Lenovo today announced the first PC with a foldable screen, a ThinkPad X1-branded device with no final name or price. This full-on laptop is scheduled for release sometime in 2020.
There’s very little in the way of specs just yet. Lenovo has revealed the device will be Windows-based and use some form of Intel technology for processing, though that’s under wraps (I would imagine that this is enabled by Lakefield, but that’s speculation). We do know that it has a 13.3-inch 2KOLED screen in a 4:3 ratio made by LG Display that can fold in half. Lenovo is also promising two USB Type-C ports, stereo speakers and an IR camera for Windows Hello, as well as a vague “all-day” battery life claim, though no numbers are available yet.
The company is suggesting that this will be a primary device to completely replace a laptop aimed primarily at executives and heavy travelers, as well as enthusiasts who want to try a new form factor. Lenovo said it is doubling the number of hinge cycles it uses on its laptops to test the foldable’s torque hinge.
In a hands-on with an early prototype, I was able to fold it in half, plant it on a table like a laptop and type on the touch screen. The hinge on the early device felt solid, and I opened and closed it several times without worrying about it breaking. I saw an option where one could use a Bluetooth keyboard and prop up the unfolded device for a more traditional experience.
You can also read from the device while holding it as if it were a book, and, if you want to draw, lay the unfolded device flat like a tablet and use its Wacom stylus.
The demo I saw was running Windows 10, though the company is being coy about what operating system will actually run on the final product. This did make typing without an external keyboard somewhat difficult, but there’s always time to improve the touchscreen keyboard before launch.
Lenovo has been developing the foldable for three years and is launching it after the February announcement of Samsung’s Galaxy Fold, a smartphone that faced a number of issues (including straight up not working) while reviewers tested it. But with a different display manufacturer in LG and one of the biggest names in portable business machines behind it, Lenovo is looking to foldable screens to reinvent the PC instead.
The device seems promising (and, if the Galaxy Fold is any indication, will be very expensive). We’re looking forward to learning more in 2020.