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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold review


(CNN) —

The #Lenovo #ThinkPad X1 #Fold is one of the most futuristic devices of the year — the world’s first foldable PC. #But like so many other first-generation products, it’s not for everyone.

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#Who it’s for: #As the world’s first foldable PC, the #ThinkPad X1 #Fold is for early adopters and those who are OK using an imperfect machine. #Lenovo got the design right, and as it’s a #ThinkPad, we don’t have many durability concerns. #However, #Windows 10 isn’t optimized for foldables, and it shows on the X1 #Fold.

#What you need to know: #At $2,499 with no keyboard and $2,749 with that attachment, it’s expensive to say the least. #Add to that its buggy software, middle-of-the-row performance and not-so-great battery life, which hold it back. The #ThinkPad X1 #Fold is not for most people, and you likely shouldn’t buy this unless you truly don’t mind splurging for a cutting-edge but niche device.

#How it compares: The #ThinkPad X1 #Fold feels as durable as any other #ThinkPad. #It has the classic black color and is built tough. #We also don’t have qualms about opening and closing it several times during a day. The issues begin to arise with #Windows 10; the operating system as a whole is not ready for a device like this, and in use, it falls behind that of other laptops and 2-in-1s like the #Surface #Pro 7. #You’ll also find that while it can handle light tasks, it’s not the best for things like #Photoshop, video editing or gaming.

#Dating back to the IBM days and still true today, #Lenovo’s #ThinkPads are tanks in the world of computers. They’re not fragile or flimsy; rather, they’re strong and can take a beating.

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The #ThinkPad X1 #Fold packs that durability into a foldable. #Unlike with the #Galaxy Z #Flip 5G, #Motorola #Razr or #Galaxy Z #Fold 2, we don’t have immediate concerns with opening and closing the X1 #Fold.

The physical frame of the X1 #Fold is a combination of carbon fiber and magnesium alloy. #It also comes in just one color: black. #What’s different about the X1 #Fold, when it comes to materials, is a leather back that feels quite high-end and makes the PC look like a luxury device. #It feels really nice, and when the X1 #Fold is closed, it resembles a classy notebook or casing.

#That leather back has a portion that can fold out, essentially allowing you to prop the X1 #Fold up when it’s fully open. #This way it can act as a display and you can use it as a desktop — although, truthfully, the experience is more equivalent to a #Windows tablet, like a #Surface #Pro 7. #After all, it’s only a 13.3-inch display.

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#When it’s closed, you’ll see the glossy finish of the X1 #Fold on the top, as the leather itself recoils back when folded. #But when fully opened, the leather spans the back of the device. There are just two USB-C ports on the X1 #Fold, and both can handle charging the device. #You won’t find many buttons, either — just a power button with an LED indicator and a volume rocker.

#It’s best to think of this as a 13.3-inch clamshell #Windows tablet that can be folded fully in half. #You can use it unfolded in a vertical or horizontal position. #It can be folded to a 90-degree angle, like the Z #Flip, and used like a netbook or mini laptop with the optional keyboard. #Although, let’s be frank: #If you buy the X1 #Fold, get the keyboard. #It just doesn’t make sense not to.

The design of the X1 #Fold is equal parts futuristic and functional. #It’s relatively compact at just over 2 pounds. #For comparison, that’s lighter than a #MacBook #Air but heavier than an iPad #Air. #And it’s a design that’s highlighted by the hinge, which allows this device to be multimode in a way that’s radically different from a conventional laptop.

#You’ll know exactly where the hinge is, thanks to larger bezels around the display. The hinge is physically open on the sides. #That’s a bit concerning, but we also didn’t encounter any issues with the fold or items getting lodged in the small opening.

#And if you opt for the keyboard, you can leave it on the display when the PC is folded. #It will actually fill in the fold where a paper clip or a sharp object could potentially slide in and puncture the display.

#When unfolded, the display stretches to fill the full 13 inches and creates tension. #This is by design and makes the display stronger in this position. #Remember, this is an OLED polymer display and not glass. #You also don’t need to be gentle when opening or closing the X1 #Fold — that’s a noticeable difference from folding phones. #However, when using it in a laptoplike format, we noticed discoloration, as the bottom half of the display is noticeably darker.

The #ThinkPad X1 #Fold’s display is a 13.3-inch OLED with a 1536 x 2048 resolution. #Images are reproduced accurately, but it lags behind other laptops with a full 4K display. The plastic nature of the display increases the glossy factor, as it’s super reflective. #It’s really hard to use it in direct light or outdoors — especially when you add in the fact that it can’t get that bright.

The #ThinkPad X1 #Fold has two big shortcomings: #Windows isn’t optimized for foldables, and #Lenovo’s customization only does so much. #Intel’s #Lakefield stacked processor provides expected performance but doesn’t shine with efficiency or a runway for high-powered tasks.

#Lenovo’s answer to switching from one big screen to a clamshell is a #Mode #Switcher. #When it’s working, it will detect when you’re folding or turning the X1 #Fold through the accelerometer. #With that, you can select which app is where depending on your orientation. #It’s an easy way to set you up for success, and it was handy for staying within two apps. #But too many times it ended up not engaging when we needed it.

#You’ll also find that many apps aren’t optimized to run in these smaller scenarios or in the mini clamshell mode. #Essentially, you snap the keyboard onto the right side of the X1 #Fold (or the bottom half), and it turns that portion of the display off, leaving you with the top half. #It allows you to use the X1 #Fold as a mini laptop. #You can use the keyboard and trackpad to navigate a 7-inch display. #It’s been handy for quickly triaging an email inbox, but not much else.

#More importantly, though, for the apps that worked with it, the keyboard functioned well. #You’ll also find that the keyboard, which attaches magnetically and charges wirelessly, uses a lot of power. #In this mode, we suggest being plugged in, which takes away from the practicality of using this on the go.

#And when it’s working properly, the X1 #Fold recognizes the keyboard is there in just a matter of seconds. The dock will get moved up and you’ll be ready to rock. #And while instances of it not recognizing the keyboard were more prominent before several updates, it still occasionally occurs when turning the X1 #Fold on or after a restart.

#It all comes down to the fact that #Windows 10 isn’t designed for a device like this. #Windows 10X, an optimized version of #Windows 10 for foldables, would likely squash a lot of issues, but it’s delayed. #It was teased alongside the #Surface #Neo, a folding #Surface device, which is also delayed. A lot of the updates fall on #Lenovo, and it tried to squash as many issues as it could. The other half falls on individual app developers to take advantage of a design like this.

#When the X1 #Fold works, namely the mode switcher, it’s great. #But when it doesn’t, it really feels like a first-generation product. #And as far as the processor goes, the X1 #Fold performs well for a mobile architecture chip from #Intel. #To get specific, it’s an #Intel #Hybrid #Processor — the i5-L16G7 — with 8GB of RAM. #And for most tasks it will be enough to power them; web browsing, word processing, big spreadsheets and even the occasional photo edit worked well on the X1 #Fold.

#It just cannot scale, but then again the X1 #Fold is designed as a business laptop. #We tried some gaming on it and The #Sims 4 was playable. #Any high-powered title, though, would crash or just not run when we tried. #We also found that for some titles, the auto orientation will cause the app to crash or quit, so be careful of your movements while using this PC.

#To put the performance into perspective, we ran the #ThinkPad X1 #Fold through #Geekbench 5, which stress-tests a machine with real-world use cases. The #ThinkPad X1 #Fold scored an 822 on the single-core test and a 1,738 on the multi-core test. #It’s middle of the road and lags behind several devices, including the #Intel #MacBook #Air, the M1 #MacBook #Air and the #Surface #Laptop #Go.

#It’s just not a very efficient processor in its current state. The efficiency concerns carry over into battery life as well. #In everyday use, we found that the keyboard drained a lot of power and shrunk our workdays. #And when we used the X1 #Fold for a full workday, it required a charger nearby.

#It scored behind all of the aforementioned laptops and several others in our battery test, clocking in at six hours and 15 minutes.

#From the costly price alone, the #ThinkPad X1 #Fold isn’t for most. #And the fact that it’s a foldable PC makes it an even tougher sell. #In its current state, the #ThinkPad X1 #Fold is a pretty niche product and you’ll likely be better served from a #ThinkPad X1 #Carbon, a #Dell XPS 13, a #Surface #Pro X or even a #Surface #Pro 7. #Those 2-in-1s feature great hardware and a nearly perfect software experience.

#Even so, we appreciate what #Lenovo has done here. The hardware and design of the X1 #Fold is excellent. #It’s the first foldable screen that we aren’t afraid to apply pressure to. #But there’s still work to be done here — the software experience needs to improve, and a good chunk of that falls on the #Windows team.

#Lenovo is clearly on to something here with the X1 #Fold, though.



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https://us.cnn.com/2020/12/30/cnn-underscored/lenovo-thinkpad-x1-fold-review/index.html

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