Foldable anything is set to be the next big innovation in the world of tech, as Lenovo now guarantees. While Samsung revamps the Galaxy Fold's poor design, the PC maker has gone ahead and announced what it calls a new "breakthrough" — the world's first foldable computer.
Lenovo took to the Acceleration event to demo the device. It says it's made for highly mobile, tech-savvy professionals who demand the best tools. It'll join the existing ThinkPad X1 family, and Lenovo makes clear that this is no tablet, phone, or hybrid device — it's a full-fledged laptop with a foldable display.
Lenovo Shows Off Foldable ThinkPad Prototype
To be sure, it's still a prototype, but Lenovo says it's been developing the device for over three years. An official launch is planned as soon as 2020, with the goal of selling a premium product that's laptop-class, not a secondary or peripheral accessory in the way some tablets or low-powered computers are.
The most obvious question is, of course, why make a foldable computer? Portability, foremost. Whereas the idea behind foldable phones is to make phones bigger only when the user needs them to be, the reverse is true for this folding ThinkPad — make laptops smaller when the user needs them to be.
Key to this is a flexible 13.3-inch 4:3 2K OLED display that folds up to about the size of a hardcover book. There are no exact measurements yet, but Lenovo says the whole thing weighs less than 2 pounds, which pretty much already puts it on the lighter side of the laptop pool.
A handful of publications got the chance to actually try the device, including The Verge, which notes that while there's not a lot to see at this at this stage, the folding ThinkPad does as it's promised to do.
The Case For Specialized Software
"Windows worked well enough as a touch interface. But the real magic here — if it happens at all — will come with software and optimizing things to run on the unique form factors that a folding screen can provide."
Therein will lie the "it" aspect of this concept. A screen that folds is the kind of wow factor that fades over time, but make it so that its foldability is well integrated into the software and people will actually consider buying instead of just gawking for a few minutes then seeking the next, more impressive plaything. Integration, in this sense, means the software automatically makes adjustments when the display is folded for the user's convenience and efficiency.
Again, this isn't due until 2020, and it must be said that a lot can happen in a year, especially in the tech world. By then, consumers will have warmed up to the foldability trend or perhaps completely passed it off as a fad and promptly stashed it away in the unspoken archive of tech things that failed. Time, as always, will tell.
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