Oct. 5, 2020

ThinkPad is 28 years young and still full of innovation

In celebration of ThinkPad's 28th birthday, I would like to tell you about their latest announcements as they pave the path of innovation forward with the super light ThinkPad X1 Nano and the world's first folding PC; the ThinkPad X1 Fold.


Hello and welcome to another episode of the Words of Tim Podcast. My name is Tariq Monther, you can call me Tim, I hope you’re all doing well and you’re staying safe and staying sane. 

Today, October 5th, 2020, marks the 28th birthday of the ThinkPad brand, so happy birthday Thinkpad! I’ve decided to create this episode to tell you all about their ThinkPad X1 launch event from last week where they’ve unveiled two more ground laptops. They’ve also made an out-of-this-world announcement which I will tell you about later in the episode. Let me break it down for you.

Before I begin, I need to disclose that I belong to the global Lenovo INsider advocacy program. This is a group of Lenovo evangelists and enthusiasts who truly believe in the brand and its products. We do not get paid for anything we say online, neither do we have to get approvals on our content. We are just big fans of Lenovo. We do however get insight into the company and get to know of some news and announcements here and there before they become public, and Lenovo sends some of its members devices to keep as well invite them to attend events and trade shows. I myself have had the privilege to attend the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona in 2019, where I got to have a lot of fun, see a lot of cool tech, and meet amazing people.

So what is a ThinkPad laptop? To a lot of you guys it’s probably the laptop that IT professionals use and has that red “nipple mouse” in the middle of the keyboard. It’s probably also easily recognisable with its black and red color scheme and boxy design. Of course, ThinkPad is a lot more than that.

To me, A Thinkpad is a laptop with what I believe is the best typing experience on any mobile device. It’s also the laptop that has amazing and innovative security features to put your mind at ease. It is also a laptop that I know is durable enough wherever it is and can take a few bumps, and it can keep your data safe after a water spill or two. Oh, and don’t knock the ThinkPad TrackPoint unless you’ve tried it.

ThinkPad is a brand that paves the way forward with innovation, and they seriously just don’t know when to stop. Don’t believe me? Then let’s see what they’ve got in store.

The first ThinkPad they’ve announced at the ThinkPad X1 Launch event is the ThinkPad X1 Nano; a 907g Thinkpad that touts a 13-inch 2K display with a tall 16:10 aspect ratio and 100% sRGB coverage which is great for those who want to improve their productivity and content creation tasks. It also supports Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos which ensure you can consume content at high visual and audio fidelity, and it can keep you connected the best way possible at all times with WiFi 6 and 5G support. The X1 Nano is the lightest ever ThinkPad, but it sure does pack a punch on the inside.

This is one of the first ThinkPads based on the Intel Evo platform. We’re talking about the new 11th Generation Intel Core i7 Tiger Lake processors with the promising Intel Iris Xe graphics, which they claim will deliver over 250% faster content creation, 20% faster office productivity, and 200% faster gaming with streaming. They don’t stop there.

The X1 Nano also has support for the latest Thunderbolt 4 high-speed transfer protocols so you can use your laptop to connect and power virtually any external device you’ll ever need, such as connecting to two 4K monitors at the same time.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, ThinkPads are known for their security, and the X1 Nano adds some AI magic so it would detect when you approach it and log you in automatically as well as detect when you leave your desk to log you out. For added security there’s also voice and fingerprint recognition. If you’re having an uptick in the number of video calls as everyone in the world has, then the four integrated speakers that include two woofers and the four 360-degree microphones are just what you need to make sure you get the best audio quality possible. If you want to make sure no one ever sees you in your underwear when you’re in those calls, the ThinkShutter manual camera shutter gives you all the peace of mind you need.

What’s also really cool is the always on responsiveness feature that lets you get back to your work within less than a second of opening the lid. The battery life is pretty impressive too at a claimed over 15 hours on a single charge. All that potential of productivity and creativity in a less than 14mm thin 907g laptop.

ThankPad X1 Fold

If you’re not impressed yet, and I don’t know why, then this next ThinkPad device is bound to make your jaw drop. I am of course talking about the ThinkPad X1 Fold, and if the name didn’t give it away yet, this is the world’s first-ever folding PC. Yes, a folding PC. 

To be specific, and these are the words that Lenovo have used in their datasheets, the ThinkPad X1 Fold is the industry’s first foldable, single-screen, multi-function 5G Always Connected PC. That was a mouthful.

So what are the use cases of the X1 Fold? Well, you can straight up use it as a 13.3-inch Windows tablet when it’s completely unfolded. There’s also an integrated stand which you can use to prop up the unfolded display on a desk which you can then connect a wireless keyboard and mouse to use as a standard PC. You can then fold it up and use it as a laptop with your content spanning both the top and bottom half. If you’ve got some typing to do, then you can use the bottom half to type on a virtual keyboard, or better yet, just use the wireless Lenovo Fold Mini Keyboard which has a trackpad and you can magnetically attach on the bottom half, leaving you with around 9.5 inches of screen real estate on the top. You can fold the X1 Fold all the way and keep the keyboard attached as well as charge it up, so you can always have it on you wherever you go. The X1 Fold gives you the flexibility to work on a 13.3-inch display while carrying around what is essentially a 9.5-inch device.

Calling it a folding tablet is criminal as this is a device that runs full Windows 10 with Intel Core processors, has support for WiFi 6, 5G connectivity, and Bluetooth 5.1, and weighs 1 gram shy of a kilogram. You get up to 1 TB of storage and 8 GB or RAM, with a Dolby Atmos speaker system and Dolby Vision support on a 13.3-inch OLED foldable display from LG.

To me this display is insane because of two things: I couldn’t notice a crease in the display where it folds, and it supports pen input. We’ve all seen foldable displays on phones, and for the most part they’ve all been plagued with creases. I’ve seen the X1 Fold in the launch video in the hands of people at many angles and there doesn’t seem to be any noticeable creases. Those were not promo videos that usually take the liberty to touch up the products and hide any flaws, but those were untouched and real videos and the display looked flat and clean in all of them. Regarding the pen support, Samsung has stated that the reason they haven’t included an S Pen in their new Galaxy Z Fold 2 is that the flexible materials used for their folding display are too soft and weak for a stylus to be used on them, and I’m very interested in finding out more about how Lenovo has made the ThinkPad X1 Fold display that durable.

Speaking of durability, this is a ThinkPad device, which means that it needs to pass the same durability and quality standards as the other ThinkPad devices. A principal engineer took the X1 Fold through a couple of their tests in the ThinkPad Durability Lab in Japan. He dropped a metal ball from a distance of around a meter on the display, which left no scratch let alone any fractures, and he  even dropped the actual X1 Fold with one of its corners pointing down from a distance of about half a meter, which left it completely unscathed.

Perhaps unlike all the other ThinkPads in the past, this is the most stylish one as it has a really nice-looking leather back that makes the whole thinking look very sexy both when folded and unfolded.

If you need one more piece of evidence of how reliable and trusted ThinkPad devices are, then you might be interested to know that ThinkPads were used in space and by 2003 were the only certified laptops to be used in the International Space Station. The ThinkPad X1 Fold is carrying future space exploration journeys forward, and Lenovo is going to show you how in a film called Lift Off, which tells the story of the first human going to Mars and will premiere today on the ThinkPad’s 28th birthday.

There you have it folks, the ThinkPad X1 Nano and the ThinkPad X1 Fold laptops that truly live up to the name and legacy; pushing forward world-firsts and uncompromising innovation. This is what I’ve come to expect from all their products, and I’ve never been disappointed once. I wish the ThinkPad team a very happy 28th birthday and I look forward to all the crazy things they’ll do in the future.

So I’d like to hear from you. What is a ThinkPad device to you? Have you ever used one or converted to one? Do you have any stories or experiences you’d like to share?

Please reach out to me on Twitter or Instagram, my handle is @tmonther, and let me know your thoughts on the episode and on this show. 

Thanks for tuning in, and I’ll catch you in the next episode.