LAS VEGAS - Lenovo’s ThinkPad Stack is sort of like a Swiss Army knife for computing. It packs an external hard drive, wireless router, backup battery and Bluetooth speaker into one customizable, easily configurable device. Right before CES 2016, Lenovo announced two additions to its stackable accessory lineup to make it even more versatile: a projector and a wireless charging station. Both will ship in April; the projector will cost $500 and the the charging station will run you $40.
The ThinkPad Charging Station is a Stack module that is meant to keep your phone charged at all times. Phones that support Qi wireless charging can be placed directly onto charging station and begin replenishing its battery. A micro USB port is reserved to charge the charging station. It’s a fairly spartan device - a black rectangle adorned with a red circle to direct phone placement for wireless charging and an LED indicator to alert users about the module’s charging status.
Lenovo claims that when combined with the existing backup battery stack module, the charging station can charge your phone for several days. I liked how light it was - I could easily throw it in a bag and take it anywhere, though I wish it was more self-sufficient without another module.
Lenovo showed me last year's Motorola Droid Turbo charging on the charging station. The phone started charging almost instantly when I put it down, and I was able to put the device on the charging station in any direction as long as the coils were aligned properly.
The ThinkPad Mobile Projector is a small and easy way to give presentations or watch videos while on the go. The 150-lumen, 720p Pico projector promises two hours of battery life (with the external battery, it can last between six and eight hours). The device can work wirelessly with Miracast and Airplay from your tablet, smartphone or laptop.
The projector features an HDMI port, USB port, headphone jack and navigation buttons for use without a computer. With it’s own OS, the mobile projector can connect to an external drive or stack to the HDD module to project content without ever connecting to a computer and is controlled with a touchpad built directly into the device. The touchpad wasn't as accurate as the average laptop touchpad, but I was able to get videos playing on it quickly.
Images looked sharp and bright when I watched an ad for the ThinkPad Stack playing both on a screen and projected on the ceiling. The one-watt native speaker sounded good enough for light use during quiet presentations, but you'll need to hook it up to the Bluetooth speaker (sold separately) for great sound while watching movies.
Both new Stack modules are small enough to hold in one hand and fit into a bag with ease. I could see business users taking to the Stack’s newest additions to stay busy while on the road, but they work best when Lenovo sells the entire ecosystem, which can get pricey depending on which stacking modules you buy (the Charging Station is the cheapest at $49.99 - it goes up from there).
We’ll see in April if power users flock to Lenovo’s newest Stack products or stick to dedicated phone chargers and projectors.