After showing off the convertible ThinkPad Helix at CES back in January, Lenovo had originally promised a February ship date for this machine, which then got pushed back to March or April. With less than two weeks left in April, Lenovo is finally ready to send the Helix out to … the staff and students at Seton Hall University in New Jersey.
So why is Seton the first to get these convertibles? According to Seton’s Chief Information Officer Dr. Stephen Landry, the school has ordered 2,000 units of the Helix for “for all incoming students, freshmen and transfer and all juniors, except those in the Mac program.” After all, according to Landry, this Lenovo convertible PC was chosen as the official computer by the school to make it easier to troubleshoot technical problems, as well as to ensure that no one had to pay more than the other for a computer.
The model that SHU students and staffers will be toting around campus has an 11.6-inch, 1920-by-1080 pixel multi-touch display that you can detach to use as a tablet or snap into a keyboard dock to use as a laptop. The screen can be docked facing out so you can use it to give a presentation to a small group without requiring a fancy hinge design.
Under its screen is a low-voltage Intel i5-3317U processor that you’d find in Ultrabooks, as well as 4GB RAM and a 256GB solid-state drive. It also comes with a digitizer pen, as well as a keyboard dock with the iconic red trackpointer and an extra battery pack that gives the convertible PC 10 hours of battery life over all (there is another battery inside the tablet/screen). It comes preloaded with Windows 8.
Although the Helix will retail for $1,500, Seton Hall probably negotiated a handsome discount for its massive order from Lenovo. That said, it seems rather extravagant to require such a top-of-the-line device for students in every discipline, when there are many more budget-friendly standard laptops that are acceptable for most students. Plus, most students probably already have working laptops they can continue using for school.
Lenovo has not announced any formal ship dates for this convertible PC for consumers, so non-SHU students who are eager to get their hands on the Helix will have to keep waiting.