It’s been over seven months since Lenovo wowed the world with its foldable tablet PC prototype, one that I got to touch and feel during Lenovo Tech World 2019 last November. The intriguing device finally has an official name—the ThinkPad X1 Fold, fresh out of the oven at CES 2020.
A couple months on from Tech World, Lenovo seems to have pulled it off. The ThinkPad X1 Fold looks more polished and finished now, and while it isn’t the thin-and-light form factor I personally envision (like a YogaBook C930 but better), it’s the sign of things to come. Lenovo is pioneering a form factor that aims to bridge the core strengths of a phone, tablet and notebook PC without compromise. And with optional 5G connectivity, the device enables new, smarter ways of working wherever, whenever and however you want.
What’s new to everyone including myself is the external Bluetooth mini keyboard that comes with the X1 Fold. Officially called the Bluetooth Mini Fold Keyboard, the keyboard is held in place by magnets on the main chassis, sandwiched between the two halves of the display; it wirelessly charges when it’s stored.
In essence, the ThinkPad X1 Fold is a tablet PC with a 13.3-inch foldable screen. It’s a little chunky all round, more like a book when folded than a YogaBook. The body is built from lightweight alloys and carbon fibre, wrapped with a luxurious leather folio cover. Bearing the ThinkPad name, you can expect top class durability and reliability.
The device weighs 1kg, when unfolded presents you with 13.3-inches of OLED screen real estate. When in landscape mode, the leather folio case offers an integrated kickstand where you can use to watch your favourite TV series, or pair it with the Bluetooth Mini Fold Keyboard to get serious work done.
You can also annotate and draw on the tablet using the Lenovo Active Pen.
What the ThinkPad X1 Fold offers is ultimate flexibility. Use it flat like a tablet in portrait or landscape mode; clamshell in vertical orientation like a traditional notebook; slightly folded in landscape mode like a book. You can leverage on two independent displays to multitask or to compare documents or take notes while doing something else on the other. The choice is yours.
Lenovo said the ThinkPad X1 Fold took more than four years in development, with the design and engineering team investigating four primary designs for the pioneering device before settling on the 4×3 ratio with the LG Display-sourced 300-nit 13.3-inch pOLED display (2048×1536).
The hinge mechanism is quite something else. It’s undeniably one of the most important components, if not the most important.
The ThinkPad development team worked closely with Intel engineering to overcome the hinge’s mechanical and electrical engineering challenges. The ground-breaking multi-link torque hinge mechanism combines lightweight alloys and a carbon fibre reinforced frame plate to ensure durability and an optimal viewing experience.
The mechanism seems to be similar to the one used on the 2019 Motorola Razr—using two fulcrums on the inside and outside that allows the screen to move and bend with the external case. There’s corrugated duct tape-like material wrapping the bend, which makes it look unfinished, but this was done to prevent dust and foreign matter getting into the Fold.
Under the hood, the ThinkPad X1 Fold is powered by an unspecified Intel Core processor with Intel Hybrid Technology and integrated UHD 11th Gen Graphics. This is mated to 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM and up to 1TB PCIe-NVMe M.2 2242 SSD storage. It will run Windows 10 when it hits the market in mid-2020. The Fold in its current form already has clever mode-switching software to adapt to multiple use cases. Lenovo is planning to offer Windows 10X at a later date for an enhanced foldable user experience.
The tablet offers two USB-C ports on either side, a SIM card slot, a DisplayPort via USB-C port. Connectivity-wise, there’s WiFi 6 (WLAN 802.11 AX), Bluetooth 5.0, and optional WWAN 5G/LTE/4G support.
The built-in 50Whr battery is good for up to 11 hours of use, and the bundled Premium Slim Type-C 65W AC adapter supports Rapid Charge.
There’s a Dolby Audio Speaker System as well as dTPM 2.0 security and an IR camera built-in.
Pricing and availability
The ThinkPad X1 Fold doesn’t come cheap, starting at USD2,499 (~MYR10,234). It will be available in mid-2020 with the Windows 10X version expected to be available later.
The ThinkPad X1 Fold Stand is expected to be available in the second half of 2020. Pricing to be revealed later.
Follow more CES 2020 updates at vernonchan.com/tag/ces-2020
Image credit: Lenovo