Lenovo’s new ThinkBook Plus twists and turns to switch screens

The ThinkBook 16P also features a magnetic dock for modular attachments.

Engadget

Lenovo’s been using its ThinkBook line of commercial laptops as a sort of playground for some of its wilder ideas for years. Last CES, for example, it showed off an ultrawide 17-inch ThinkBook Plus that had an 8-inch LCD screen on its keyboard deck in addition to the main 3K display. At CES 2023, Lenovo is not only continuing to try new multi-screen ideas with its latest ThinkBook Plus, but it’s also showcasing a sort of modular concept for accessories with the ThinkBook 16P.

The new ThinkBook Plus iterates on the version Lenovo showed us in 2020, which was simply a laptop with an e-ink screen embedded in its lid. This year’s model takes the conventional clamshell hinge and turns it into a swivel that’s mounted in the middle of the hinge. This allows you to turn the screen with one hand and flip between the 13.3-inch 2.8K OLED and the front-lit 12-inch e-ink panel on the top cover. Lenovo updated the color e-ink screen this year too, to hit a 12Hz refresh rate. With this, the ThinkBook Plus Twist can show the Windows interface on either side, and the system will switch screens whenever you twist it. Both panels support pen input, too, so you can take notes with ease.

A twisting format isn’t new for Lenovo, since it’s already tried out similar styles with the ThinkPad X41 tablet in 2005, and the ThinkPad Twist in 2012. A dual-screen twisting laptop lid though? Shocking. I’m mildly concerned about the potential for breakage with this format, since you’ll be gripping pretty firmly on the camera module while applying a not-minimal amount of force to turn the display around. While I didn’t feel any damage during my time with the demo units, I don’t know how well this will hold up with repeated use over time.

Though it’s slightly less eye-catching, I’m actually more intrigued by the ThinkBook 16P. This is the fourth generation of Lenovo’s larger high-end machine and correspondingly comes with some premium specs. It’ll be powered by up to Intel’s 13th-generation Core i9 processor, NVIDIA’s latest RTX 40 series GPUs. While it only has a single display, the ThinkBook 16P can be configured with an up to 3.2K IPS display that runs at 120Hz. There’s also an updated keyboard here offering travel of 1.5mm, making it one of the deepest in Lenovo’s lineup.

What’s most intriguing about the 16P, though, is the new magnetic pogo pin connector at the top of the connector (behind the webcam). With this, you can snap one of the new attachments Lenovo has created for this device and add extra capabilities to the machine. The company is calling this system Magic Bay, and has made three initial Magic Bay accessories: a 4K webcam, an LTE pack and a selfie light. That last one is my favorite, not only because I’m a shameless narcissist, but also because it has a capacitive touch sensor on the right side that lets you toggle brightness levels. Plus, Lenovo is planning on selling this attachment for just $20.

Meanwhile, the 4K webcam module sits on a rotating hinge, so you can simultaneously capture both you and the people facing you on the same call. Lenovo also crafted software that can combine the feeds from the attached and onboard webcams and supposedly optimize the way you look on calls via Zoom (and other apps). Finally, the LTE expansion brings — you guessed it — cellular connectivity to your laptop. There’s a USB-C connector at the bottom that lets you use it as a wired hotspot for another device at the same time if you wish.

The ThinkBook Plus Twist will be available for $1,650 in June, while the 16P starts at $1,350 and will arrive in May. Watch our video above for a better look at the new machines and make sure to stay tuned for all the news out of CES 2023.