First look

Hands-on with Lenovo's 2020 business hardware lineup

New Chromebooks, 5G Yogas and a new ThinkPad X1 Carbon

When you think of business-focused hardware, it’s hard not to put Lenovo at the forefront. The company’s line of ThinkPad laptops, in particular, is a stalwart of the industry and has long won favour among IT professionals for its reliability, robust design and unmatched security credentials, while its desktop machines and data centre appliances are also well-regarded.

Lenovo, despite increased competition in the sector from the likes of Dell, HP and now even Microsoft, remains relentless in its attempts to prove it’s still king of the market, and at this year’s CES - the so-called “consumer” electronics show - it showed off a swathe of hardware that it hopes will become part of the office of the future, including the world’s first fully-fledged foldable PC in the form of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold.

It’s not just foldables that Lenovo is backing to become the next big thing in business, and the company is also betting big on e-ink displays, 5G connectivity and, er, Google’s Chrome OS. We went hands-on with Lenovo’s 2020 business hardware lineup to find out exactly what it has in store. 

Lenovo ThinkPad Plus 

The ThinkPad Plus is yet another of Lenovo’s oddball creations; it sports a 10.8in external e-ink display that the company claims will help SMBs - often made up of busy and easily-distracted millennial workers - to easily switch between different tasks and keep on top of important notifications while remaining focused and productive. The e-ink screen, which is designed to be used while the otherwise-traditional clamshell laptop is closed, also comes with an accompanying pen, which lets users scribble notes while in meetings, for example. Elsewhere, the ThinkPad Plus is a typically monstrous beast; it packs 10th-gen Intel Core i7 CPUs, Windows 10 Pro, a built-in fingerprint scanner and a 45W battery that Lenovo says should last a full working day. 

Lenovo Yoga 5G

Although Lenovo’s Yoga line is predominantly aimed at the consumer market, it’ll likely be difficult for some to resist the Yoga 5G - the “world’s first” ARM-based PC with built-in 5G connectivity. The backpack-friendly laptop pairs Qualcomm’s 7nm Snapdragon 8cx processor with the chipmaker’s X50 5G modem, which means it supports both millimetre-wave and sub-6GHz 5G networks, as well as 4G. Lenovo also claims the machine, which also packs a 14in 1080p IPS display, 8GB of RAM, and either 256GB or 512GB of storage, will boast an impressive 24hrs of battery life when it debuts later this year.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 8th Gen

For those who like to keep things simple, the latest iteration of Lenovo’s famously-durable ThinkPad X1 Carbon does just that. Improving on last year’s model, the 8th-gen variant is available with Intel vPro, which means the business-focused machine comes kitted out with hardware-management features such as Hyper-Threading technology, Smart Cache, Turbo Boost 2.0, Speed Shift, and Power Optimizer. The 8th-gen ThinkPad X1 Carbon is also part of Intel’s Project Athena initiative, which makes for overall faster responsiveness, instant-on and longer battery life; the laptop’s 51Wh battery is rated to last up to 18hrs 30mins on a single charge. The laptop, which sports a 14in screen with a maximum resolution of  3,840x2,160, also boasts 8GB or 16GB RAM, up to 2TB of SSD storage and a number of privacy-focused add-ons, including Lenovo PrivacyGuard and ThinkShutter. 

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 5th Gen

In terms of raw specs, Lenovo’s latest ThinkPad X1 Yoga is almost identical to its X1 Carbon sibling, but it comes with the added bonus of a 360-degree hinge that enables the device to transform between four different modes: laptop, tablet, tent, and stand. The self-styled “ultra-thin, ultra-light’ business laptop also features 10th-gen Intel core processors with up to six cores, support for Wi-Fi 6, optional LTE support and up to 18hrs of battery life. It also supports Lenovo’s Rapid Charge technology, which the firm claims will recharge the machine’s battery to 80%of battery life in just 60mins. 

Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook

It’s fair to say that Chromebooks haven’t made as much of a splash in the business world as they have in other areas. However, with its 2-in-1 IdeaPad Duet device, Lenovo told IT Pro it thinks its miniature Surface look-a-like will be just as successful in the commercial sector as it is in the consumer and educational markets thanks to Google’s built-in security, speed and simplicity features. Though its specs are unlikely to woo may away from Lenovo’s top-of-the-line ThinkPads - the IdeaPad Duet sports a 10.1in 1080p IPS screen, a MediaTek Helio p60T processor and 4GB RAM - it measures in at an impressively-skinny 7.35mm, boots in just eight seconds, and is compatible with Microsoft’s full Office suite

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