Lenovo ThinkBook Plus review: Second E-Ink screen adds an extra dimension Review

Nancy J. Delong

Lenovo’s very first ThinkBook, introduced very last 12 months, was a solidly crafted notebook in each 13-inch and 14-inch sort variables it was not extremely high-priced, and was billed as a unit that could bridge the get the job done/engage in divide — it experienced the strapline ‘Built for Small business, Intended for Generation Next’. 

This new 13.three-inch ThinkBook In addition retains some of the style and design smarts of the previously model, and provides an solely new aspect — a ten.8-inch E-Ink show crafted into the lid. This can deliver info, act as an book reader, and also has interactive factors: you can acquire notes and annotate PDFs on it, for example. You can find only just one variation of the ThinkBook In addition accessible in the United kingdom, a Core i5 model with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage, which prices £1,019.ninety nine (inc. VAT £849.ninety nine mex. VAT). Two variants are accessible in the US: Core i5/8GB/256GB for $1,299 and Core i7/16GB/512GB for $1,529.


The ThinkBook In addition operates on tenth-technology Core i5 or i7 processors. As effectively as the primary 13.three-inch FHD IPS show, it has a second ten.8-inch E-Ink touchscreen on the outdoors of the lid.

Photos: Lenovo

So, how beneficial is the E-Ink panel, and how effectively does the ThinkBook In addition carry out in standard?

When you think of E-Ink you possibly visualise book audience from Amazon, Kobo and others. But E-Ink has featured in other equipment much too. It acted as a second monitor for the YotaPhone smartphone, for example, and Lenovo used it to give its 2016 Yoga Ebook with possibly a contact-delicate keyboard or a drawing pad in the space generally occupied by a bodily keyboard. This time, a ten.8-inch E-Ink show occupies the bulk of the lid of the ThinkBook In addition. 

The fantastic benefit of E-Ink is its reduced strength usage. Pixels are possibly on, or off, and whilst energy is demanded to alter their state, once they are set, there is no energy draw. Furthermore, pixels continue to be noticeable in their set state so that whatever they are displaying can continue to be continual. Just like with book audience, the show is contact-responsive, and you can also interact with it applying the offered Precision Pen stylus. 

E-Ink has some significant variations when compared to a regular notebook monitor. It is greyscale instead than colour and it is really gradual to refresh, which boundaries the use scenarios. It is also well worth noting that the E-Ink panel in the ThinkBook In addition lacks a backlight.

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This implies Lenovo can only offer a small set of functions for the E-ink show. There are just two applications accessible from the tappable icon bar in the bottom correct corner: Notice and Reader, each of which can get the job done in portrait and landscape orientation.

Notice is a producing and drawing resource. Creations made applying the Precision Pen can be saved immediately onto the desktop as illustrations or photos, text, formulae or diagrams. The E-Ink show also synchronises with Microsoft OneNote, so your scribblings are accessible in editable format on the notebook suitable.


Best: The Reader E-Ink application. Above: Options for the E-Ink monitor.

Photos: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Reader shows documents in PDF, EPUB, MOBI and TXT formats, and allows you to annotate PDFs. Although versions of this notebook on exhibit at CES in January sported a Kindle shortcut on the E-Ink monitor, there was no Kindle help on my evaluate unit. Nor is there any info at Lenovo’s website or in the E-Ink help on the notebook alone about including new applications.

There are a pair of further capabilities accessible by means of the E-Ink display’s set up space: you can opt to exhibit your Outlook Calendar, Outlook E mail, the weather and the date you can also pick out wallpaper such as applying your possess illustrations or photos. There is a very small battery daily life icon in the major correct corner of the wallpaper monitor. 


The Precision Pen clings magnetically to the left or correct facet of the lid.

Graphic: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The E-Ink monitor wants security, and Lenovo presents a sizeable sleeve for the ThinkBook In addition. However neither this nor the ThinkBook In addition alone has a housing for the Precision Pen. Alternatively, the pen clings magnetically to the lid’s brief edges, but it is really not held very firmly and isn’t really a satisfactory alternative when the notebook is in transit.

To accommodate the E-Ink panel, the lid is instead thicker than normal which implies an total thickness of 17.4mm thickness. The desktop footprint is minimal for a 13.three-inch notebook, at 308mm broad by 217mm deep and the extra panel doesn’t insert a fantastic offer to the weight, which is 1.4kg. The internet result is a notebook that feels sound but not overburdened by its second monitor.
The primary monitor is a 13.three-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS panel with 300 nits brightness and a hundred% sRGB colour house protection. It isn’t really contact responsive, which arguably is an omission, although this does maintain each the price tag and the lid thickness down. Screen bezels are a very little broader than major-flight Lenovo laptops tend to offer, and the bottom bezel is noticeably deep. I discovered it demanding to have two doing work purposes open up facet by facet. If need be, the primary monitor will open up to one hundred eighty degrees and lie flat on a desk.

The speakers deliver sensible high quality sound. Quantity goes fairly superior, and whilst the audio is a very little brief on bass tones it really should be great for online video watching, presentations and online video phone calls.


The full-measurement keyboard is backlit, with Skype for Small business warm-keys on the correct-hand facet of the Fn key row.

Graphic: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The keyboard is normal of Lenovo with its pot-bellied keys providing more of a focus on than normal. The keys are substantial and effectively-spaced, and I was fairly satisfied contact-typing at my normal speed. The Fn keys are comparatively substantial, with the correct-most pair currently being shortcut keys for Skype for Small business phone calls.

The touchpad feels a very little cramped, but that is hardly strange in a 13.three-inch notebook, and it was comfy and responsive to use. It is easily disabled with a Fn key. 

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The on/off switch is on the correct edge of the chassis and incorporates a fingerprint reader. This site implies you can energy up the notebook when the lid is down, enabling use of the E-Ink monitor. Home windows Hello authentication is also supported by way of the 1MP webcam.

Our ThinkBook In addition evaluate unit ran on a tenth technology Intel Core i5-10210U processor with integrated Intel UHD Graphics. Discrete graphics would be nice, although this would appear at a price tag. There is 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. The ThinkBook In addition operates Home windows ten Professional.


The energy button on the correct-hand facet (major) has an integrated fingerprint reader. There are two USB three. ports and, on the left facet (middle), full-measurement HDMI, USB-C (with DisplayPort and energy shipping and delivery) and three.5mm audio.

Graphic: Lenovo

Lenovo presents a full-measurement HDMI port as effectively as two USB three. ports and a solitary USB-C port. The latter is out of action when you are charging the notebook, and Lenovo really should have offered a second USB-C port, preferably with Thunderbolt help. There is also a three.5mm headset jack. 

According to Lenovo, the battery is great for up to ten hrs. I place it by means of its normal paces, leaving online video streaming for a three-hour get the job done session whilst also doing work in internet applications, viewing internet webpages and at times streaming tunes. The monitor was set quickly to its highest (300 nits) brightness, and I would not want to get the job done with it a great deal lessen than that for extended intervals.

In the three-hour period the battery dropped to fifty six%. I would not say I subjected the ThinkBook In addition to a significantly demanding workload, and question that it would energy my normal doing work day from a full cost. Nevertheless, there is great news in the shape of Rapid Demand help, which will acquire the battery from zero to eighty% in an hour.


Graphic: Lenovo


Lenovo’s thought of putting a second monitor on the entrance of the ThinkBook In addition, turning what is actually normally dead house into an space for effective use, is laudable. The E-Ink screen’s functionality is restricted, nevertheless, and it depends closely on a stylus which you will need to have individually from the notebook and be careful not to shed. 

I might like to see Lenovo investigate this thought further more, such as integrating connectivity with more than just Microsoft products and solutions, and including the Kindle help that was on exhibit at CES in January. I might like to investigate book studying on this monitor when compared to a devoted reader or a smartphone. 

Somewhere else, the ThinkBook In addition is a effectively-made, properly built notebook with an ergonomic keyboard and a serviceable primary monitor. It could do with a second USB-C port and improved battery daily life, but it is really definitely an intriguing progress for the regular clamshell notebook.

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