaPad U1, saying the pair would be available in China during the first quarter of 2011, but again offering no specifics on a U.S. launch.

Arguably the most novel of the tablet devices being churned out today, the LePad is an Android tablet that clicks into the plastic frame of the IdeaPad U1, becoming the display of a Windows 7-running laptop. (A crude descriptor for children of the '80s: Remember the Polly Pocket dolls with the plastic outfits that snapped on and off? It's not entirely unlike that. View slide number four here for a look.)

"Our IdeaPad U1 and LePad truly fit today's mobile lifestyle," Liu Jun, senior vice president of Lenovo's Idea Product Group, said in a Jan. 5 statement from CES. "Use the lightweight slate when you're mobile, and then simply slide it into the U1 base when you need to create and edit content. Consumers shouldn't have to adapt their lifestyle to technology, and this product definitely delivers twice the functionality and fun in one device."

The LePad Slate weighs less than 2 pounds and is half an inch thick. It features a 10.1-inch high-definition display, runs a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, has a front-facing camera for video calling and offers up to 8 hours of battery life. The IdeaPad U1 runs Windows 7 Home Premium and an Intel CULV processor. Users click the LePad in place, hit the Hybrid Switch key, Lenovo said in its statement, and "seamlessly change operating systems to support a continuous Web-browsing experience."

The starting price, for the China launch, will be approximately $520 for the LePad and $1,300 for the IdeaPad U1 with the LePad.

Lenovo announced Jan. 18 that it is also establishing a new business group, the Mobile Internet and Digital Home Business Group, which will be responsible for focusing on mobile Internet-geared devices such as smartphones and tablets, as well as new device categories such as cloud computing, smart televisions and the digital home.

It will additionally develop services and applications, Lenovo said, to help fuel this next-generation of converged devices.

A Morgan Stanley report released Feb. 14 suggested that the tablet market will be bigger than analysts have so far predicted, more likely seeing shipments of 100 million units in 2012, up from 2010's 16 million. (In a Jan. 18 report, IDC, by comparison, forecast 2012's shipments to reach 70.8 million units.)

Over the next 12 months, said the Morgan Stanley report, the greatest demand for tablets will come from China, which is expected to account for 41 percent of all shipments. The United States, by comparison, will account for only 11 percent, putting it behind the United Kingdom (20 percent), Germany (18 percent), Japan (16 percent) and France (15 percent).

Morgan Stanley also reported that consumer PC use is down by 20 percent since 2008, and the market has similarly experienced sluggish sales. While mobile PC sales rose just 4 percent sequentially and 1 percent year-over-year, DisplaySearch reported Feb. 17, those figures rise to 8 percent and 17 percent, respectively, when tablet sales were figured in-a practice that's becoming more common.