Jan. 15, 2021

What's new with Lenovo at CES 2021


CES 2021 is over and there's a bunch of things to talk about, so why not start with a rundown of the cool things Lenovo has announced. Spoiler alert: one of them is a game changer.

Transcript

Intro

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. 

It’s that time of year again, and I’m of course talking about CES; the Consumer Electronics Show which is an annual trade show event revolving around tech and gadgets and more. It has just concluded and a lot of good things have been announced, so I’m going to take it upon myself to tell you about what I think were the cool and innovative announcements, perhaps the things that won’t typically be covered by your favorite tech youtuber. Today’s episode will be about what Lenovo has announced, so sit back and get ready for me to geek out about some pretty awesome things. Let me break it down for you.

The best way to charge your headphones

Starting off these announcements is perhaps what piqued my interest the most, and I believe this is something that will fly under the radar. I’m talking about the Legion S600 Gaming Station. The S600 is a headphone stand that has been announced alongside the H600 wireless headphones. Wait, hold up. Am I saying that out of everything that Lenovo announced at CES, the biggest tech event in the world where companies announce their most exciting products, a mere headphone stand was the most interesting to me? Weirdly enough, yeah.

Here’s the thing. Lenovo, or their Legion gaming brand, might not be known for their headphones. Furthermore, the H600 headphones are priced at $100, so they’re not targeting the premium headphones market, but that’s not to say that they won’t be a good pair of headphones. So what is it about the $90 headphone stand that, pun intended, stands out? Simply put, they use magnetic contact charging points to charge your H600 headphones whenever you hang them on it. Yes, the stand will always be charging your headphones when you’re not using them. Call me a casual if you want, but to me this is such an innovative idea and when I first saw the press release and the video I got all giddy inside. 

Seriously, I’ve been using my new pair of Urbanears Pampas Bluetooth headphones for a couple of months and they cost $189. They’re an ok pair and they’re intended for the everyday work and trolling sessions. If I want to listen to some music for an extended period of time, then I switch to my trusty and wired Marshall Monitor headphones. Other than that, I generally switch to my wired headphones every 2 or 3 days which is how long my Pampas can hold a charge. 

By the way, is it me or does the line “how long my Pampas can hold a charge” just sound so wrong?

Moving on.

Charging every 2 or 3 days is annoying and such a first-world problem, but the H600 headphones and the S600 Gaming Station can actually solve that for the same price of my bluetooth Pampas headphones.

Since the H600 headphones have a 20-hour charge, that means that regardless of how long I sit at my desk for work or play, I’ll never use up the battery on a single charge, and if I always put the headphones back on their stand (and I am that kind of geek), then they’ll be fully charged up for me the next time I use them. Rinse. Repeat. To me, this level of convenience is a game changer, and I would love to see this concept be picked up and become an industry trend. This is innovating without compromising (I’m looking at you AirPods Max). If anyone from Lenovo is listening, bravo. 

If you’re a fan of conveniently charging your gadgets, then you’ll love to hear that the H600 Gaming Station has a 10W Qi-enabled wireless charger at its base that you can use to wirelessly charge your phone or any other devices that are Qi compatible. There are also 2 USB Type A ports, one of which can be used to pop in the included 2.4 GHz wireless adapter that you’ll need to listen to audio from your PC and the second port can be used to connect an adapter for another wireless peripheral or even charge another device using a cable. The only gripe I have with the H600 is that these Type-A ports are USB 2.0 with a 480 Mpbs transfer rate. It would have been great if the second USB port was a fast 3.0 port that I can rely on to transfer data between my PC and other devices quickly.

Let me tell you about the S600 headphones since at the moment they’re the only headphones you can get that allow for this sweet always-on headphones charging experience. They have dynamic 50mm drivers with neodymium magnets, a unidirectional condenser mic with noise-canceling and flip-to-mute functionality, a USB Type-C port if you want to easily charge them via cable, and a headphone jack if you want to connect them to your other devices using the included 3.5 mm audio cable.

There’s no companion app, no noise-canceling, no 7.1 surround sound, and no included DAC, however for $100 and presumably a decent audio and mic experience based on the reviews I saw of the Legion H500 headphones, there’s nothing to be mad at here. You can get a bunch of gaming headphones for around $170 to $200, but none of them offer you that complete hassle-free experience, and to me that is worth the $190.

ThinkReality

Up next is a piece of AR tech that I would usually consider to be targeted at the healthcare industry, on-site engineers and factory workers. We’ve all seen the videos of various people in these fields using augmented reality to get guidance and instructions on procedures, collaborate with others, perform training sessions and so on. I’ve never really considered AR to be suitable for the enterprise settings, but Lenovo thinks otherwise with the ThinkReality A3; their latest AR smart glasses. 

The first thing worth mentioning is that these glasses do not look bulky and weird. Sure, they are big compared to your typical sunglasses, but the form factor has been refined so much from what I’ve seen before. They weigh less than 130 grams and you can even fold them like regular glasses. You’ll still turn some heads if you use these outside, but only if someone takes a closer look at what you’re wearing.

So what do these bad boys let you do in the office and how are they different from other AR glasses out there? Other than the weight and the form factor, the ThinkReality A3 smart glasses can significantly improve your productivity with just one USB-C connection to your PC. Once connected, you’ll get access to up to 5 virtual displays that you can position anywhere you want in your 3D space. These displays are 100% private to you and to you only and you can use them the way you would use physical displays in a multi-monitor setup; move windows around the displays to get organized and be able to multitask better with everything you need open at the same time.

Don’t forget, these are augmented reality glasses, not virtual reality. With AR glasses you can still see the world around you, it’s just that you’re seeing virtual elements appear in the real world when looking through the glasses. This is some sci-fi stuff right there! It’s straight out of a video game, isn’t it? As someone whose work doesn’t require that level of privacy in the office, and also as someone who’s still working from home during the pandemic, I don’t need this in my life, but oh do I want to play around with them.

If you’ve listened to some of my previous episodes you’d know that I am a huge fan of multi-monitor setups, or in my case at home using a 43-inch TV as a primary monitor. The amount of work or the speed of which you can get stuff done is greatly benefited from having that screen real estate, but the downside is that when you’re forced to downgrade to a single monitor, say when you’re visiting family and only have a laptop with you, your performance starts becoming a bit sluggish. You might even turn down going to visit because there’s a lot of important work that needs to be done and you know you can’t do it at your full potential with just a laptop. I am talking out of experience by the way, this has happened to me a couple of times. I can’t help but imagine how awesome it would be getting all the work done on a couple of virtual displays while I’m chilling on the balcony overlooking a view of the ocean. Well, now we’re all one step closer towards that dream.

All the other good stuff

I’ve mentioned earlier in this episode that I was just going to talk about a couple of things which really caught my eye, and I have. This is the part in the episode where I have to make it very clear that Lenovo has announced a bunch of other very cool products, like over 25 of them. It’s just that I don’t want to turn this episode into a two-hour episode because believe me, there’s a lot to talk about. Besides, a lot of those products will be all over YouTube and will be getting all the attention they deserve. Still, I won’t be able to sleep at night if I don’t at least quickly cover some of what they’ve announced.

A legion of Legions

Starting with the gaming stuff again, Lenovo announced 4 new Legion laptops; the Legion 5, Legion 5 Pro, Legion 7 Slim, and the top-of-the-line Legion 7. The Legion laptops have proven to be quite the favorable gaming laptops in the last couple of years with a focus on gaming and thermal performance while maintaining a sleek and not flashy design language. Moving most of the I/O to the back, including quick controls over the performance profiles using Lenovo Q-Control, and the Lenovo Vantage for Gaming software that allows you to optimize and personalize your settings were in the past welcomed features that just added to the overall experience. 

What’s going to be very welcomed in the new line of Legion laptops are the latest AMD processors and Nvidia graphics cards, and taller 16:10 aspect ratio displays meaning you get to see more of you failing landing those headshots because you suck. I’m kidding, you’re listening to my podcast so you don’t really suck.

The Legion 7 is a 16-inch laptop with an AMD Ryzen 9 processor and a 16:10 QHD display (the world’s first as they claim) with a 165Hz refresh rate.

The Legion 7 Slim is a 15-inch AMD Ryzen 7 laptop that comes in two flavors; a 60hz 4K display or a 165Hz 1080p display. It’s also slimmer than the Legion 7. Obviously.

The Legion 5 Pro is a new addition to the lineup that is quite beefed up, and is probably second to the top-of-the-line Legion 7. Just like the 7, it too has a 16-inch 16:10 QHD display capable of 165hz refresh rate, and the only major difference seems to be that it maxes out at the latest AMD Ryzen 7 processor and 16 GB of RAM (opposite the Legion 7’s AMD Ryzen 9 processor and 32 GB of RAM).

Finally we have the Legion 5 laptop that is available in both the 15-inch and 17-inch sizes, with the former coming in three 1080p variants that can do 60, 120, and 165Hz refresh rates, and the latter coming in two 1080p variants that can do 60 and 144Hz refresh rates.

Moar ThinkPads

I’m done talking about gaming laptops but it’s not over for laptops yet. If you’re not aware of the business-first ThinkPad line of laptops from Lenovo, then what rock have you been living under? Do you know those black laptops you see at work (heck, you might be using one yourself)? They’ve got red accents and the red nub in the middle of the keyboard that is amazing to type on? Yeah, those are called ThinkPads and that red nub is called the TrackPoint. ThinkPads are all about performance, security, and productivity, and now that you’re up to speed, let me speed through the plethora of ThinkPad announcements.

First up is the 9th generation ThinkPad X1 Carbon. The X1 Carbon has been a favorite for so many years with both ThinkPad enthusiasts and people who just happened to use them for work. What’s new this year in this ultrathin and ultralight business notebook is a taller 14-inch 16:10 display, a wider touchpad, larger battery, and rear venting for better cooling.

We then have the 1st gen but impressive ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga. What’s special about the X1 Titanium Yoga is that it’s the thinnest ThinkPad ever coming in at just over 11mm thin. It touts a 13.5-inch 16:10 2k touch and pen-enabled display which can be flipped around turning this into an ultrathin 2-in-1 laptop. 

If you’re about that 2-in-1 lifestyle but Titanium isn’t your thing, then you might want to consider the 6th generation ThinkPad X1 Yoga. It’s the ThinkPad you love in the Yoga form factor you want. The new generations bring a 14-inch 16:10 touch and pen-enabled display, a wider touchpad, and a larger battery.

For the truly mobile individual that needs a tablet-like Windows experience, then rejoice as Lenovo has announced the all-new 1st gen ThinkPad X12 Detachable. The name says it all. This is a 12.3-inch 3:2 touch and pen-enabled device that lets you detach the screen from the keyboard to use it as a lightweight but powerful Windows tablet. The screen also comes with a wide kickstand making it perfect for placing the display at the right angle and distance away from you.

All these ThinkPads come loaded with the latest 11th generation Intel Core i7 processors with Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics, 5G support (except for the X12 Detachable), and Thunderbolt 4 USB ports, making them capable of handling whatever tasks you throw at them wherever you are. They also have a lot of those ThinkPad security and durability features that has always set them apart from the rest.


Two displays are better than one.

Finally, this is a product that is very niche but also intriguing. I’m talking about the 2nd generation ThinkBook Plus. This is technically a dual screen laptop, but not in the way that you think. There’s an e-ink display that’s on the outside of the lid of the laptop. E-ink displays are known for being very very power efficient making it possible to keep the display on for long periods without significantly affecting battery life.

The e-ink display is 12-inches and it’s touch and pen-enabled which means you can do typical things like writing notes, reading documents, browsing the web, and viewing and annotating presentations, and you can do all of that with the lid closed. It’s basically the biggest e-ink tablet.

But to me, what’s interesting about this second display is that it becomes your notification center as it can show all your notifications when the lid is closed. Since it’s not a power-hungry display, it can stay on and be operational for a full 24 hours, which is 9 hours longer than if you were to use the main display. So if you’re running low on battery and you need to finish writing some notes or reading some work documents, you can do so with that e-ink display.

If you’re still concerned about battery life, then perhaps the Lenovo Charging Mat that they’re releasing as an accessory will put you at ease. This will charge your ThinkBook Plus just by placing it on the mat.

Outro

That is it for the roundup. There are still more products that I didn’t cover, but I at least gave you an idea of what I thought were really interesting and innovative products from Lenovo, and year after year, they keep coming out with more interesting stuff. I would recommend you check out their site for a full rundown of what they have announced, there’s bound to be something to catch your eye.

CES is a crazy big event, you can spend days looking at what is being announced by companies big and small and old and new. So, thank you for listening to what I had to say, and do let me know, do any of these Lenovo products tickle your fancy? Are you going to get one of them for yourself?

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. You can also check out the rest of my episodes on the website wordsoftim.com.

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