Lenovo are "putting the ThinkPad reputation on the line" with first foldable PC

Ever since Samsung first teased the Galaxy Fold, the hype has been ripe for the idea of a portable PC that’s big when you need it to be big and small when you need it to be small.

And while the first foldable smartphones are remaining just out of reach (despite several delays, Samsung and Huawei insist that their first foldable smartphones will arrive before the end of the year), the first Windows PCs with foldable displays look closer than ever. 

At their recent Transform 3.0 event in Sydney, Lenovo brought a prototype for their first foldable Windows PC for us to play with while Dilip Bhatia, the company’s VP of Global Marketing, shared some insights around their strategy for bringing the device to market. 

According to Bhatia, “We've had the dual screens like the Yoga Book, which we have in Windows & Android versions, and we've been working on that for a while. But this is kind of - to me - the next evolution. I think the dual screens have a place in the market, and so does the foldable.”

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

Importantly, he insists up-front that Lenovo’s foldable PC isn’t intended to compete with fare like Samsung’s comparable Galaxy Fold. 

“I don't think this will replace your smartphone. Your smartphone is always going to be there. But this could basically eventually replace your notebook,” he says. 

First shown off at the company’s Accelerate event in Orlando, the Lenovo ThinkPad Foldable PC1 is built around a 13.3-inch 2K OLED display manufactured by LG Display and hinge built by Lenovo. There’s no word yet on specific spec configurations but Lenovo say the device will be powered by an Intel Core processor.

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

As for ports, we spotted two USB Type-C slots on the mock-up unit that Lenovo brought to Sydney. However, Bhatia did advise that this may not be final. 

In contrast to Samsung and Huawei's relative silence, Bhatia is optimistic about it launching locally, saying that “Australia is a huge market for us.”

As for the price, Bhatia expects it to start high but fall over time. Out of the gate, he says Lenovo aren't ready to formally talk about pricing for the device but personally admits “it's gonna be pretty expensive.”

Of course, with any foldable, the discussions ultimately starts and ends at durability. There's no point spending the premium on a device like this one if it's not built to last.

Bhatia says that Lenovo’s expertise with convertible hinges will give them an advantage in this area that other brands might not share. He indicates that the ThinkPad Foldable PC1 is built around a similar-but-different mechanism to the watch-band hinge found in its Yoga lineup and advises that Lenovo’s specific experience when it comes to testing hinges for durability will come in handy.

According to him, “this will probably go through at least double the number of cycle testing” before launch. 

After all, “We’re putting the ThinkPad reputation on the line.”

A consumer-grade version of Lenovo’s ThinkPad Foldable PC1 is expected to arrive in 2020.

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG