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.

Oct
02

The Return of the Pull Out Screen (The W701ds Lives Again?)

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.

US-11457303-B2_I

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:

  1. They are one of the largest, working production ThinkPads out there.
  2. They have a pull-out screen for extra productivity. You can see it demonstrated below.

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.

US-11455015-B2_I

A Sticker

If you are like me, you have spent some time looking through Hardware Maintenance Manuals for ThinkPads. It was actually while looking at the HMM for the T41 to disassemble and remove the WLAN card that I noted some interesting references to LG-IBM branding. Specifically, stickers were to be placed over any replacement parts bearing the ThinkPad branding for the South Korean market.

One of many references to the LG-IBM models in the T40 HMM.
LG-IBM R40.
Photo generously provided by Hidde J.

A friend and avid ThinkPad collector Tasurinchi shared an article with me that mentioned the breakup of the deal. This was clearly the tip of the iceberg of an interesting story. We both knew about the Acer partnership where Acer was contracted out to build several laptops under the ThinkPad brand. However, it would appear that the ThinkPad R40 and R40e (pictured above) were built in South Korea in LG owned factories. The sticker located on the bottom of my R40 confirms this (Made in Korea) and the schematics as discovered by Thinkpads.com forum user Screamer found the manufacturers were “LG Gryphon” and “LG D3 Entry” respectively for these two machines.

Bottom label showcasing the LG-IBM branding.
Photo generously provided by Hidde J.

So where did it all begin?

A Partnership

In 1996, IBM entered into a partnership with LG to break into the Korean market. The arrangement created LG-IBM and saw IBM owning 51% of the company controlling the manufacturing and marketing of PCs while LG’s 49% was focused on other consumer electronics. This allowed IBM to break into the market, shipping their PC solutions and it gave LG an excellent opportunity to learn everything it could from IBM.

The LG-IBM PC LKB 0107 was seen at a thrift store. Photo by moghismv (https://www.reddit.com/r/MechanicalKeyboards/comments/jegu7j/anybody_know_how_much_this_keyboard_is_worth_lg/)
Top case of R40.
Photo generously provided by Hidde J.
The top case of an i-Series ThinkPad with the LG-IBM sticker. From Kbench.com

 

A Scandal

In 2004 the announcement came that the two companies would be splitting off, each essentially retaining their own rights to their respective properties. IBM would retain their rights to all of their trademarked properties like ThinkPad and LG would continue developing their own line of laptops called the Xnote. Interestingly enough, both IBM, LG-IBM and LG were targets of a bribery scandal that both parties claimed was unrelated to the announcement to split.

The two companies said the separation was unrelated to the indictments early this year of three officials of LG IBM and three from IBM’s Korea unit on charges of bribing government officials in order to win contracts to supply computer parts and services.

After the indictments were issued, IBM said that it had dismissed its three officials and that the three from LG IBM were no longer working there. The three former IBM Korea employees were convicted by a Seoul court in February, according to Reuters news agency. – Wall Street Journal September 15, 2004

The company was hit with a bribery scandal early this year. Former executives of IBM Korea have been jailed for bribing government clients and rigging bids, while officials of LG Electronics were fined. – Korea JoongAng Daily August 30, 2004

While these types of scandals weren’t unique to LG or IBM and weren’t likely directly related to the ending of the partnership, the details of these bribery scandals need to be read to be believed.

From 1998 to 2003, over $207,000 USD was paid in cash or gifts to officials by IBM-Korea and LG-IBM. These payments were delivered in large LG-IBM branded envelopes to shopping bags and exchanged in locations including but not limited to parking lots near the managers’ and officials’ places of work or home and on one occasion a parking lot of a local Japanese restaurant. All of these bribes were targeted at individuals making purchase decisions, ensuring that LG-IBM would win the contracts. These contracts were worth tens of millions of dollars leading to an “improper gift” of $9,546USD landing a contract valued at $1.3 million USD. IBM-China also had similar issues with bribery. For more details, see this document which outlines the details of these scandals. 

There is a more likely reason for the end of the partnership beyond these issues.

A Deal

During this time, IBM was in active talks with both Texas Pacific Group and Lenovo to sell off IBM’s PC division. Dell was also a contender for a brief amount of time. IBM CEO Samuel j. Palmisano the summer of 2004 was hammering out a complex deal with Yang Yuanqing (Lenovo) and it isn’t too hard to imagine that part of the preparations for negotiations would have involved complete ownership of control of all the markets IBM was present. This would be especially true for a purchasing company that was already established in that area. This would mean that LG-IBM would need to be renegotiated or simply cease to exist. It isn’t too hard to see which makes more sense to both parties to create a clean and tidy deal.

IBM would sell Lenovo PCs through its sales force and distribution network. IBM also would provide services for Lenovo PCs—and allow Lenovo to use the vaunted IBM brand name for five years. In turn, Lenovo, leveraging its connections with the government’s Chinese Academy of Sciences, would help IBM in the fast-growing China market. – The Race for Perfect: Inside the Quest to Design the Ultimate Portable Computer, Steve Hamm

An Ending

So overall the historic deal between IBM and LG seemed to be mutually beneficial to both parties. IBM gained access to another market (under a different brand) and LG gained access to IBM’s information and experience. When it came time for IBM to sell its PC Division though, it was clear that IBM would need to distance itself from IBM-Korea and LG-IBM as quickly as possible to ensure that the scandals and exclusive access to the South Korean market wouldn’t sour any potential deal with an interested party.

But what about the penalties for the previously mentioned scandals? Who had to take responsibility?

Ultimately that would fall to IBM. While they didn’t own several of the assets that would have been involved, it makes no sense for the new owners to be fined for the mistakes of the previous owners.

On March 18, 2011, without admitting or denying the SEC‘s allegations, IBM consented to the entry of a final judgment that permanently enjoins the company from violating the books and records and internal control provisions of the FCPA. In addition, IBM consented to pay disgorgement of $5,300,000, $2,700,000 in prejudgment interest, and a $2,000,000 civil penalty.

Steps Taken by State Parties to Implement and Enforce the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in
International Business Transactions
AS OF JUNE 2011 WORKING GROUP ON BRIBERY MEETING

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

It would appear the LG and ThinkPad story is not over yet. Fast forward to the year 2021 and it seems that LG might have run afoul with Lenovo with LG’s ThinQ branding coming a bit too close to the well-established Think branding they inherited from IBM. To read the case details, including court documents and its status, follow this link. or you can head right to the source at the United States Trademark and Patent Office.

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

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.

Jun
26

Will Butterflies fly again?

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.

The Rest

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.

In a not at all surprising twist, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon is getting another round of updates that should keep it the king of the pack in terms of ultraportable. Some  notable updates to this generation of X1 Carbon include:

  • Up to 12th generation Intel® Core™ i7 vPro® U and P Series processors, up to 14-core
  • Up to Windows 11 Pro, Linux Ubuntu, or Fedora
  • FHD Webcamera now standard in a new Communications Bar
  • Up to 32GB LPDDR5
  • Up to 2TB Gen 4 performance PCIe NVMe SSD
  • 57 Whr battery
  • Intel® Wi-Fi 6E (requires Windows 11)
  • Bluetooth® 5.2
  • NFC
  • New screen options, see below for details
A breakdown showing the new FHD webcamera setup. A much needed upgrade.

Ports include:

  • 2x Thunderbolt™ 4
  • 2x USB 3.2 Type-A Gen 1
  • 1x HDMI 2.0b
  • 1x Audio (Headphone and Microphone Combo Jack)
  • 1x Nano SIM
A new range of impressive screens are not available.

More screen options than you can shake a stick at listed below:

  • 14” WUXGA 16:10 (1920×1200) IPS LP AG
    (400nit, 100%sRGB, Eyesafe)
  • 14” WUXGA 16:10 (1920×1200) IPS LP AG Touch
    (400nit, 100%sRGB, Eyesafe)
  • 14” WUXGA 16:10 (1920×1200) IPS LP AG Touch with Privacy Guard
    (500nit, 100%sRGB, TUV ePrivacy Cert)
  • 14” 2.2K 16:10 (2240×1400) IPS AG
    (300nit, 100% sRGB)
  • 14” 2.8K 16:10 (2880×1800) OLED AGARAS
    (400nit, 100% DCI-P3, Eyesafe)
  • 14” WQUXGA 16:10 (3840×2400) IPS LP Glare
    (500nit, 100% DCI-P3, HDR400, Dolby® Vision™, Eyesafe)
  • 14” WQUXGA 16:10 (3840×2400) IPS LP AOFT Touch AGAR

Overall this appears to be a great machine and would likely give me pause if I were buying a new laptop today. If I had the choice between a ThinkPad X1 Carbon or an X1 Nano, I think I’d go with this now that it has the nicer display options.

Lenovo has announced the next generation of ThinkPad X1 Nano with some tasteful updates:

  • Intel vPro® with 12th Gen Intel® Core™ i7 processors
  • up to 32GB LPDDR5 memory
  • a larger capacity 49.6 Whr battery
  • Up to Windows 11 Pro, Fedora, and Ubuntu Linux
  • FHD webcam now standard
  • Up to 2TB PCIe SSD
  • Intel® Wi-Fi 6E (requires Windows 11)
Note the redesigned Communications Bar.

The rest remains unchanged and that is fine by me as I still enjoy my Gen 1 device. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. This should also do some interesting things to the prices of the X1 Nano Gen 1 which is still a fantastic device. I’m happy to see that this line continues as I think more people will appreciate this exceptional thin and light laptop.

Lenovo is bringing back the ThinkPad Z series this year at CES 2022.

Back in the day, the ThinkPad Z series was the first of the ThinkPad line to use the 16:10 screen which was adopted on every other line afterwards. It was also the first time a ThinkPad featured the use of titanium. If you want to learn more about the Z series, see the two videos below where I take a look at the Z61t and hear about the creation from the project manager, Rob Herman.

Aug
19

Rob Herman Interview (Product Manager of i , A, R, Z, P Series and the X tablet)

If you haven’t seen the interview I did with Rob Herman, I will link in directly below. If you’d like to just listen to the interview, here is an mp3 of our talk.   It was really great to speak with Rob and learn about his unique perspective in the creative process. Every person that […]

The original ThinkPad Z series had a slew of multimedia-centric features and it looks like the new generation is following in its footsteps. The ThinkPad Z series is returning in two flavours in a slim 14mm chassis, the Z13 and Z16. Images also show a leather-like cover very similar to the Reserve Edition that was available for the 15th Anniversary. Both new machines feature a bump at the top (called the Communications Bar) that houses the cameras (regular and IR) which are now FHD and include a microphone array. 

The  Z13 will offer a 13.3″ 16:10 setup with two display options. (WUXGA IPS 400nit Low Power (touch option) or WQXGA OLED 400nit, Touch, Dolby Vision, Low Blue Light) The Z13 will house a 50Whr battery. 2x USB-C (4.0) ports and a audio jack are present.

The  Z16 will offer a 16″ 16:10 setup with two display options. (WUXGA IPS 400nit Low Power (touch option) or WQXGA OLED 400nit, Touch, Dolby Vision, Low Blue Light) The Z16 will house a 70Whr battery. 3x USB-C (4.0) ports and a audio jack are present. The Z16 is the only model with an SD Card slot.

These laptops will come in the following colour options:

  • Z13: Black Recycled Vegan Leather/Bronze AL, Arctic Grey Recycled AL, Black Recycled AL
  • Z16: Arctic Grey Recycled AL

Other important features include AMD Ryzen Pro 6000 series CPUs (with an exclusive Ryzen 7 Pro 6760Z) with no Intel option currently announced. The Z16 can also be configured with the AMD Radeon™ RX 6500M discrete graphics card. Memory will be Up to 32GB LPDDR5

Z13 is powered by AMD Ryzen PRO U-Series processors with integrated AMD Radeon graphics plus Microsoft Pluton security processor. Z13 is also available with an exclusive AMD Ryzen PRO 6860Z processor

Z16 is powered by AMD Ryzen PRO H-Series processors with integrated AMD Radeon graphics or optional AMD Radeon RX 6500M discrete graphics, and include the Microsoft Pluton security processor

AMD Ryzen PRO 6000 Series processors with Qualcomm® FastConnect 6900 offer advanced manageability and industry leading Wi-Fi connectivity on Z13 and Z16. Additionally, Qualcomm® 4-stream Dual Band Simultaneousi (DBS) on AMD Ryzen™ PRO 6000 Series processors enables sustained low latency potential of Wi-Fi Dual Station, natively supported on Windows 11

Haptic ForcePad and fingerprint reader on the Z16. The Z13 has a keyboard that goes right to the edge and has a different speaker configuration.

The eagle-eyed users will note a TrackPoint but no dedicated buttons and be concerned. However, this laptop features a similar haptic feedback pad that was released on the X1 Titanium last year. Speaking of the TrackPoint, it can now be double-tapped to access a Communications menu for common microphone and camera settings. This isn’t the first time that tapping the TrackPoint had a function and this is a welcomed return.

ThinkPad Z13 will be available from May 2022, starting from $1549
ThinkPad Z16 will be available from May 2022, starting from $2099

For more information, see the following launch video from Lenovo.

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.