Lenovo shows off a folding-screen laptop, coming some time in 2020


It doesn’t have a name (but it’ll be in the ThinkPad X1 family), it doesn’t have a spec (but it’s using an Intel processor), it doesn’t have an operating system (“Windows” but, not specifically “Windows 10”), it doesn’t have a release date more specific than “2020,” and of course it doesn’t have a price. But these are I suppose minor details. The big picture: Lenovo has built a laptop with a folding 13.3-inch OLED 1920×1440 screen made by LG. The screen occupies both halves of the laptop’s interior space, including where the keyboard would normally go, and the machine can be folded open to turn it into a flat 13-inch screen that you’d frankly never guess could fold.

Things we do know: Lenovo has been working on this thing for three years already. The company sees it as being a full-fledged PC that can take the place of your laptop, specifically not a mere secondary or companion device. Both halves have batteries, so it’s not top-heavy, and it has a proper laptop-style stiff hinge to hold the screen at pretty much any angle up to 180 degrees. The screen supports a Wacom pen, and drawing on the screen feels great. When opened up, there’s a barely perceptible dip when drawing across the hinged part. But if you weren’t looking for it, you’d be hard-pressed to spot it. The unnamed machine has an IR camera for facial-recognition authentication along with two USB Type-C ports.

As we’ve seen on other devices with folding screens (such as Samsung’s ill-fated Galaxy Fold and Huawei’s fabulous-looking Mate X), the folded screen doesn’t have a tight crease where it bends. Instead, it curves when closed, though Lenovo won’t let us show you that curve. Similarly, when the screen is fully opened, one might imagine that it would be useful if there were some way of supporting it upright so that you can use it to watch movies and so on. There’s a way to do this, but Lenovo won’t let us show you how. We can say that there will be a keyboard accessory that uses Bluetooth, and while you’re free to imagine just how such an accessory might be placed on a clamshell type machine, the company didn’t want us to mention any specifics.

Lenovo also assures us that while its display, like that of the Galaxy Fold, does need a protective layer, the company hasn’t been so foolish as to leave the seams of that layer visible. So there shouldn’t be issues with people peeling it off and destroying the display.

The test machine we briefly used was running Windows 10, but the company insists that this is temporary, for demonstration purposes only. This gives credence to rumors that Microsoft is working on some kind of new or perhaps even cut-down version of Windows, possibly even one with a user interface explicitly designed for this kind of folding device.

I don’t really know what the point of this kind of system is, though a sub-13-inch system that’s still decent for watching movies on does sound appealing. I think there’s a strong possibility that the folding screen will be little more than a gimmick—a smart piece of technology, for sure, but not serving any particular purpose. But goodness, the screen has the usual OLED good looks, and the folding is frankly uncanny the first few times you do it.

I’m very curious to know just what Microsoft has in store for the software part of the equation. I can’t really offer any good reason as to why I want it. But I very much do. It feels like something out of the future, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the final shipping hardware.

Listing image by Lenovo

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Tech – Ars Technica



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