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OLED plus E Ink: Lenovo’s ThinkBook Twist is halfway to my dream laptop

OLED plus E Ink: Lenovo’s ThinkBook Twist is halfway to my dream laptop


Spin the OLED screen to reveal a color E Ink panel around back — for better battery life in basic tasks.

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Lenovo’s ThinkBook Twist
Image: Lenovo

Last month, I spent 15 whole minutes hunched over an HP Spectre x360 in a drafty Best Buy store — agonizing over whether its amazing OLED screen would destroy the laptop’s battery life and repeatedly googling for the answer. When I found out the answer was “yes, substantially less battery,” I had to walk away.

But why should I have to choose between a great screen and one I use all day? Why not both? That’s the idea behind the ThinkBook Plus Twist, a new laptop that Lenovo’s announcing at CES 2023.

Not only does it have a 13.3-inch, 400-nit, 60Hz 2.8K OLED touchscreen that covers 100 percent of the DCI-P3 color gamut, you can swivel its screen around to reveal another 12-inch, color E Ink touchscreen around back — one that refreshes 12 times a second (12Hz), which definitely felt slow in a demo but isn’t bad for E Ink technology.

The OLED screen is way more colorful, obviously.
Party in the front, business in the back. Also, a 1080p webcam with a shutter, two mics, and a fingerprint reader.
Image: Lenovo

In case you need a refresher, E Ink is an ultra-low-power screen tech, thanks to dye-filled microcapsules that largely stay stable, continually displaying an image until you refresh the screen to show something else instead. They’re used in e-readers like the Amazon Kindle that measure their battery life in months instead of hours but can’t display many colors or offer smooth refresh rates.

But with Lenovo’s laptop, they don’t necessarily need to — because you’ve also got that glorious OLED panel on the other side. As a writer who sometimes needs my laptop to go a full workday and beyond but also sometimes watches video, this could be the best of both worlds: Windows on E Ink for reading and writing, Windows on OLED for everything else.

The E-ink side supports a pen, too.
The E-ink side supports a pen, too.
Image: Lenovo

Just don’t expect Kindle battery life out of a laptop like this since you’ve got the overhead of running Windows on its 13th Gen Intel processor (and up to 16GB of RAM and 1TB of PCIe Gen 4 storage) rather than a simple e-reader chip. Lenovo’s estimating up to 21 hours of battery life from its 56Wh battery using the E Ink screen, and it isn’t providing context about what kind of content can run for 21 hours at a time.

This also isn’t quite my next laptop because it’s lacking any full-size ports, with just a pair of Thunderbolt 4 USB-C jacks and a 3.5mm audio jack to its name, and I hesitate to buy a laptop with a squared-off front edge that’ll likely dig into my wrists... plus the OLED screen should probably be a high-refresh-rate 120Hz 16:10 panel like the ones that Asus is shipping if you really want my money.

This isn’t the first Lenovo laptop with an identically twisty hinge or the first to add a second E Ink screen, but I’ve always been mystified by where Lenovo chose to put those secondary screens in the past. First, it tried to replace the keyboard with E-Ink, and then it effectively stuck an e-reader on the lid of a laptop that you could only really use closed.

Now, it feels like it’s finally in the right place — and even if it’s not my dream laptop, it’s a working blueprint.

Lenovo says the ThinkBook Plus Twist has a starting price of $1,649, and it should ship in June 2023.