Lenovo Thinkbook Plus Gen2 with Rear E-ink Display Review

hey everybody it’s lanzibe and we’re taking a look today at a rather interesting laptop from lenovo this is their thinkbook plus g2 and on the surface it looks like a regular laptop but believe it or not this actually has two displays it has one on the front and then one on the lid here and this is an e-ink display something you might have seen on a kindle in the past and it’s a very low-powered display that lets you access parts of the system with a low powered display even when it is closed up like you see here so you can take notes or keep an eye on your calendar and then open it up when you need a little bit more functionality so we’re going to take a look at what this laptop is all about here in just a second but i do want to let you know in the interest of full disclosure that this is on loan from lenovo so we’re done with this it goes back to them all the opinions you’re about to hear are my own no one is paying for this review nor has anyone reviewed or approved what you’re about to see before it was uploaded so let’s get into it now and see what this laptop is all about now having that second display does add to the price a little bit this comes in at sixteen hundred dollars with the i7 version that we’re reviewing today there’s also an i5 version that costs a little bit less inside this one has an i7 1160 g7 from intel with the evo graphics this will actually do pretty well at gaming and we’ll take a look at some games running on it in a little bit it has 16 gigabytes of ram which is not upgradable it is soldered on but it does have upgradable storage and hours came configured with a 512 gigabyte ssd now the front display is a 13.3 inch display running at 2560 by 1600 it is an ips display it looks very

nice like most of the lenovo displays do and it does support touch as you can see here it’s running at a 16 by 10 aspect ratio 100 of srgb is covered and it is pretty bright at 400 nits it goes flat to the desk here but this is not a two in one so you can’t flip it around and turn it into a tablet if you want but of course you can shut the display here and use the e-ink display in that way now the e-ink display is running with a 12 inch size here a little bit smaller than the other side of the unit this one is running at the same resolution though 2560 by 1600 it is of course monochromatic because it is using that e-ink technology it’s got a nice premium feel to it it is made out of aluminum and it’s also very lightweight and sturdy it’s about two and a half pounds or 1.16 kilograms so it’s not that heavy to walk around with even though it does have two displays on board battery life on this one isn’t bad either i think you’ll probably get about 10 or 11 hours if you keep the display brightness down and stick to word processing and email and that sort of thing and i would expect you to get a little bit more out of it if you rely upon the e-ink display here which will use far less power than the built-in display will and will cover all the things you can do with that secondary display in a few minutes here there is a webcam here at the top not the best looking webcam at only 720p but it gets the job done as you can see here so if you have conference calls to do and that sort of thing i think you’ll get by just fine with that so not bad on the camera like other lenovo devices here you do have a little shutter that you can manually put over the lens so you don’t need to put a piece of tape over it now like other lenovo thinkbooks it’s got a decent keyboard and trackpad on board the trackpad very accurately picks up what you’re intending to do it doesn’t give you a lot of false inputs all in a very nice pointing device the keyboard is equally nice they really perfected this keyboard a couple of years ago on their laptops and have stuck with it you’ve got nicely spaced keys here

they’re of a decent size and it offers a good amount of tactile feedback even though it’s a rather thin laptop you do get a good amount of key travel and the keyboard is backlit now what’s funny is that there’s a little light on here to direct you to the power switch because it is on the side here and not on the top they do have an integrated fingerprint reader on the power switch so you can very quickly unlock the laptop to use it and also of note is that there is a pen garaged on the side of this above the power switch and this is a design we’ve seen on other lenovo two-in-ones and it’s really nice because the pen charges itself in there and there’s also a place for the pen to go we see a lot of these great pens on laptops but often no place to put it when we’re not using it this one snaps in and very securely stays in place so the pen is always going to be with you when you need it but is tucked away when you don’t and it works really well on the lid display but it also works nicely on the main display here too although this is not a two in one so you can’t fold that display out of the way i did play around with the pen a little bit earlier it does detect pressure very low latency and it feels about the same as some of those other yoga pens that we’ve looked at in the past but it is a little cumbersome just having the keyboard in the way here i suppose you could probably try to manually rotate the display around if you need to but it’s not as a compelling pen experience as it might be on a two-in-one where you can fold that keyboard out of the way but again it does work really well on the lid and we will demo that once we get through a few other things here now you don’t get much for ports on this one unfortunately there’s only two ports here on the left hand side but they are both thunderbolt 4 ports so these will give you access to high-speed data

devices like external gpus and thunderbolt docks these will send display out to an external monitor if you want to hook one of those up but it also brings power in so it’s good to have two full-service thunderbolt ports here but only on the left hand side you also have a headphone microphone jack here on the left hand side too and that is it for ports it does though support bluetooth so you can hook up other devices wirelessly if you want speakers on this aren’t bad they are downward firing but they’re very clear and crisp music actually sounds pretty good on these in addition to spoken word podcasts and of course conferencing and that sort of thing so i think from a standpoint of audio quality pretty good for its size but not a lot of bass but that is to be expected in something in this form factor so let’s take a look at its performance now we’ll begin with the basics here some web browsing as expected it performs quite well at doing the basics because of that i7 processor on board and of course you’ve got the touch display here for navigating around everything is rendering up very quickly here no problems that i’m encountering and it also has wi-fi six so you can make use of the latest wi-fi technology and a little bit earlier we took a look at a 1080p 60 video running on my youtube channel and we did encounter a few dropped frames while that video was playing back not much that you would probably notice but when we were running the statistics we were seeing those frames popping up on the dashboard there and i think it might be due to the fact that we were running the laptop in its intelligent cooling mode which tries to balance the fan noise with performance and i think if you

want more consistent performance you’ll want to turn on the extreme performance within the vantage control panel to squeeze a little bit more out of it you’ll hear the fan a little bit more but it will perform more consistently although the performance variability is probably not going to be noticeable in most of what you might do with this laptop but still if you’re noticing some things a little bit out of whack that might improve the situation the fan noise isn’t bad on this at all even when it is running at full blast but you will hear it a little bit less when you have that intelligent cooling mode enabled and on the speedometer benchmark test we got a score of 179 which puts this laptop pretty much in line with some of the other machines we’ve looked at recently running with the same generation of intel processor all right so let’s take a look now and see how this e-ink display works right now i’ve got the laptop of course in laptop mode but if i close the lid it will ask me what i want to do i can have it go to sleep or i can activate the e-ink display and what this will do is give me a little dashboard that i can configure so i’ve set this up to give me my outlook calendar i have some news articles here that i could look at and then i’ve got my note area and then you can actually access some of the windows apps here from this display as well which i will show you in a second i’m going to start though with my sticky notes and i’ve got this one as my default i can add to it and start writing some more i can adjust the pen thickness here and do kind of what we did before on the regular display and then if i just jump back here i can hit the button here at the top and have that sticky note now be my note here on the front page and of

course we can add more this is an app that doesn’t run on the regular laptop mode but these notes can be synchronized to onenote if you want to do that additionally i’ve got a reader here so if i have a pdf or something that i want to read i can select that and you can see it sometimes gets a little buggy here as we’re running around with it but i can pull up a pdf here i can make annotations on it and also of note i can rotate the screen here it does take it a little bit to catch up but you can use it kind of like a kindle i guess it will require of course the computer to not be sleeping so it will be consuming some of the battery and using the intel processor this is all running in windows just displaying on this black and white screen here on the front now can also work as a drawing board for another pc similar to those wacom tablets so you could use this pen and the surface here to draw something on a desktop computer for example and you enable that by clicking on the drawing board icon here at the bottom now you can interact with this display with your fingers so i can use my finger here to tap on the note application and i can also navigate around with it but of course we can also use the pen and like other windows pen devices it will detect the presence of the pen as it gets closer and it will ignore your wrist input so if i start writing here my wrist is being ignored because the pen is in proximity so it works very much like a windows tablet just that you have this really different display in which to interact with it now as i mentioned you can also run windows applications you can add any windows app you want to the list here but some work better than others microsoft word is one that does work really nice with it and i’ll pull up a document that i edited a little bit earlier and it’s kind of neat because it’s like interacting with a piece of paper given how this display looks but it doesn’t update or refresh itself very quickly let me give you the overhead here again and you can see as i move the image

around here it gets really messed up there’s a lot of latency to it as well and that’s just due to the nature of how these e-ink displays work so this is not going to be better than a typical led backlit display that refreshes constantly but i think if you are just writing out a document or something maybe even with a bluetooth keyboard attached i think this might work really well as a word processor but it does get tripped up especially when you start bringing animation into the mix you can even load your web browser because you can put any app you want on here so we can go back and look at the nasa home page it does a really good job actually of grayscaling everything so it does look good but if you happen to come across a website with video let me go to my youtube channel here real quick you’ll see it doesn’t do a very good job as a video playback device again due to the slow refresh rate of the display so it looks you know on a 30 frames per second video pretty bad it’ll look probably even worse on a higher frame rate video but for basic browsing it’s a great way to do it because it looks nice especially if you’re under good light it does look like a piece of paper here it’s not backlit or anything and you can browse with a lot less power consumption because this display only updates itself when something changes so it is persistent in this current mode and then as i’m scrolling here that’s when the display gets its updates now when i’m done i can hit the power button here on the side and put it back to sleep which i’ll do right now and this will return the laptop to the standard windows sleep

mode where you have to have a fingerprint to log back in and what i can do here is push the button hold my finger there it will read my fingerprint and most of the time bring me back to that e-ink home page although it’s hard to know when it doesn’t read your fingerprint properly and because the display is so slow it really is a little clunky actually to get back into this thing when it is asleep and you don’t want to reopen the lid but here we go we got back in now i’m going to lock it up again and what i’m going to do now is pull the pen out and what it can do even if you don’t want to use your fingerprint is give you the ability to write a quick note without having to wait to log back in see so i pulled the pen out and it’s brought me to this screen here where i can write down some notes and then i can turn it back off again i can’t look at anything that i did prior but it’s a very quick way to jot down a note or something overall it’s a pretty neat idea it doesn’t feel fully baked just yet there is definitely some work to do with this i don’t want to call it a gimmick because i think some people might find it useful and this is the second generation of this idea that lenovo has been implementing here so i think there’s probably something to this but it’s going to need a little bit of work and perhaps the e-ink displays have to mature a bit i would really love to see what a color e-ink display would look like in this uh this concept because it might be kind of fun to be able to look at colored documents on a display that largely resembles paper i don’t think it’s a killer app by any stretch just yet but it’s intriguing and something different and unique in a laptop that i haven’t seen before and if you’re somebody that likes to customize your laptop with stickers you can do something fun like this putting your own photos on the back of the lid here and there’s no battery penalty for this because the only time this display consumes power is when it changes so if this is staying persistent it’s not going to result in

any battery penalty and you can have some really fun personalization options here with your laptop so let’s take a look and see how games run on this device and of course we were running these games on the front facing display here this is red dead redemption 2 and like other intel evo based i7s it runs very nicely at around 30 frames per second or so give or take so a good playable experience there we also ran the witcher 3 at 1080p lowest settings you will notice a little bit of lag on this one and that’s because jake had enabled the intelligent cooling option and not the performance options so it was giving us a few bits of lag here and there it ran more consistently with the performance mode enabled just with a little louder fan noise but if you’re playing games you’re probably not going to mind that too much but it was getting around 45 frames per second at the max which is about par for the course with these chips we also ran fortnight at 1080p low settings a couple of lag hits here and there as well and we’re getting about 30 to 45 frames per second depending on what was going on in the game so you can definitely play games on this device at decent frame rates you can probably coax 60 frames per second out of this if you turn the resolution and settings down and overall a another great gaming experience out of these intel chips and i’m looking forward to seeing what those chips will do in the year ahead here and on the 3d mark time spy benchmark test we got a score of 1 1570.

this puts it close to what we’ve seen out of other i7 chips from this generation kind of in the middle of the pack so decent performance here just know that if you want to see performance like you just saw out of those games you do need to opt for the i7 version of this laptop to get it the i5 chips do not have as much graphical horsepower as the i7s do so if you are looking to play some games go with the i7 and on the 3dmark stress test we got a score of 95.9 percent 97 is passing so it’s very close to a passing score but you might notice a little bit of thermal throttling here or there even when it’s on performance mode like we had it running in when that test was run i want to give you one other result though from that stress test when we had the intelligent cooling option enabled there we got a score of 81.4 percent so you will notice more of that thermal throttling and lag perhaps in games if you don’t have that performance mode enabled so be sure to turn it on before you run your game and a little bit earlier we booted up in ubuntu to see how well this fared with linux everything worked fine as far as hardware detection so wi-fi bluetooth audio the touch display as you can see here was working performance felt great out of it as well so it was a good linux experience note though that i could not get the rear display to get detected so all it displayed was a lenovo logo the same one you see from the bios when it first boots up so you can only use the internal display here on linux but it did run linux just fine and overall it’s kind of a neat idea again it doesn’t feel fully baked here but i do like the notion of having something on the lid that is very quick and easily accessible even when the computer is sleeping you can hit a button very quickly and pop in and make a quick note and continue about your way so i’d love to see how this idea can be developed further you are limited of course a bit by the fact that these e-ink displays are very slow so that will perhaps limit some of the functionality from a video watching or a game standpoint but still i think it’s an idea that is fun and i’d like to see what else can be done with it if lenovo decides to keep making computers with a display on the lid let me know what you thought down in the comments below and until next time this is lon simon thanks for watching this channel is brought to you by the lawn dot tv supporters including gold level supporters jim tannis and tom albrecht hot sauce and video games and eric’s variety channel brian parker and frank goldman ameda brown and matt zagaya and chris allegretta if you want to help the channel you can by contributing as little as a dollar a month head over to lawn dot tv support to learn more and don’t forget to subscribe

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