A pint-sized computer that can also do the job of a game console? Sign us up, as Lenovo and NEC impress with a concept.
While many of the ideas shown at CES are bound to come to retail relatively quickly, some may take a little bit longer, with concepts that are still being worked on, and teams at the company needing to work out where exactly the gadgets will be marketed to.
This is clear, particularly in the world of computers. A business laptop can be used by anyone, but is marketed to businesses, while a workstation laptop can be used by anyone, but is typically focused on graphics and video professionals due to the sort of hardware in them. A gaming computer can be used by anyone, but the configuration of gaming hardware makes it geared at gamers, while any other laptop is probably geared at anyone and everyone, but businesses can use it, as can gamers and workstation professionals, though they might not have as good a time compared with a machine made for purpose.
And then there are those other machines, which are a little bit different.
Lenovo has shown off one of those concepts which looks to fit the bill of many needs in a delightful collaboration with NEC, resulting in something that might be arriving later this year in Australia, the Lavie Mini.
It’s a notebook, and a high-end notebook, but it’s also not like any high-end notebook you’ve ever seen. Rather, it’s very small, sized at 8 inches and arriving with a keyboard and mouse, though both of those are small, too. Quite small.
Different from the 14 inch IdeaPad laptops Lenovo announced earlier in the week for CES 2021, the Lavie Mini is from NEC Personal Computers, a joint venture from Lenovo and NEC, and it’s basically a small and powerful computer.
Considered an ultra-mobile computer more like the size of a tablet or a very old netbook going back to 2007 and 2008 — remember the Asus Eee PC? — the Lavie Mini includes an 11th gen Intel Core processor, and up to an i7 at that, with support for up to 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD, 802.11ax WiFi 6, Windows 10, a web cam and IR camera for Windows Hello facial security, and an 8 inch touchscreen supporting 1920×1200. That’s distinct from the typically HD-only screens we’d see in a small device, and makes a big difference.
In short, the Lavie Mini is basically a high-end laptop packed into a small-sized system. We’ve not seen that before, and typically smaller systems are either tablets or budget computers geared at kids. The Lavie Mini is clearly not that, feeling like a high-powered laptop in a truly portable way.
The keyboard and mouse look like they’re where the compromise might be: small keys and what looks like an optical trackpad could hamper the use on such a small keyboard, though in fairness, there was no way Lenovo or NEC was ever going to get a full-sized keyboard on such a small PC.
Of particular note is that the NECPC Lavie Mini can be used as a game system, as well, with an optional gaming controller able to be attached to the PC when the keyboard is folded back. It turns the whole thing into basically an 8 inch Switch-style device and much like what Asus did with the ROG Phone II, with game pads on either side and Windows powered gaming. Alienware had a prototype like this at least year’s CES, but it never really eventuated.
What there isn’t, however, is a price or release date. In the information provided to Pickr, Lenovo has used the word “prototype”, and said local pricing and availability is to be confirmed, which means there’s no word if or when this will come out.
We’re hopeful that it will, because in a world where tablets are becoming powerful little micro-computers but still sit at 10 to 11 inches at a minimum, it would be delightful to see an 8 inch computer get portable computing down to an even smaller size. Whether it works or not will be a really good question, but we’re keen to see it all the same.