Foldable display technology has made a big splash in smartphones, where Samsung Galaxy Fold – style gadgets have made a big impression on the electronics fanatic. These smartphones give a very unusual and exciting user experience that did not exist before. And now, not a concept has appeared inaccessible to everyone, but a real serial sample of a computer, the screen of which can also be folded in half. It is called the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold and starts at $ 2,500 in the US. We will analyze what it is and how ready it is for everyday use in today’s review.
Lenovo ThinkPad Fold X1 Review: Package Contents
In the cheapest version of the kit, the user will get the computer itself with a power supply and built-in 256 GB of memory. Then you can pay extra for a more capacious drive, stylus, keyboard, and cellular module. The surcharge for the stylus and (spoiler: inconvenient) keyboard is $ 250. Although similar devices for tablets from other manufacturers are also not cheap, I would like to get at least a keyboard in the “basic” version, because it costs a lot of money without it.
Only one version with a stylus and a keyboard will officially enter the Ukrainian market, and its storage capacity will be 512 GB. The list of additional accessories includes a wireless keyboard with a TrackPoint for $ 100 and a stand for the computer itself for $ 35. Nothing prevents you from using a wireless mouse and headset, for example, or any other third-party device. Well, sooner or later, you may need a hub with a wider range of ports, which the laptop itself does not have.
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Lenovo ThinkPad Fold X1 Review: Design
The manufacturer is cautiously naming the new ThinkPad. The most common words in marketing materials are “device” or “PC.” Less often, it is “tablet” or “laptop.” At its core, the ThinkPad X1 Fold feels more like a Windows tablet to me than a laptop. But its size and weight still, so to speak, “outweigh” in the direction of ultrabooks: 158.2 × 236 × 27.8 mm in the folded position and 299.4 × 236 × 11.5 mm in the unfolded position. The device itself weighs 1 kg, to which you can add another 200 grams of weight of the keyboard and stylus. Not the smallest device, but it’s easy to carry with you at all.
Outside on the case, there is a leather case, which, when closed, reveals a stylish glass insert, and when opened, its other corner can act as a stand. The main part of the body is made of magnesium alloy, and the frame around the display is covered with a rubberized insert. At the junction in some positions, you can find small gaps, but nothing critical. The rest of the device’s body is correctly assembled and, at first glance, does not inspire doubts about its durability (besides, like most ThinkPads, it passes MIL-STD-810H tests). Only with time will it be clear how durable it is.
The manufacturer also suggests using the device as a book. But they did not stop there either: the keyboard can be installed on half of the screen, and the other one can be raised, thus obtaining a small laptop. In some situations, this option may be more convenient than others. Well, again, no one forbade the form of a large tablet either. Here, each user will choose their version of the form for a specific situation.
I tried a slightly different model of use: for work tasks, the computer was connected to an external monitor. With wireless manipulators, it was possible to get a regular workplace. But the rest of the time, for entertainment and some small tasks “on the go,” it was possible to choose the above form options for the device. A couple of days of work in this format seemed to be the most comfortable if the ThinkPad Fold X1 is to be the only computer for the user.
But for this option, you will need a hub. The device itself has only two USB-C ports (3.2, Gen 2) and a SIM card slot in models with the corresponding module. And that’s all. There are also power and volume buttons from the control. In the position with the stand, one of the ports turns out to be at the bottom and cannot be used.
An interesting solution from the manufacturer was the place to store the keyboard and stylus during transportation. In the device’s folded position, the keyboard can be left in the middle, and immediately on it, there is a small “eyelet” for a “pencil.” In practice, this is much more convenient than it might seem from the outside. But as a side effect – when unfolding and folding all this, there is a slight feeling of assembling the constructor. While the Fold X1 takes a few steps to put everything together, a regular laptop needs to be closed, and you can put it in your backpack right away. (The difference resembles the folding roofs of convertibles, where one is folded manually, and the other – automatically.) If the keyboard is not folded, then there will be a small gap inside, and the opposite corners will be “grabbed” by magnets
The ThinkPad Fold X1 is large and folds in half, nevertheless closer to the tablet. Large, but a tablet. Not in all modes of use will be 100% convenient, but most likely, the buyer of such a computer will understand how the device will fit into his daily tasks. And in this case, the computer should not let you down, because, despite its peculiarities, it seemed to be quite high-quality and hardy, as befits a ThinkPad device.
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Lenovo ThinkPad Fold X1 Review: Display
This computer screen has two interesting features: firstly, it folds in half, and secondly, it has an OLED matrix. But it’s better to start with the bend. As we well remember from smartphones, the “crease” is visible and felt when touched. On the ThinkPad Fold X1, the screen’s curvature is almost invisible, so it is also not very noticeable during use. But in the bent position, the backlight in the middle of the screen seems to highlight this area. Of course, the picture is distorted, which cannot be avoided in such a screen position.
it’sIt’s impressive that the 13.3-inch display can be “painlessly” bent in half. Added to this is the high resolution of 2048×1536 pixels and an aspect ratio of 4: 3. Naturally, the display is touch-sensitive and supports the already mentioned stylus. The computer perfectly “understands” its position and automatically rotates the picture according to its position. The only thing is that the stand’s angle cannot be adjusted with the same range as the hinges of conventional laptops.
With color reproduction, the history of OLED-matrices of smartphones repeats here, in which you can see a noticeably oversaturated picture. Fans of “juicy” images will definitely like this. For the rest of the parameters, the screen is well-calibrated, and no discomfort. The viewing angles did not fail either, but it will be obvious that we have an OLED screen when viewed from the side. It’s a pity that you can’t change the color profile to a more natural one, as is done on smartphones.
There were no sunny days during testing, and it isn’t easy to unequivocally assert how the display will cope with bright light, but at first glance, the backlight will not be enough. Our colorimeter measured brightness up to 270 cd / m², and the minimum was 8.2. And such a computer needs a light sensor, but so far, you have to adjust the brightness manually. At the same time, there is a function to dim certain areas (taskbar, desktop background, or the entire screen) to save energy.
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Lenovo ThinkPad Fold X1 Review: Pointing Devices
Let’s discuss the complete keyboard in more detail. It will be inconvenient to work with a lot of text without physical keys. ThinkPads have some of the best laptop keyboards out there, but not this time. The small keyboard was supposed to fit too much on itself, as for its size (234.8×144.6×4.2 mm), and for greater compactness, some characters were not located in their places, and now they work via Fn on adjacent keys (this concerns the right edge layouts). And for PrtSc, there was no key at all, while there was a call to the panel with Emoji in its place.
And now such a keyboard takes some getting used to. I spent more than a week with a computer and worked on it every day, I never got used to these features, and I could not confidently type blindly at the former speed. Fortunately, in familiar workplaces, the user will be able to connect more convenient keyboards, and this one can be used, say, in a cafe, in the country, and so on.
You can find a micro USB connector (and a jumper for turning on and off) next to it. It serves for charging. But there is no need to rush and scold the company for a strange decision because this is a backup option. The keyboard charges wirelessly when folded inside the computer itself, and the battery capacity (400 mAh) should last for 40 hours. I usually folded the device overnight and always connected to the charger to get a charged battery in the morning, and with this use pattern, I never discharged the keyboard.
The miniature trackpad was a pleasant surprise. It’s very modest size by modern standards is useful and sufficient to work on a large external monitor. It has good sensitivity and accuracy, and the two-finger scrolling gesture also works. For normal navigation through the system, it was completely enough for me. And don’t forget that the touchscreen and stylus support will take over many of the trackpad’s work.
And since we are talking about the stylus, then there is good news here. The complete Pencil (Lenovo Mod Pen) also works without any problems. It has a couple of standard buttons, an LED indicator, a removable “pen”, and its shape and dimensions (155 mm) are quite comfortable for long-term use. It can also recognize up to 4096 degrees of pressure and “senses” tilt up to 60 ° in relation to the screen. And the Mod Pen is charged via USB-C; one charge should be enough for 332 hours of work.
And it so happened that this is the first ThinkPad I came across without a strain gauge joystick. The well-known “red dot” remains in the logo, but it is not in the keyboard center. You can, of course, buy a separate keyboard with a TrackPoint, but none of the ThinkPad X1 Fold bundles will have this.
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Lenovo ThinkPad Fold X1 Review: Speakers and Cameras
There are a pair of speakers on the computer case. They are positioned so that in landscape orientation, they are on the top and bottom on the left side, closer to the edges of the case. If you fold the device into a small laptop, then the speakers’ placement becomes more logical, and they appear on the sides of the screen.
The sound, alas, fails. There is almost no bass, which means there is almost no volume when playing music. So the speakers are more suitable for conversations, podcasts, or TV shows, but it is better to listen to the latest selection in a music service with a different sound source. And if these are headphones, then for wired ones, you will also need to find an adapter.
The computer also has two cameras. The first is an excellent 5-megapixel webcam, suitable for video communication with family and colleagues. She gets a better position in the “tablet” mode on a stand; otherwise, she turns out to be directed a little towards the cheek. But the second camera is infrared and should help you get into the system faster without entering a password. It is not available in the test sample, so it was not possible to assess the quality of its work. But we can safely assume that there will be no major difficulties because such laptop cameras usually do a good job with the task.
And without fail, there are four microphones. Initially, I was not too fond of their sound, but as soon as I ran the proprietary Lenovo utility and turned off the echo cancellation in the corresponding tab, the sound changed, became much clearer and more pleasant. Right, key clicks, small rustles of hands, and other sounds around the microphones still do not extinguish, but in a quiet environment, the user will be satisfied with the quality of communication.
Lenovo ThinkPad Fold X1 Review: Performance and software
It is still not worth expecting high performance from this kind of computer, and unlike other laptops in the line, there is no such variability of configurations. The ThinkPad Fold X1 comes with an Intel Core i5-L16G7 five-core processor and Intel UHD Graphics and always comes with 8GB of RAM. What will change is the drive, which starts at 256GB and ends at one terabyte. Wi-Fi 6 and optional built-in 5G modems are used for communication, and there is Bluetooth 5.1 for accessories.
The test model showed quite good results on synthetic tests, which, although less, are relatively comparable to those of some ordinary notebooks even from the ThinkPad line. But, due to the difference in cooling capabilities, the Fold X1 will behave differently. As a result, sometimes slight hesitations will be noticeable in work, even with a simple routine. This is forgivable given all the computer features. However, buying a device for such an amount, I would still like smoother work (for example, even familiar pages on the Internet can open slightly longer than usual). Although, interestingly, there were much less noticeable slowdowns when working on an external Full HD screen.
And during the use of this computer, the cooling system made itself felt only a few times (performance tests do not count). It was heard when installing updates and several times during a cold start of the system, the rest of the time, the fan was turned off, and the processor temperature was kept at 45 ° C (although in the stability test, you could see an average of 95 ° C, which for such a device enough). During normal operation, the case’s heating is practically not felt, and with an intensive cooling process, the left (or upper in portrait orientation) edge noticeably warms up. The slots of the air ducts are also located there.
In operation, the Windows 10 system has been slightly modified for the needs of such a device. For example, there is the Lenovo Mod Switcher, which will help to arrange windows on the sides of the screen (although Windows itself can do that), and with the help of Lenovo Vantage, you can change some settings and keep track of updates. The device should “orient itself in space,” adjusting to the screen rotation and different positions of the display bending and responding to the attached keyboard. And in most cases, there are no problems with this, except that the “lightning-fast” reaction of the device can not always be called, and during the change of modes, the screen may freeze or “blink” a little.
Honestly, the main device of the Fold X1 does not feel ready yet, because noticeable problems with simple work are quite often striking. If the user has many running applications and some of them may require more resources, such work will not be pleasant. And in the “tablet” mode, the system still has many small interface elements, which will be difficult to handle. Nevertheless, if it is not the main working tool or “heavy” tasks are not found in the user’s daily use, then working with such a computer can be good.
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Lenovo ThinkPad Fold X1 Review: Autonomy
One of the halves of the case is mostly filled with a battery. Its capacity is 50 W • h. Our usual test of PCMark autonomy of only 10 minutes did not make it to 5 hours of work. That’s pretty small right now, especially given the competition between tablets and new ultrabooks. Office work consumes at least 15% of the charge per hour, while a two-hour movie took more than 30%. There were higher expectations from such a device.
The complete 65 W power supply unit is relatively small, although it weighs 350 grams. You still have to carry it with you, but if you have power supplies with USB-C at workplaces, you don’t have to worry too much. A full charge with the complete unit will take just over two hours.
Lenovo ThinkPad Fold X1 Review: Conclusion
We’ve already seen foldable displays on smartphones, but laptops haven’t yet. New devices with unique capabilities in all technology categories are always interesting, and Lenovo ThinkPad Fold X1 is one of those. But he is far from a “stunning breakthrough.” No, technically, this is a very impressive solution, which could not have been found on store shelves before. Still, many nuances would not recommend such a device in real use, especially with such a price tag. When buying this computer, you need to understand that it will have minimal performance than classic laptops (which also have a more affordable price). Some formats of its use in practice may not be as convenient as we would like. This is not to mention the difficulty of typing, which will be a problem at the beginning of use with such a keyboard. And if fans of experiments with a relatively unlimited budget can still try such a computer, then everyone else cannot recommend it.
PROS: First bendable computer; portability; variability in use; OLED display, support for touch input and stylus; IR camera for quick unlocking, a decent webcam, and microphones; enough performance for basic work; quiet cooling system.
CONS: The complete keyboard is inconvenient and requires getting used to; sound; Windows 10 is not the best solution in tablet mode; there is a tiny performance margin; more autonomy is expected from such a device.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold$2,500
Keyboard & Trackpad9.0/10
Noise, Heat & Speakers8.5/10
- Variability in use
- OLED display
- IR camera for quick unlocking
- enough performance for basic work
- quiet cooling system
- The complete keyboard is inconvenient and requires getting used to
- Windows 10 is not the best solution in tablet mode
- more autonomy is expected from such a device