Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold Review
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The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold Review
Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Fold is an entirely new form: a tablet PC that closes like a book with a folding screen. It may well be the future of the computer.
The £2500+ X1 Fold joins a tenuous group of advanced folding screen devices that include the reinvention of the flip phone and a mobile tablet that can be folded in half to fit in your pocket.
Aside from hefty price tags, they all have one thing in common: large screens that fold into more compact shapes. The leather-bound X1 Fold is about the size of a large paperback book when closed, but opens fully to reveal a beautiful 13.3-inch OLED display that’s about the same as a laptop.
The way it opens and closes is pure sci-fi. But fully unfolded, it’s remarkable how mundane the X1 Fold appears to be: it looks and works like any other flat Windows tablet like Microsoft’s Surface Pro with a kickstand on the back to support it. up. Just getting to that level of normality for something as exotic as this is an impressive feat.
You can’t see a crease in the middle at all with the screen on, and only if you put a bright light at the right angle you can see it with the screen off. You have to push pretty hard on the center with your finger to feel it too. It’s much less obvious than other devices with a foldable screen. The screen is bright, looks good and is great for working indoors, but it’s not bright enough to see in direct sunlight.
There is always one big question with foldable devices. The answer to that question is no: you cannot see the fold while using the Fold (although it is visible when the device is turned off). The exception is when it is partially folded like a book. The lighting in the middle and the lighting on the sides is then somewhat uneven. But honor where credit is due: when you use the Fold flat, there is no crease to be seen.
The hinge itself, which Lenovo says it has been developing for years, is quite sturdy and gave me no problems. The ThinkPad requires two hands and a firm tug to open. But on the plus side, it always stayed exactly in the position I put it in with no slippage or wobbling.
Flat, the screen is a 13.3-inch OLED with a resolution of 2048 x 1536. That’s a 4:3 aspect ratio, which is unusual for a laptop but feels quite roomy compared to a traditional 16:9. I could easily stack two or even three Chrome windows side by side, often with Slack, Zoom, or another app over them, without zooming out. And I haven’t noticed a jelly scroll (where one side of the screen can change pixels faster than the other), which was a problem with some early foldables. phones.
The viewing experience is a luxury. The panel reproduces 100 percent of the sRGB color gamut, 100 percent of Adobe RGB and 95 percent of DCI-P3. It’s great to watch videos and movies; even the dock icons pop with color. On the other hand, good luck using this thing outdoors. Not only is it quite glossy, but only reached 289 nits at maximum brightness. That’s not a problem for internals, but it’s still a bit of a let down for the price since some premium business laptops offer 1,000 nit options for less.
Lenovo has come up with some neat software tricks to improve the Fold experience. There is an app called Pen Settings where you can change the buttons on Lenovo’s stylus: they can do everything from copy/paste to erase, switch music and volume and up different applications.
For example, occasionally when I plugged in the mini keyboard, the Fold forgot it was there and sent it up the on-screen keyboard when I selected a text box with the stylus. You can disable the onscreen keyboard in Settings if this annoys you, but it’s still a glitch that’s disappointing to see. On the other hand, the on-screen keyboard occasionally didn’t come up immediately when I wanted it to, and I would have to poke the text box a few times before the Fold got the hint. And the little writing box, it’s supposed to pop up every time you tapped a text field with the stylus, it seemed to come somewhat randomly: sometimes it didn’t appear when I wanted it to, and it popped up at times when I didn’t (like if I had just highlighted something in a Google doc).
There were two occasions, both after a reboot, where the Fold didn’t realize it was in mini-laptop mode and tried to expand all over the screen. I had to remove and replace the keyboard for the Fold to detect it. (Lenovo is aware of that issue and says it’s working on a fix.)
The most annoying thing was that I wasn’t able to video chat in Zoom or WebEx with mini-laptop mode because my video feed (like that of the tablet camera) was sideways. That’s not a Lenovo-specific problem – some other Windows convertibles run their cameraIt’s also no good if you flip them over during video calls. But it’s still something I hope Zoom and WebEx can fix. Were it not for this matter, mini-laptop mode would be the ideal form factor for remote meetings (WebEx on the top half, notes on the bottom).
I’m confident Lenovo will iron out these kinks over time. But right now they are here.
The X1 Fold doesn’t have as heavy a processor as some other ThinkPads. It is powered by the Intel Core i5-L16G7, one of Intel’s “Lakefield” CPUs. These are “hybrid” processors, efficient chips designed for small and light devices. They are Intel’s answer to the Arm chips in phones, tablets and now MacBooks. (Microsoft’s dual-display Surface Neo would also get one.)
The Intel Core i5-L16G7 has five cores: one fast Sunny Cove core that can give a boost up up to 3GHz and four Tremont cores that can boost up up to 1.8GHz. Occasional glitches aside, I was pleasantly surprised by the performance here. Multitasking across a dozen apps and Chrome tabs was no problem, and I was able to scroll and browse during a long Zoom call without getting stuck up. Of course, that also applies to many devices that you can get for a few hundred dollars.
And the Fold also dragged its feet on some tasks that other premium business laptops (not to mention the high end consumer) laptops which are half this price) do better. It takes a few seconds to boot up, for example, and I sometimes got impatient while waiting for it to find things in File Explorer and send windows to full screen. Web pages were a bit slower than I’m used to. The ThinkPad also takes a few seconds to rearrange itself between modes — and the mini-clamshell mode in particular — but I’m willing to forgive that, as it’s a brand-new use case for Windows 10.
However, the battery life was quite disappointing. With the X1 Fold through my sustained workload (about 12 Chrome tabs and apps, occasional Spotify and YouTube streaming and Zoom calls, 200 nits of brightness), I got an average of four hours and 50 minutes on the Better Battery— profile and five hours and 35 minutes on the Battery Saver profile (with Intel’s battery saver) features enabled). That is not necessarily unexpected for a laptop with an OLED display and only a 50Whr battery. But it’s not good for a $2,500 device, especially one that’s meant to be used on the go. The Surface Pro 7, which has a higher-resolution screen, got seven to eight hours in our tests.
The running theme here is that most of these problems are Microsoft’s fault, not Lenovo’s. the convertible laptops Microsoft uses the same operating system. But the lack of tablet functionality makes more sense on Surface Books and Surface Pros, which can serve as tablets where needed, but should still function primarily as computers. The problem with the Fold is that it is at its best as a tablet. The ideal X1 Fold customer will usually use it as a tablet. Because there are two main reasons for not recommending this device as a primary device laptop. Those reasons are…
The X1 Fold is beautiful to look at and a wonder to use as a tablet. But I still dreaded having to drive it every day for my actual work. That’s because the keyboard and touchpad are small.
Wrap up Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold Review
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