03 Feb Lenovo Delivers Big-Time Innovation At CES 2020

Today I continue my coverage of CES 2020, the annual consumer electronics extravaganza held in Las Vegas every January. It’s an event that draws companies big and small, who specialize in every aspect of consumer electronics imaginable.

Obviously PCs are a huge part of the event—Lenovo is one of the annual attendees that I make sure to pay attention to (see my conference coverage for 201620172018, and 2019). The company took the opportunity of CES 2020 to launch several new innovative devices that I wanted to do a deeper dive on today. Let’s take a look.

X1 Fold

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold
 LENOVO

Perhaps the flashiest of Lenovo’s devices formally launched at CES 2020 was the new ThinkPad X1 Fold, the world’s first foldable, fully functional PC. The device’s state of the art folding OLED display allows it to toggle through multiple modes, from a fully flat 13.3” display to smaller footprint laptop-like device. It’s lightweight and portable—all in all, the device weighs less than 2.2 pounds. The X1 Fold joins Lenovo’s Always Connected ranks, and is another example of the company’s efforts to blur the lines between laptops and smartphones. It was co-engineered with Intel, and features Intel Core Processors and Intel Hybrid Technology. The device comes with an Active Pen for content creation and note taking, and a Bluetooth Mini Fold Keyboard, which charges wirelessly inside of the X1 Fold when it is folded close.

Let’s take a closer look at the different modes. When it’s folded completely flat, it can be used as a tablet or to consume touch-heavy content. Its leather folio case features an integrated kickstand, which can be used to set the device up in landscape mode. The device can be folded into the familiar laptop position, where users can multitask with two independent displays (portrait or landscape, depending on user preference). It can be bent slightly, like a book, for reading. For traditional office settings, users can connect a full-size keyboard and mouse, and even a second display. In short, the X1 Fold presents a myriad of possibilities.

The device will launch with Windows 10 sometime in mid-2020. The opening shots of the coming foldable PC wars have been fired.

5G PC

Lenovo Yoga 5G PC
 LENOVO

The other really big piece of news was the Lenovo Yoga 5G PC—the world’s very first 5G PC. Lenovo previewed the device, under the codename “Project Limitless” last summer at Computex (see Moor Insights & Strategy analyst Anshel Sag’s coverage here), so this announcement was not totally out of the blue. Like the X1 Fold, the Yoga 5G also represents the first shot fired in a category that will almost certainly explode in the coming years. It supports both millimeter wave wide-band and sub-6GHz 5G networks, and promises to be as much as 10 times faster than 4G. Its nine built-in antennas will purportedly deliver download speeds of nearly 4 GB/s. All of these capabilities are driven by the PC’s inclusion of Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 8cx 5G Compute Platform—the first PC to make use of it. Lenovo says Qualcomm’s platform delivers twice the performance of the previous generation.

In addition to the mobility offered by its powerful connectivity, the Yoga 5G is quite lightweight and portable (weighing in at 2.86 pounds). It features a 14” Full HD IPS touch display, with narrow bezels on all sides, with Qualcomm Adreno 680 graphics. Rounding out the device’s entertainment potential, the Yoga 5G also features Dolby Atmos audio. For secure login, the Yoga 5G features a hands-free IR camera and an integrated fingerprint reader. If last year’s YOGA C630 was any indication, the Yoga 5G will likely have unbelievable battery life and likely be the leader for the always-connected- always-on PC category. I eagerly await the day when I can test this notebook and see how long it lasts.

One last great feature of the Yoga 5G is its intelligent temperature control—Lenovo says this feature will adjust performance based on user activity in order to keep the device cool without the use of a fan.

ThinkBook Plus

Lenovo ThinkBook Plus
 LENOVO

Lenovo also announced its new ThinkBook Plus, a category-defining addition to its ThinkBook line. The major differentiator for the device is the 10.8” e-Ink cover display, which allows users to create take notes and create content with the help of the integrated Lenovo Precision Pen—it can even transcribe handwriting into text and be synced with Microsoft OneNote. Additionally, thanks to its Modern Standby feature, it can receive notifications and be used to access information such as calendar and email headers. The cover can even be utilized to read Amazon Kindle books. To be clear, it can do all of these things while the laptop itself is closed. The user can set a custom screensaver for the cover screen—a nice touch in my opinion.

The device features a 13.3” FFHD main display, with narrow bezels, and support for Dolby Vision video. On the inside, it runs Windows 10 on 10th Gen Intel Core Processors. In the realm of privacy and security, the device’s Windows Hello fingerprint reader is integrated directly into the power button, and the camera features a privacy shutter to protect users from prying eyes. It also features dTPM 2.0 hardware security.

The biggest question I have is if users think the system is too thick to write on comfortably. Legal pads are still the king of note taking and those are thin for a reason. Overall, I think the ThinkBook has an interesting value prop. I look forward to trying out the experience as soon as I can.

ThinkSmart View and ThinkSmart Manager

ThinkSmart View
 LENOVO

Lastly, Lenovo announced several new offerings for its ThinkSmart business communications portfolio. The first, ThinkSmart View, seeks to provide a device screen for Microsoft Teams audio and video conferencing. It features one-touch meeting start, and can be paired with a Bluetooth headset. It also has a physical camera shutter and PIN-based device lock for security purposes. The device runs on Qualcomm’s APQ8053 SoC. ThinkSmart Manager, on the other hand, is a proprietary application built to aid IT departments in managing their various ThinkSmart devices.

I’m impressed at the View’s simplicity and can imagine it on huddle rooms and 100’s of millions of home-based workers.

Wrapping up

It was a strong showing from Lenovo, with not one, but two industry firsts—Yoga 5G, the world’s first fully functional 5G PC, and the X1 Fold, the world’s first foldable PC. It’s not often that a company manages to introduce two firsts at the same conference, and it was exciting to witness. I look forward to seeing how Lenovo responds as its competitors begin to enter the foldable and 5G PC space, and will follow with interest. Analyst Anshel Sag covered some of the gaming-related Lenovo announcements here.

Lenovo crushed it at CES 2020.

Note: Moor Insights writers and researchers contributed to this analysis.