Lenovo’s New ThinkBook Has a Comically Wide Main Screen and a Bizarre Second Display

Lenovo’s New ThinkBook Has a Comically Wide Main Screen and a Bizarre Second Display
Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo

CES 2022 has been strange for a lot of reasons, and now you can add another, because one of the coolest things shown at this year’s event is a…business laptop?

Lenovo already gave business customers a fun toy to play with when it launched the ThinkPad X1 Fold, and now it’s releasing the ThinkBook Plus, a dual-screen device with a comically wide main screen and a secondary screen build into the deck.

Though not the first multi-screen at CES, this is one of the stranger laptops I’ve seen in recent years. The Intel 12th-gen H-series CPU-powered ThinkBook Plus would look awkward even without an 8-inch tablet-like panel on the deck because the main 17.3-inch, 3072 x 1440-pixel screen has a — brace yourself — 21:10 aspect ratio.

Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo

It almost feels like a slight to everyone else given how the industry as a whole is rapidly shifting to using taller screens, ditching the standard 16:9 in favour of 16:10, 4:3, or 3:2. But this was the only way for Lenovo to fit an 8-inch touchscreen display (with stylus support) without compromising the keyboard or touchpad.

Lenovo provided a lengthy list of potential uses for the second screen. Let’s go through each one, shall we?

  • Application sub tools can be shown on the second display freeing up main screen for creation.

Yes, this is a good use and you can already use the second screen to show tools without official support from the likes of Adobe.

  • More engaging collaboration with full width conferencing adding a chat window on the second display, or a notepad function to take notes during online meetings.

Another useful one — I use my laptop as a secondary display connected to a monitor but portable solutions are less elegant. It would be nice to drop a Google Docs window onto the tablet when I’m working from a cafe, though I wonder how difficult it would be to see what you’re typing.

  • Can be used as a drawing board to edit or refine images; the integrated digital pen with ColorKing Plus enables faster, more accurate colour matching.
Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo

This is the first use that came to my mind. The ThinkBook Plus allows you to keep your hands close to a keyboard so you can quickly sketch something with the included stylus then go back to editing. I like the idea, but I’ll need to see how it all works together.

  • A “waterfall” capability is very useful during document editing as source pages can extend from the main to the second display.

Perhaps the most obvious way to use the second panel, though I’d be tempted to throw any “source pages” onto one half of the main screen so whatever document I was editing didn’t look stretched. This could be nice as a third window setup, though.

  • A “Magic Launcher” can place frequently used application icons on the second display for quick access.

Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo

Yes! This is one of the better ways of using Asus’s ScreenPad Plus on dual-screen laptops like the new Zephyrus Duo 16. The key here, though, is to make those app icons readily accessible, and Lenovo has done that by adding a single-tap button to get to the app launcher.

  • The calculator function makes navigating spreadsheets or financial applications a breeze, group launch can even be configured to automatically open the calculator when launching a spreadsheet, for example.

If you can remember it’s there, this is another nice feature.

  • Smartphone mirroring onto the second display improves multitasking and synergy across devices

This seems fine in theory and there are plenty of Windows 11 apps that will already do this, but I don’t like to stare at my phone all day (even though I still do). If you do, or you need to stay closely tethered to your work phone, then I could see this being a benefit.

Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo

So all in all, the secondary screen seems like it could be useful for a lot of different folks, including artists, data analysts, and video editors. But there needs to be enough utility to justify lugging around a massive, ultra-wide laptop (16.1 x 9 x 0.7 inches, though only 2 kg) with an awkward main display and an offset keyboard, and honestly….I’m not sure there is.

We’ll find out if the $2,000 dual-screen device lives up to the promise when it arrives this May.