Ultra-wide main display for multitasking
Innovative second 8-inch screen
Digital pen included
Powerful 12th gen Intel Core CPU
Could be too wide for some backpacks
Rated for just 8 hours of battery life
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The Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 is a machine that will make you do a double take. It's the first laptop ever with a 17.3-inch ultra-wide display, which makes it ideal for running two or three apps side by side. But the real headline is a secondary 8-inch color screen right next to the keyboard that can pull off all sorts of tricks.
Yup, the ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 is easily the most innovative laptop at CES 2022. It's much more practical than the secondary E-Ink display on the ThinkBook Plus Gen 2, but what can you do with this new laptop's second screen?
- Check out all the latest news at our CES live blog.
I spent some hands-on time with an early version of the ThnkBook Plus Gen 3, which is coming in May for $1,399, and it could be a game changer for multitaskers. Make sure you check our Lenovo coupon codes page for the latest price cuts. Here’s what I think so far of this very unique system, which could have what it takes to make our best laptop list.
ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 release date and price
The ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 will be released in May and start at $1,399. That's fairly affordable given the ultra-wide display and secondary display. Other specs include a 12th-gen Intel Core H-Series CPU, up to 32GB of RAM and up to 2TB of storage. There's also an integrated digital pen.
ThinkBook Plus Gen 3: What's with the 8-inch screen?
Before we get into the rest of the laptop, let's talk about the secondary 8-inch LCD. It has a resolution of 1280 x 800 and a number of use cases. You can use it as a calculator, or use a digital pen to take quick notes on the secondary screen during meetings. But things really get interesting when you start using application sub tools.
For example, during one demo using Adobe Lightroom, you can use the 8-inch display to select from multiple thumbnail images without sacrificing the ultra-wide view of the main panel.
Or you can perform fine edits to a photo with a pen on the smaller screen while seeing the changes being made in real time on the larger screen. Plus, the digital pen uses ColorKing Plus technology for accurate color matching.
The 8-inch LCD has other handy uses as well. You can engage a "waterfall mode" for scrolling through longer documents that extend from the main screen to the secondary display. And you can customize your own Magic Launcher for placing frequently used app icons for easy access.
There's also a smartphone-mirroring function for the second display, but for now it supports only select Motorola phones.
During our demo, the software was a bit glitchy when switching between the various modes. But assuming that Lenovo works out the kinks, the secondary display could be a very powerful tool.
ThinkBook Plus Gen 3: Main display
The second most unique thing about the ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 is its 17.3-inch display, which has a resolution of 3072 x 1440 (3K) and an ultra-wide aspect ratio of 21:10. Seen in person, the panel seems like it's tailor-made for the various Snap desktop layouts in Windows 11, allowing you to run two or more apps side by side.
Lenovo says that this aspect ratio gives you 30% extra screen real estate versus a 14-inch laptop. The 90% screen-to-body ratio is welcome, and you get Dolby Vision support and Low Blue Light certification for keeping things easy on your eyes.
ThinkBook Plus Gen 3: Design and ports
The most surprising thing about the ThinkBook Gen 3 — other than its second screen — is how portable it is a for a 17.3-inch laptop. It weighs about 4.4 pounds, which makes it fairly easy to carry around. However, at 16.1 x 9 x 0.7 inches, it's a bit on the thick side and could be too wide for some backpacks.
In terms of ports, the ThinkBook Gen 3 packs one Thunderbolt 4, 1 USB-C (DisplayPort and power delivery), 2 USB-A ports, an HDMI jack and a headphone jack. The HDMI, USB-A and USB-C ports line the back of the machine, which may annoy some users but I see this machine being used mostly at a desk.
Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 specs
|Row 0 - Cell 0
|Row 0 - Cell 1
|17.3 inches (3072 x 1440), 120Hz
|8 inches (1200 x 800) with pen support
|12th gen Intel Core H-Series
|up to 32GB
|Up to 1TB PCIe SSD
|Intel Iris Xe
|16.1 x 9 x 0.7 inches
Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 performance
The ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 should offer plenty of speed in day-to-day use, and it will need that speed if this thing is going to be powering two displays at once. A 12th-gen Intel Core H series processor will be running the show, along with up to 32GB of dual channel LPDDR5 memory and up to a 1TB PCIe SSD.
You can also expect fast networking, thanks to integrated 2 x 2 AX Wi-Fi 6e connectivity.
Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 battery life and charging
The ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 features a 69WHr battery. Lenovo says the early estimate is that the laptop will get about 8 hours of endurance, which is decent but not great. We expect that the second display being on most of the time will be a power drain, but we looking forward to testing it out.
Lenovo includes a 100W Type-C slim adapter with RapidCharge capability.
Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 outlook
Lenovo has tried some wacky stuff before with the ThinkBook Plus line, but the Gen 3 is the best combination of innovation and practicality I've seen yet. The ultra-wide main display paired with the second 8-inch screen could be a boon for productivity, provided Lenovo can refine the software further.
This laptop also packs a good amount of power for the price, and I like that a digital pen is included for making the most out of the secondary display. We look forward to testing this laptop to see if it can help us work smarter and better in day-to-day use.
Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.
What flavor of stylus hardware does this one use? Wacom AES? Wacom EMR? USI? Something else? Knowing this would tip Lenovo's hand to how seriously they consider this for the art/design crowd. Latency, parallax, etc are important purchasing criteria for at least some of the users this is aimed at. This is clearly not meant to be a graphics workstation replacement but there are Windows devices at similar price & specs with very good stylus/screen tech. I'd love to see this one succeed in this space.Reply