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Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Review: Secondary E-Ink Display Extends Possibilities

Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Review

The Lenovo ThinkBook Plus is one the few laptops in the world to have an e-ink display built in. Of course, e-ink displays aren’t technically new technology. We’ve seen them in other household appliances, and even smartphones too. Remember the Yotaphone? They’re loved because of their low power consumption and they can still provide clear display for you to work with.

The Lenovo ThinkBook Plus takes that advantage, and combines it with the latest advancements with Intel’s latest 10th generation Core processors, along with the other signature Lenovo design cues and hardware that make up the laptop. But, what we want to know, is the secondary e-ink display just a gimmick?

Lenovo ThinkBook Plus – Specifications

Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Review
CPUIntel Core i7-10710U Processor ( 1.10GHz 12MB )
OSWindows 10 Pro 64
Display10.8″FHD AntiGlare E-ink Glass 1920×1080
13.3″FHD IPS AntiGlare LED Backlight 1920×1080
RAM16GB DDR4 2666MHz SODIMM
Storage512GB SSD M.2 PCIe NVMe
Battery65W USB Type-C Charger
4 Cell Li-Polymer
GraphicsIntel UHD Graphics
Webcam720p HD Camera
ConnectivityIntel Wi-Fi 6 AX 22560 non-vPro
Bluetooth Version 5.0
Fingerprint Reader

Design

Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Review

The Lenovo ThinkBook Plus differentiates itself from its competition as soon as you take it out of the box. First thing you’ll notice is the 10.8-inch e-ink display, which is pretty hard to miss because it takes up pretty much the entire top surface of the lid. As soon as I saw it, I can already see the use cases for it, but more on that later. Apart from that, it looks just like any other clamshell laptop in the market.

Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Review

The Lenovo ThinkBook Plus feels really well built, despite it being a little heavy, I’m okay with the heft. It gives a little more assurance that the laptop can endure the everyday wear and tear. However, at the sides of the laptop lid, where the stylus would magnetically attach to it, there’s already some scuff marks, which isn’t a good sign. This is why it’s better if there’s a dedicated slot or housing for the stylus to sit in or nest in.

Display

Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Review

The main display of the Lenovo ThinkBook Plus is a 13.3-inch FHD IPS panel with 300 nits of brightness, and it covers a 100% of the sRGB colour space. It isn’t a touch screen, so the stylus will not work here. The screen bezels are a little thick, especially the one at the bottom chin. You can also flex the screen all the way flat 180-degrees if you need.

Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Review

Visual quality wise, the display is bright and shows vivid colours. It’s bright enough for you to work in direct sunlight. Videos come out sharp and immersive, while documents look crisp and clear. This is a really good laptop for work, but when it comes to entertainment, you’ll be glad to know, it performs just as well.

Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Review

As mentioned above, there’s the secondary e-ink display which is 10.8-inch in size. It can let you view quick information, take notes, or read documents. You can even annotate PDFs with the e-ink display. Note is a writing and drawing tool, and you’ll be using this with the Precision Pen that’s provided with the laptop. Notes and drawings taken with the e-ink display does sync with Microsoft OneNote, so you don’t have to worry about them going missing, and you can always edit them later properly on the main screen.

User Experience

Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Review

The Lenovo ThinkBook Plus is a rather heavy laptop, for my personal use case. Sure, it’s not as heavy as those bulky gaming laptops, but it still holds a bit of heft, mostly due to the e-ink display, which also caused the top lid of the laptop to be a little thicker.

The laptop itself is great for work, provided you’re using it on a table. The fingerprint sensor works like a charm to quickly log you in, and even if you wake the laptop’s screen, it wakes and logs in really quickly too. Because it’s mounted on the side, you can turn on the laptop without opening it to solely use the e-ink display.

E-Ink Display

Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Review

The secondary e-ink display on the Lenovo ThinkBook Plus is somewhat limited. It’s greyscale so there’s no colour, obviously. It’s slow to refresh, and the input accuracy may get a little wonky at times. Note that the e-ink display works best with the stylus, so your fingernail isn’t the best input choice. But solely for reading and info-at-a-glance purposes, it works like a charm.

Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Review

There are only two apps available for use on the e-ink display, which is the Notes and Reader app. These two apps do work in both portrait and landscape orientation, so you can use it as you see fit. Notes lets you draw/doodle writing on the display, and save it directly onto the desktop as images, text, formula, or diagrams.

Reader lets you display documents in PDF, EPUB, MOBI, and TXT formats, and it allows you to annotate PDFs. Back in January when the laptop was unveiled at CES, the laptop showed support for Kindle. However, in our unit, there wasn’t any sign of the Kindle app

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Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Review: Secondary E-Ink Display Extends Possibilities 14
Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Review

In the e-ink display settings, you can set the display to show your Outlook Calendar, Outlook Email, weather, and the date. You can also select your own wallpaper to be display on the e-ink screen. To remind you of the laptop’s battery, the Lenovo ThinkBook Plus’ e-ink display also has a battery icon so you don’t have to open and turn on your laptop just to know how much battery is left.

Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Review

Having a screen on the Lenovo ThinkBook Plus’ exterior, Lenovo included a thick textured laptop sleeve with every purchase. It comes in the box, protects the laptop from everyday wear and tear during transit, and it does compliment the laptop’s overall aesthetics by adding a touch of urban elegance.

Typing + Trackpad

Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Review

The Lenovo ThinkBook Plus has the typical pot belly key design. They’re large and have great isolation, so the typing experience on the Lenovo ThinkBook Plus is good for me, no complaints. Even the FN row keys are taller than most, and they’re easy to click on. There are multiple things you can do on the FN row, including answering/hanging up on a Skype for Business call.

As for the trackpad, it’s a little too small for my hands. If I had to use it, it’s smooth, but I’d rather just plug in a wireless mouse and disable the trackpad from the FN function key.

Lenovo Vantage

The Lenovo ThinkBook Plus also comes with the Lenovo Vantage software. An all-in-one software that can let you change the settings of your laptop. At a glance, you can check for system updates, check your warranty details, view your system status, change power settings, set cooling settings, and more.

You can also optimise your audio and webcam settings to get the most out of your online conference calls. One feature I particularly liked was the “Suppress Keyboard Noise” feature. By turning that on, the onboard microphone will determine when I’m typing and try to reduce the keyboard noise that gets picked up. You can even optimize the microphone to just pick up your voice, or multiple people.

However, there aren’t any settings for the e-ink screen within Lenovo Vantage. All settings for the secondary e-ink display has to be set on the e-ink screen itself.

Connectivity

Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Review

On the left side of the laptop, there’s a HDMI port, a USB Type-C port, and the 3.5mm audio jack. On the right, there are two USB type-A ports with a power button that has a fingerprint sensor embedded right in (It’s fast and accurate, so bonus points there). That’s right, there isn’t a power port because all power delivery will be handled by the USB Type-C charger and cable. There’s a short ventilation channel on the rear of the laptop, while the sides of the lid has magnets that will house the stylus that comes with the laptop.

Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Review

The USB Type-C supports DisplayPort features, but it’s not usable when you need to charge the laptop. Lenovo should’ve added another USB Type-C port, preferably with Thunderbolt support. That way, you can connect your other devices via Type-C even when you’re charging the laptop.

Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Review

The webcam on the Lenovo ThinkBook Plus also supports Window Hello authentication, so you can use facial unlock if your hands are tied to use the fingerprint sensor. While I would’ve liked one, there’s no anti-privacy shutter on the webcam like other Lenovo laptops, but you can always turn it off digitally in the Lenovo Vantage software.

Performance

The Lenovo ThinkBook Plus performs as it should. Paired with a 10th generation Intel Core i7-10510U processor and 16GB of RAM, the laptop handles apps rather smoothly. Apps launch fast and switching between windows and tabs show no hiccups at all. This is expected as it is using the latest hardware the industry has to offer. If otherwise, I’d be worried.

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Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Review: Secondary E-Ink Display Extends Possibilities 14

There is no dedicated graphics card onboard, so it’s only using the built-in Intel UHD graphics. Since this laptop isn’t meant for gaming, but more for productivity, this is understandable.

These are the synthetic benchmarks I ran for the Lenovo ThinkBook Plus. I know there isn’t a graphics card onboard, but I did the graphics benchmarks anyway to manage your expectations if you were even thinking doing some light gaming with this laptop.

Audio

Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Review

Just like any other laptop speaker, the Lenovo ThinkBook Plus doesn’t particularly stand out from them. It is tuned by HARMAN Kardon and offers great volume. It can go pretty loud, paired with good clarity on the highs and mids for vocals. As for the lows, the bass isn’t as apparent as I’d like them to be. But hey, it’s a laptop, not a high-end speaker.

Battery

Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Review

According to Lenovo, the Lenovo ThinkBook Plus is capable of providing up to 10 hours of usage. In my testing and everyday use, where I write articles, surf the web, watch YouTube videos, stream music, and process images, the laptop can definitely last me the entire day.

Charging the laptop back up from 10% to full takes about an hour and 12 minutes. This is thanks to the Rapid Charge support via the USB Type-C port.

Conclusion

Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Review

Priced at RMRM6,076, the Lenovo ThinkBook Plus is a little hard for me to recommend to everyone. It has a very niche market, and is only favourable to those who have specific needs from their laptops. The ThinkBook Plus will appeal to the working class who are always on-the-go, to those who prefers a hands-on experience with their documents, and those who enjoy reading books or documents on an e-ink display.

Apart from that, as a laptop it performs exceptionally well in handling day-to-day work tasks. It’s also a great device for entertainment purposes, but not so much in the gaming area because this laptop just isn’t built for that. If gaming is what you’re after, try the Lenovo Legion series laptops.

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Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Review: Secondary E-Ink Display Extends Possibilities 14
Written By

Chief Content Developer at The AXO

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