Windows PCs are about to get a whole lot more exciting with foldable screens.
Intel says that it will be at least two years before laptops with foldable screens take off, but someone forgot to tell that to Lenovo, which just unveiled a prototype for a new foldable ThinkPad running Windows that will go on sale in 2020—The best part? This foldable PC, which will be part of the ThinkPad X1 family, already seems to sidestep at least one of the Galaxy Fold’s design problems.
Lenovo, the legendary computer hardware experimenter has teased the foldable PC at its Accelerate conference with a quick look at what it can do, who it’s geared for, and what the future of Windows will bring. It has been under development for the last three years, with much of the work taking place in Japan. As announced today, and calling it the world’s first foldable Windows PC—The device unfolded is a full-fledged 13.3-inch tablet running Windows. But bend it in half, and the device (branded as part of Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 family) transforms into a mini laptop about the size of a paperback.
Though Lenovo’s device won’t come out until next year, the company did show us a working prototype to play with for a few minutes. But first, let’s talk about the hardware. Lenovo was reluctant to share too many details — it’s understandable since the device launch is still a year away and many features could change — but however we have some specs:
- Intel processor (unspecified)
- 3-inch OLED display (2K resolution) made by LG Display when open
- Dual 9.6-inch screens when folded up
- “All day battery” (unspecified hours)
- 2x USB C ports
- IR camera
- Stereo speakers
- Supports Bluetooth keyboard and Wacom stylus
As a device will support the ThinkPad X1 branding, Lenovo envisions the foldable device should be used mostly by working professionals. Lenovo says it thinks the foldable device will be a good fit for road warriors and business executives who want the versatility of a device that’s capable of handling “real work” normally accomplished on a laptop, but also demand portability.
In my demo, the tech company showed a variety of ways in which the foldable device might be used. In full-screen mode, the device works like a large tablet and users can watch a video or toss up a PowerPoint presentation.
Folded up, though, the tablet folds into small laptop-like device with half of the screen used as a regular screen and the other as a touchscreen keyboard. This is just one of those times where the bottom screen can used for input. It’s possible other apps could use the second screen for different control layouts. For example, using a DJ app, and the bottom half of the foldable screen could come in handy and serve as for a digital deck, knobs, and sliders.
The sad thing is that not everyone’s gonna enjoy typing on the touchscreen display, though. For more serious users who need a more tactile typing experience, there’s also a slim Bluetooth keyboard included and a wacom stylus is also included for handwriting, drawing, and annotating.
However, the burning question everyone wants to know about is: How does the device look? Actually, not bad! From the demo video and display release by the company it is more visible in photos and videos, but in person, maybe when released it will look completely different or same who knows! It’s impressive to say the least and one of the most impressive bendable screens I’ve yet seen so far.
How well the foldable screen holds up long term is a different question. But the company made a statement which it’s referred the device to the same durability standards that ThinkPads have come to be known for. As such, it’s testing the hinge to endure twice the amount of cycles that hinges are rated for in its regular laptops.
There’s still a lot of details we don’t know about the device like how much it’ll cost (my guess is it’ll be really expensive) and how well apps will adapt to the different modes when the screen is bent but at least we know we are expecting the device anytime in 2020.