Lenovo and NEC take aim at the Nintendo Switch with the LaVie Mini

Shawn Knight

Posts: 12,803   +124
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The big picture: Remember netbooks, the ultra-portable laptop alternatives that were all the rage roughly a decade ago? They could be making a comeback if Lenovo and NEC have their way. The LaVie Mini is a concept convertible PC featuring an 8-inch (1,920 x 1,200 resolution) touchscreen display. Unlike the netbooks of yesteryear, however, the LaVie Mini isn’t light on power.

Should it materialize, it’ll be offered with up to an 11th Gen Intel Core i7 mobile processor, Intel Iris Xe graphics, 16GB of LPDDR4 memory and up to a 256GB SSD – all in a package that weighs just 1.28 pounds.

Other amenities include a backlit keyboard, Wi-Fi 6 and a 26WHr battery. But it’s the optional gaming controller that really sets the LaVie Mini apart.

With it, you’ll be able to transform the convertible into a Nintendo Switch / Razer Edge style portable console. And with the optional HDMI-connected dock, it should be a breeze to connect the system to your television and play on the big screen.

As mentioned, the LaVie Mini is little more than a prototype being shown off at CES, likely to gauge industry and consumer interest. As such, there aren’t any pricing or availability details attached to the modern netbook at this time.

Are Lenovo and NEC on to something here or is this little more than a glorified gaming tablet that should remain in the prototype phase? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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terzaerian

Posts: 239   +284
The one tablet I ever liked was the ill-fated and worse-named Lenovo Miix 2 8. Despite its shortcomings, it was just a great device - just the right size that watching video on it wasn't horribly unpleasant, and I could accomplish actual work with it. A convertible in that size format is something that I'll definitely be keeping an eye on.
 

SirDigby

Posts: 727   +410
TechSpot Elite
This'll flop hard if they release it. There are a few of these Switch-copycats for PCs and they never really penetrate the market, I imagine all of the sold units combined don't top 0.001% of consoles OR PC market share.
 

Torrentius

Posts: 8   +10
Unless this costs around the price range of a Nintendo Switch, no, they are not on to anything. And it obviously won't. Also, 1920x1080 is stupid for handheld gaming, as iGPUs are too weak for that - even GPD Win Max has 1280x800 screen.

Bring back 10~13 inch netbooks for ~200$. Something like Celeron J4125 should be cheap and good enough for that, and we could definitely use them during pandemic. Where I live even Zen+ laptops are now pricier than on release, two years ago.
 
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Theinsanegamer

Posts: 2,138   +2,779
We get netbooks making a comeback but no proper replacement for 7-8” tablets that fit nicely into the $200-300 bracket. This timeline sucks

Unless this costs around the price range of a Nintendo Switch, no, they are not on to anything. And it obviously won't. Also, 1920x1080 is stupid for handheld gaming, as iGPUs are too weak for that - even GPD Win Max has 1280x800 screen.

Bring back 10~13 inch netbooks for ~200$. Something like Celeron J4125 should be cheap and good enough for that, and we could definitely use them during pandemic. Where I live even Zen+ laptops are now pricier than on release, two years ago.
we have them, they’re called chromebooks.
 
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Torrentius

Posts: 8   +10
We get netbooks making a comeback but no proper replacement for 7-8” tablets that fit nicely into the $200-300 bracket. This timeline sucks

we have them, they’re called chromebooks.
AFAIK late Chromebooks are somewhat reluctant when it comes to installing e.g. your Linux distro of choice. And not that cheap anymore. Cheap x86 CPU are still most flexible, so that's what I want from a netbook.

Anyway - computing devices prices got overcomplicated and the whole industry is responsible. It is 2021 and you still can't use your smartphone as a desktop replacement, even though even cheap ones have enough computing power - most of them have more powerful CPUs than a goddamn Raspberry Pi. USB-C dock should be enough for most work/learn from home people affected by pandemic.
 

Wrinkle

Posts: 12   +7
AFAIK late Chromebooks are somewhat reluctant when it comes to installing e.g. your Linux distro of choice. And not that cheap anymore. Cheap x86 CPU are still most flexible, so that's what I want from a netbook.

Anyway - computing devices prices got overcomplicated and the whole industry is responsible. It is 2021 and you still can't use your smartphone as a desktop replacement, even though even cheap ones have enough computing power - most of them have more powerful CPUs than a goddamn Raspberry Pi. USB-C dock should be enough for most work/learn from home people affected by pandemic.
It's nigh on impossible to install Linux on most modern Chromebooks. Like you said, a chromebook with a beefy cpu will cost as much (or sometimes even more) as a Windows laptop with the same specs which only makes them interesting in specific corporate settings.

Regarding phones as a pc replacement I think Samsung Dex is actually getting somewhat good.
Stupidly the whole phone to monitor thing is, I think, held back by connectivity issues. Basically every monitor would have to have a USB C plug readily available as well as an integrated USB hub that connects a mouse and keyboard. Alternatively the industry could decide on a standard dock but we all know that that is never going to happen.
 
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Torrentius

Posts: 8   +10
It's nigh on impossible to install Linux on most modern Chromebooks. Like you said, a chromebook with a beefy cpu will cost as much (or sometimes even more) as a Windows laptop with the same specs which only makes them interesting in specific corporate settings.

Regarding phones as a pc replacement I think Samsung Dex is actually getting somewhat good.
Stupidly the whole phone to monitor thing is, I think, held back by connectivity issues. Basically every monitor would have to have a USB C plug readily available as well as an integrated USB hub that connects a mouse and keyboard. Alternatively the industry could decide on a standard dock but we all know that that is never going to happen.
Yeah, but Samsung Dex is only available in the most expensive devices - this doesn't make much sense, as you can buy decent laptop/PC and a cheaper smartphone for the money, if your goal is to have comfy PC experience.

And I want it to be cheap, but decent. 70$ ARM based Raspberry Pi shows it shouldn't be that difficult. And as much as I love it, I think its existence shouldn't be necessary, as most people, even kids, have similar chips in their pockets already.

Google already has everything that is necessary to make smartphones as a desktop-replacement happen: Chrome OS. Make it part of Android and phone manufacturers will be more willing to include USB-C video output support in their cheaper mobiles as well.

I don't see any problems with standarisation, as all you really need is already possible and available - laptops use USB-C docking stations for display out and USB ports (for K&M, storage). Docking station acts as a charger at the same time. The only limitation I see is the software.

Motorola Lapdock existed 10 years ago. Maybe it was too early, but with nowadays ARM performance, I say, let's give it another go. And I think only Google can make it happen, as I don't see Apple accepting that their customers suddenly need only one device ;)
 
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pcnthuziast

Posts: 938   +591
Vapor ware that will never go into production. Also a concept that is not nearly as cool as they must think and not innovative or new.
 

Jpe1701

Posts: 35   +28
I wish that more mainstream manufacturers would make interesting netbooks/tablets like some of the Chinese companies. Some of them are pretty decent for simple things like web browsing or word processing and have a quad core celeron n4100 and 8gb ram with all metal chassis for around $300. The problem though is that for ordinary people they're not a good solution because you have to make sure you have a copy of the original drivers for when you update windows because none of them have them on their website and support is basically non existent.
 
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