Lenovo X1 Fold REVIEW
Lenovo X1 Fold REVIEW
Foldly going where no-notebook has gone before, Lenovo’s X1 Fold is a radical new concept in on-the-go computing, writes PAT PILCHER.
Notebook PCs have come a long way from their origins, but Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Fold is something else. Most laptops are still clamshell screen and keyboard widgets that resemble their bulky beige ancestors. The X1 Fold on the other hand… well, it looks like it fell through a tear in the space-time continuum.
That’s a bold statement to make, but then we are talking about the world’s first foldable laptop, and as such, it’s a radical-looking beast. Out of the box and unfolded, it looks like a tablet. But here’s where things get clever. It also comes with a keyboard and a stylus. With the X1’s screen half-folded, and its keyboard attached, it looks (and feels) a lot like a fully-fledged laptop. But that’s only part of the X1’s story.
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When folded, it looks a lot like a hardback leather-bound novel. A glossy black strip runs along the back edge to give it an extra hint of style. Aside from being amazingly compact when folded, it is also a cool looking piece of gear.
Unfolded, the X1’s display is 13.3-inches and sports a 1536 x 2048 QXGA resolution. Being a foldable display, it uses flexible plastic rather than glass. Unlike many foldable phones, the crease (caused by the hinge) is barely noticeable unless you’re really looking for it.
The screen bezels aren’t huge, and they’re magnetised. This allows the keyboard to securely attach to the screen. My initial concerns about the keyboard staying put once connected proved to be unfounded. It felt secure once attached. With the keyboard in place, the X1’s screen shrinks to what’s visible above the keyboard. This handily means you don’t lose access to the Windows start button, notifications and so on when the keyboard is docked.
Attaching to a 13.3-inch display means that the keyboard is compact and cramped. That said, it is still large enough to type accurately on, and the built-in trackpad worked fine too. While the keyboard is fine working on the go, most users are likely to prefer more QWERTY space for extended use. The good news here is that any Bluetooth or USB C capable keyboard works fine with the X1 Fold. When it’s closed, the keyboard sits snugly inside, protected from other objects lurking in your laptop bag.
The bundled stylus is also impressive. It has 4,096 pressure levels for precise control. Tilting the pen offers up accurate shading, which will be a boon for artists and designers. Although the X1 is compact, Lenovo’s boffins have thought of everything, including a small elastic strap on the edge of the keyboard to hold the stylus when it’s not in use.
Another bonus is the X1 compatibility. Unlike many other Windows tablets, the X1 packs a full version of Windows 10. Because there’s an Intel CPU under its hood and no ARM silicon, you don’t have any of the compatibility issues of a Windows on ARM PC.
If there’s a downside, it’s got to be the small number of ports available. There are only two USB Type-C connections and a Nano-SIM slot for 4/5G connectivity. There’s also no headphone jack. This means a good pair of Bluetooth headphones are your best bet.
Lack of ports aside, the X1 Fold offers tonnes of flexibility. For quick use on the go, you get a decent-sized tablet with a virtual on-screen keyboard. Add in the stylus, and you also get a wickedly good tablet digitiser which makes design work feel effortless. Half folding the X1 and attaching the keyboard gives you an Ultrabook. It’s perfect for knocking out emails and generating documents when away from the office. When in the office, its kickstand (which has a red fabric accent on its inside) transforms the X1 into a portable display paired with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse for a near-desktop PC experience.
Powering everything is an Intel Core i5 which uses Lakefield hybrid architecture, making it easier to cool and allowing the X1’s entire design to be housed in a thin and folding chassis. The CPU architecture is best suited for office productivity chores rather than gaming and other intensive tasks. The CPU performs more on par with a well-specced Celeron set up than a typical Core i5. For most jobs, such as the web, email, YouTube and office apps (which is pretty much what the X1 Fold is designed for), it’s more than adequate. For more demanding apps, it’s likely to struggle. While the X1 only comes with 8GB RAM, buyers can choose between Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro, and there are also SSD options ranging from 256GB through to 1TB.
The X1’s battery should deliver 8 and a half hours of use. Your mileage is likely to vary depending on what you’re using it for. With looped HD video playback, I got a staggering 28 hours and 31 minutes. In contrast, more demanding run-down bench tests delivered a run time of just under 7-hours.
While ports might not be plentiful, you do get support for newer wireless standards. As well as support for Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1, you also get 5G/LTE connectivity, making the X1 a real work-from-anywhere device.
Being a foldable device, the X1 is bleeding-edge tech and commands a premium. It might be the most portable PC currently available, and it’s a real head-turner, but you’ll need to dip into your piggy bank to buy one as prices start at a cool $4464.05.
CPU: Intel Core i5 (5 cores/5 Threads, 1.40GHz up to 3.0GHz)
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Max-Q 6GB
Screen: 13.3-inch, 2048 x 1536p, 300 nits OLED touchscreen
Storage: 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD
Ports: 2 x USB Type-C 3.2 Gen-2, Nano SIM slot
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6 802.11AX, Bluetooth 5.1, WWAN Cat-20 5G/LTE (Optional, requires telco contract and SIM)
Camera: 5MP HD IR front-facing webcam
Weight: 0.99 kilos
Size (W x H x D) Unfolded: 299.4 x 236 x 11.5mm; Folded: 158.2 x 236 x 27.8mm