Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 Evaluate

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The Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 ($1,575.40) gives one thing slightly totally different than your normal small-business laptop computer expertise. That’s because of a second, power-sipping E Ink show on the outside of the case that enhances the principle display. This isn’t an e-book reader, however extra of a technique to show helpful data when the laptop computer is closed, together with the time, date, climate, and even your upcoming calendar appointments. The idea is intriguing, however the implementation isn’t baked to the purpose the place it looks like a must have innovation; extra a cool curiosity.


Second-Era Ink

The second-generation ThinkBook Plus is a refined enchancment over the unique, which was one of many extra curious merchandise to debut at CES 2020. And even earlier than the primary technology launched, Lenovo was no stranger to experimenting with E Ink laptops, attempting out the idea first with the 2-in-1 convertible Yoga Guide. 

Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 E Ink screen


(Picture: Molly Flores)

Not like the diminutive, consumer-oriented Yoga Guide C930, which is extra of an ereader-and-laptop hybrid, the ThinkBook Plus is a full-fledged clamshell-style enterprise laptop computer that simply occurs to have a second E Ink display on the again of the show lid. Weighing simply 2.6 kilos and measuring 0.54 by 11.7 by 8.2 inches (HWD), the glossy machine is easy to slide out and in of your bag. It appears the a part of a pocket book meaning enterprise, too, with a rock-solid, darkish grey aluminum chassis. 

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However there’s one large curiosity you possibly can’t miss, particularly when the laptop computer is closed. That’s the E Ink. This second display measures 12 inches on the diagonal, almost as massive as the principle 13.3-inch LCD panel on the within and noticeably bigger than the 10-inch E Ink panel on the first-generation ThinkBook Plus.

What are you able to do with all this E Ink? That’s the place the ThinkBook Plus expertise is a bit combined. The display know-how, which evokes an Etch A Sketch toy, is clearly suited to e-book readers, which use it to simulate the expertise of turning a bodily ebook’s pages. However readers are sometimes a lot smaller than 12 inches, so you really want to suppose outdoors the field in the event you’re within the ThinkBook Plus. 

Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 E Ink screen


(Picture: Molly Flores)

Lenovo’s built-in software program gives a number of ideas. The obvious is viewing the sorts of primary data talked about above, through a widget system. You may add as much as 4 totally different widgets to show by default on the E Ink house display when it’s lively: Calendar, Unread Electronic mail, Climate, and Sticky Notes. The thought is that in the event you deliver your laptop computer with you to a gathering and depart it closed in your desk, you possibly can nonetheless use the nook of your eye to maintain tabs in your schedule and e-mail with out checking your telephone or opening up your laptop computer. 

Different makes use of out there with the pre-loaded software program embrace making the whole E Ink display a sketchpad, to be used with the included digital stylus that lives in a storage on the laptop computer’s proper edge. You would even entry the total Home windows desktop expertise proper from the E Ink display. I wouldn’t advocate doing so, nevertheless, as even easy duties like loading an online web page take ages to show on E Ink know-how, which has extraordinarily low refresh charges by design. 

Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 E Ink screen


(Picture: Molly Flores)

The ultimate three ideas that Lenovo pre-loads within the software program are fairly unimpressive: an ereader (get a Kindle or different precise ereader for that); a Wacom-style drawing pill if you join the ThinkBook Plus to an exterior show (get an precise Wacom pill for that); or a monochrome canvas to brighten up the show lid with a background picture of your alternative (get a a lot prettier, colourful bodily case in the event you simply need to personalize what you are promoting laptop computer).


Laptop computer First, E Ink Platform Second

Whereas the E Ink display’s use instances aren’t uniformly compelling, the precise person expertise isn’t dangerous. By default, if you shut the ThinkBook Plus show lid, a pop-up will seem on the E Ink panel asking if you wish to put the laptop computer to sleep or activate the E Ink house display. You may set the software program to recollect your alternative so that you don’t have to pick out it every time. 

E Ink settings, from organizing widgets to setting the background wallpaper to checking for firmware updates, could be accessed instantly on the secondary show. Which means no opening the lid, wading by means of the pre-installed Lenovo apps on the Home windows facet of the laptop computer to seek out the setting you want, after which closing it once more. 

Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 laptop


(Picture: Molly Flores)

You’ll nonetheless be utilizing Home windows more often than not, in fact, since this can be a laptop computer first and an E Ink platform second. And the on a regular basis computing expertise is above common, as we’ve come to count on from premium Lenovo fashions. The 13.3-inch primary touch-enabled show is high-resolution, incorporating Dolby Imaginative and prescient, 400 nits of brightness, and TUV low blue gentle certification. The two,560-by-1,600-pixel dimensions usually are not fairly 4K, however increased than the total HD of the laptop computer’s first technology. 

Inside, there’s a Core i7-1160G7 processor from Intel’s newest eleventh technology, 16GB of dual-channel LPDDR4x RAM, and a 512GB PCIe Gen4 SSD. These are admirable specs for a $1,000 ultraportable laptop computer, however they’re merely desk stakes for a $1,500 one, so the E Ink know-how clearly has an impact on the general asking worth. Nonetheless, you can simply spend greater than that on an equivalently geared up Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon with out E Ink, so if the secondary display issues to you, the asking worth isn’t unreasonable. 


The place Have All of the Ports Gone?

The ThinkBook Plus has a woefully insufficient port choice for a enterprise laptop computer. There are two USB-C/Thunderbolt(Opens in a brand new window) ports and a headphone jack on the left edge, and that’s it. To be honest, the laptop computer’s skinny chassis leaves little room for extra ports, nevertheless it’s clear that anybody with a couple of peripheral and no exterior docking station will discover the choice missing. Wi-fi connections embrace Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth, with no 4G or 5G mobile connectivity choice. 

Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 ports


(Picture: Molly Flores)

The keyboard is normal Lenovo fare, which suggests an all-around comfy typing expertise, albeit one which’s not fairly as glorious as that supplied by the superior ThinkPad keyboards. The sturdy, scalloped keys are backlit, and the one drawback I seen throughout testing is that the up and down arrow keys are half-height, fairly than the popular inverted-T association. The buttonless, clickable touchpad tracks precisely and has a sturdy hinge. 

The ThinkBook Plus energy button isn’t within the keyboard, however as an alternative positioned on the precise fringe of the laptop computer, the place it’s simply accessible if you need to activate or get up the laptop computer to make use of the E Ink display with out opening the lid. There’s even a fingerprint reader constructed into the ability button, so you possibly can log into your account as effectively. 

The built-in pen storage is positioned subsequent to the ability button; merely hook your fingernail into the indentation on high of the pen and pull it out. The stylus is satisfactory for interacting with on-screen parts, although it lacks the large strain sensitivity vary and tilt recognition of extra premium Lenovo lively styli which might be higher suited to digital artwork creation.

Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 pen


(Picture: Molly Flores)

There’s a webcam privateness shutter that permits you to bodily block the 720p digicam if you’re not utilizing it. The digicam gives fairly good high quality in video conferences, however there are occasional noise and artifacts even in brightly lit rooms, and the digicam lacks IR sensors for Home windows Hiya face recognition.

Audio high quality from the Dolby Atmos-tuned, Harman Kardon audio system is merely common for an ultraportable laptop computer. Most quantity is satisfactory, although not spectacular, and there’s actually no bass response to talk of. 


Benchmarking the ThinkBook Plus

For our benchmark charts, I in contrast the ThinkBook Plus with a number of different competing enterprise laptops. The Lenovo ThinkBook 13x is maybe the closest non-E Ink different to the ThinkBook Plus in Lenovo’s lineup, whereas the 14-inch Dell Latitude 7420 and the 13-inch Samsung Galaxy Guide Professional are two examples of higher-end enterprise enterprise laptops. Lastly, I’ve included the Microsoft Floor Professional 8, a Home windows pill that lacks E Ink however whose portability and suppleness lends it to lots of the similar sorts of calendar-checking duties that the ThinkBook Plus’ second show is suited to. 

Productiveness Exams 

The principle benchmark of UL’s PCMark 10 simulates a wide range of real-world productiveness and content-creation workflows to measure total efficiency for office-centric duties reminiscent of phrase processing, spreadsheeting, net shopping, and videoconferencing. We additionally run PCMark 10’s Full System Drive check to evaluate the load time and throughput of a laptop computer’s storage.

Three additional benchmarks give attention to the CPU, utilizing all out there cores and threads, to charge a PC’s suitability for processor-intensive workloads. Maxon’s Cinebench R23 makes use of that firm’s Cinema 4D engine to render a posh scene, whereas Primate Labs’ Geekbench 5.4 Professional simulates in style apps starting from PDF rendering and speech recognition to machine studying. Lastly, we use the open-source video transcoder HandBrake 1.4 to transform a 12-minute video clip from 4K to 1080p decision (decrease instances are higher). 

Our ultimate productiveness check is Puget Methods’ PugetBench for Photoshop(Opens in a brand new window), which makes use of the Inventive Cloud model 22 of Adobe’s well-known picture editor to charge a PC’s efficiency for content material creation and multimedia functions. It is an automatic extension that executes a wide range of normal and GPU-accelerated Photoshop duties starting from opening, rotating, resizing, and saving a picture to making use of masks, gradient fills, and filters.

Of those assessments, those to give attention to are Geekbench and PCMark 10, which present that each one of those laptops provide roughly the identical glorious efficiency on typical enterprise duties. There’s extra variation within the specialised CPU-intensive assessments, however these aren’t consultant of how most individuals use mainstream enterprise laptops. It’s additionally fascinating to see that the fourth-generation PCI Categorical SSD within the ThinkBook Plus helped it considerably outperform the Microsoft and Samsung units on the PCMark 10 Storage check. 

Graphics Exams 

We check Home windows PCs’ graphics with two DirectX 12 gaming simulations from UL’s 3DMark: Night time Raid (extra modest, appropriate for laptops with built-in graphics), and Time Spy (extra demanding, appropriate for gaming rigs with discrete GPUs). 

We additionally run two assessments from the cross-platform GPU benchmark GFXBench 5, which stresses each low-level routines like texturing and high-level, game-like picture rendering. The 1440p Aztec Ruins and 1080p Automotive Chase assessments, rendered offscreen to accommodate totally different show resolutions, train graphics and compute shaders utilizing the OpenGL programming interface and {hardware} tessellation respectively. The extra frames per second (fps), the higher.

Neither the ThinkBook Plus nor any of the rivals proven listed below are gaming laptops, so efficiency is roughly comparable, clustered on the decrease finish of the spectrum. The noteworthy variation on the comparatively forgiving Automotive Chase scene leaves the ThinkBook Plus developing brief in contrast with the remainder of the sector, which suggests its Iris Xe graphics processor isn’t within the efficiency vanguard even for informal browser-based video games. 

Battery and Show Exams 

We check laptops’ battery life by enjoying a domestically saved 720p video file with show brightness at 50% and audio quantity at 100%. We be certain the battery is totally charged earlier than the check, with Wi-Fi and keyboard backlighting turned off. 

We additionally use a Datacolor SpyderX Elite monitor calibration sensor and software program to measure a laptop computer display’s shade saturation—what proportion of the sRGB, Adobe RGB, and DCI-P3 shade gamuts or palettes the show can present—and its 50% and peak brightness in nits (candelas per sq. meter).

The ThinkBook Plus confirmed common battery life for an ultraportable laptop computer. It ought to positively get you thru a day of occasional duties break up between the E Ink and primary shows. The principle display is rated for 400 nits of brightness and 100% of the sRGB gamut, and it lived as much as these guarantees in our assessments. 


E Ink on a Laptop computer: Extra Cool Issue Than Should-Have

Including an E Ink show on the again of a enterprise laptop computer is a cool and doubtlessly helpful concept, however not an apparent one. Some use instances make little sense for many enterprise clients, like using the E Ink portion as a canvas for digital art work. Others, reminiscent of Lenovo’s widget system, might find yourself being vital time and sanity savers for people who find themselves managing a number of notifications whereas they’re in conferences.

Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 pen


(Picture: Molly Flores)

Total, nevertheless, until you are really tickled by the idea, most enterprise clients ought to follow a extra conventional ultraportable laptop computer just like the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon or the Dell Latitude 7420. 

Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 2

Execs

  • Revolutionary secondary E Ink display mounted on again of show lid

  • Grey chassis is skinny, light-weight, and trendy

  • Excessive-resolution primary display

The Backside Line

Including a 12-inch E Ink display to the again of an above-average enterprise laptop computer just like the Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 is a cool concept, if not a slam-dunk sensible one.

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