Lenovo, who has partnered with Energysquare has started announcing wireless charging products for your existing laptops. I’ve talked about this technology in an earlier post that I will link below.

Jan
16

Wireless Charging for Laptops and Beyond

One announcement at CES 2021 that in my opinion, didn’t get the discussion it deserves, comes from Energysquare which is a small start-up that wants to make wireless charging in laptops mainstream. Wireless charging is growing more and more common with smaller electronics but in terms of larger ones, the pros and cons are still […]

Just announced is the kit to make just about any 13-14″ laptop be able to charge wirelessly. It will just cost you a USB-C port and only work with laptops that need up to 65W (maximum output of 20V, 3.25A, and 65W to be exact) power delivery. It is a simple accessory that rides on a rail, presumably for fast removal if needed. It comes into contact with the charging panel and makes the connection. This setup adds 3.2mm of thickness to your laptop, which might be a steep trade-off for some.

The kit, part of Lenovo’s new Go line is scheduled to launch in October with a cost of $139.99 USD.

Running benchmarks and tests of this nature aren’t my normal thing since these tests are somewhat theoretical when it comes to real-world usage, but I can appreciate that people like to compare the numbers. For me, the main purpose of these tests was to push the laptop from a thermal standpoint to see how well it did under load.

PassMark Rating

PassMark Software – Display Baseline ID# 1373050

As shown in the Day 12 video update, thermals remained very acceptable, not climbing higher than 35.0C at the CPU underneath the laptop or at the vent exhaust port.

For more information on the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano, if you haven’t seen the first videos in the series, please consider checking them out below. If you’d like to buy one for yourself, please consider visiting Lenovo’s website through the links on my Affiliates page as I can earn a small commission that goes back to supporting the channel.

My first time looking at a modern T series, specifically the T470s, I was struck by a burning question: what was the X1 Carbon doing if we had other ThinkPad series that were this thin and light? It seemed like other ThinkPads in the family were starting to steal the X1’s limelight. Thinness was traditionally a bit more distinct.

X300 internals (BusinessWeek Magazine 2008)

For those that aren’t familiar, the X1 and X1 Carbon lines were created when Lenovo took the X300 and wanted to change it from a halo product that cost thousands of dollars upon its release and make it more affordable without compromising the wow factor. They were successful and the X1 Carbon is seen by many as the flagship for ThinkPad that is often compared against its many rivals from Dell, HP and Apple. The T430s was the first generation to adopt the Precision Keyboard that first debuted on the X1, but this wouldn’t be the last time the Txxxs series borrowed from its popular sibling.

Now the Txxxs line has been around since the very beginning. Lenovo has gotten better and better making the Txxxs line thinner and thinner each generation. The T460s and T470s were 18.8mm thin. The X1 Carbon does remain the thinner (15-16mm usually from model to model) and lighter device, but we are measuring in a few millimetres and grams. Often some of the key differences between the X and T series now is what parts are available for each with the X1 variants having nicer screens either by default or higher-end ones available that aren’t on other models. The main point I’d like to make is there were fewer and fewer reasons to go for the X1 Carbon over the very strong internal competition from within ThinkPads’ own lineup.

Then came along the X1 Nano. Crazy thin and crazy light (13.87-16.7mm and 907 grams for the base non-touch model). Thinner and lighter than the X1 Carbon and only being beaten out by the X1 Titanium announced at CES this year for thinnest yet. Not only is it thin and light, which many laptops are these days, but its default configuration got my immediate attention. While the base model is expensive, it is well justified with all the bells and whistles that come standard.

X1 Nano internals.

Base specs give it a 450nit DolbyVision 2K display with an integrated IR camera for Windows Hello and 8GB of RAM as a minimum. Granted that RAM is soldered on and maxes out at 16GB but as a starting configuration, not too shabby. Intel 11th generation CPUs in i5 and i7 variants are par the course and a 57Wh battery for lots of screentime. News and review sites like notebookcheck.com have already compared it against the MacBook Air like its predecessor, just like in 2008. 

Honestly, if it had AMD options at launch (I have flimsy reasons to believe that an AMD version might be coming one day) I’d be tempted to cancel my custom-built and pick up one of these. I’d be making a few compromises on my original plans for a new laptop, but wow is this thing pretty. Nobody will mistake this for an X1 Carbon or T14. It’s the sort of “rabbit out of a hat” that I love Lenovo and ThinkPad for over the years and I’m glad to see they still have it. Hopefully, these distinctions will bleed down onto the X1 Carbon to make it a more unique choice like the Z61 did for introducing 16:10 to ThinkPad all those years ago.

 

One announcement at CES 2021 that in my opinion, didn’t get the discussion it deserves, comes from Energysquare which is a small start-up that wants to make wireless charging in laptops mainstream.

Laptop with integrated wireless charging. Note silver-coloured electrodes that make contact with the mat.

Wireless charging is growing more and more common with smaller electronics but in terms of larger ones, the pros and cons are still being decided. This hasn’t stopped Lenovo from jumping on board their plan to offer it in their next generation of ThinkBooks. Both the ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 i and ThinkBook 13X i will feature Energysquare’s wireless charging technology as an optional addon. But who will really benefit from wireless charging?

Wireless charging technology from Energysquare will be optional on the ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 i and ThinkBook 13X i
  1. Businesses. Work areas and meeting rooms where plugs are at a premium and playing “kick the cable” is leaving wear marks on your shoes would greatly benefit from this setup. Businesses running older units that don’t have the technology built-in might really like the idea of their “stick-on” solution. It would also reduce cost over time invested in charging cables.
  2. Heavy Home Office. If you do not travel a lot with your laptop, or if it comes home each night to charge then this is a viable option. Having a larger mat like the ones featured in Energysquare’s promotional material would make sense to place your devices on to charge without a mess of cables.
  3. Early adopters. If you sit on the bleeding edge of technology, you probably have considered or have mangled a piece of furniture to hide a wireless charging pad. This would eliminate the need to do so and also as OEMs support the integration of the technology into more devices, provide a sleeker, minimalistic look.

Just like several pieces of technology, however, I think there are some users who are still far away from benefitting from this technology.

  1. Travellers. If you are constantly on the move, taking a wireless charging mat over several chargers may or may not appeal to you. If the charging mat were flexible, lightweight and all of your devices were supported, then it might be a possible solution.
  2. Students. Whether in university or grade school, you are likely going to be surrounded by some dated tech and little personal space, so this might not be the best solution. However, perhaps in the future, there will be smart desks or collaboration tables that include wireless charging for student devices.
  3. The average user. I’m not sure the average person has fully embraced wireless charging yet and may not be until they are forced perhaps with the omission of a charging port from a popular phone brand. The benefits might not be known to the general public or the dwindling list of drawbacks as the technology gets better. Some of the accessories that Energysquare is developing though will make it more attractive and potentially change how we view the technology.
A simple desk lamp that can be placed anywhere on the mat and function could change how we think about wireless technology and our workspaces.

Needless to say, this is one part of laptop technology that I don’t believe is just going to be passing fancy.

Recently I decided it was time to replace my ageing Samsung monitors. I’ve had them for nearly ten years and faint ghosting was starting to occur which was distracting working with white pages or very dark ones. So the hunt began for their successor.

Last summer I had my first experience with a ThinkVision monitor via the M14 Portable Display. That piece of kit literally saved me a week of work. For more information, see my video on it below.

When it came time to pull the trigger, I decided I’d try ThinkVision again and scored two displays for under $500 CDN. The model I settled on was the ThinkVision S27q-10 which is a 27″ display with a 2K resolution. For detailed specs, see this sheet.

Two new ThinkVision monitors on a messy desk.

I have to say my initial impressions are amazing. The 2K screens are sharp and bright without burning holes in the back of my eyes while working in lowlight. They were also absolutely effortless to assemble. I hope to find some time to do a quick little video showing their unboxing and initial impressions. If you are interested in grabbing some for yourself, they can be found here.

By making a purchase through the link above, I may earn a commission through Lenovo’s Allifate program. These monitors were personally purchased and not provided by Lenovo.

Alan Kay, the brain behind Dynabook talked about laptop weight before the word laptop came into common usage. I remember reading in “The Race for Perfect” by Steve Hamm♦ when researching the ThinkPad X300 a story about him testing weight that people would be willing to carry:

“Using a book as a model, Kay taped together a cardboard mockup of what the Dynabook computer might look like, and filled it with lead shotgun pellets until he decided that he
had reached the limit of what people would be willing to carry around. The optimal weight he decided on: two pounds.”

Two pounds for reference is 907 grams or under one-kilogram. It wouldn’t be for decades after Kay’s measurements that computers would be that light.

At CES this year, there are several manufacturers chasing after the one-kilogram laptop. Both HP and Lenovo have put new entries into the ring to challenge the LG gram. Here is a short breakdown of these two challengers.

 

HP Elite Dragonfly Max

Reportedly coming in under one kilogram is the HP Elite Dragonfly Max. Little is currently known about the Dragonfly Max beyond what is in the table below. Out of all of the laptops, it is the only one that hasn’t been released and pricing isn’t currently available. I’ve included the fine print regarding its inclusion into this comparison in the chart below.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano

Not shying away from the lightweight competition is the long-rumoured and awaited X1 Nano. Unlike the HP Dragonfly Max, fully spec’d out only puts it 1g over the one-kilogram mark. While it might lack in ports, it has the nicest screen available between the three models and is also tied for the thinnest on the list. It is also the only one that features Thunderbolt 4 and a touch screen.

The first laptop that most people think of that made the weight part of the branding is of course the LG gram, which I talked about in an earlier article here. The only one that is fair to compare by weight is listed below:

  Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano HP Dragonfly Max LG gram 14
(14Z90P)
Display Size 13-inch 13.3-inch 14-inch
LCD

13.0″ 2K Touchscreen (2160 x 1350) IPS, glossy touchscreen with Dolby Vision™, 450 nits, 100% sRGB

13.0″ 2K (2160 x 1350) IPS, anti-glare with Dolby Vision™, 450 nits, 100% sRGB

13.3-inch HD (1920 x 1080) display WUXGA (1920 x 1200) IPS, DCI-P3 99 percent (Typical)
Aspect
Ratio
16:10 16:9 16:10
Weight
  • Non-touch: 1.99 lb / 907 g
  • Touch models: 2.14 lb / 969 g
  • WWAN non-touch: 2.07 lb / 939 g
  • WWAN touch: 2.21 lb / 1001 g
Under 1kg. Weight will vary by configuration. UHD panel or HP Sure View Reflect, 32GB memory base units, WWAN, 4-cell battery, and 512GB SSD or higher not available on configurations starting at less than 1kg. 999g (2.2lbs)
Size
  • Non-touch: 12.72″ x 8.54″ x 0.55-0.66″ / 292.8mm x 207.7mm x 13.87-16.7mm
  • Touch: 12.72″ x 8.54″ x 0.56-0.68″ / 292.9mm x 207.8mm x 14.27-17.2mm
 Not currently known. 313.4 x 215.2 x16.8mm
(12.34 x 8.47 x 0.66 inches)
Battery 65Wh 4 cell. Not currently known. 72Wh
CPU 11th Gen Intel®
Core™ Processor
11th Gen Intel®
Core™ Processor
11th Gen Intel®
Core™ Processor
GPU Intel® Iris® Xe Graphics
Intel® UHD
Graphics
Intel® Iris® Xe Graphics
Intel® UHD
Graphics
Intel® Iris® Xe Graphics
Intel® UHD
Graphics
Memory 8/16GB
Up to 32GB 8/16GB
(LPDDR4x)
Storage M.2  SSD slot (NVMeTM) 1TB Max M.2 SSD slot (NVMeTM) 2TB Max M.2 Dual SSD slots
(NVMeTM)
Colour Black, Black with Carbon-Fiber Weave on top cover (available on Touch models only) Dragonfly Blue, Black White, Silver, Black
Keyboard Backlit Backlit Backlit
I/O Port

2 x USB4 Thunderbolt™ 4, Headphone / mic combo

USB 3.1 charging port, 2 x USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports,  HDMI 1.4b USB 4 Gen3x2(x2,
USB PD, ThunderboltTM 4), USB
3.2 Gen2x1(x2), HDMI, microSD/UFS, HP-Out
USP Fingerprint Reader, Optional: WWAN LTE 5G / LTE 4G CAT9, WLAN: WiFi 6 AX201 802.11AX (2 x 2), Bluetooth® 5.1, Hybrid infrared (IR) / 720p HD with webcam privacy cover

Optional 5G, 5MP webcamera

Fingerprint Reader, DTS X
Ultra, Wi-Fi 6

Please note I have attempted to leave the text untouched in terms of how it was formatted in the original press releases.

♦Items purchased through this link earn the channel a small commission through the Amazon Affiliate Program.

ThinkPad Announcements at CES 2021

Below find the new ThinkPads joining the lineup in 2021. I might add additional thoughts in future articles.

ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga (13.5″)

360-degree hinge with Titanium construction. Intel Evo CPUs. 3:2 aspect ratio with 2K display.

ThinkPad X12 Detachable (12″)

The long-awaited return of the X1 Tablet. Intel 11th generation CPUs. 1920×1280 (3:2) 440 nit screen with Gorilla Glass. Optional folio keyboard with TrackPoint of course.

ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 6 (14″)

Intel Evo with 16:10 and a wider touchpad to match. A larger battery still makes room for internal pen storage.

ThinkPad X1 Nano (13″)

Starting at $1900 CAD, the lightest ThinkPad yet at 1kg. Intel 11th Gen CPU, TB4, 16:10 screen and IR camera with a 2K screen as standard.

ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 (14″)

16:10 display. Intel Evo vPro and everything you’ve come to like about the X1 Carbon. A wider touchpad and a larger battery are now included.

 

2021 is off and running with CES and one thing is quite clear and that is people are talking about 5G. Specifically, companies are showcasing it as an included feature in their laptops.

Out of curiosity, I started a simple poll on the YouTube Community page for the channel and asked people to vote on how they felt about cellular connectivity in laptops. After a day, the following results were tallied:

Poll results from the YouTube Community page on cellular connectivity in laptops. Image captured January 9, 2021.

The results were interesting. Approximately two-thirds of respondents didn’t see the need or felt the cost was a barrier. Several people commented that if they needed the internet they either tethered from their phone or used their phone to create a mobile hotspot. One commenter even suggested the benefits of doing this as it allows you to position the “antenna” (the phone) in a better position for a signal without the need to move the entire laptop. I found this thought very sound having done so myself on several occasions.

The question then is of course, who are these laptop manufacturers targeting with 5G? The answer I suspect is the same people that have always been targeted with cellular connectivity in laptops. Businesses. If they have employees that need to have internet access to do their job then it makes sense for the business to purchase a machine and a data plan to ensure they get it. I note a change already at CES this year, with 5G seemingly being used to target consumers as well. But for the average user, I suspect the data plans that are already being paid for as a part of a phone plan are enough. With people still mainly stuck and home or under travel restrictions, being in a location without WiFi is not currently a common experience for many users.

Lenovo’s landing page for the IdeaPad 5G at CES 2021

The big question is, will cellular modems break into the mainstream anytime soon? With cellular bands like 5G almost becoming a branding item like multi-lens cameras on smartphones, I could see it happening. There is also the potential for something like this to be great in areas where traditional infrastructure is not as reliable as cellular service. Time will tell if the consumer values this added feature that I suspect will be coming to more laptops this year than ever before. I suspect many customers however will see this and start to count on their fingers how many times and how much they are paying for internet access.

Rumours have been circulating for a while now that Titanium will be used on the new X1 and X1 Yoga models. In a recent contest on Twitter, Lenovo has essentially confirmed that they are coming, probably at CES 2021.

However, as I discuss in a recently released video on the channel, this isn’t the first time they have used Titanium on a laptop.

I really hope that Lenovo has learned their lessons on how to best use this material as it does have some significant drawbacks as seen in the video. Granted manufacturing technology has improved significantly since then, I would be very mindful about what sort of abuse I would put a chassis that has this metal at its core.

Another thing to consider is that materials in engineering, even from my limited understanding, are rarely interchangeable and equal. I occasionally watch Ian McCollum’s Forgotten Weapons YouTube channel to hear about design decisions in the firearm industry. While I don’t have a major interest in firearms beyond interesting trivia, I feel like one can learn a lot about design from a fellow like Ian. He is involved with a joint venture with a firearms manufacturing company to create a polymer lower to the AR-15 platform and has documented that it isn’t as simple as casting the same part using a different material.

All that to say, I’m curious to see what, if any considerations exist between the build process between the regular X1 and X1 Yoga variants and their newer Titanium counterparts.