Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs unveiled Lenovo’s first smartbook today at an analyst meeting in New York. Smartbooks will bridge the gap between smartphones and netbooks, offering better battery life than the computer but with richer offerings than the phone. The Lenovo smartbook is about the size of a hand and has a full-size screen and keyboard. Like a smartphone, it has constant wifi connection and has an “instant-on” bootup. The Linux-based user interface consists of six large widgets for things like email and Facebook.

The smartbook uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chipset, which allows the device to support Flash, something that most current smartphones cannot do. Snapdragon will be featured on more and more recently announced smartphones.

Lenovo's smartbook also supports HD.

The device will be launched at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in January, and will be sold by AT&T.

Many companies are designing smartbooks, but Lenovo’s product should be one of the first to hit the market.

From what I’ve seen of pricing, smartbooks seem like they might be more expensive than netbooks, at least when they initially launch. And of course any mentions of carriers and exclusivity is problematic. That could lead to problems in reaching a market, but if the computer-side of the device is robust enough, I’d certainly be interested in one.

It will be interesting to see when we finally figure out the optimal size for portability and for use. Smartbooks might be about the optimal size, unless we start addressing the component that’s had little innovation since its invention – the keyboard.

By Mark Alvarez