EAZEYE is a small company that is looking to give the world a brand-new monitor to choose from especially if you are prone to eye strain or enjoy working with lots of natural light.
Louis Huang is the 17-year-old brain behind the EAZEYE Monitor which harkens back to the days of yore when backlit displays were a challenge and there were several ways of solving it before the technology advanced far enough for us to be where we are today with exceptionally bright screens. So when he reached out to me to let me know what he and his company were up to, I decided to take a closer look and ask a few questions.
If you aren’t familiar with how a monitor works, take a look at this diagram that compares how a conventional monitor works compared to what EAZEYE is proposing.
When I first saw the EAZEYE my mind immediately went back to 1995 when IBM with the help of Dr. Ted Selker released the ThinkPad 755CV and CDV which allowed the user to not only use natural light to power the display but to lay it over an overhead projector so the screen can be displayed to a larger audience.
According to Louis, the EAZEYE will sport a suite of features. While the monitor has a traditional backlight, the rear of the monitor can be opened which turns off the backlight and allows the ambient light to illuminate the display. This reduces power consumption, reduces potential eye strain from a bright display, and makes the display easier to use outdoors.
Another benefit of the natural illumination of the screen is the potential for it to be used in areas that have a lot of ambient light such as the outdoors. Computers, specifically laptops have struggled greatly with use outside and have had many methods over the years to combat this issue. From e-ink displays to sunshades to displays with insane brightness, many have attempted to battle the sunlight that can make our screens unreadable. EAZEYE attempts to work with the sun as opposed to against it. The one caveat is that currently there has been no testing for IP rating which means if you were literally to use it outside, it is not rated against dust or moisture.
The EAZEYE Monitor positioned outside compared against print.
The EAZEYE Monitor compared to another monitor inside.
The big question that remains is are we looking for such a monitor? We will likely soon fight out as EAZEYE plans to start crowdfunding for the monitor on IndieGoGo in one to two months’ time for approximately $439 USD. Further technical details are being finalized. For more information, you can visit their website at https://eazeye.com/
CES 2023 saw the introduction of the Lenovo Yoga Book 9i which has got a lot of people talking. There is clear DNA being shared between it and the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold 16 Gen 1. In fact, one of the patents that I thought would end up belonging to the Fold line-up actually appears to belong to the Yoga Book. Regardless, if you are making the choice between these two machines, you are likely in a niche bracket with some unique demands for your computing needs.
While both devices have a similar form factor initially there are a lot of differences between the two that make choosing between them relatively easy. For example, both have keyboards and pens and can be used without them. Both have a stand to help utilize them in a variety of configurations.
However, the keyboard accessory for the Yoga Book does not have a TrackPad or physical mouse input of any kind, meaning you are going to have to rely on the touch interface, pen or virtual TrackPad that appears on the bottom half of the screen and that might take some getting used to for many. One thing to note is it would appear the Yoga Book comes with all of the accessories in the box whereas the X1 Fold may ship with a version without the keyboard and pen. The Yoga Book also is designed to have its own unique style which will be appreciated by some, but not everyone. I suppose the problem with picking a colour that isn’t black is it doesn’t please everyone. We currently do not know if other colours will be available.
If you are curious, you can see the specifications of both devices below compared where relevant. Some notable pieces are the Yoga shipping with 13th Gen CPUs versus the X1 Fold 16 Gen 1 currently shipping with 12th Gen CPUs. The Yoga also sports a larger battery but the reported battery life is actually similar to the X1 Fold with its dual battery system when both screens are in use.
Yoga Book 9i
ThinkPad X1 Fold 16 Gen 1
13th Gen Intel Core i7-U15
Up to Intel vPro with 12th Gen Intel® Core™ U9 i5 and i7 Processors
Dolby Atmos 3-speaker system (2 speakers work at any one time)
Dolby Voice enabled – 4x microphones (2x mics work at any one time)
FHD IR+RGB (5M USB) Webcam with Privacy Shutter
5MP RGB+IR with Intel VSC option
48Whr (optional additional 16 Whr based on configuration)65W AC Rapid Charge
(mm) 299.1 x 203.9 x 15.95
(inches) 11.78 x 8.03 x 0.63
Unfolded: 276.1 x 345.7 x 8.6mm (10.87in x 13.6in x 0.34in)
Folded: 176.4 x 276.2 x 17.4mm (6.9in x 10.87 x 0.68in)
System: 1.28kg / 2.82 lbsSystem with Keyboard and stand: 1.9kg / 4.19lbs
3 x USB Type-C (all full function and Thunderbolt™4.0)
2 x Intel Thunderbolt 4
1 x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2
Nano-SIM card tray
HW Support Bluetooth 5.2 OS Just support Bluetooth 5.1
Wi-Fi 6E 802.11 AX (2×2)
Optional 5G Sub 6 (LTE supported) Bluetooth® 5.2
The Yoga Book 9i (13”, 8) will start at $2,099.99 and is expected to be available starting June 2023.
The ThinkPad X1 Fold 16 Gen 1 was expected to be available from Q4 starting at $2,499. Whether this price is still accurate, we will need to wait until the launch window and configurations are confirmed.
Ultimately, the device you choose will depend on a few simple choices.
Do you trust the Foldable OLED screen on the X1 Fold 16 Gen 1? If not, the point goes to Yoga Book with two physical screens.
Do you prefer 4:3 16″ or 13.3″ 16:10? If you prefer 4:3, then the point goes to X1 Fold 16.
Do you want a TrackPoint on your keyboard? I know I would. If so, point to the X1 Fold 16.
Do you want a larger battery and potentially more battery life in some situations? If so, point to the Yoga Book.
Do you need 5G connectivity? Then the X1 Fold 16 takes it.
Do you need more than 16GB of RAM? Then the X1 Fold 16 will win that too.
Want to spend less money? Then the Yoga Book wins points in that category from what we know right now.
Do you need vPro? Think about the X1 Fold 16 Gen 1 then.
Black? ThinkPad, Blue? Yoga Book.
Some things that are likely not going to be factored in your decision as the specifications are more or less the same are:
Wireless and Bluetooth configurations.
Ports (The Yoga Book has one more Thunderbolt 4 port, but realistically, it won’t be a deal breaker for most.)
Weight, dimensions. (The colour and looks WILL matter though.)
Camera setup (The specs are the same, the Yoga Book sports a privacy shutter.)
CPU (It is a bit too early to say how these two will compare in real-world use.)
Personally, for me, I think the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold 16 Gen 1 takes it but that is because I really enjoy my ThinkPad experience, TrackPoint and all as well as the aesthetic that the design team has come up with to make the X1 Fold look like a really nice journal. That to me is right at home. My gut also says the ThinkPad will be more durable than the Yoga Book but the proof will be in the real-world experience of those that buy them. The other specifications are nice too but for me, sight unseen compared to the Yoga Book, that sleek black wins me over more than the crisp blue. However, I do realize that the slim and sleek nature of the Yoga Book is going to win many people over and rightfully so. Perhaps the Yoga Book 9i is designed to be more accessible X1 Fold 16 for everyone, but that will again be determined by those people that buy them.
Overall, it is great to have the choice between these two devices and I think Lenovo is trying to show this market they are trying to create is for everyone, not just business customers. Time will tell if people are ready for this emerging form factor. Feel free to let me know which machine you prefer wherever you saw this article posted and let’s have a conversation.
Motorola, who has been owned by Lenovo for quite a while now, announced the ThinkPhone at CES 2023 and while it has garnered a lot of excitement, it is specifically targeted at corporate customers and Motorola has no plains to sell it to general consumers. This might potentially make it hard for the average person or ThinkPad fan to acquire the device.
When asked, Motorola said that although it understands consumers would benefit from the phone’s functionality, it has no specific plans to make it a consumer product.
It would appear that the ThinkPhone will not be a consumer product anytime soon and instead is part of Motorola’s, and I suspect Lenovo’s strategy to break into the corporate phone market. What better way to do that than to build a phone to work perfectly with the corporate fleet of laptops you already have? Most of the features that are detailed in the specification sheet at the end of this post certainly gear it toward corporate needs. The absence for example of a microSD card makes sense on a phone that you want to manage and worry about being stolen or data compromised.
ThinkPad fans around the world for years have imagined or created their own rendition of the ThinkPhone so hopefully, in time, these devices will make their way into the hands of fans that would like to see what an official ThinkPhone can do. You can see some examples below.
Posted by u/KasiorMC
A 3D render by an unknown Reddit user.
Posted by u/czax125
Posted by u/baconipple
Device availability for Motorola can be hit or miss and according to the official press release, this is what we can expect:
“Lenovo ThinkPhone by Motorola will be available in the US, Europe, Latin America, Middle East, Australia and select countries across Asia in the coming months. For pricing, customers can contact their local customer representative.”
So tentatively, it will not be available in my region unless Canada is included in the US, which traditionally does not occur. The downside of being a small market is it doesn’t make sense to deploy all devices to such a small customer base. In short, this device might be off-limits to non-corporate customers and Canadians alike.
One question that does come to my mind is, the ThinkPhone concept has been around for quite a while with rumours going as far back as the Windows Phone era, so why is 2023 the year of the ThinkPhone? My only guess is that strategists at Motorola and Lenovo see the need to provide a corporate-level solution for smartphones that work well with their existing line-up of products. While many have compared this phone to a new spiritual BlackBerry (a corporate first phone) and believe there will be consumer demand; as I mention below, there isn’t a set of features that are going to disrupt the phone market as BlackBerry did. So in the meantime, I imagine it will mostly remain a business device as there are similar consumer products in existence from Motorola’s own lineup. If any other information comes my way as to why this might be I will update this section accordingly.
While the specs are excellent, depending on the cost that the ThinkPhone will be sold for, there isn’t anything ‘show stopping’ that they needed to wait for to develop looking at what is on offer. That isn’t to say that the ThinkPhone won’t be a great and reliable device, but part of me wishes that there was a bell or whistle that helped it really stand apart as a debut device. The red button that calls back to the iconic TrackPoint cap is a nice touch, but something more would have been nice to see.
Overall I’m pleased to see this device exist and I hope it is successful. I also hope that success leads to future versions of the device that might be easier for somebody like me to try out.
2022 has been a very busy year for the channel with nearly 100 videos published. This year saw the beginning of many new projects, some that I have yet to announce and the continuation and expansion of others. To help celebrate, here are my Top Picks for each month of 2022.
The year started strong and it was a tough race between an interview I did with David Hill regarding the TrackPoint cap and the ThinkMods NVMe to Express Card Adapter. Since it is my list, I refuse to choose and give you both of those fantastic videos.
February saw the one-year anniversary of my Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano ownership which was a milestone to be sure. SaotoTech did steal the show a bit with their 3D-printed TrackPoint caps. See the video below to learn more about how to get a modern version of a classic TrackPoint cap.
This month was especially busy with lots of laptops and Think Design Stories. My favourite has to be David Hill’s story about the Hardened ThinkPad Concept. Special thanks to Brian Leonard for the best photos that exist of this important concept.
I finally looked at the IBM ThinkPad 600 which was a very important model for the ThinkPad lineup as it laid the groundwork for the T series that would shortly follow. Lots of design choices that are still with the ThinkPad brand started with this model. Special thanks to Tommy for getting this model to me.
This was a quieter month in terms of easily stand-out machines but it did see me tear down the ThinkPad E580 which went to show that good value still exists in series outside the T series.
June soldiered on and several machines came and went but one that couldn’t quite go fast enough is one of the least repairable laptops ever made, the Surface Laptop 2. It is impossible to over this device without destroying several components.
July was insane with 17 videos released. Two of my favourites from this time were my review of the Keychron K8 and Q0 keyboard and number pad. I did particularly enjoy the IBM ThinkPad A20m video as it gave me the chance to highlight Rob Herman’s work again as I finally got the chance to look at the first A Series on the channel.
This was easily the quietest month of the year since I was already hard at work on my celebratory planning for ThinkPad 30th’s birthday. A lot of work was going on behind the scene so the fewest videos were produced during this time. I did manage to squeeze in a few videos and the Lenovo ThinkPad E14 Gen 1 was one of the good ones..
September began the rolling release of the videos that celebrated ThinkPad’s 30th anniversary. I collaborated with not only David Hill, but Tom Hardy who shared some amazing stories about their time with ThinkPad and Design. Here are some of the many videos that were produced:
With the ThinkPad 30’s celebrations in full swing, there was a lot to talk about. I strongly recommend you check out the playlist of Interviews for all the goodies that were happening at that time.
Think Design Stories: Dr. Ted Selker, Interviewing the man behind TrackPoint
Think Design Stories: 21st Century Customer Engagement (ft. David Hill)
Think Design Stories: The Colour Black, The Challenges of Making ThinkPad Black (ft. Tom Hardy)
Think Design Stories: TrackPoint Origins, The story of how it became red (ft. Tom Hardy)
Think Design Stories: People Driving Design (ft. David Hill)
Think Design Stories: Developing ThinkPad, The People, Technology and Timing (ft. Tom Hardy)
Think Design Stories: Design Saves Branding (ft. David Hill)
Think Design Stories: IBM and Design, The Road to the Personal Computer (ft. Tom Hardy)
Think Design Short Stories: Zippers, TrackPoint Caps and Batman (ft. David Hill)
Think Design Stories: The Cut Corner: Purpose Revealed (ft. David Hill)
This year seemed to have been dominated by ThinkPads. November saw the examination of the X390 which was the last three-digit X model before they went to the X13 variants. It is a strange evolution that I got the pleasure of unpacking for the channel.
December and much of November were very busy months for me, unfortunately not channel related so there were many projects that I didn’t get started, or finished. I hope to start the next year strong and wanted to get two wonderful donations filmed. The Lenovo ThinkPad X61s and the Lenovo ThinkPad T430u. Thanks to Justin and Kemish for making that possible.
Looking into 2023 I feel like there is much left undone. I’ve been generously provided several donations I still need to film. I have several collaborations in the works that need to be continued that ideally, would be further along and I am definitely the slow factor. As I mentioned earlier in the article, things got busy outside of the channel and I never was able to claw that time back.
I’m excited and optimistic about the opportunities that are new that have also come my way that I cannot wait to share them with everyone. All of it, every success the channel has had this year and years previously has been a direct result of your kindness and support of what I do. Laptop Retrospective remains a wonderful hobby that I’m excited to work on every time I sit down to write notes for a video or edit together the next episode. I hope you will join me in the year ahead, we have so much to explore together.
Update: This article was updated on March 18, 2023 thanks to the help of Dan Basterfield who worked for IBM UK PC Company. His knowledge has helped increase the overall accuracy of this article.
ThinkPad enthusiasts will likely know that at the very beginning of the history of ThinkPad, black was not the only colour used for these iconic machines. As hard as it might be to believe there do exist Beige/Pebble Gray ThinkPads, it is a strange sight to behold. You can tell by looking at it that the hard work and consideration that Richard Sapper and Kazuhiko Yamazaki put into the design is impacted when the machine isn’t the colour it was designed to be. The Pebble Gray colour choice was available on several models, not just the 700C.
There was also a Japan-exclusive ThinkPad 330C (5523-JVB) that was beige. This was released on May 16, 1994 and did not feature a TrackPoint and other more recognizable ThinkPad features. We will talk more about that shortly.
It is worth noting that the different colour parts are shared between some models. For example, the 700 and 720 share the same housing components.
IBM ThinkPad 750/755 sitting on a Dock 1 Docking Station with a French-European keyboard. Image retrieved from Catawiki.com
ThinkPad 700c Andy, own photo, ThinkPad Museum Schwandorf
IBM ThinkPad 750Cs. Posted by tobiasg2603 via Reddit.
So where and why do these machines exist? Let me try and offer as complete of an answer as I can using the information I have collected, some of it recently.
The “Why?” question was partially answered by Arimasa Naitoh during the 20th Anniversary of ThinkPad.
The ThinkPad models in the 1990’s had documentation stating that they are to be made in black cases, in accordance with Richard Sapper’s guidelines set in his collaboration with the Boca Raton Team. Why were there variations from this, where, for instance, the 700/ C, 720C and 300 are in grey?
Naitoh-San: In the 1990’s, we had the retail models of ThinkPad painted in grey to be distinguished from the original enterprise models.
Naitoh-San is likely referring to the Japanese-exclusive ThinkPad 330C (5523-JVB) I mentioned earlier. You can see a gallery of photos of this device that were taken by ThinkPads.com Forum member Bondi.
IBM ThinkPad 330C (5523-JVB) by ThinkPad Forums user Bondi.
IBM ThinkPad 330C (5523-JVB) by ThinkPad Forums user Bondi.
IBM ThinkPad 330C (5523-JVB) by ThinkPad Forums user Bondi.
IBM ThinkPad 330C (5523-JVB) by ThinkPad Forums user Bondi.
IBM ThinkPad 330C (5523-JVB) by ThinkPad Forums user Bondi.
IBM ThinkPad 330C (5523-JVB) by ThinkPad Forums user Bondi.
IBM ThinkPad 330C (5523-JVB) by ThinkPad Forums user Bondi.
Official IBM documentation of the Beige/Pebble Gray ThinkPad is spotty at best. In the Personal Systems Reference IBM ThinkPad Notebooks 1992 to 2001 – withdrawn January 2001 – Version 214, the only model not listed as being offered in black was the ThinkPad 300 monochrome model and it was listed as “Charcoal grey” (page 4) as opposed to black. We know from the Hardware Maintenance Manuals from above that there was a more comprehensive offering of ThinkPad in Beige/Gray. This is likely to do with the markets they were sold—more on that in just a moment.
To answer the “Where?” part of the question, we can look at the keyboards and see that nearly all of the photographed examples have one item in common and that is a QWERTZ keyboard layout. I found one example sporting a French European keyboard layout. Both of these keyboard layouts are exclusive to Western/Central Europe and the QWERTZ layout is often simply referred to as the German keyboard layout. Now, this raises an interesting and somewhat plausible connection to the interview I did with Tom Hardy where he discusses the challenges he had with German DIN standards and IBM Germany at the time. See the video below for that whole story.
It is impossible to know how many of these machines were produced but it is highly likely the German DIN standards of the time had an impact on their creation. If we assume Naitoh-san is correct in the above statement at least as it pertains to the Japanese market, where the retail models were designated that colour, Dan Basterfield, a former IBM UK PC Company employee and ThinkPad collector who contacted me also shed some light on how all these histories can co-exist.
“Naitoh-san’s comments about the retail models being grey and business models being black were clearly true for the Japanese market, which saw a proliferation of ‘PS/Note’ branded models for both markets (many of which never made it to the US or EMEA), but not in the context of the non-black 700/720/750/755 models. Yes, the PS/Note 182 was grey, as was the ThinkPad 300, both of which were marketed outside Japan, both were entry-level machines. I acquired a 300 about eight years ago. It is nowhere near as sharp or as iconic as the 700/720, and side-by-side they are clearly different machines. I’d never seen one even in my time at IBM, and it feels disappointingly like a generic laptop dressed up with IBM badges and design cues; IIRC it was manufactured by a 3rd party. The odd texture and the fact that it wasn’t black only emphasised the ‘wrongness’ when I finally got hold of one.
The retail/commercial divide had nothing to do with the cream 700/720 and grey 750/755. These were all due, as you correctly surmised, to the German DIN regulations regarding contrast of visual display units which effectively precluded black (or white) screen surrounds. Not a problem for any of the desktop ranges then, as all the PS/1, PS/2, and ValuePoint monitors were acceptably cream, but a problem for the black ThinkPads, hence the non-black German-only variants. The manufacturing and localisation guys at Greenock confirmed this to me – I asked back then because I’d once had a close look at a peculiar beige/black hybrid ThinkPad, left on a desk in PC Co HQ back in Basingstoke in 1994: black keyboard sitting in a white chassis. I never saw another one like it, even with keeping my eyes open and having good access to oddities and curiosities. I thought it had been a prototype or development chassis, but realised then that this must have been a beige German-market 700/720 that had been retrofitted with a black non German keyboard – presumably UK layout for a UK user. I recently picked up a NOS grey 750/755 German keyboard, like you do, and of course it really is grey (not beige).
What I never even thought to ask about was whether the N33/N55 precursors of the 700/720 were ever sold in Germany (if so, what colour?) since the DIN standard you link to dates from 1984. A lot of big German companies and banks were very loyal IBM customers at that time. I do recall that the cream L40sx was sold in Germany, and I’m pretty sure the one I scrounged for the Helpcentre had a German keyboard. Perhaps IBM didn’t market the black pre-ThinkPads into Germany for this reason… but then again the ThinkPad 350 (re-badged Yamato PS/Note 425, successor to the N33/N51 in that same chassis) is listed in the HMM as having a German keyboard option but no grey casing options, so were presumably sold as standard black, in contravention of the DIN regulations. Maybe they didn’t offer the 350 in Germany, and the German keyboard option was for Switzerland, Austria, etc where presumably the DIN regulations did not apply?”
Study behind the DIN Standards.
Luminance Reflectance Values (LRV) allowed for PC components.
Here is a possibility of how all this comes together by working under the assumption that all the information we have is accurate.
Firstly, as Tom Hardy stated in the interview, the section of the German DIN standards that did not allow computers to be black was revoked sometime after the release of the ThinkPad 700C, this would mean that black could be used for Enterprise machines as Naitoh states in the interview. If the DIN standard was no longer required however then why spend the money to create the gray models for a German market that would no longer require them?
Changing standards takes time and I suspect between Tom Hardy leaving IBM and German businesses slowly moving away from the DIN Standard took just over a year. David Hill also mentioned that recalled some pushback against changing the standards to allow for black machines. If the last ThinkPad that was offered in gray was made in November of 1993 (began manufacture), the standard likely would have been revoked around that time. Some German businesses would be able/willing to overlook the standards and buy the black machine regardless, however, others might have not had that flexibility and the pebble gray was brought in to meet their needs. Perhaps IBM Germany just passed on the cost in the price of the machine.
I also suspect that Japan may have been stuck in the middle of these standards or perhaps wanted to diffeniate a “professional” machine from a consumer one.
After the product lifecycle was complete, it wouldn’t need to offer the gray/beige machines afterwards, standardizing the line and reducing manufacturing costs. Perhaps any remaining inventory was sold off as retail units as Naitoh stated in the interview above. What we can say for certain is, after 1994, no ThinkPads were made in the pebble gray/beige colour.
David Hill also stated in the book “ThinkPad: A Different Shade of Blue” there were other challenges to making ThinkPad the classic black we know today:
“There were a lot of barriers to getting the original IBM ThinkPad design approved. Many were opposed to using black as the color of the notebook. At the time, black was very radical in personal computing, even though it was accepted in earlier computer products. If you went back and looked at the IBM System 360 mainframe from the 1960s, it was primarily black. It was in the computer room behind glass windows and was supposed to look outstanding. The black color allowed clients to show off their prize possession to visitors.
“But personal computers weren’t black at the time. That’s because we wanted to make PCs fit naturally into the office so they wouldn’t be noticed. So, we made all of them in pearl white, a sort of cream color that no one would notice. But, then along comes the ThinkPad, and we wanted to make a bold statement that was just the opposite. We wanted everyone to notice it, so we adopted black. A lot of people objected to our using black as the color of ThinkPad, thinking it wasn’t like ‘IBM.’ Eventually everyone saw it as something that would really differentiate IBM.
-“ThinkPad: A Different Shade of Blue” by Deborah A. Dell and J. Gerery Purdy, Ph.D.
What do you think about these ThinkPads? Have you ever seen one in person? Let me know by @ me on Twitter. As always, if any new information is acquired, I will update this article accordingly.
Lenovo Tech World 2022 opened today with a flurry of announcements, keynotes and teasers. One of which that caught my eye is the rolling screen technology seen in the short YouTube video below:
Besides looking cool, the practical applications this has for phones and mobile devices intrigue me. This is actually because I’m not entirely sold on the idea of foldable mobile phones.
Full disclaimer, I’ve not used a folding phone or any similar device, let alone seen one in person but when it comes to phones, there are some big rocks I cannot quite get over that I think the rolling screen could actually solve.
Firstly, I do not like big and bulky devices. I’m one of those who likes a device that fits comfortably in various pockets. Phones bigger than my Pixel 4a or previous to that, my Samsung Galaxy S8 just seem overlarge. Folding phones while they are indeed small when folded, can be thicker and bulkier and depending on how they fold, challenging to fish out of a pocket.
Secondly, many folding devices need to be unfolded to actually be fully used. Companies have made several efforts to address this by putting an additional screen on the exterior but I feel that it just further goes to show that how we have used phones has changed fundamentally and a screen on the outside is a compromise. Granted I haven’t had any opportunity to try one out, but I remain skeptical.
Thirdly is getting around the issue of screen durability and creasing depends on how the device is folded and the screen stored. Different companies have spent significant research and development time and money to combat this to varying degrees of success.
How does the rolling screen address these issues? Easy. The device when the screen is rolled up appears to be a great handheld size. When you need the additional screen, it rolls out and the content automatically resizes with the screen, then when you are done, it can go back to its compact size. All the plus of a large phone with the benefits of it being able to fit into your pocket. It also addresses the issue where the main screen is always accessible. There isn’t a need for an extra exterior screen to reduce the need to open the device because it is always open. I would also imagine because the screen is rolled, creasing really isn’t a concern, nor would durability as there is something firm to support the screen at all stages.
Overall I’m pretty excited about the concept and hope it makes it to market so it can get tested in the real world. Could it overthrow the foldable as the new desirable form factor? I think the potential is very real.
While I was hunting around for new and interesting patents, I of course found the dual screen patent I posted earlier. This was exciting since it could mark the return of the style of laptop we haven’t seen since the W700ds and W701ds. It could also mark a departure from an over-focus on thin and light where users might happily trade some weight for some additional features.
The ThinkPad with two screens might live again in the discovery of a new patent application for a dual-screen laptop. The ThinkPad W700DS and W701DS are insane systems to behold for two reasons: They are one of the largest, working production ThinkPads out there. They have a pull-out screen for extra productivity. You can see […]
But it wasn’t the only patent I found that was interesting. It looks like Lenovo is freeing up some space inside their machines for a different kind of storage; a place for you to put some wireless earbuds or several other devices. You can see one of their ideas on how this would work in the patent drawing at the top of this article. The earbud version of this modular system has already been announced on a ThinkBook device but the rest of the items in the patent detail some devices that we have yet to see. Thanks to Twitter user Benni for pointing this out.
The patent shows some details on how they would fit inside and charge when the mechanism is closed. There are also some drawings of another potential storage method which are illustrated below (Figures 13A to 13C). But more importantly, at least to me, there are also some diagrams and claims about this storage bay being used for other devices such as lights, cameras or speakers (Figures 16A-16D). This is where things get really interesting. We have seen other companies like Framework explore modularity in laptop design, but that was limited to whatever fits in a very small space and ultimately needs to connect to a USB-C connector. The Lenovo patent seems to be using a similar USB-based solution but making an internal component rather than an external one.
The patent describes everything from cameras, biometric devices, SSDs, speakers and more being able to sit in the tray. It is clear they want to take advantage of the additional space they have created as other components get smaller.
One of the things I find curious is the willingness to make room for the feature as it probably means the laptop that houses this technology would need to be a minimum thickness to properly hold the earbuds or other items in question.
What do you think of this idea? Is this something that you would use or seek out in your next laptop or do you think the effort might fall on deaf ears? I have to admit the idea of having a high-quality camera I can take out and use with my laptop intrigues me greatly. Let me know what you think by @ me on Twitter. As always, the patent document is below for your review and I will update this story as new information becomes available.
These have captivated people and collectors for ages and now, it looks like Lenovo might be thinking about making another one.
I was diving into the patent database again and came across a new patent filed on September 27, 2022 with these drawings:
That patent also directly references the Lenovo ThinkPad W700, W700ds, W701 and 701ds Hardware Maintenance Manual under “Other Publications” strengthening the connection. But they aren’t stopping at just remaking the classic, it looks like they have plans on improving it as well.
The patent details this new system as rather than having a second screen, it is in fact a tablet computer. This isn’t too surprising looking at what Lenovo has been doing with their ThinkBook line and integrating a tablet into the palm rest. This, however, makes a lot more sense to me. The tablet can be used as an additional screen like the W700ds and W701ds but it can also possibly be removed and potentially reoriented or used in a wireless mode. It can be a bit tricky to tell what exactly the final product will look like from patents as they try and cover variations within the claims. This secondary screen or tablet also is mentioned to have its own web camera that would be activated once the secondary display is removed a certain distance from the housing.
It also appears from the description that it might be able to detect the position of the secondary screen/tablet and only use the exposed screen real-estate. Figures 7 through 15 illustrate the methodology of several screen states and their effect on how the secondary screen would behave.
Now which model this could ship on is anyone’s guess right now. Like many patented ideas, it might never come to pass. If I had to make a guess though, this seems like it would be at home on a workstation-class machine like a P-series. Time will tell if it makes it to production.
To see the complete patent, please click the link below and feel free to @ me on Twitter to let me know what you think about this new patent. If I learn anything new, I will update this article accordingly with new information or corrections.
While many people have heard of Moore’s Law, which I’ve discussed in a previous article, fewer might know about the potentially even more important Wirth’s Law.
Wirth’s Law states that software is getting slower more rapidly than hardware is becoming faster. A real-world example of this is illustrated below:
In a 2008 article in InfoWorld, Randall C. Kennedy, formerly of Intel, introduces this term using successive versions of Microsoft Office between the year 2000 and 2007 as his premise. Despite the gains in computational performance during this time period according to Moore’s law, Office 2007 performed the same task at half the speed on a prototypical year 2007 computer as compared to Office 2000 on a year 2000 computer.
This is one of the reasons that the RAM that got humanity to the Moon wouldn’t even be able to load a single tab in Chrome. The issue of software development is more complex than a direct comparison giving us all the answers and some even go as far as to call modern software ‘fatware.’ Have you ever stopped to think how much of the program that is in front of you, or hidden within the code is actually needed to do the job you are asking that program to do? Wirth pointed to both of these as being contributing issues to the expansion of software that didn’t have a significant increase in function. Did the above example take into account any significant feature changes between those two versions of Office? One point that should be mentioned of course is that some of those additional systems allow the software to be accessible to a greater number and diversity of users. That of course means more people are able to access the benefits of a computer and in a colder sense, you have more consumers for your product as a software developer.
Consider a basic computing task: word processing. The very first very of Microsoft Word came on a 3.5″ or 5.25″ diskette. Microsoft Word 6.0 came on seven diskettes, Word 95, 97 and 2000 on a CD. A modern Microsoft Office 365 install (admittedly containing Word, Excel and PowerPoint) is 4GB. That is a significant evolution of space required for an application to type words onto a computer. Now of course it isn’t quite that simple since the modern word processor has to do a few more things and has more features, but it is hard to imagine that the application truly utilizes all of the space it requires to its fullest potential. As an aside, OpenOffice is a 143.3MB install and LibreOffice that carries its torch is 332MB in size which really makes you wonder what is going on under the hood of both products that these differences are so vast. I doubt SmartArt support makes up the difference. A part of that is likely going towards Microsoft’s efforts to make its software as easy to use for as many different people as possible; that functionality has to come at a cost of resources.
If we compare that to Netscape Navigator 1.0 in 1994, it required 4MB of RAM. Jumping ahead to 2000, Netscape 6.0 required 64MB of RAM. Internet Explorer 1 required 8MB of RAM in 1995. Internet Explorer 6 in 2001 required 16MB of RAM. This jumped significantly in 2006 when Internet Explorer 7 required 64MB. We would see another significant jump with Internet Explorer 8 with 512MB on Vista and again with Internet Explorer 10 demanding 2GB.
Why is this? The short, oversimplified answer is the internet and the code that runs it is more complicated. In 1997 HTML 4 was brought in with CSS sheets and the rest was downhill with modern web browsers having to support streaming video, WebGL, XML documents and several other standards. In other words, we made the internet do more, so it needs more resources to run. Building all of this functionality in meant it was generally easier to use and provided more functionality but that will of course come at again at the cost of resources.
So how does this all stack up historically? Are we really using that much more resources? Well, the answer wasn’t as clear as I originally thought.
To examine this I picked a laptop from the time period and calculated rough percentages for the software and the demands it placed on the system.
IBM ThinkPad 360:
Released in 1994.
Max RAM: 20MB
Max HDD: 540MB
Resources used by Word 6.0: 4MB RAM, 25MB Disk Space or 20% of the RAM capacity and 4% of the HDD
Resources used by Netscape Navigator 1.0: 4MB RAM, 5MB Disk Space or 20% of the RAM capacity and 1% of the HDD
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano:
Max RAM: 16GB
Max SSD: 1TB
Resources used by Office 365: 4GB RAM, 4GB Disk Space or 20% of the RAM capacity and 0.39% of the SSD
Resources used by Google Chrome: 128MB RAM (~per tab averaged), 100MB Disk Space or 0.78% of the RAM capacity per tab* and 0.010% of the SSD
*It is not common for a user however to just have a single tab open in a modern web browser so this percentage is often considerably higher. However, using the worst-case scenario from the chart above, it still doesn’t break the 20% mark on a higher-end system. It would be more significant on a mid-to-low-end system.
What conclusions can we draw from this easily? Not many as there are many factors that these statistics simplify. It would appear however we have programs that respect our advancement in storage media more than our RAM. Or our advancements in storage technology have outpaced our advancements in RAM. Perhaps an argument could be made the computer will show its age the fastest is the one with the least amount of RAM as there are limits on how much can be paired with each chipset. Another point to consider is how much software does the typical user actually actively use at any given time? Granted there are those of us with 40+ tabs, virtual machines, and various document and project editors open but we are not the majority.
Wirth’s Law might not always be true, but there is some merit to the underlying reasons that it was proposed in the first place. We are asking our software to do more than it has ever done before and computing tasks are growing more complex as the end-user demands more complexity in what is possible while at the same time lowering the bar of entry in terms of the knowledge required to do those tasks. The big question of course is, will it be worth it? Are the tradeoffs worth the cost in performance? With the possibility of our CPUs not getting much more complex according to Moore’s Law beyond the year 2025, is there going to be a renewed need for software optimization? Feel free to reach on to me on Twitter, I’d love you hear what you think.
Lenovo has been promoting this short trailer over the last few days and many believe it points to the teasing of a new X1 Fold.
After taking a look at the trailer a few times and snooping around, here are some possible reasons to look forward to the new X1 Fold and some of the technology that could be included. Keep in mind these are all varying levels of speculation.
Not the same size
There is reason to believe that the device teased in the trailer might actually be 16″ in size as opposed to the original. A Reddit post several months ago details devices called 21ES and 21ET (ThinkPad X1 Fold 16 Gen 1) which implies the possibility of a larger size. This would allow for a full-size keyboard to be created and fit inside the device once it is folded if they are still going that route. The trailer also uses the words “next big thing” which could be a sly reference to the size of the device as well, but that is a reach.
The TrackPoint was a noticed absence from the original X1 Fold. I suspect that the keyboard was too thin or the screen durability having the TrackPoint next to it was a pain point. That or any working prototype was not a great experience. We do get an extreme close-up during the above video of a keyboard that does indeed feature a TrackPoint, but no wide shots hide its implementation.
A Butterfly Keyboard
There is a small chance, based on the patent filed a while back that this new device might have a butterfly-style keyboard along with the TrackPoint. The patent details that it was designed for a tablet device and would put an end to the problem of the Gen 1 having too small a keyboard. Maybe it will be part of a special 30th Anniversary edition? To learn more about that patent, see the article below. However, this isn’t likely needed if the 16″ rumour is true.
This article has been updated on 27 June 2021 to include new information. It appears last year Lenovo filed a new Butterfly-style keyboard patent and it was recently approved earlier this month by the US Patent Office. You can look it up on your own using the #11,029,723 and unsurprisingly it references John Karidis’ existing […]
A Screen that folds both ways
I went digging through the patent archives again and found US11294565 B2 (filed Aug 2020, date of patent Apr 5, 2022) which details a device with a folding screen bending backwards into a tent mode-like configuration. The only existing device that looks even remotely like this made by Lenovo is the X1 Fold. Could they have perfected the hinge and screen technology to the point where it can now flex back and forth? The still image from the trailer I used as the featured image for this article doesn’t appear to feature the folio style case that was integrated into the X1 Fold Gen 1 which might inhibit the integration of this feature.
No More Folio Case
It would appear given the one shot we get in the trailer of the back of the device, specifically the logo it showcases some kind of textured backing that is very close to the metal edge implying it is a thin coating. The ThinkPad and X1 logos seem to be made out of the same metal and are raised up from this surface.
Based on the image we get at the end of the trailer, the following also seems to be possible
On the left-hand side, we see a possible cut-out to allow for easier removal of the keyboard.
If the device is larger, better cooling/CPUs and longer battery life due to more space to put a battery are possible. We also see mention of Intel vPro in the trailer which isn’t available on the lighter-weight CPUs generally speaking.
Thinner bezels overall.
The volume rocker (and power button?) on the top right-hand side
One USB-C port is on the bottom left. (Likely another one on the top?)
There is something strange going on at the very bottom of the device where it appears the image extends beyond the bezel, not sure what that might be about.
Do you think the announcement is about the new X1 Fold? Do you think these ideas or others might be included in its release? Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter or the Contact page to share your ideas.