LENOVO ThinkBook Plus (Gen 2) Review

In this article, I give you my Lenovo ThinkBook Plus (Gen 2) review with specs included. Lenovo is willing to take chances when it comes to e-ink and laptops. This is the second generation, not the first time they tried something like this.

It’s a nice aluminum clad metal ultrabook with Intel 11g and CPUs inside and all that and a QHD plus 16 by 10 aspect ratio inner display. But, look at the lid 12-inch e and QHD plus resolution display pen and touch supported for both displays.

So, what’s this e-ink on the lid business about right well it’s 12 inches the previous generation was only 10 inches so it fills up most of the lid of the display. Yes, the caveat is obviously that makes the lid a little bit more delicate, you don’t want to go just like throwing your smartphone on top of it but it’s got a pretty thick piece of glass over the top it’s not terrifyingly scary.

So the idea is, you can use a pen, you can use touch, and use a lot less power. You can just close the lid on the laptop while it’s running and there’s software that gives you a choice of going to sleep hibernate turning off or using the e-ink screen and then you can continue on but using a whole lot less power.

So if you want to do something like take notes for example handwritten style well you can go on for you know instead of measuring in seven-hour run times or seven and a half-hour run times which is what this gets using the main IPS internal normal display you know you could go probably a day and a half or something like that.

So, there’s the appeal. And they have some customized software. You just press that little button on the top lid that kind of reminds you the old windows logo home button we used to see on tablets back several years ago. And it brings up their launchers.

So you can add whatever programs you want to it. By default it has microsoft office apps there but not onenote so i added onenote. There is a weather widget which for us kept failing to get location. I don’t know why but it should work for most people.

And they have their own notes application lenovo as well. So it can export to onenote if you want but just in case you like theirs better it is a little quicker to track the e-ink pen strokes for example. But that one you can insert objects have it tidy up your geometry all that sort of thing right you get the idea.

And then there’s this weird option to turn it into a wacom tablet. The kind that use usb one that you stand your desk and you just write while you’re staring at your monitor. You can only use that if you hooked up an external display. I don’t think most people are going to make use of that.

So oh yes and there’s an e-book reader they’ve rolled their own e-book reader at lenovo as well. So yeah sure you could use kindle or something like that because you can run any windows app and even the desktop if you wish but you probably don’t on the ink display.

But they have a basic e-reader app. I can open e-pubs with them that’s just fine you can do single pages or facing pages and you can do annotations on the documents. So that’s nice and obviously. If you’re doing something like pdf annotation which is something that a lot of business people and scientists use it’s a nice big e ink screen it’s good for that sort of thing.

So there you have it. The drawback is it’s e-ink so the response times are slow. When you draw a line especially in something like one note that’s not highly optimized for e-ink you’ll see the word writing much more slowly than what you’ve done.

There’s a delay a lag. And you though you can run the windows desktop on this e-ink display. It again it’s the lag. And the not the partial refreshes versus the full refreshes that happen every certain number of page turns or display refreshes with eating.

I you know it it’s not something that you want to use just for everyday ie or chrome or something like that. All right. One caveat though is though these days you can get a e-ink reader a kindle with front lighting side lighting which is really the proper terminology for some form of lighting to make it more readable in middling to dark lighting this one doesn’t have any of that.

So you do have to use it in a reasonably welded environment. No at night in bed with the lights turned off that sort of thing. So you might think well this thing is going to be god-awful expensive right. Well lenovo’s been doing this long enough they found a way to make it not so expensive.

The two versions are available now. And granted it’s been out for a couple months so the prices have come down a bit. But right now it’s about 1250 for a core i5 and 1340 1340 for the core i7 mod. So for a premium ultrabook clad and aluminum with the latest intel u-series cpus and all that sort of thing an intel iris xc graphics 16 gigs of ram and a 512 gig ssd that’s not a bad price.

You’re not paying a whole lot of premium for the ink on the lid. So i mean it’s fun to watch just a lot you’re probably just watching this because it’s nifty it’s different but you know who you are if you think that this is a useful technology.

And it is indeed just a perfectly normal very slim and very light 13.3 inch ultrabook. So it weighs about the same as a thinkpad x1 carbon which is pretty impressive about 2.55 pounds which is around 1.16 kilograms. Very light and thin.

One of the drawbacks of this much thin this is the fact that here we have only two thunderbolt 4 slash usbc ports on board. One of them the charger will plug into and a headphone jack. So unlike a lot of think pads remember this is a think book more of the soho line for business users and home users and you don’t get legacy ports on board with this one.

So dongle life here yes it is. The qhd plus ips internal panel isn’t bad. Um color gamut’s okay. You got full srgb coverage good enough for most people this is not wide gamut full p3 coverage kind of display. Contrast is above average on this brightness.

They claim 400 nits we measure close enough and 397 nits. And the qhd plus 2560 by 1600 resolution is sweet it’s nice. So that sounds good. You’ve got a webcam up top of the privacy shutter. A little bump there over the display to fit that in so that’s a 720p camera.

You do have four far-field microphones and alexa is pre-installed. You can always uninstall alexa if you don’t want that along with the mcafee software that’s installed. Um so that’s nice. Fingerprint scanner that big old hump where the webcam is doesn’t have a windows hello ir camera but you do have a fingerprint scanner embedded in the home button.

So kind of all the bells and whistles you’d expect at this price point with a better than average inner display. Not to mention the extra e ink. Keyboard on this is not thinkpad level. And in fact i’m not feeling it. Kind of literally there is not much tactile feel. It’s very low travel.

So if you’re a thinkpad person thinking about shifting over be prepared for kind of mushy low travel keyboard. Trackpad happily is fine. Since this is not a thinkpad you don’t get the eraser stick nav point pointer on board or dedicated clicker buttons.

It’s your microsoft precision trackpad and it works very nicely. In terms of performance we have the core i7 it’s 28 watt use series quad-core intel 11th gen cpu. You can also get the core i5. I wouldn’t expect huge performance delta between those two.

So if you’re thinking about saving 80 bucks it probably is just fine anyway. 16 gigs of ram is soldered on board low power ddr4 x and the m.2 ssd slot that supports pci e4. And lenovo says they’re actually putting a gen 4 drive in there but the measurements on rsa it’s pretty slow on.

So as pci e4 goes it’s faster than most pci 3 drives that we’ve been seeing for years so it’s not that it’s a bad drive it’s just not like. Now if you do want to get it into the internals and it’s the usual ultrabook story there’s not a super lot you can do in here.

Unscrew the torx t5 screws and boy this has tenacious clips. Work the clips around to get this off and take out the garage pen. Or as we call a pen and a silo from the side first. So yeah you do get a little toothpick pen and it’s rechargeable.

This is wacom aes pen and as you saw diagonal lines are a little bit jittery on it so not a fine art product but okay for note-taking. But the pen does actually have two clicky buttons on it so that’s kind of cool. And it does have 4096 pressure levels.

Anyway back to the internals. First off you can see the speaker grilles are right there and ventilation. Take this off and there is the battery taking up most of the space inside. Usual ultrabook design with the stereo speaker two watt units flanking the battery.

One single fan right there which is fine for an ultrabook really. The m.2 ssd slot is here should you wish to upgrade that after the fact. The wi-fi card is soldered on board right here it’s an intel x201 card wi-fi six. And it’s a fine card with Bluetooth.

And that’s about all you can do because ram is soldered on. It is dual channel low power ddr4x ram. So you know 16 gigs is okay. Under here is the heat pipe in the heatsink by the way in case you’re wondering. Speakers on this are pretty good.

Two two watt harman kardon branded speakers with dolby atmos software on board. And like a lenovo business laptops are surprisingly good. Good enough to watch a movie and enjoy it actually hear a little bit of bass and plenty of volume and treble clarity is certainly there.

The fans will not drown out your movie certainly. I mean it’s an ultrabook it’s not a gaming laptop so it’s not going to get really loud or really hot. But when pushing it hard doing synthetic benchmarks and stuff like that. They will come on but they’re not loud at all.

And it doesn’t get very hot to the touch despite the fact it’s thin and it’s aluminum. Battery on this is 53 watt hour which is pretty good for an ultrabook that’s this size and you get a 65 watt fast charger on board.

Now the qhd plus higher resolution display does hit battery life some and touch screen and pen support and all that sort of thing. Plus while the e-ing display uses like no power so that’s not part of the equation there. But typically with 200 nits of brightness a mix of productivity works streaming video a little bit of photoshop that sort of thing i was getting about seven and a half hours on a charge.

It’s okay it’s not certainly class leading but it’s not abysmal either. So that’s the lenovo thinkbook plus generation two. And certainly they improved. Its 16×10 aspect ratio displays qhd plus bigger 12-inch e-ink display that uses up much of the front face.

And you’re not paying a huge premium beyond the cost of a premium 13.3 inch ultrabook with a high-resolution display to be honest. So for those of you who see the use for this sort of thing the e-ink on the lid well it’s it’s here for you.

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Lenovo ThinkBook Plus (Gen 2)
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    Performance - 95%
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    Price - 94%
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    Value - 95%
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