Lenovo has updated its most unique laptop, so meet the Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 2i. With this model, Lenovo doubles down on the e-Ink display that makes the Gen 2i so unusual among current laptops.
Announced at CES 2021, the ThinkBook Plus Gen 2i is not just giving you a bigger e-Ink screen, but a faster one too. And the rest of the laptop has been improved as well, with a thinner and lighter chassis. Lenovo's also shaving the Plus' main screen bezels down even further. Is this enough to make it to our best laptops list?
CPU: Up to 11th Gen Core i7
Storage: Up to 1TB M.2 PCIe
Graphics: Intel UHD
Battery life (claimed): Up to 15 hours with LCD monitor, up to 24 hours with E-Ink only
Weight: 2.9 pounds
Dimensions: 11.7 x 8.2 x 0.5 inches
Ports: 2x Thunderbolt 4, headphone jack
Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 price and release date
The ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 is coming during the first quarter of 2021 — aka before April. It will start at $1,549.
That's the most expensive ThinkBook announced today (Jan. 12), as three other models are also coming in Q1 2021. In order of rising price, they are the $849 ThinkBook 14p, the $1,199 ThinkBook 13x i, and the $1,29 ThinkBook 16p. Models marked with an "i" are Intel-only while a "p" indicates an AMD model.
Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 displays
The e-Ink display on the ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 isn't just bigger — as it now offers a 12-inch usable area, with a 68% screen to body ratio. It's also more functional. While the original screen was made for taking for taking notes, reading docs and checking your calendar, this new version allows you to view presentations, check email and the weather and look at reminders. You'll even be able to respond to people from the e-Ink screen. Microsoft Office compatibility is also included.
As for the ThinkBook's main screen, it's a 13.3-inch, 2560 x 1600-pixel (the same dimensions as the e-Ink screen) touchscreen panel with Dolby Vision. It's rated for 400 nits of brightness, and its 3.9mm bezels enable a 90% screen-to-body ratio.
In other good news, Lenovo sped up the refresh rate for the e-Ink screen, and redesigned that panel's user interface as well. Once we get our hands on it, we'll be able to explain it all in better detail.
As you might expect, battery life lasts longer for the e-ink panel, which Lenovo rates for 24 hours on its own. The traditional LCD panel is rated for 14 hours on a single charge.
Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 design
At 0.5 inches thick and 2.9 pounds, the ThinkBook Plus is thinner and lighter than its predecessor (0.7 inches, 3.1 pounds). And since these screens are perfect for pens, it makes sense that you can now store the ThinkBook Plus' stylus inside its chassis.
Expect quieter performance, as Lenovo has cut one internal fan while using ITS 5.0 technology to still keep things running cool.
You've also got a mixture of new standards and a wild new option. A pair of Thunderbolt 4 ports and Wi-Fi 6 don't surprise, but the optional ThinkBook Charging Mat is something else entirely. Powered by Energysquare’s Power by Contact technology, it's a charging mat for the whole laptop.
Lenovo ThinkBook 13x i
At 0.5 inches thick, the ThinkBook 13x i is rather compact. Think of it as similar to the ThinkBook Plus but without the e-ink display. Its screen and sound should be great, thanks to Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, it's also got Thunderbolt 4 ports, and is on Intel Evo platform.
This laptop runs on low-power 11th Gen Intel Core CPUs for endurance, and supports the aforementioned charging mat for easy and frequent refueling.
Lenovo ThinkBook 14p and 16p
Not all of the new ThinkBooks have Intel inside. These 14-inch and 16-inch ThinkBooks have sharp screens (2.2 and 2.8K for the 14-inch, 2.5K for the 16-inch) and run on the "latest generation AMD Ryzen mobile processors" — which is code for "AMD hasn't announced its new chips yet."
These laptops have the good privacy and security measures that Lenovo's business laptops require: a ThinkShutter camera cover for privacy, a fingerprint reader built into the power button, both fTPM and dTPM and a Windows Hello-supported IR camera.
Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 outlook
The ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 has a tough task: being novel without seeming like a novelty item. We're looking forward to using it for ourselves to see if the larger e-ink screen is a valuable asset. The effort put into improve the screen, both in size and performance, suggest Lenovo believes this is more than a gimmick.
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Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.