Lenovo has announced the new ThinkBook Plus Gen 3, which has two (two!) screens. There’s one 17.3-inch primary screen (like, the regular one), and there’s another eight-inch screen on the keyboard deck. Various other models that have tried this form factor (namely, Asus’ gaggle of Duo products) have put the secondary screen in the back of the deck and pushed the keyboard to the front. But Lenovo has instead put the keyboard on the right side of the chassis, smushing the keyboard to the left.
While the ThinkBook Plus Gen 3’s look takes a bit of getting used to, I definitely prefer this layout to those of the Duos. You don’t have to buy a separate palm rest, and you don’t look and feel like a T. rex when you’re typing. (I know that members of the Keyboard In The Front Club will disagree with me on this, but so be it.)
The primary screen is... well, it’s very wide. Specifically, it has a 21:10 aspect ratio, which is very unusual to see on a laptop. I’ve never used a notebook this wide and would be loath to try to carry it around too many places, but it certainly affords quite a bit of screen space for multitasking. The eight-inch secondary display has 800 x 1280 resolution and supports a stylus that comes integrated in the chassis.
Lenovo showed off a couple neat use cases for the secondary screen during my brief demo. You can write notes on it (if you’re right handed, lefties might have some issues), and it syncs directly with OneNote. There’s a cool thing where if you’re, say, editing a photo on the main screen, you can use the stylus to blow a small part of it up on the secondary screen. You can dump distractions like Twitter and Spotify down there, you can pull up a calculator, you can mirror certain smartphones, or you can just extend whatever app you’re looking at on the primary screen.
The software does not look as elaborate as Asus’ is (though that may be for the best, as figuring out how to use Asus’ is a whole thing). Lenovo, also unlike Asus, does not appear to be trying to get developers to make things specifically for this form factor — they noted that it has plenty of uses already.
The Plus, which starts at $1,399 and ships in May, is (like the rest of the ThinkBook family) targeting small and medium businesses that may not have the budget for Lenovo’s top-of-the-line ThinkPads. Dual-screen devices are generally expensive, and a price tag of $1,399 could make this technology accessible to a new swath of business customers.
The ThinkBook Plus also comes with 12th Gen Intel Core processors, up to 32GB of RAM, and up to 1TB of storage, as well as an FHD infrared camera with a physical privacy shutter. But come on — the screens are the exciting part.
Lenovo announced updates to a few other ThinkBooks as well. We’ve now got the ThinkBook 13X Gen 2, the ThinkBook 14 Gen 4 Plus i, and the ThinkBook 16 Gen 4 Plus i. (The names are a lot, I know — Lenovo does this sometimes.) These will all be available in April, with starting prices of $1,099, $839, and $859 respectively.
All three models will feature Intel’s 12th Gen processors. The 13X now comes with an optional wireless charging mat, which can charge a compatible mobile device alongside it. The ThinkBook 14 and ThinkBook 16 have thinner designs from their predecessors, with 16:10 displays and larger glass touchpads.
I’m a fan of the ThinkBook line in general, and I’m glad to see it getting some funky features. Given how outrageously expensive business laptops have a habit of being, it’s good to see that models at more accessible prices are keeping up with the latest hardware. These models are all sturdy, attractive, and well made, and (assuming the performance is up to snuff) I’d have no problem bringing one into the boardroom. I say the more innovation at this price point, the better.
Photography by Monica Chin / The Verge