The annual Consumer Electronics Show produces both groundbreaking and strange tech every year. This time around we saw everything from a hellishly expensive self-heating lunchbox to an automated Segway chair. But the PC maker Lenovo had other plans.
Lenovo revealed a host of new products at CES 2020, but two, in particular, caught our eye. The one with the e-ink cover and the foldable one. For obvious reasons.
The ThinkBook Plus wants to be your laptop and your Kindle? Lenovo’s new flip-device announced at CES 2020 takes everything we like about the Yoga range (its flexibility, duh), and adds a few additional features.
Powering the ThinkBook Plus is up to 10th Gen Intel i7 processors and 8/16GB of DDR4 RAM. It’s also fitted with either 256GB/512Gb PCIe SSDs, which should speed it up enough to power the machine, the 13.3in FHD IPS display and also the 10.8in e-ink monochrome display. This Kindle-esque display sits on top of the laptop cover, and we’re not quite convinced.
Okay, just because it’s got an e-ink display doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a Kindle — Amazon’s e-reader is just one of the only devices that have effectively used the e-ink tech. This time though, Lenovo wants you to use the e-ink display on the back to keep you productive even when the lid is down.
Ideally, you would use the secondary display on the top to check on schedules/emails or make notes/diagrams while you’re in a meeting. You’ll do this by using the digital stylus that comes standard with the device. Luckily, the stylus can also be used on the standard IPS display, so it’s not really a waste.
We’ll need to see how this translates to real-world-use. Yes, it is a cool idea (and you can use it as a Kindle as the Kindle reading app comes standard on the device), but we’re not convinced that users need this amount of connectivity to the digital world. It’s fun to play with, sure, but we like to close the laptop to get some screen down-time if you catch the drift.
ThinkPad X1 Fold
It’s starting to look like we’ll soon be able to fold just about any tech. It all started with phones and tablets, and now we’re finally at full-blown PCs that can fold into a legit portable device. And honestly, it’s extremely cool.
The ThinkPad X1 Fold houses a 13in plastic OLED display when extended completely, which is an average laptop screen, right? Then you fold it in half, and it’s roughly the size of a notebook, complete with the leather exterior and lightweight design. The X1 Fold weighs in at just under 1kg, which is decent for a portable laptop, though we’ve had laptops that weigh less.
A proprietary hinge was designed for this little machine to keep the plastic OLED from creating a bend right down the middle (‘member the Galaxy Fold controversy?). This hinge creates a small gap that keeps the plastic from folding completely flush — this creates a gap when the device is folded. Lenovo has designed a portable Bluetooth Mini Fold keyboard that sits perfectly inside that gap, and can be used on the X1 Fold.
To reiterate that this is a PC, and not a tablet, it runs proper Windows 10, and will soon be able to run on Windows 10X OS. You can also connect any Bluetooth peripherals to the device, which makes it far more customisable than you’d expect.
On the topic of connectivity — the X1 Fold has one USB Type C Gen 1 port, one USB Type C Gen 2 port, a SIM card slot and one DisplayPort port via USB Type C. It’ll also launch with full 5G-compatibility, which future-proofs it quite a bit.
According to Lenovo, this device should have a 3-5 year lifespan considering the flimsy nature of the pOLED display. The company does put all their devices through rigorous testing, so in terms of durability, it should last that long. But this tech is relatively new, so there’s no way for us to know whether it really will last that long.
Before you ask, both these devices are unlikely to land in South Africa any time soon, but we’ll keep you updated on any local availability and pricing.