Proving once again that technology journalism has more than a little similarity to online dating, a bunch of tech sites ran stories Monday hyping a new entry into the sub-subnotebook field: The Pocket Yoga by Lenovo.
The stories began appearing after a series of high-quality photographs showed up on Lenovo's Flickr feed, depicting a sleek, leather-wrapped, ultrathin PC that opened up to a very wide (but not very tall) screen and a matching keyboard with edge-to-edge keys. Another picture showed the screen folded all the way back so that it could be used as a small tablet PC roughly the size of a reporter's notebook.
To secure the case while traveling, Lenovo designed a small leather belt to hold the screen shut. When the computer is in use, the belt folds up and becomes a travel-size mouse.
The tech site Engadget's response to the photos was pretty typical: "Tantalizing, yes? That's it for details, but be sure to hit up that gallery for those red-hot pics."
But as is all-too-often true online, it turned out that the photos have no basis in reality. According to Johnson Li, director of Lenovo's Beijing Innovation Center, the photos depict a concept the company considered a couple of years ago but decided not to bring to market.
"Last week some buzz was created by a photograph that someone snuck out of our Beijing design studio," Li said in a blog post. "The picture was of a pocket-sized PC we developed about two years ago, well before the current netbook craze and the introduction of a similar form factor by one of our competitors."
Li added that the concept of the Pocket Yoga was based on a larger folding notebook called the Yoga, which in turn was inspired by the athletic interest of a Lenovo designer from New Zealand.
"Pocket Yoga is shaped just like a large wallet," Li said. "You can easily put it into your pocket. The proportion of length and width is about the maximum size for a notebook that can fit into a pocket -- or, as we like to say, it is the smallest pocket notebook."
Chasing VAIO P
The still-mythical Pocket Yoga was seen as a natural competitor to the current sub-subnotebook hotshot, the Sony VAIO P. The winner of an award for computers and hardware, the VAIO P is a 1.4-pound, eight-inch clamshell notebook capable of running Windows Vista.
The enthusiasm of tech Web sites for the Pocket Yoga underscores the overall enthusiasm for mini, micro and ultramicro PCs. Thanks in large part to their significantly lower cost, consumers seem willing to accept the performance trade-offs currently necessary to squeeze a PC into what is effectively the size of an old-fashioned pencil case.
As Engadget put it after posting an update about Li's disclosure that the project never got off the ground: "You know what? We still want one."