Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 2

MSRP $1,696.00

“The Lenovo ThinkPad Plus Gen 2 is simply quick sufficient for productiveness customers and has sufficient battery life, however its e-ink show stands out as a singular and helpful characteristic.”

Professionals

  • Progressive e-ink panel
  • Wonderful IPS most important show
  • Superb keyboard and touchpad
  • Good construct high quality
  • Skinny and lightweight

Cons

  • Costly
  • Efficiency is missing
  • Insufficient connectivity

When you’re an avid reader, as am I, e-ink is magic. You probably recognize how e-ink makes studying extra nice whereas producing far much less eye fatigue and taking a minuscule toll on battery life.

However is there an utility past primary e-readers? Lenovo has been on the forefront of experimenting with e-ink, and it’s newest creation embeds a 12-inch e-ink show proper on the lid of a laptop computer often known as the ThinkBook Plus Gen 2. The laptop computer is an enhanced model of the skinny and lightweight ThinkBook 13x, a tool aimed towards small companies.

I reviewed a high-end configuration of the ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 with a Core i7-1160G7 and a 13.3-inch 16:10 WQXGA (2,560 x 1,600) show that sells for a premium worth of $1,696. Just like the ThinkBook 13x, it’s a bit overpriced for a primary enterprise laptop computer. The e-ink display screen, although, could be well worth the premium for anybody who desires to learn e-books, write notes on a extra comfy show, or take a number of notes with out the battery operating down.

E-ink show

The Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 in e-ink mode.Mark Coppock/Digital Traits

We’ll begin with the e-ink show as a result of, in fact, that’s what units this laptop computer aside. It’s a 12-inch panel in comparison with the ten.8-inch model within the earlier technology — it takes up extra of the lid’s obtainable area, with massive bezels that will have appeared regular on a typical show just some years in the past. The e-ink display screen is 16:10 like the principle show, and it’s sharp on the similar WQXGA decision.

It’s additionally not backlit, and so like all such e-ink screens, you may solely use it with direct lighting. There can be extra on that in a bit, however it’s typically a very good factor. It’s designed to avoid wasting your eyes from the blue mild that customary shows emit and make it theoretically much less fatiguing to make use of for lengthy studying classes.

To comfortably use the e-ink show, I wanted to have a number of ambient lighting.

The e-ink show works identical to those you’ll discover on the Amazon Kindle and different devoted e-book readers. Its picture is created from tiny black-and-white particles that electronically align in the appropriate path to create a grayscale picture. As such, the show is fastened till it’s refreshed, which takes noticeable time and causes the everyday warping impact you get with the know-how. That makes the show appropriate for issues like viewing paperwork and different info, studying e-books, and taking notes. It doesn’t work effectively for watching movies or the rest that requires a quick refresh charge.

When the laptop computer is asleep or turned off, the static picture supplies some personalization — you may select your individual background picture, which turns into the lid’s aesthetic. When it’s turned on, you’re offered by default with a set of panels offering customization info, like your Outlook calendar (if configured), the climate, a sticky pocket book, and customizable buttons to open supported purposes.

I used to be in a position so as to add and run any utility that I had put in on the laptop computer, together with the total suite of Workplace apps, Google Chrome, and the Kindle reader for PC, though not each utility will work effectively with the e-ink know-how. Definitely, gaming is out of the query, and also you’ll wish to keep away from apps that require instant response to enter.

If I had been to purchase the laptop computer, I’d improve to Home windows 11, be part of the Home windows Insider Program, and set up the Android model of the Kindle app. That might give me an enormous e-book reader that’s nearly as good as a Kindle, minus the lighting.

The e-ink display on the Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 while in tablet mode. Mark Coppock/Digital Traits

And for me, there’s the rub. To comfortably use the e-ink show, I wanted to have a number of ambient lighting. My dwelling workplace, which is often lit by some oblique daylight, didn’t have sufficient mild by default. I wanted to actively activate a lamp immediately above the ThinkBook Plus Gen 2’s e-ink show to realize a transparent view of the picture. It’s the identical with my Kindle Paperwhite with its lighting turned off and never a knock in opposition to the e-ink show itself. It’s simply that the know-how requires good lighting situations, and that limits its usefulness.

On the similar time, if you need one thing to take to the seashore (inside a plastic bag or one thing to maintain it shielded from the sand), then the show appears incredible beneath direct daylight. The truth is, that’s one of many best strengths of the e-ink show. It provides you one thing to make use of once you’re exterior or in any unusually shiny atmosphere. Customary laptop computer shows are hardly ever shiny sufficient to beat the Southern California solar, and I can see myself utilizing the e-ink show on such events for issues like triaging e mail, net shopping, and — in fact — e-book studying.

Design

Closeup on the Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 2's webcam.Mark Coppock/Digital Traits

The ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 shares an virtually similar chassis to the ThinkBook 13x, a skinny and lightweight sibling to the ThinkBook 13s Gen 2. All three small business-oriented laptops share related builds, together with aluminum within the lid and aluminum-magnesium alloy within the chassis. The ThinkBook 13s is a bit more stable than the opposite two, which have slight bending within the lid, whereas the keyboard deck and backside chassis are stable. That bending is a bit more regarding within the ThinkBook Plus Gen 2, given its e-ink display screen.

The Dell XPS 13 is one instance of a extra strong 13-inch laptop computer, as is the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano. The ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 advantages from the identical navy testing for sturdiness as all ThinkBook and ThinkPad laptops.

When it comes to dimension, the ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 and ThinkBook 13x are the identical width and depth due to similar 16:10 13.3-inch shows with small bezels. The ThinkPad 13x is barely thinner at 0.51 inches and lighter at 2.49 kilos, in comparison with the ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 at 0.55 inches and a pair of.56 kilos — probably because of the e-ink show. The ThinkBook 13s is simply barely thicker but at 0.59 inches and heavier at 2.78 kilos.

The XPS 13 is a bit smaller in width and depth and is available in at 0.58 inches and a pair of.8 kilos, whereas the ThinkPad X1 Nano is barely thicker at 0.68 inches and the lightest of all at 2.14 kilos. When you’re going to stay an e-ink display screen on a clamshell laptop computer, the ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 is a fairly skinny and lightweight candidate.

The ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 sports activities an virtually similar aesthetic to the ThinkBook 13x, with calmly tapered edges alongside the perimeters and a rounded rear edge on the chassis. It’s the darker Storm Grey colour in comparison with our Thinkpad 13x evaluate unit’s extra silver Cloudy Grey, and it has a cushty soft-textured coating on the keyboard deck that the ThinkPad 13x lacks. Total, the design is tasteful and simple, following a current development I’ve observed towards minimalist designs.

After all, the ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 doesn’t share the two-tone lid loved by the ThinkBook 13x, having the e-ink show as a substitute. The XPS 13 is sleeker and extra elegant, however the ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 stands out much more due to its distinctive lid.

Two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 4 and a 3.5mm audio jack on the left-hand side of the Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 2.

Power button on the right-hand side of the Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 2.

Similar to the ThinkBook 13x, the ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 is connectivity challenged. There are two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 4 and a 3.5mm audio jack, and that’s it. Its the identical unlucky compromise in connectivity that’s wanted to provide a thinner chassis. Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 present wi-fi connectivity. One attention-grabbing choice that’s obtainable on sure fashions (and never my evaluate unit) is wi-fi charging. These variations include pogo pins on the underside of the chassis that join with a $200 wi-fi charging equipment — simply set the laptop computer on the pad and you’ll cost with out plugging in. That’s a pleasant comfort.

Efficiency

Just like the ThinkBook 13x, the ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 equips a low-power Eleventh-gen Intel Core CPU, on this case, the Core i7-1160G7. It, too, runs at as much as 15 watts in comparison with the 28-watt Core i7-1165G7 that’s extra standard in skinny and lightweight laptops. That guarantees longer battery life however slower efficiency. I didn’t discover any slowdowns throughout my testing, however then once more, my evaluate course of isn’t very demanding. The 16GB of RAM and quick 512GB SSD helped issues transfer alongside, and so I discovered the ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 fast sufficient for many productiveness staff.

My benchmark outcomes weren’t spectacular. The ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 completed third to final in Geekbench 5, forward of simply the ThinkBook 13x and the ThinkPad X12 Removable. Its Handbrake consequence, reflecting how lengthy it takes to encode a 420MB video as H.265, was useless final, though once I used the Lenovo utility to go from default to efficiency mode, the outcomes improved to 206 seconds from 303 seconds — quicker, however nonetheless behind the pack.

The ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 completed second to final within the Cinebench R23 check, beating solely the ThinkPad X12 Removable, and its multi-core check elevated from 3,949 to 4,254 once I engaged efficiency mode. The ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 was extra aggressive within the PCMark 10 Full benchmark, coming in third place. Its scores had been first rate in each the Necessities and Productiveness parts of the benchmark and never so aggressive within the Content material Creation portion.

Total, the benchmarks supported my subjective expertise: The ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 is okay for an affordable productiveness workflow, however demanding customers and significantly inventive execs will wish to look elsewhere for his or her main laptop computer. As with the ThinkBook 13x, Lenovo selected a low-power CPU to raised match the thinner chassis, and it was a poor compromise.

Geekbench (single/multi) Handbrake
(seconds)
Cinebench R23 (single/multi) PCMark 10 3DMark Time Spy
Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 (Core i7-1160G7) 1396 /  5115 303 1377 / 3949 4861 1580
Lenovo ThinkBook 13x (Core i5-1130G7) 1337 / 4863 271 1282 / 4037 4590 1363
Lenovo ThinkBook 13s Gen 2 (Core i5-1135G7) 1406 / 5379 178 1357 / 5502 4668 1511
Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Removable (Core i5-1130G7) 1352 / 4796 185 1125 / 3663 4443 926
Dell XPS 13 (Core i7-1185G7) 1549 / 5431 204 1,449 / 4,267 3,859 1,589
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 (Core i7-1165G7) 1327 / 5201 170 1469 / 4945 5147 1776
Samsung Galaxy E-book (Core i5-1135G7) 1401 / 5221 175 1361 / 5391 4735 1584
Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 (Ryzen 7 5700U) 1184 / 6281 116 1287 / 8013 5411 1247

The ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 did surprisingly effectively within the 3DMark Time Spy check. That didn’t translate to our Fortnite check, although, the place it managed simply 18 frames per second (fps) at 1200p and Epic graphics. This isn’t a gaming laptop computer.

Fundamental show

I’ve talked about that the ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 and ThinkBook 13x are virtually similar exterior of the previous’s e-ink show, and I observed that similarity the minute I began working with the principle 16:10 IPS show. It positive appeared the identical to me, with the identical excessive decision, the identical dynamic and pure colours, and the identical deep distinction (for an IPS show). I couldn’t inform the 2 aside once I checked out them facet by facet.

The ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 enjoys a wonderful IPS show that may serve inventive varieties in a pinch.

In accordance with my colorimeter, these are certainly the identical panels. The ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 was shiny at 418 nits, had barely above-average colour width at 76% of AdobeRGB and 100% of sRGB, very correct colours at a DeltaE of 1.03 (1.0 or much less is superb), and a robust distinction at 1,440:1. The ThinkBook 13x got here in at 417 nits, the identical colour width, a DeltaE of 1.04, and distinction at 1,430:1. Lenovo selected a wonderful show for each machines, to its credit score. The Dell XPS 13’s 4K show was equally good at 420 nits, 79% of AdobeRGB and 100% of sRGB, accuracy of 1.3, and distinction at 1,360:1.

The ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 enjoys an excellent IPS display.Mark Coppock/Digital Traits

The ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 enjoys a wonderful IPS show that may serve inventive varieties in a pinch. It doesn’t have vast sufficient colours to be a full-time inventive laptop computer, however the colours are correct and the distinction is excessive sufficient that much less demanding creators can do some work. It’s greater than ok for productiveness customers, and its Dolby Imaginative and prescient excessive dynamic vary (HDR) assist makes for wonderful Netflix and Amazon Prime Video bingeing.

Two downward-firing audio system present audio duties, and I discovered them a bit louder within the ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 than the ThinkBook 13x — however not by a lot. Mids and highs had been good and clear with zero distortion, however the bass was missing. Headphones could be most well-liked for bingeing Netflix and listening to music, however the sound high quality was high-quality for the occasional YouTube video.

Keyboard and touchpad

Closeup on the Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 2's keyboard and stylus.Mark Coppock/Digital Traits

Lenovo has two keyboards it makes use of on most of its laptops, the long-lasting model on the ThinkPad line and the equally recognizable however not fairly as well-known model on laptops just like the IdeaPad and ThinkBook. The ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 has the latter keyboard, in fact, and it enjoys the identical sculpted keycaps, copious key spacing, and snappy switches that present a cushty bottoming motion. There’s not a ton of journey, although, which makes the keyboard rather less appropriate for lengthy typing classes than the keyboards on the HP Spectre and Dell XPS strains.

The Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7i Professional has an improved model of the identical primary keyboard with even snappier switches, and it’s unlucky that it didn’t make it into the ThinkBook Plus Gen 2. The three-level backlighting is shiny and constant in any respect however its lowest setting, and the keyboard is spill-resistant with name buttons for videoconferencing — two nods to small enterprise customers.

The touchpad is simply massive sufficient to be comfy, with a grippy floor that made for delicate and exact swiping. It’s a Microsoft Precision touchpad, which means that each one Home windows 10 multitouch gestures are supported. The show was touch- and pen-enabled, supporting the Lenovo energetic pen that comes with the ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 and docks in a slot on the right-hand facet of the chassis. The pen isn’t so comfy to make use of on the principle show, however it works effectively with the e-ink panel and permits for taking notes that look much more like ink on paper.

Drawing a line on the Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 with the pen.Mark Coppock/Digital Traits

Home windows 10 Good day password-less login assist is offered by a fingerprint reader embedded within the energy button. It labored effectively throughout my testing, and it helps waking the laptop computer and logging in when the lid is closed, activating the e-ink show. Observe {that a} dialogue field pops up on the e-ink panel providing to proceed working or put the laptop computer to sleep once you shut the lid. It’s a pleasant contact that makes it simple to change to e-ink mode.

Battery life

The e-ink display on the Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 2.Mark Coppock/Digital Traits

The ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 packs in 52 watt-hours of battery life, barely down from the 56 watt-hours within the ThinkBook 13s and one other compromise made in favor of a thinner chassis. There’s a low-power processor inside however a high-resolution show, so I wasn’t positive what battery life to count on. My impressions had been additionally coloured by the outcomes I noticed on the equally configured ThinkBook 13x, which had been decidedly combined.

In our web-browsing check that cycles by a sequence of advanced web sites, the ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 lasted for 7.75 hours, about 40 minutes lower than the ThinkBook 13x. That’s not a horrible rating, however we see extra skinny and lightweight laptops exceed 10 hours on this check. The ThinkBook 13s managed 9.3 hours, and the Dell XPS 13 4K was worse at 6.3 hours.

In our video check that loops a neighborhood 1080p film trailer, the ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 made it to only 12.75 hours, lower than the 15.57 hours the ThinkBook 13x achieved and greater than the Dell XPS 13’s 10.5 hours. Observe that the ThinkBook 13x performed very uneven video throughout the check, indicating that maybe it wasn’t powered up sufficient to make for clean video and thus unfairly prolonged its rating. The ThinkBook 13s lasted for 13.4 hours within the video check.

I additionally used the PCMark 10 Functions battery check to see how the ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 performs as a productiveness machine. It hit 9.25 hours, which is an effective rating that’s near the ten hours we wish to see on this check. The ThinkBook 13x lasted for 8.5 hours, whereas the ThinkBook 13s hit 11.5 hours and the XPS 13 4K made it to eight.7 hours. Within the PCMark 10 Gaming battery check, which exhibits how laborious a laptop computer is working whereas unplugged, the ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 went for two.25 hours, lower than the ThinkBook 13x’s 2.75 and across the similar because the ThinkBook 13s. The XPS 13 4K hit 3.5 hours, indicating that it throttles down fairly a bit throughout the check, however I didn’t discover any choppiness in its video.

All in all, the ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 had first rate battery life for a skinny and lightweight laptop computer. It ought to get you thru a full day’s work, which is the usual we wish to see. After all, if you happen to use the e-ink show, you’ll get considerably longer battery life, though our suite of benchmarks isn’t geared towards testing that show know-how.

Our take

Judged as merely a skinny and lightweight laptop computer, the ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 lacks any compelling characteristic to advocate it. It’s loads just like the ThinkBook 13x in that respect — sure, it’s barely thinner and lighter than its bigger sibling, the ThinkBook 13s, however it’s additionally slower, has much less battery life, and lacks the connectivity of the bigger machine. These are unlucky compromises for only a tiny bit much less thickness and weight.

Toss within the e-ink show, although, and that modifications the dynamic. It’s not for everybody, however if you happen to’re an e-ink lover and wish to have the ability to use your laptop computer in shiny lighting environments whereas giving your eyes a break, then it’s an incredible characteristic. It provides simply sufficient worth to make the ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 a standout laptop computer for many who will make the most of this distinctive characteristic.

Are there any alternate options?

When you don’t care in regards to the e-ink show, then the ThinkBook 13s is a more sensible choice. It’s inexpensive whereas providing the identical small enterprise options, it’s quicker with higher battery life, and it has higher connectivity. There are two variations to select from, with the Gen 2 operating both Intel or AMD or the marginally upgraded AMD-only Gen 3 mannequin.

Once more, if you happen to don’t care in regards to the e-ink panel, then the Dell XPS 13 stays a greater different. The XPS 13 is not any dearer whereas providing a superior and better-looking construct, it’s quicker and longer-lasting relying on the show, and also you get the choice of an unbelievable 3.5K OLED show.

If a convertible 2-in-1 is extra up your alley — and, once more, you don’t care in regards to the e-ink show — then HP’s Spectre x360 14 makes for a very good choice. It’s even better-looking, has a wonderful 3K OLED show in the popular 3:2 side ratio, and it’s constructed higher. You’ll spend the identical sort of cash, however get extra worth.

How lengthy will it final?

The ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 has a ok construct high quality that you would be able to be assured that it’s going to final for years, and its elements are updated. The one-year guarantee is all the time disappointing, and also you’ll wish to watch out with the e-ink show.

Must you purchase it?

Sure, if you’ll profit from the e-ink panel for extended studying and note-taking classes. It’s a reliable skinny and lightweight laptop computer with some compromises, however the e-ink show suggestions it excessive.

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