I saw a prototype for this computer-tablet hybrid back in 2010. The concept was novel at the time -- at first, it looked like a standard, notebook-style laptop computer with a colorful plastic case on the back of the screen. But then, a Lenovo representative took the screen and popped it off the keyboard. Presto! It was a tablet!
The tablet and the laptop ran on two different operating systems. Originally, the tablet used a derivative of the Linux operating system. In 2011, Lenovo brought the U1 back out with a new tablet OS: Google's Android. When in laptop mode, the computer ran on Windows 7.
Lenovo had some cool ideas for the U1. Ideally, you would be able to continue consuming the same content while going between form factors. If you were watching a video on your laptop and then popped the screen out, the tablet would pick up right where you left off, even if that meant initiating a new program to launch the video.
Unfortunately, the Lenovo U1 never made it to the United States. The tablet, known on its own as LePad, launched in China. Today, several manufacturers offer various combinations of laptops and tablets -- the U1's chance to grab the spotlight has faded away.