Lenovo has showcased its first folding-display laptop, taking previous designs that have relied upon having two separate screens and imbuing it with technology originally developed for folding smartphones.
Unveiled at a press event late last night, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 variant features a single OLED touch-screen display which stretches across the entire device - including where a traditional laptop would have a keyboard. Folded fully open, the device looks and operates like a large-format tablet; folded partially open, the lower half can operate as a screen or a touch-sensitive keyboard - and, the company claims, represents 'a full-fledged laptop with a foldable screen' rather than a cut-down tablet or large-format smartphone.
'We all want access to a large comfortable screen even on the go, but travel can make this inconvenient or impossible,' the company claims of the inspiration behind the device. 'Never mind that remote work increased 140 percent from 2008 to 2016, with more and more employees taking time-sensitive, media-intensive projects with them everywhere. In the past, a 13.3-inch screen on a laptop demanded that the device stay at that same size footprint - not so with this single OLED 2K display made in collaboration with LG Display that can fold in half and reduce its width by 50 percent.'
Lenovo's design isn't the first time a manufacturer has attempted to replace a laptop's keyboard with a second screen: For years Microsoft worked on a dual-screen book-like device dubbed Courier before cancelling it in 2010. More recently, Intel showed off a platform design dubbed Tiger Rapids which swaps the keyboard for a low-power E-Ink display, and Asus' Project Precog features two 4K-resolution panels. Even Lenovo itself has released the Yoga Book, with dual touch-sensitive panels, and promised a second-generation dual-display design to follow. The foldable ThinkPad X1 differs from these by using a single flexible display which literally folds in the middle. It's a technology with which smartphone makers have been toying, but not with the greatest of success: Samsung recently delayed the launch of its Galaxy Fold smartphone, which uses similar flexible display technology, after reviewers found the devices breaking after mere hours of use.
Lenovo has promised that the design is real, rather than concept, and will be made available some time in 2020; it has not, however, shared specifications nor pricing.
December 11 2020 | 17:30