Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold review: An innovative shape-shifting tablet/laptop Review

Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Fold is the world’s first foldable Personal computer. Its thirteen.three-inch OLED monitor folds down the center, allowing for you to use it in notebook manner with a mini-keyboard, entirely open as a handheld pill, or as a standalone monitor, propped up by its kickstand. This interesting innovation would not arrive low cost, nevertheless. The setting up price is £2,301.forty three (inc. VAT £1,917.86 ex. VAT) in the United kingdom, or $2,499 in the US. 

Lenovo’s thirteen.three-inch ThinkPad X1 Fold can function in various modes.


Photographs: Lenovo

There is a powerful thought driving the ThinkPad X1 Fold: to produce excellent pill and notebook modes, with a function- and leisure-pleasant monitor, whilst getting portable and generating no compromise on usability. That is a huge inquire, and it is significant to take note at the outset that despite Lenovo’s ideal attempts, the X1 Fold would not give all the solutions.

Completely open, the touch monitor steps thirteen.three inches throughout the diagonal, with a resolution of 2,048 x 1,536 pixels (192.5ppi, 4:three facet ratio). Though greatest brightness is only three hundred nits, the OLED panel provides distinct, sharp photographs with vivid colours. It is a satisfaction to use in pill manner, in both equally landscape and portrait orientation.

There is a kickstand created into the back again of the unit that holds the ThinkPad X1 Fold at an upright angle in landscape orientation. However, when I tapped any where in the upper quarter of the monitor, it felt in threat of tipping backwards. You cannot prop up the X1 Fold in portrait manner. 

There are speakers on the lengthy edges, which produce plenty of quantity. Bass tones could be much better, but which is a perennial problem with laptops. However, the positioning of the speaker grilles means that when the kickstand is made use of for landscape-manner operation, the decreased speaker can get muffled. 

You can interact with the monitor with a fingertip or by applying the Lenovo Mod Pen stylus, the on-monitor comfortable keyboard or a physical Mini Keyboard. The stylus and mini-keyboard are furnished with a few of the 4 off-the-shelf iterations of this notebook in the United kingdom, whilst the entry-level £2,301.forty three (inc. VAT) product would not consist of them. The Method Pen costs £90 (inc. VAT), whilst the Mini Keyboard adds £200 (inc. VAT) to the price. 

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Photographs at Lenovo’s internet site demonstrate the ThinkPad X1 Fold getting held in a person hand as if it were being a paperback e book. That is relatively disingenuous, supplied that the unit weighs a kilogram (.99kg to be exact). 

When you begin to fold the monitor, an applet termed the Lenovo Method Switcher seems. You tap this to either hold the monitor in single see manner, or have two vertical web pages. Method Switcher is accessible whenever you want to use it, so it is straightforward to flip in between unique viewing modes. Dragging home windows all around the monitor just isn’t always as straightforward or effective as it really should be: I found resizing a minor jerky, and it is tricky dragging applications throughout the folded location of the monitor. It is also irritating that when you fold the monitor for notebook manner use and place the mini-keyboard onto its bottom half, home windows really don’t quickly resize to match the top rated half of the monitor only. 

To place the ThinkPad X1 Fold absent you near it up as you would near a e book. The result is some thing with a desktop footprint minor even larger than a paperback e book, whilst it is thicker than a lot of paperbacks. The folded proportions are: 158.2mm x 236mm x 27.8mm, whilst unfolded (with the monitor entirely flat) it steps 299.4mm x 236mm x eleven.5mm. When you might be travelling with the ThinkPad X1 Fold, the mini-keyboard will sit inside of the fold, and the keyboard has an built-in loop to dwelling the Mod Pen stylus. The entire body of the ThinkPad X1 Fold is included in comfortable and pliable leather at the back again, offering it a folio-like appearance when shut. 

As for the X1 Fold’s robustness, only lengthy-expression use will confirm irrespective of whether the monitor and hinge mechanism endure getting folded various instances a working day. There is a rubbery, bevelled, flexing area on the bezel at the fold stage, which has ample of an airgap at its outer edge at particular fold angles to raise worry about dust ingress. But the establish involves both equally carbon fibre and magnesium alloy, and the spec sheet notes that the X1 Fold has passed MIL-STD 810H ruggedness checks. 

Lenovo allays worry that the folding monitor might be prone to scratching, noting that it is been examined for the effects of objects finding wedged in the gap which is apparent when the unit is folded up like a e book. 

You can use the furnished mini-keyboard either perched on a person half of the monitor where it is secured by magnets, with the other half of the monitor folded upwards notebook-design and style, or entirely separately from the entirely folded-out monitor. I favored the latter manner, as it supplied additional monitor actual estate, and felt a large amount fewer cramped. 

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Left: Monitor entirely open and supported in landscape orientation by the kickstand, with the Bluetooth Mini-Keyboard and Mod Pen stylus. Right: notebook manner, with the Mini-Keyboard magnetically connected to half of the folded monitor.


Photographs: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Unusually for Lenovo, the keyboard is disappointing in use. Slender and mild, it feels a minor flimsy in the hands, but which is not its main failing. There is quite minor return to the keys, and it is annoying that accessibility to some people — this sort of as square brackets and ‘/’ — involve the Fn key to be held down many others — this sort of as curled brackets, ‘?’ and ‘@’ — involve Ctrl as effectively. It is rather a steep mastering curve, and typing velocity is probably to put up with till you change — or swap to a better Bluetooth keyboard. 

The touchpad is even additional disappointing since, at 2.five inches wide, it is just much too smaller for its meant perform. Lenovo plainly wanted to give as much room as possible to the keyboard, but the touchpad suffers as a result. 

The interior battery for the Mini Keyboard offers up to 40 several hours of use, Lenovo suggests, and can be charged either by using USB or wirelessly from the X1 Fold when the keyboard is connected in notebook manner. USB charging is by using Micro-USB — a distinctly legacy resolution for this sort of an if not forward-wanting merchandise. 

The Mod Pen stylus is considerably better, whilst it is a disgrace there’s no magnet to keep it to the ThinkPad X1 Fold. Still it is efficient and usable, supporting 4,096 stress degrees. The Mod Pen rates by using USB-C, with a single charge long lasting for 332 several hours, in accordance to Lenovo. 

There is a 5MP hybrid IR webcam on the remaining side of the top rated bezel when the monitor is entirely open and in landscape manner. It will work high-quality for video clip calls in this orientation, but fewer so in notebook manner, when the digicam is on the correct side, near to the hinge. There is no ThinkShutter privateness deal with, as noticed on a lot of ThinkPads, whilst the bezel appears to be huge ample to accommodate this. If charge criteria ruled out a ThinkShutter, which is arguably a false economy. 

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Wi-Fi six (802.11ax) and Bluetooth (five.1) are on-board as normal, with 5G cell broadband a £220 (inc. VAT) optional excess. The entry-level pre-configured product operates Windows ten Property, whilst the remainder operate Windows ten Professional. All 4 United kingdom off-the-shelf configurations are created all around Intel’s Core i5 L1G67 processor with Hybrid Technology and 8GB of RAM, and neither CPU nor RAM can be customised. You can go outside of the entry-level 256GB of SSD storage, to 512GB (+£120) or 1TB (+£180).  

Lenovo is frugal with ports and connectors, supplying just two USB-C ports on the chassis, a person of which is desired for charging. Just one of the USB-C ports is, irritatingly, inaccessible when the kickstand is in use. There is no fingerprint reader, and not even a three.5mm headset connector, which is normal fare in laptops. 

My critique configuration had a 256GB SSD and charge £2,799.99 (inc. VAT £2.333.32 ex. VAT). A large-finish product with a 512GB SSD and cell broadband costs £3,159.99 (inc. VAT £2,633.32 ex. VAT). 

Lenovo statements eight.five several hours of life for the ThinkPad X1 Fold’s 50Wh battery, which is modest by modern benchmarks. In fairness, there just isn’t a good deal of chassis room in which to shop a battery, but bear this in head if you might be thinking about the X1 Fold as your main workhorse. To examination battery life, I worked in both equally total-monitor and half-monitor modes with the mini-keyboard throughout a a few-hour interval, throughout which I wrote into world-wide-web applications, browsed and streamed music and video clip. During this interval the battery dropped 37% from a total charge, suggesting battery life of just more than eight several hours. Lenovo suggests the battery will recharge to eighty% in an hour. 

lenovo-thinkpad-x1-fold-back.jpg

Picture: Lenovo

Conclusions

The ThinkPad X1 Fold’s signature folding monitor worked faultlessly throughout the critique interval, and is a marvel. That claimed, there are some important usability issues to contend with, this sort of as the inadequate mini-keyboard, a dearth of ports and connectors, and moderate battery life. Also, it is not distinct why the webcam lacks a ThinkShutter, a person of the USB-C ports is inaccessible when the kickstand is in use, and the kickstand only supports landscape manner.

Element in the price, which is large at the entry level and receives astronomical toward the top rated finish, and it is difficult to recommend the ThinkPad X1 Fold. As a evidence-of-thought for folding screens, it is exemplary. But as an every day pill/notebook it is high-priced and under-specified, with much too a lot of usability compromises. 

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