Foldable phones are now a thing, mainly thanks to the Samsung Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X, but the form factor itself is arguably better for the computing market. Not to be outdone, the world's first foldable Windows PC is here… it's by Lenovo and we had a sneaky early peek. Spoiler... it's GLORIOUS!
There are only a few prototypes in existence, but Lenovo has been working on this for three years, and it shows. While the Galaxy Fold and Mate X feel like they need a little more polish, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 foldable PC (which is a working title), feels like a refined product that we'd be happy to buy tomorrow!
Hands-on with the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 foldable PC by our sister site Windows Central
Lenovo teased the foldable PC at its Accelerate conference, and after three years of working on the product, they've built something that's beautiful. It doesn't have a name just yet, but it is being built as part of the ThinkPad X1 line. For those that don't know, the ThinkPad line is Lenovo's premium line that undergoes stringent ruggedness testing, which bodes well for the future of this foldable product. There's no confirmed release date or pricing, but we'll be seeing this launch sometime in 2020.
The things we know so far
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 foldable PC specs
We say it's a foldable Windows PC, but that's not completely accurate: the prototype we saw was running full Windows 10, but Lenovo was quick to point out that this was only for the demonstration. Lenovo went to great pains to position it as a "Windows-based device" which means it'll likely launch with Microsoft's "Windows 'Lite' OS, that is expected to power all foldable PCs.
|Processor||Unannounced Intel platform|
|Display||13.3-inch 2k OLED
Touch and inking supported
|Ports||Two USB Type C|
|Audio||Stereo speakers (Dolby)|
|Wireless||W-Fi and 4G LTE|
IR camera with Windows Hello
The hero of the ThinkPad X1 is the glorious 13.3-inch OLED display with 2K resolution and full-touch capabilities. The best of a foldable smartphone, PC power and a touchscreen? This is why we're so excited by the ThinkPad X1 foldable PC!
LG makes the display and it doesn't have as visible a crease as the Samsung Galaxy Fold. There's also an anti-scratch layer built into the display, and importantly for us, there's no noticeable dimple where the crease is. We ran our finger over it several times and couldn't detect any deformation in the screen, and with almost a year until it launches, there's still time for Lenovo to make it even better.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 foldable PC is different to the Galaxy Fold and Mate X for one simple reason: it supports inking. The high-end Wacom digitizer means you can draw on the screen and it's a smooth and accurate drawing experience. This opens up the possibilities for who can use it and means it's much more appealing to creative types.
It also has 4G LTE meaning it's perfect for one-the-go use, as well as two USB Type-C ports so you can connect to an external display, connect a mouse or keyboard or add storage. The final version will also launch with Windows Hello bio-authentication using an infrared camera system and there's also stereo speakers to deliver excellent audio.
The future of mobile computing
The ThinkPad X1 foldable PC has me excited
They say a smartphone can replace a PC, but anyone who's tried to use one, knows this isn't actually true. Yes, you can do most things on a smartphone but there's nothing quite like firing up a laptop and working from there. Lenovo's foldable PC is designed to combine the portability of a smartphone with the power of a PC, and it's glorious!
I like the Galaxy Fold and think the Huawei Mate X is a great device. Lenovo's foldable PC? This is a stunningly beautiful device that caught us by surprise. It's simply… remarkable.
Closed, it looks and feels like a leather-bound moleskin book. The pen attaches neatly to the side, and it's an ideal weight for carrying around.
Open it, and the stunning OLED display reveals itself. The 2K screen is one of the best I've ever experienced. There's no perceptible airgap, colors are bright and vibrant, and the pen worked as well as on any other device.
My favorite party trick was folding the display in half and turning it into a clamshell PC. The bottom half turns into an on-screen keyboard which make it a similar size to the Surface Go. Thanks to the battery in the bottom half of the PC, it feels sturdy and is unlikely to topple over like many top-heavy devices.
The folding design is supported by a hinge with a torque design, which allows it to bend and hold just like a laptop. Think of a laptop and the ability to move the screen back and forth, and you'll have an almost-identical experience on the foldable PC.
Who's the ThinkPad X1 foldable PC for?
Do you need a foldable PC? Eventually, we'll likely see this become a huge part of the computing market, but who should go out and buy one? We won't know until we see a final version of the ThinkPad X1 foldable PC, but when prompted, Lenovo did suggest a few real-world use cases:
- Wake up, fold it into a book, and start the day scanning your social media feeds in bed.
- Walk to your kitchen, unfold it, and stand it up for hands-free viewing of your top news sites.
- Hit your commute on the bus or train and morph it into a clamshell to catch up on emails.
- Get into the office, dock it into your multi-monitor setup and get to work.
- Go into meetings, take notes with its pen, and write on a full-screen tablet.
- After lunch, set up the stand and use its mechanical keyboard to type out a few work emails.
- Come home at night, open it up and stream your favorite shows.
- Relax in bed, fold it in half and enjoy your latest read before going to sleep.
Personally, I see an entirely different use. Yesterday I was stuck in coach on a transcontinental flight from San Francisco to New York, and there wasn't enough space to even use my iPad Pro 12.9 to work. Considering the size of the ThinkPad X1 foldable PC and the Bluetooth keyboard that it will eventually launch with, this is the perfect product for on-the-go use.
Full PC functionality, a glorious screen and a form factor that lends itself to tiny spaces? This is the perfect computer for travelers, especially those who need to work on cramped airplanes.
This is a glorious concept that I'm so excited for
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 foldable PC is a glorious concept, that could easily launch as a commercial device right now: it's that polished. With a release not scheduled until next year, we can't wait to see how Lenovo can make it even better.
This is the perfect computer for mobile professionals.
The company has been working on this for three years and it feels like a refined product that's only going to get better before launch. While the first foldable phone feels like an early first-generation product, Lenovo's foldable PC feels like a beautiful piece of hardware that's ready for the mass market.
See what MrMobile thinks of Lenovo's new foldable PC above!
Most importantly, Lenovo is showing that it's possible to make a folding device that doesn't have a noticeable crease, or a fold that you can feel. Granted it's almost twice the size of the Galaxy Fold so there's more surface area in which to embed the hinge and electronics, but the ThinkPad X1 foldable PC could set the standard for all foldable devices.
I just wish I could buy it right now!
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