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2010 CES: Day 0

I flew to Las Vegas last night; I love Jet Blue but their Boston-Vegas flights are bogus: You fly out at 8:00 pm and arrive here almost at midnight Vegas time, and then the right flight is a red eye. I never choose this type of flight, but I love Jet Blue and the alternative was a non-direct flight, which I'm even less interested in. So next Sunday is going to be a stupid, tired day, but whatever.

Today has been pretty low-key so far, just a few meetings, one of which was quite important (more below), but tonight is the Steve Ballmer keynote, which I'll watch remotely (there's no need to experience that silliness in person), a possibly interesting invite-only Sprint event (which Ballmer will attend), the Pepcom Digital Experience get-together (which I'll absolutely attend), and then a Lenovo event. So it's going to get busy.

Today, I need to finish up a bunch of work for the print magazine, including a quote for the 15th anniversary of the magazine (which started out as Windows NT Magazine, of course), a "Windows 7 Annoyances" article, my monthly column (back up to two full pages), and "Paul's Picks." So even though none of this will hit the web anytime soon, it's going to be a lot of writing.

In the meantime, I wanted to briefly discuss some of the stuff Lenovo is doing. I spent about an hour and a half meeting with them this morning and while I am charitably described as a ThinkPad fanboy, the truth is, they just make the best notebooks on earth. And now they're getting even better. It's dizzying. I posted a bit about this yesterday, but there is so much going on here. In fact, their near-final version of a tiny notebook with a breakaway tablet screen absolutely kills anything Apple could possibly announce later this month. It's not even close. I'll have it on the podcast on Friday morning, when we do a live show from the Las Vegas Convention Center South Hall.

Here's what Lenovo has already announced at the show (and, yes, there is more coming, including a smart phone):

ThinkPad Edge. A new line of ThinkPads featuring cool new "edge" styling, a new-look keyboard (but with the classic and best of breed ThinkPad feel). It's available now in 13-inch guise (I want it) and 14- and 15-inch versions are coming. Awesome, light, and stylish.

ThinkPad X100e. It's basically a ThinkPad netbook, but they're not calling it that because it's aimed at enterprises and they don't want these companies to think the device isn't build to the ThinkPad standard. But it is, and it's supported like any other ThinkPad. (For whatever it's worth, I practically begged Lenovo to make a ThinkPad netbook just a few weeks ago. That was fast.)

New versions of classic ThinkPad lines. The ThinkPad T series got new T410, T510, and T410S upgrades, which feature faster processors and chipsets, better battery life, and more, including powered USB ports that are colored yellow just like the power port. (Smart.) The ThinkPad W series got a new W510 mobile workstation with similar improvements.

Idea PCs. I'm not as familiar with Lenovo's consumer-oriented wares as I am with the Think line, but suddenly these machines are looking quite impressive as well. There are 11 (!) new IdeaPad laptops/netbooks and IdeaCenter desktops, including some amazing all-in-one designs that make the iMac look quaint by comparison.

Skylight smartbook. I'm not a big fan of the "smartbook" name--it basically means a netbook that runs a non-Microsoft OS on non-x86 hardware--but Lenovo's entry is amazing. This little guy weighs next to nothing (OK, 2 pounds), runs on the Snapdragon platform, connects to 3G or Wi-Fi networks, and features a beautiful, innovative interface that's optimized for web apps and media playback. It's brilliant looking, gets killer battery life, and will ship in April. You're going to be surprised by how nice this thing is.

Until you see this.

IdeaPad U1 hybrid notebook. Shipping in the second half of 2010, this is the device that will make Apple's supposed tablet look silly. It's basically a clamshell netbook-class computer running Windows 7. But you can pop-off the screen and use just that as a tablet. That tablet runs the same system as the Skylight smartbook, but with touch-compatible controls (gorgeous, too) on top. Both the screen and keyboard/base have their own batteries. And the two sides sync. So if you're browsing the web in Firefox on the tablet and reattach the screen, the page you're viewing pops up, immediately, in IE in Windows 7 when the connection is made. This thing looks like it came straight out of a science fiction movie about the future but it's here now in working form and you'll be able to buy it later this year.

I will have the U1 on the Windows Weekly podcast Friday, so check out the video version if you can. I doubt I'm going to see anything more impressive at CES this year.

It's early yet, I know. :)

More later tonight around the keynote and Digital Experience.

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