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Lenovo stuck a projector into a 13-inch tablet

Lenovo announced a batch of new tablets in its Yoga line on Thursday. One of them is unique: the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro is an Android tablet with a big 13-inch screen and a built-in projector.

The Yoga Tablet 2 Pro will cost at least $500 and will compete with the iPad Air. It’s an interesting size for a tablet, with a 13-inch screen running at 2560 x 1440 resolution. Like previous Yoga tablets, one side of the tab has a protruding berm — a “battery cylinder” — which can be used as a kickstand. On the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro, Lenovo has stuck an entire pico projector as well as a subwoofer in there. There have been a few phones with built-in pico projectors, but this is one of the first tablets, and it’s a mainstream product that will be widely available.

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Pico projectors are an interesting technology that has been looking for a consumer application. Companies have stuck pocket projectors into hotspots, phones and even bluetooth docks, but the tablet may be the best place to stick one. Tablets are already consumption-focused devices and are frequently shared by family members. Wouldn’t it be handy to be able to beam a YouTube video on to a wall so the whole family can watch?

The Yoga Tablet 2 Pro’s projector is rated for 40-50 lumens and will have a 854 x 480 resolution. It will start shipping towards the end of October.

The other tablet that [company]Lenovo[/company] announced Thursday is more conventional, but it still sports the Yoga wedge kickstand on one side. It’s called the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2, and consumers will have the option between two different sizes as well as two different operating systems. Both the 8- and 10-inch Android versions will have a 1920 x 1200 screen powered by an Intel Atom processor. The 8-inch should cost around $250, and the 10-inch model will cost around $300 when they eventually go on sale.

But consumers will also have the option whether they’d rather have their Lenovo Yoga Tab 2 come with Windows 8.1. However, the Windows-oriented Yoga Tablets will cost more, with the 10-inch model priced at $400 and the 8-inch starting at $300. Lenovo making Windows tablets is a little bit of a surprise given that a spokesman said there was no demand for small Windows tablets earlier this year. Lenovo later backtracked in a statement, but the market viability of Windows on small tablets remains in question.

The most exciting thing about Lenovo’s new tablets is that they’re not generic rectangles — although Lenovo certainly makes those as well. The general form and function of the tablet hasn’t changed a good deal over the past few years, but Lenovo’s battery cylinder and projector-equipped Yoga tablets are funky and different. Early reactions have been cautiously optimistic. Is a 13-inch entertainment-focused tablet what the stalled tablet market was clamoring for? I don’t know, but I’m glad Lenovo is going to find out.

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