Lenovo Previews a Foldable ThinkPad Tablet

Posted on May 13, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware, Windows 10 with 49 Comments

It won’t ship until 2020, but Lenovo has offered a quick preview of what it’s calling the world’s first foldable PC.

“We’re unveiling a preview and demo of the world’s first foldable PC,” the Lenovo announcement notes. “Made for highly-mobile, tech-savvy professionals who demand the best tools, the new foldable PC joins the premium ThinkPad X1 family, promising that the unprecedented portability will in no way compromise productivity and reliability. This is not a phone, tablet, or familiar hybrid; this is a full-fledged laptop with a foldable screen.”

Given the timing, there are a lot of unknowns right now: The name, pricing, and much more are all to be determined at a later date. But Lenovo did supply me with the following details:

  • Lenovo sees the device as a primary PC that can replace your laptop.
  • The product is intended for road warriors and business executives that are highly mobile, as well as tech enthusiasts.
  • The device will be part of the ThinkPad X1 Family; a product name will come at later.
  • It will ship to market in next year (2020).
  • Lenovo has been developing the system for three years to date.
  • Lenovo is launching the technology as part of the ThinkPad brand because it transcends market segments and it is known as a high-quality reliable brand.
  • Lenovo thinks you’ll fold and unfold this device more frequently so it is doubling the hinge cycles that it tests on laptops.
  • This is a ThinkPad and it must pass Lenovo’s rigorous quality specs and testing.
  • We use a torque hinge that allows the screen to bend and hold into a variety of angles (like a notebook).
  • There is no pricing to share at this point.
  • This will be a Windows-based device. (No more detail than that on the operating system.)
  • The compute is Intel technology. (No more detail can be shared on CPU type.)
  • The foldable screen is made by LG Display (LGD).
  • It is a folding OLED, 2K display, 4:3 ratio, 13.3” full screen, and 9.6” in half screen.
  • There is an IR camera and 2 USB C ports.
  • Stereo Speakers
  • Wacom Pen
  • Bluetooth Keyboard
  • All day battery

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Comments (49)

49 responses to “Lenovo Previews a Foldable ThinkPad Tablet”

  1. noflames

    Is this a solution looking for a problem? I don't imagine these will sell very well.

  2. Rob_Wade

    What a lame product. Do they NOT get that the Touch Cover for Surface Pro failed pretty quickly in favor of the Type Cover? This is just stupid. Plus I have no doubt this thing will suffer hardware failures very quickly.

  3. pmeinl

    Foldable tablets with visible hinge (no problems with the screen having to bend) might be a good alternative.

    When setting up my first multi-monitor desktop I assumed wide bezels might be a problem but they are not and even monitors of different size don't spoil the experience much (if one can set the resolutions right and does not need to uses an app spanning screens). I assume one would get used to seeing and ignoring a small line between two separate screens.

  4. james_wilson

    Really interesting concept but I don't think a laptop is the ideal product for this technology.

    Generally, people like typing and to be fair to Apple, most people prefer to use a mouse a keyboard as opposed to a touch surface, that is more suited to a phone type handheld. I have a Surface Pro 4 and Pen and very rarely use the touch screen or pen. Some people love it but I suspect it's more specialised than people think.

    Anyway, the technology is good though - just needs the right product to make use of it.

  5. Daekar

    They need to NAIL the software keyboard for this to be anything but a waste of cash. Still, I'm glad to see that foldables are progressing, even if it is a bit slowly.

  6. cheetahdriver

    At the end of the day, while I like more screen area, the decider for me is the keyboard. I just can't see this keyboard being something that I stop carrying my Das Keyboard around in a case for (as the Lenovo X1 Extreme is). If I have to carry a keyboard, then the lightness of this is almost immaterial.

    I undoubtedly am not their usage demographic. But I don't see these being a "thing". I would be more interested in a modern take on the W701DS, the dual screen Thinkpad. Get me an X1 sized device with a second screen that slides out (or rolls out) and I would be in line...

  7. Chris_Kez

    I prefer not to have my first take be a negative one, so I'll just say that the development of foldable screen tech makes this kind of experiment inevitable. Let a team with real experience like the ThinkPad team take a first shot and we'll see how it goes.

    Now for my second take I'll wonder aloud whether the trade-off's here (replacing great hardware keyboard with software keyboard, and introducing a crease into the screen) are worth the relatively small gain in portability; this thing will still be roughly 6" x 9" (maybe 15cm x 22cm?) which is too large to fit in a pocket.


  8. mmcpher

    For me, the key would be whether Lenovo had made real progress in advancing pen/stylus, text-character recognition, both in terms of accuracy and ease-of-input. Lenovo was doing more interesting things than the Surface team was a few years back, but until this, they hadn't the hardware to make much use of their more intuitive and naturalistic input design.

  9. waethorn

    I think I'd rather that they just develop the technology bits as thin as possible, and put 2 separate screens in a folio book cover and be done with it. All these companies have curved-edge glass screens. What's preventing them from just putting 2 thin curved-edge screens close together with a gap? It would "solve" the problem of trying to perfect bendable screen technology which is doomed to failure, and would likely cost less to boot. Hell, they could use a Surface Book type hinge in the cover for extra rigidity.

  10. Dan1986ist

    Wasn't there a codename for Windows 10 for Foldable PCs or something like? If so could that be the version/SKU of Windows 10 that comes on this, if/when it comes to market?

  11. dontbe evil

    once again apple is a million of years behind

  12. Synoge

    So why is everyone so salty? How the hell are they supposed to solve the "problems" if they aren't producing products. Especially products that are not just used in a lab/test environment. Everyone needs to relax.

  13. sharpsone

    Sweet, sounds like it will be a reliable folding screen... Cough cough Samcrap.

  14. RobertJasiek

    4:3 Windows tablet - I would buy it if only it was NOT foldable (breakable) and not OLED (flickering).

  15. skane2600

    It's hard to tell from these images, but does this thing have a real keyboard? If not, it's a foldable tablet.

  16. MikeGalos

    Ah, The first announced Andromeda device. The OEM version.

  17. j_c

    This is 3D TV all over again.

  18. siv

    Yet another expensive fad that will be gone in a couple of years. Probably less if a) the hinges are as unreliable as the ones recently withdrawn on the Samsung Galaxy folding phone and b) if the price will be just as ridiculous on this but more so.

    At the end of the day, the laptop format is well know, you have a screen and a keyboard to make a desktop PC portable, end of! I can't see any use case for this that would make any sense that buying a large tablet wouldn't solve. And they were a fad as well.

    • misterstuart

      In reply to Siv:

      I agree. This is just another one of those "because we can" moments. This formfactor is just not practical at all. It's neat for sure, but not much more than that.

    • Dashrender

      In reply to Siv:

      Agreed - what is the gain? A blending of two devices into one? We see time and time again that that just doesn't work, and people generally fall back into having two devices.

      This will be for the rich exec who just wants to show off how deep his pockets are, no different than wearing a Rolex.

  19. ken_loewen

    It would be interesting to have two apps open on the facing pages and use the pen to take notes in One Note, enter numbers and formulae on Excel, lasso/copy/paste in Word and PowerPoint. Have Visio or One Note snap attractive drawings to hand drawn ones, have the whiteboard app do spellchecker, etc. I see a LOT of valid use cases for this.

  20. jblank46

    I think there’s definitely room for something like this to build on the market the iPad solidified. A foldable iPad like device is more appealing to me than a foldable phone.

  21. harmjr

    I can see myself buying this if it's W10 pro an i5 chip 8+ gb ram and 256 gb hd. If it cost about $1,000 to $1,200. Can't go over $1,400.

  22. Keith Garsson

    Another “solution” in search of a problem. Solve the below, before you start giving me worthless hardware I don’t need

    1. Get me a faster processor
    2. Get me a laptop that doesn’t get slower and slower the more I use it
    3. Get me a laptop that doesn’t overheat and explain it away with idiotic techno-BS
    4. Get me a laptop with antivirus/antiphishing etc that doesn’t use up a lot of CPU
    5. Get rid of the registry
    6. Get Microsoft to rebuild Excel so that 60,000 rows isn’t such a big deal
    7. Get me a user community that doesn’t tell me: “Oh, have you tried...” Yes, I have “tried” and Windows is still too slow

    When hardware designers and Microsoft start solving REAL problems that face REAL programmers, I’ll throw the confetti, but until then stop expecting me to say “Gee Whiz” for a bunch of crap I never asked for.

    As a famous Broadway lyricist once said: “The problem with washing garbage is that when you’re done...it’s still garbage.”

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