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

Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Fold is the world’s 1st foldable Laptop. Its thirteen.3-inch OLED display folds down the

Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Fold is the world’s 1st foldable Laptop. Its thirteen.3-inch OLED display folds down the middle, allowing you to use it in laptop computer mode with a mini-keyboard, fully open up as a handheld pill, or as a standalone display, propped up by its kickstand. This intriguing innovation does not appear cheap, while. The starting up rate is £2,301.forty three (inc. VAT £1,917.86 ex. VAT) in the Uk, or $two,499 in the US. 

Lenovo’s thirteen.3-inch ThinkPad X1 Fold can work in numerous modes.


Photographs: Lenovo

You will find a compelling thought behind the ThinkPad X1 Fold: to supply superb pill and laptop computer modes, with a get the job done- and leisure-pleasant display, even though currently being transportable and making no compromise on usability. That’s a huge check with, and it is significant to observe at the outset that inspite of Lenovo’s most effective endeavours, the X1 Fold does not offer all the answers.

Thoroughly open up, the touch display actions thirteen.3 inches throughout the diagonal, with a resolution of two,048 x one,536 pixels (192.5ppi, four:3 factor ratio). Despite the fact that most brightness is only 300 nits, the OLED panel provides clear, sharp pictures with vibrant colours. It can be a satisfaction to use in pill mode, in both equally landscape and portrait orientation.

You will find a kickstand created into the again of the unit that retains the ThinkPad X1 Fold at an upright angle in landscape orientation. However, when I tapped any place in the upper quarter of the display, it felt in threat of tipping backwards. You won’t be able to prop up the X1 Fold in portrait mode. 

There are speakers on the prolonged edges, which supply lots of volume. Bass tones could be more robust, but that is a perennial situation with laptops. However, the positioning of the speaker grilles usually means that when the kickstand is utilised for landscape-mode operation, the decreased speaker can get muffled. 

You can interact with the display with a fingertip or by working with the Lenovo Mod Pen stylus, the on-display smooth keyboard or a physical Mini Keyboard. The stylus and mini-keyboard are supplied with three of the four off-the-shelf iterations of this laptop computer in the Uk, though the entry-stage £2,301.forty three (inc. VAT) model does not contain them. The Mode Pen fees £90 (inc. VAT), even though the Mini Keyboard adds £200 (inc. VAT) to the rate. 

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Photographs at Lenovo’s web site display the ThinkPad X1 Fold currently being held in one hand as if it ended up a paperback e-book. That’s somewhat disingenuous, provided that the unit weighs a kilogram (.99kg to be specific). 

When you begin to fold the display, an applet termed the Lenovo Mode Switcher seems. You faucet this to possibly maintain the display in one check out mode, or have two vertical webpages. Mode Switcher is out there when you want to use it, so it is uncomplicated to flip involving different viewing modes. Dragging windows close to the display is not generally as uncomplicated or helpful as it should really be: I uncovered resizing a minimal jerky, and it is difficult dragging applications throughout the folded place of the display. It can be also annoying that when you fold the display for laptop computer mode use and area the mini-keyboard on to its base 50 %, windows really don’t automatically resize to match the best 50 % of the display only. 

To put the ThinkPad X1 Fold away you near it up as you would near a e-book. The final result is one thing with a desktop footprint minimal greater than a paperback e-book, though it is thicker than quite a few paperbacks. The folded dimensions are: 158.2mm x 236mm x 27.8mm, even though unfolded (with the display fully flat) it actions 299.4mm x 236mm x 11.5mm. When you might be travelling with the ThinkPad X1 Fold, the mini-keyboard will sit within the fold, and the keyboard has an integrated loop to house the Mod Pen stylus. The overall body of the ThinkPad X1 Fold is coated in smooth and pliable leather-based at the again, providing it a folio-like visual appeal when closed. 

As for the X1 Fold’s robustness, only prolonged-term use will affirm regardless of whether the display and hinge system withstand currently being folded numerous moments a working day. You will find a rubbery, bevelled, flexing segment on the bezel at the fold position, which has adequate of an airgap at its outer edge at sure fold angles to increase worry about dust ingress. But the create includes both equally carbon fibre and magnesium alloy, and the spec sheet notes that the X1 Fold has passed MIL-STD 810H ruggedness assessments. 

Lenovo allays worry that the folding display may possibly be vulnerable to scratching, noting that it is been tested for the outcomes of objects getting wedged in the hole that is obvious when the unit is folded up like a e-book. 

You can use the supplied mini-keyboard possibly perched on one 50 % of the display wherever it is secured by magnets, with the other 50 % of the display folded upwards laptop computer-style, or fully separately from the fully folded-out display. I chosen the latter mode, as it made available much more display true estate, and felt a whole lot less cramped. 

lenovo-thinkpad-x1-fold-laptop-open-modes.jpg

Still left: Monitor fully open up and supported in landscape orientation by the kickstand, with the Bluetooth Mini-Keyboard and Mod Pen stylus. Appropriate: laptop computer mode, with the Mini-Keyboard magnetically hooked up to 50 % of the folded display.


Photographs: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Unusually for Lenovo, the keyboard is disappointing in use. Slim and light-weight, it feels a minimal flimsy in the fingers, but that is not its principal failing. You will find incredibly minimal return to the keys, and it is aggravating that obtain to some people — this kind of as square brackets and ‘/’ — demand the Fn vital to be held down many others — this kind of as curled brackets, ‘?’ and ‘@’ — demand Ctrl as very well. It can be quite a steep mastering curve, and typing pace is probably to suffer until finally you adjust — or switch to a much better Bluetooth keyboard. 

The touchpad is even much more disappointing due to the fact, at two.five inches extensive, it is just way too little for its supposed operate. Lenovo plainly needed to give as considerably place as feasible to the keyboard, but the touchpad suffers as a final result. 

The interior battery for the Mini Keyboard offers up to forty several hours of use, Lenovo says, and can be charged possibly through USB or wirelessly from the X1 Fold when the keyboard is hooked up in laptop computer mode. USB charging is through Micro-USB — a distinctly legacy option for this kind of an or else ahead-on the lookout product. 

The Mod Pen stylus is much much better, though it is a shame there is no magnet to keep it to the ThinkPad X1 Fold. Nonetheless it is productive and usable, supporting four,096 pressure amounts. The Mod Pen rates through USB-C, with a one charge lasting for 332 several hours, according to Lenovo. 

There is a 5MP hybrid IR webcam on the remaining facet of the best bezel when the display is fully open up and in landscape mode. It performs fantastic for movie phone calls in this orientation, but less so in laptop computer mode, when the camera is on the proper facet, near to the hinge. You will find no ThinkShutter privacy address, as viewed on quite a few ThinkPads, though the bezel would seem huge adequate to accommodate this. If expense things to consider dominated out a ThinkShutter, that is arguably a false economy. 

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Wi-Fi six (802.11ax) and Bluetooth (five.one) are on-board as common, with 5G cell broadband a £220 (inc. VAT) optional more. The entry-stage pre-configured model operates Windows ten Residence, even though the remainder operate Windows ten Professional. All four Uk off-the-shelf configurations are created close to Intel’s Core i5 L1G67 processor with Hybrid Technology and 8GB of RAM, and neither CPU nor RAM can be customised. You can go past the entry-stage 256GB of SSD storage, to 512GB (+£120) or 1TB (+£180).  

Lenovo is frugal with ports and connectors, giving just two USB-C ports on the chassis, one of which is essential for charging. Just one of the USB-C ports is, irritatingly, inaccessible when the kickstand is in use. You will find no fingerprint reader, and not even a 3.5mm headset connector, which is common fare in laptops. 

My assessment configuration experienced a 256GB SSD and expense £2,799.ninety nine (inc. VAT £2.333.32 ex. VAT). A substantial-conclusion model with a 512GB SSD and cell broadband fees £3,159.ninety nine (inc. VAT £2,633.32 ex. VAT). 

Lenovo statements 8.five several hours of life for the ThinkPad X1 Fold’s 50Wh battery, which is modest by present-day criteria. In fairness, there is not a great deal of chassis place in which to shop a battery, but bear this in head if you might be thinking of the X1 Fold as your principal workhorse. To examination battery life, I labored in both equally entire-display and 50 %-display modes with the mini-keyboard throughout a three-hour period of time, through which I wrote into world-wide-web applications, browsed and streamed tunes and movie. Throughout this period of time the battery dropped 37% from a entire charge, suggesting battery life of just in excess of 8 several hours. Lenovo says the battery will recharge to eighty% in an hour. 

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Graphic: Lenovo

Conclusions

The ThinkPad X1 Fold’s signature folding display labored faultlessly all through the assessment period of time, and is a marvel. That claimed, there are some important usability troubles to contend with, this kind of as the bad mini-keyboard, a dearth of ports and connectors, and moderate battery life. Also, it is not clear why the webcam lacks a ThinkShutter, one of the USB-C ports is inaccessible when the kickstand is in use, and the kickstand only supports landscape mode.

Element in the rate, which is substantial at the entry stage and gets astronomical toward the best conclusion, and it is hard to advocate the ThinkPad X1 Fold. As a evidence-of-thought for folding screens, it is exemplary. But as an every day pill/laptop computer it is high priced and below-specified, with way too quite a few usability compromises. 

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