Earlier last year, Lenovo unveiled a prototype of a new device that would take the idea of a foldable smartphone and apply it to a laptop. Today at CES 2020, the company officially announced the production version of that device: the ThinkPad X1 Fold.
Going with the ThinkPad brand is risky since it’s attached to many great laptops and has a reputation for always delivering a solid experience. Still, Lenovo doesn’t feel nervous about it. In fact, the company is proud it worked with its ThinkPad team. After all, Lenovo says it was the right team for the job.
The result? What appears to be a pretty chunky device with a foldable screen and a Bluetooth keyboard.
That’s not to discredit the X1 Fold. After all, this is a pretty innovative device. It’s the first device with a folding screen that tries to emulate a laptop experience.
Opening the device gets you a 13.3-inch OLED display built by LG with a 2048×1536 resolution. It has a 4:3 aspect ratio which Lenovo says is the proper ratio to support the types of use cases it wants to tackle.
To be specific, Lenovo sees customers opening the gadget three-quarters of the way, setting the right side down on a table, and using the bottom portion of the screen as a keyboard. Meanwhile , the top half of the Fold presents whatever application you’re typing in. You know, just like a regular laptop.
If you don’t like typing on glass (and honestly, who does?), Lenovo has a solution. Included in the box is a Bluetooth keyboard that fills the same area of the screen as the on-screen keyboard. You can attach it magnetically and keep it latched on even when the device is folded. It’s a solution to a crummy problem you have when you try to do all your work on one screen.
But let’s not talk about problems. What does Lenovo want people to do with the ThinkPad X1 Yoga?
Basically everything, to say the least.
Here are the things Lenovo says you can do on the X1 Fold thanks to its foldable screen, according to its own press release.
Type out documents
Stream content like TV shows
Draw stuff and take notes
Make a video call while working on documents
Take notes while watching a lecture
Connect it to a monitor and use it as a more traditional PC
Notice a theme? these are all things traditional laptops and tablets have afforded us. Sure, you’ll be able to do all these things on a device that could fit in a jacket pocket, but iPads have existed for a while, so it’s a little odd that Lenovo says a folding screen (something the iPad doesn’t have) will enable these things.
I think both software and performance will play huge roles in how good the user experience is with the X1 Fold. Lenovo says the device comes with a new Intel chip that uses “hybrid technology” (okay?), 8GB of RAM, and up to 1TB of storage.
It’ll also eventually come with Windows 10X, the same OS on Microsoft’s Surface Neo. Until then, though, you’ll be stuck with Windows 10 Pro which isn’t exactly optimized for foldable screens.
Luckily, Lenovo has made some tweaks to the core of the OS to add special functionality to accommodate the extra physical prowess of the device. Still, if the software feels janky at all, it might ruin the entire experience.
The X1 Fold is clearly optimized for portability thanks to its small size, so Lenovo threw in an LTE modem that’ll connect to 4G when it launches. A 5G variant will come at some point down the raod.
Right now, besides looking cool, I don’t know what the X1 Fold will afford anyone. It’s gonna cost $2,499 when it launches later this year, and that’s a lot of money for a device that might end up being a total flop. It’s too early to say whether you should buy it, but it isn’t too early to say that this device better do something great. Otherwise, it’ll only serve as a first-gen stepping stone to a much brighter future filled with foldables with purposes.
I’m pumped to review it, don’t get me wrong, but compared to a traditional laptop, it’ll be interesting to see how it fairs.