As a joint venture between Lenovo and NEC, it feels like LaVie often gets a bit more freedom to have fun with its device designs, and so for CES 2021 LaVie created a concept device that looks like someone took a Nintendo Switch, added some PC parts, and then gave it a steampunk-reminiscent finish.
Based around an 8-inch 1920 x 1200 display, in normal use the LaVie Mini concept looks a lot like netbook from yesteryear. However, when you add in its distinctive white and gold colour scheme along with its circular backlit keys, the LaVie Mini starts to seem like something that might have been designed in the Bioshock universe.
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While it’s just a concept for now, the LaVie Mini is also slated to have pretty decent components including an 11th-gen Intel Core i7 CPU with Iris Xe graphics, 16GB of RAM, 256GB of SSD storage, Wi-Fi 6, and a 26 WHr battery. And even though the system is too small to feature a full-size touchpad, there’s even a little postage stamp-sized nub and a couple of skinny mouse buttons to help you navigate around.
Image: Lenovo, Other
However, the LaVie Mini’s real party trick is its ability to fold back its keyboard and attach an optional gaming controller, effectively turning the LaVie Mini into the PC-equivalent of a Nintendo Switch. With its controller attached, you get all the standard assortment of controller buttons including a D-pad, two joysticks, and an assortment of face buttons and some triggers on its shoulders. and just like Nintendo’s portable console, the LaVie Mini also has its own dock which you can use to recharge the system or output video to a nearby display.
Following the massive success of the Nintendo Switch, the LaVie Mini isn’t the first attempt we’ve seen by device makers to create a PC-based hybrid console (see Dell’s Concept UFO from CES 2020), but because no PC makers have been able to nail the formula yet, the LaVie Mini concept remains a nice and tantalising dream.
Unfortunately, LaVie has just come up with a design. Next comes the hard part: taking this concept and turning it into an actual production device. Currently, there’s no timetable for when the LaVie Mini will go on sale, and if this thing is anything like Dell’s UFO Concept, there’s a good chance it never will. And sadly that’s kind of a downer for what could be a really interesting device.