August 12, 2020


Born to play

Lenovo ThinkBook Plus review: Second E-Ink screen adds an extra dimension Review

Lenovo’s to start with ThinkBook, introduced past year, was a solidly built laptop in both...

Lenovo’s to start with ThinkBook, introduced past year, was a solidly built laptop in both equally 13-inch and fourteen-inch variety variables it was not extremely highly-priced, and was billed as a unit that could bridge the get the job done/engage in divide — it experienced the strapline ‘Built for Business, Created for Era Next’. 

This new 13.3-inch ThinkBook As well as retains some of the design and style smarts of the earlier product, and provides an fully new aspect — a 10.eight-inch E-Ink display screen built into the lid. This can supply data, act as an e book reader, and also has interactive aspects: you can get notes and annotate PDFs on it, for case in point. You will find only 1 model of the ThinkBook As well as out there in the Uk, a Core i5 product with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage, which costs £1,019.99 (inc. VAT £849.99 mex. VAT). Two variants are out there in the US: Core i5/8GB/256GB for $one,299 and Core i7/16GB/512GB for $one,529.

The ThinkBook As well as operates on 10th-generation Core i5 or i7 processors. As perfectly as the principal 13.3-inch FHD IPS display screen, it has a 2nd 10.eight-inch E-Ink touchscreen on the outdoors of the lid.

Photographs: Lenovo

So, how handy is the E-Ink panel, and how perfectly does the ThinkBook As well as complete in standard?

When you feel of E-Ink you possibly visualise e book audience from Amazon, Kobo and other individuals. But E-Ink has highlighted in other gadgets too. It acted as a 2nd display screen for the YotaPhone smartphone, for case in point, and Lenovo made use of it to supply its 2016 Yoga E book with possibly a touch-delicate keyboard or a drawing pad in the location typically occupied by a physical keyboard. This time, a 10.eight-inch E-Ink display screen occupies the bulk of the lid of the ThinkBook As well as. 

The terrific gain of E-Ink is its lower energy usage. Pixels are possibly on, or off, and even though power is demanded to alter their point out, when they are set, you can find no power draw. Moreover, pixels stay seen in their set point out so that whichever they are exhibiting can stay consistent. Just like with e book audience, the display screen is touch-responsive, and you can also interact with it applying the furnished Precision Pen stylus. 

E-Ink has some significant dissimilarities in comparison to a conventional laptop display screen. It is greyscale instead than color and it can be sluggish to refresh, which restrictions the use instances. It’s also well worth noting that the E-Ink panel in the ThinkBook As well as lacks a backlight.

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This means Lenovo can only supply a smaller set of features for the E-ink display screen. There are just two applications out there from the tappable icon bar in the base correct corner: Note and Reader, both equally of which can get the job done in portrait and landscape orientation.

Note is a creating and drawing device. Creations manufactured applying the Precision Pen can be saved right on to the desktop as photographs, text, formulae or diagrams. The E-Ink display screen also synchronises with Microsoft OneNote, so your scribblings are out there in editable format on the laptop appropriate.


Prime: The Reader E-Ink app. Over: Settings for the E-Ink display screen.

Photographs: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Reader shows paperwork in PDF, EPUB, MOBI and TXT formats, and enables you to annotate PDFs. Whilst variations of this laptop on show at CES in January sported a Kindle shortcut on the E-Ink display screen, there was no Kindle help on my evaluation device. Nor is there any data at Lenovo’s website or in the E-Ink aid on the laptop alone about introducing new applications.

There are a pair of added capabilities out there as a result of the E-Ink display’s setup location: you can opt to show your Outlook Calendar, Outlook E mail, the temperature and the date you can also pick out wallpaper together with applying your own photographs. There is a very small battery existence icon in the top correct corner of the wallpaper display screen. 


The Precision Pen clings magnetically to the left or correct facet of the lid.

Image: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The E-Ink display screen wants defense, and Lenovo offers a significant sleeve for the ThinkBook As well as. Regretably neither this nor the ThinkBook As well as alone has a housing for the Precision Pen. As an alternative, the pen clings magnetically to the lid’s short edges, but it can be not held incredibly firmly and isn’t a satisfactory answer when the laptop is in transit.

To accommodate the E-Ink panel, the lid is instead thicker than normal which means an over-all thickness of seventeen.4mm thickness. The desktop footprint is minimum for a 13.3-inch laptop, at 308mm extensive by 217mm deep and the further panel will not incorporate a terrific deal to the pounds, which is one.4kg. The internet outcome is a laptop that feels strong but not overburdened by its 2nd display screen.
The principal display screen is a 13.3-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS panel with three hundred nits brightness and 100% sRGB color room coverage. It isn’t touch responsive, which arguably is an omission, though this does retain both equally the price tag and the lid thickness down. Display bezels are a little broader than top-flight Lenovo laptops are likely to supply, and the base bezel is significantly deep. I observed it complicated to have two functioning apps open facet by facet. If will need be, the principal display screen will open to a hundred and eighty levels and lie flat on a desk.

The speakers supply reasonable quality audio. Volume goes pretty significant, and even though the audio is a little short on bass tones it should be great for video watching, presentations and video phone calls.


The total-size keyboard is backlit, with Skype for Business warm-keys on the correct-hand facet of the Fn crucial row.

Image: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The keyboard is common of Lenovo with its pot-bellied keys furnishing far more of a goal than normal. The keys are large and perfectly-spaced, and I was pretty satisfied touch-typing at my normal speed. The Fn keys are somewhat large, with the correct-most pair becoming shortcut keys for Skype for Business phone calls.

The touchpad feels a little cramped, but which is hardly strange in a 13.3-inch laptop, and it was relaxed and responsive to use. It’s effortlessly disabled with a Fn crucial. 

SEE: Windows 10 Commence menu hacks (TechRepublic Quality)

The on/off change is on the correct edge of the chassis and incorporates a fingerprint reader. This area means you can power up the laptop when the lid is down, enabling use of the E-Ink display screen. Windows Hello there authentication is also supported via the 1MP webcam.

Our ThinkBook As well as evaluation device ran on a 10th generation Intel Core i5-10210U processor with integrated Intel UHD Graphics. Discrete graphics would be great, though this would occur at a price tag. There is 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. The ThinkBook As well as operates Windows 10 Professional.


The power button on the correct-hand facet (top) has an integrated fingerprint reader. There are two USB 3. ports and, on the left facet (center), total-size HDMI, USB-C (with DisplayPort and power supply) and 3.5mm audio.

Image: Lenovo

Lenovo offers a total-size HDMI port as perfectly as two USB 3. ports and a one USB-C port. The latter is out of motion when you are charging the laptop, and Lenovo should have furnished a 2nd USB-C port, preferably with Thunderbolt help. There is also a 3.5mm headset jack. 

According to Lenovo, the battery is great for up to 10 hours. I place it as a result of its normal paces, leaving video streaming for a a few-hour get the job done session even though also functioning in web applications, viewing web webpages and often streaming music. The display screen was set immediately to its most (three hundred nits) brightness, and I wouldn’t want to get the job done with it substantially lessen than that for prolonged intervals.

In the a few-hour period of time the battery dropped to fifty six%. I would not say I subjected the ThinkBook As well as to a particularly demanding workload, and doubt that it would power my common functioning working day from a total cost. Still, you can find great information in the form of Fast Cost help, which will get the battery from zero to 80% in an hour.


Image: Lenovo


Lenovo’s plan of placing a 2nd display screen on the front of the ThinkBook As well as, turning what is normally useless room into an location for effective use, is laudable. The E-Ink screen’s operation is limited, nevertheless, and it relies heavily on a stylus which you will will need to have independently from the laptop and be mindful not to shed. 

I’d like to see Lenovo take a look at this plan additional, together with integrating connectivity with far more than just Microsoft products and solutions, and introducing the Kindle help that was on show at CES in January. I’d like to take a look at e book looking through on this display screen in comparison to a dedicated reader or a smartphone. 

Somewhere else, the ThinkBook As well as is a perfectly-manufactured, properly designed laptop with an ergonomic keyboard and a serviceable principal display screen. It could do with a 2nd USB-C port and better battery existence, but it can be surely an intriguing development for the regular clamshell laptop.

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