Laptops

Lenovo's new ThinkBooks include the return of the e-ink display

With new AMD processors and gorgeous displays, there's lots to unpack.

An e-ink display on the cover of a ThinkBook Plus Credit: Lenovo

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Lenovo’s new ThinkBooks bridge the gap between the industry-oriented ThinkPad series and the consumer-oriented IdeaPad series. For those who need some power but don’t want to pay a fortune, this is the line to look for. This CES, Lenovo has revealed 4 new ThinkBooks, all of which promise some great performance and portability for their class. Most notably, they’ve refreshed the Lenovo ThinkBook Plus, which became famous for its e-ink display on the cover.

Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 2

plus
Credit: Lenovo

The ThinkBook Plus's e-ink display is, without a doubt, one of the most unique laptop features we've ever seen.

The laptop with an e-ink display is back for a second round. With low-power 11th gen Intel Core processors and Intel Evo 3 certification, the ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 should have great battery life—Lenovo claims it will have up to 24 hours of life if you only use the e-ink display. Furthermore, the chassis has a slot for your Lenovo pen so you don’t lose it.

When you open the laptop, you'll find a 2K touch display with Dolby Vision and a 16:10 aspect ratio ready for action. Its speakers also come with Dolby Atmos for an improved sound experience (though it's not going to be akin to the home theater version of the technology). The ThinkBook Plus’s webcam has a privacy shutter, and the laptop also carries a fingerprint sensor. The new model comes with Thunderbolt 4/USB-C ports and WiFi 6, although we’re a little disappointed to see no cellular connectivity support.

The internals of the ThinkBook Plus are about what you’d expect from a premium 2-in-1, e-ink display or not. Inside the aluminum chassis, you can get up to an 11th gen Intel Core i7 (15-Watt version), 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of SSD storage. Lenovo claims its 53 Whr battery can last for 15 hours. Somehow, this all fits into a 2.9 pound, half-inch thick laptop with a 13.3” display.

The ThinkBook Plus will start at $1,549, but Lenovo has not revealed when they plan to release it this year. It’s a little pricey compared to the likes of the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 or the HP Spectre x360 14t, but those laptops don’t have a second e-ink display.

Lenovo ThinkBook 13x

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Credit: Lenovo

The 13x is remarkable in how "normal" it is in a field of laptops with all sorts of unique touches.

There isn’t anything revolutionary about the ThinkBook 13x, but it looks like it could be a solid laptop nonetheless. Its stylish aluminum chassis and 2K screen give it a classy edge that’s perfect for any serious environment, and its privacy shutter and 4-mic array will feel welcome in the home office.

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While the ThinkBook 13x isn’t a 2-in-1, it will have a 180-degree hinge to lay the screen completely flat, as well as a touchscreen display. Lenovo claims you can avoid the power outlet for 15 hours before the battery dies. We will have to see if its single fan provides enough cooling to keep the machine from overheating, but its Intel Evo certification and low-Watt processor could ax that concern altogether.

It’s a super small, lightweight laptop with a 13.3” screen, a 90% screen to body ratio (i.e. it has crazy-thin bezels), and a total weight of less than 2.65 pounds. However, it still packs all the essentials present in many other ThinkBooks and ThinkPads: up to 16GB of memory, 2 Thunderbolt 4 ports, Dolby Vision and Atmos, a touch fingerprint reader, and WiFi 6.

Its starting price is a bit steep at $1,549, considering that you could get a ThinkPad X1 Yoga or X1 Carbon for about the same price. Since it’s coming out sometime before the summer, we’ll find out if it’s worth the price soon enough.

Lenovo ThinkBook 14p

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Credit: Lenovo

The ThinkBook 14p brings AMD's powerful processors to a highly mobile laptop.

AMD has been releasing some killer processors lately, so we’re ecstatic to see Lenovo embrace AMD's Ryzen processors in the ThinkBook 14p. The 14-inch ThinkBook 14p is not as aesthetically sophisticated as the other laptops on this list, but its specs are where it shines.

This laptop is clearly aimed at the creative professional on a budget. You can select up to 32GB of memory out of the box, and there’s a dedicated shortcut (Fn + Q) to switch between high-performance mode and battery saver mode.

It has a promising 2.8K OLED display option with VESA-certified HDR capabilities and a potential 100% DCI-P3 color gamut (in other words, it’s promising a very high-end viewing experience for those like photographers and cinematographers). However, its lower-end display is no slouch—the 2.2K IPS display claims to offer 100% sRGB color gamut that should still look amazing.

Notably absent are Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, and Thunderbolt 4 ports, but in return the ThinkBook 14p offers AI designed for noise-cancelling; USB-C, USB-A, and HDMI ports; a microSD card reader; and the latest-gen Ryzen processors.

We don’t know what to expect from the 61Whr battery, but we’ve consistently gotten excellent battery life from other Ryzen laptops we’ve tested, like the HP Envy x360 and the Asus Zenbook 14. The ThinkBook 14p will start at $849, which could make this a fantastic option for power-users on a budget.

Lenovo ThinkBook 16p

16p
Credit: Lenovo

The ThinkBook 16p is a beast of a machine with the latest Nvidia RTX 30-series graphics cards.

The ThinkBook 16p is very similar to the ThinkBook 14p. They both have the latest Ryzen processors, they’re both cheaper than the other ThinkBooks and ThinkPads, and they both claim to have color-accurate screens. However, the 16p has one notable difference, aside from its 16-inch body: it comes with the latest discrete NVIDIA GeForce RTX 30-series graphics cards.

This laptop will be one of the first adopters of the RTX 30-series, and we’re excited to see what that means for the 16p’s graphics performance. For reference, the RTX 20-series graphics cards pack a serious punch on laptops, with the higher-end cards making 4K 60 FPS gaming look like no big deal.

Unsurprisingly, this laptop sacrifices some mobility with its 16-inch screen and Nvidia graphics card, as it weighs 4.4 pounds and comes in at almost 20mm thick. It has a 70Whr battery, but we expect the power-hungry processor and screen to put a major strain on the battery life (we’d be glad to be wrong!).

The ThinkBook 16p will start for a very reasonable $1,299, and it will make its way to shelves sometime in the first half of the year.

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

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