Lenovo foldable ThinkPad X1 prototype: A big screen that bends

Bigger than the Samsung Galaxy Fold, this 13-inch tablet folds into a laptop shape for typing and productivity.

Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
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Dan Ackerman
2 min read

The Samsung Galaxy Fold isn't the only flexible screen in town. Briefly demoed by computer giant Lenovo , the ThinkPad X1 folding prototype shows what happens when you apply those same design ideas to a bigger screen and more powerful hardware.

In this case, it's a 13-inch 4:3 OLED 2K display. When fully open, it looks like a large Windows slate or an iPad Pro . Fold it over, and you have a 9.6-inch screen along with same size on-screen keyboard on the bottom half.


A 9.6-inch screen.

Sarah Tew/CNET

During a hands-on demo session with an early but highly functional prototype, we saw a variety of ways to use the device, which still doesn't have a formal name.

Folded into a clamshell shape, its on-screen keyboard worked as well as any we've tried, which is to say, functional but takes some practice. Lenovo plans to release a compact companion keyboard, which will connect via Bluetooth . That way, the screen can be unfolded to its full 13-inch size, propped up on a kickstand and used with the physical keyboard, almost like a mini all-in-one desktop.


Almost like a mini all-in-one desktop.

Sarah Tew/CNET

But flexible screens, while still a hot topic, are also a big question mark right now. The most visible flexible screen launch, Samsung's Galaxy Fold, has been pushed back by reports of easily broken units, leaving the category with a black eye before it even gets started.

Lenovo hopes to avoid a similar rollout. Unlike the Galaxy Fold, there was no awkward top layer on the screen which might tempt someone to peel it off. The edges of the flexible display also seemed better sealed than on the Fold, and Lenovo says it's testing the new device for double the hinge cycles of a laptop.

The company is well aware of the issues the Fold has had, and claims it can avoid them.


No screen issues here.

Sarah Tew/CNET

What's the audience for this? The X1 will be pitched at frequent travelers, business executives, and, of course, tech enthusiasts who want to be the first one with something new and cool.

Can something like this replace your regular PC? Parts of it certainly seem very laptop-like. It'll have an IR webcam, two USB-C ports and a Wacom stylus. And it runs on an Intel/Windows platform, although there's no set CPU or version of Windows yet.

Also unknown, the price, exact name and release date, beyond sometime in 2020. All these details are, you might say, flexible.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 folding prototype

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