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

Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Fold is the world’s to start with foldable Computer. Its 13.3-inch OLED display screen folds down the center, enabling you to use it in notebook manner with a mini-keyboard, entirely open up as a handheld tablet, or as a standalone display screen, propped up by its kickstand. This interesting innovation would not appear low cost, even though. The commencing 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 13.3-inch ThinkPad X1 Fold can run in numerous modes.

Pictures: Lenovo

You can find a persuasive idea driving the ThinkPad X1 Fold: to provide superb tablet and notebook modes, with a function- and leisure-helpful display screen, when remaining transportable and earning no compromise on usability. That is a huge question, and it is really vital to be aware at the outset that even with Lenovo’s most effective initiatives, the X1 Fold would not offer all the solutions.

Totally open up, the contact display screen steps 13.3 inches across the diagonal, with a resolution of 2,048 x 1,536 pixels (192.5ppi, 4:3 factor ratio). Despite the fact that optimum brightness is only 300 nits, the OLED panel provides crystal clear, sharp images with lively colours. It is a pleasure to use in tablet manner, in the two landscape and portrait orientation.

You can find a kickstand constructed into the again of the product that retains the ThinkPad X1 Fold at an upright angle in landscape orientation. Even so, when I tapped wherever in the higher quarter of the display screen, it felt in danger of tipping backwards. You can’t prop up the X1 Fold in portrait manner. 

There are speakers on the long edges, which provide a good deal of volume. Bass tones could be much better, but that is a perennial challenge with laptops. Even so, the positioning of the speaker grilles usually means that when the kickstand is employed for landscape-manner operation, the lower speaker can get muffled. 

You can interact with the display screen with a fingertip or by making use of the Lenovo Mod Pen stylus, the on-display screen gentle keyboard or a physical Mini Keyboard. The stylus and mini-keyboard are furnished with 3 of the four off-the-shelf iterations of this notebook in the United kingdom, while the entry-degree £2,301.forty three (inc. VAT) product would not contain them. The Method Pen expenses £90 (inc. VAT), when the Mini Keyboard provides £200 (inc. VAT) to the price. 

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Pictures at Lenovo’s web site display the ThinkPad X1 Fold remaining held in 1 hand as if it were a paperback guide. That is somewhat disingenuous, specified that the product weighs a kilogram (.99kg to be correct). 

When you start off to fold the display screen, an applet identified as the Lenovo Method Switcher appears. You tap this to either hold the display screen in solitary perspective manner, or have two vertical webpages. Method Switcher is obtainable when you want to use it, so it is really straightforward to flip in between different viewing modes. Dragging home windows all over the display screen isn’t really normally as straightforward or productive as it ought to be: I observed resizing a little jerky, and it is really tough dragging applications across the folded space of the display screen. It is also irritating that when you fold the display screen for notebook manner use and spot the mini-keyboard on to its bottom 50 %, home windows do not immediately resize to match the top 50 % of the display screen only. 

To place the ThinkPad X1 Fold away you shut it up as you would shut a guide. The consequence is some thing with a desktop footprint little greater than a paperback guide, while it is really thicker than numerous paperbacks. The folded dimensions are: 158.2mm x 236mm x 27.8mm, when unfolded (with the display screen fully flat) it steps 299.4mm x 236mm x eleven.5mm. When you happen to be travelling with the ThinkPad X1 Fold, the mini-keyboard will sit inside of the fold, and the keyboard has an integrated loop to dwelling the Mod Pen stylus. The entire body of the ThinkPad X1 Fold is included in gentle and pliable leather-based at the again, providing it a folio-like appearance when shut. 

As for the X1 Fold’s robustness, only long-expression use will affirm whether or not the display screen and hinge mechanism stand up to remaining folded numerous occasions a day. You can find a rubbery, bevelled, flexing part on the bezel at the fold issue, which has adequate of an airgap at its outer edge at specific fold angles to elevate worry about dust ingress. But the make features the two carbon fibre and magnesium alloy, and the spec sheet notes that the X1 Fold has passed MIL-STD 810H ruggedness exams. 

Lenovo allays worry that the folding display screen could be inclined to scratching, noting that it is really been examined for the consequences of objects obtaining wedged in the gap that is apparent when the product is folded up like a guide. 

You can use the furnished mini-keyboard either perched on 1 50 % of the display screen the place it is really secured by magnets, with the other 50 % of the display screen folded upwards notebook-fashion, or fully independently from the entirely folded-out display screen. I most well-liked the latter manner, as it offered more display screen authentic estate, and felt a good deal fewer cramped. 


Remaining: Display entirely open up and supported in landscape orientation by the kickstand, with the Bluetooth Mini-Keyboard and Mod Pen stylus. Suitable: notebook manner, with the Mini-Keyboard magnetically attached to 50 % of the folded display screen.

Pictures: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Unusually for Lenovo, the keyboard is disappointing in use. Slim and light, it feels a little flimsy in the hands, but that is not its most important failing. You can find pretty little return to the keys, and it is really aggravating that obtain to some figures — such as square brackets and ‘/’ — have to have the Fn vital to be held down others — such as curled brackets, ‘?’ and ‘@’ — have to have Ctrl as well. It is very a steep finding out curve, and typing speed is very likely to suffer until finally you modify — or swap to a greater Bluetooth keyboard. 

The touchpad is even more disappointing because, at 2.five inches vast, it is really just far too modest for its supposed functionality. Lenovo clearly wished to give as much place as achievable to the keyboard, but the touchpad suffers as a consequence. 

The inside battery for the Mini Keyboard delivers up to 40 several hours of use, Lenovo claims, and can be charged either by using USB or wirelessly from the X1 Fold when the keyboard is attached in notebook manner. USB charging is by using Micro-USB — a distinctly legacy answer for such an usually ahead-looking merchandise. 

The Mod Pen stylus is much greater, while it is really a disgrace there’s no magnet to maintain it to the ThinkPad X1 Fold. Nonetheless it is really successful and usable, supporting 4,096 stress concentrations. The Mod Pen charges by using USB-C, with a solitary cost long lasting for 332 several hours, according to Lenovo. 

There is a 5MP hybrid IR webcam on the still left facet of the top bezel when the display screen is entirely open up and in landscape manner. It functions wonderful for movie calls in this orientation, but fewer so in notebook manner, when the digital camera is on the proper facet, shut to the hinge. You can find no ThinkShutter privateness cover, as found on numerous ThinkPads, while the bezel would seem huge adequate to accommodate this. If price tag criteria ruled out a ThinkShutter, that is arguably a phony economic climate. 

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Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) and Bluetooth (five.1) are on-board as typical, with 5G cellular broadband a £220 (inc. VAT) optional added. The entry-degree pre-configured product operates Home windows 10 Dwelling, when the remainder operate Home windows 10 Pro. All four United kingdom off-the-shelf configurations are constructed all over 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-degree 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, 1 of which is essential for charging. One particular of the USB-C ports is, irritatingly, inaccessible when the kickstand is in use. You can find no fingerprint reader, and not even a 3.5mm headset connector, which is typical fare in laptops. 

My overview configuration experienced a 256GB SSD and price tag £2,799.99 (inc. VAT £2.333.32 ex. VAT). A higher-conclusion product with a 512GB SSD and cellular broadband expenses £3,159.99 (inc. VAT £2,633.32 ex. VAT). 

Lenovo promises 8.five several hours of existence for the ThinkPad X1 Fold’s 50Wh battery, which is modest by present-day requirements. In fairness, there isn’t really a good deal of chassis place in which to retail store a battery, but bear this in head if you happen to be taking into consideration the X1 Fold as your most important workhorse. To examination battery existence, I labored in the two comprehensive-display screen and 50 %-display screen modes with the mini-keyboard across a 3-hour period of time, in the course of which I wrote into world wide web applications, browsed and streamed music and movie. In the course of this period of time the battery dropped 37% from a comprehensive cost, suggesting battery existence of just over 8 several hours. Lenovo claims the battery will recharge to 80% in an hour. 


Impression: Lenovo


The ThinkPad X1 Fold’s signature folding display screen labored faultlessly all over the overview period of time, and is a marvel. That said, there are some major usability difficulties to contend with, such as the bad mini-keyboard, a dearth of ports and connectors, and reasonable battery existence. Also, it is really not crystal clear why the webcam lacks a ThinkShutter, 1 of the USB-C ports is inaccessible when the kickstand is in use, and the kickstand only supports landscape manner.

Component in the price, which is higher at the entry degree and will get astronomical in the direction of the top conclusion, and it is really difficult to propose the ThinkPad X1 Fold. As a proof-of-idea for folding screens, it is really exemplary. But as an daily tablet/notebook it is really high priced and below-specified, with far too numerous usability compromises. 

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