When Lenovo launched a dual-screen laptop last year with an LCD front-facing screen and a secondary E Ink display on the lid, I figured it was an experiment that was likely to be a one-off design. But I was wrong because Lenovo just introduced the Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 i.

This year’s model features a more powerful processor, a bigger, higher-res E Ink screen, a thinner and lighter design, and a higher price tag. The Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 i will sell for $1549 when it hits the streets later in the first quarter of 2021.

Lenovo says this year’s model supports up to an Intel Core i7 Tiger Lake processor, 16GB of LPDDR4x memory, and up to 1TB of PCIe Gen 4 solid state storage.

But it’s the displays that really make this laptop stand out: the front-facing screen is a 13.3 inch, 2560 x 1600 pixel IPS LCD touchscreen display with support for up to 400 nits of brightness and narrow bezels that measure less than 3.9mm. Looking at the laptop from the front, it looks… like a laptop, albeit a thin and light one that measures 11.73″ x 8.22″ x 0.54″ and weighs 2.86 pounds.

But on the lid there’s a 12 inch, 2560 x 1600 pixel monochrome touchscreen display. While it doesn’t exactly cover the lid, it does have a 68 percent screen-to-body ratio, which is a big step up from the 48 percent ratio in last year’s model (which had a 10.8 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixel E Ink screen). The larger, higher-resolution screen should make the E Ink screen more useable.

Among other things, it allows you to run some apps on the low-power, high-contrast screen without opening the lid. Here are some of the things Lenovo says you can do with the E Ink screen:

  • View the date, time, network status, calendar invites, email alerts, news updates, weather forecasts, or reminders at a glance without opening the lid.
  • Review or annotate PowerPoint presentations or Word Documents.
  • Consume less power when reading documents on the E Ink screen (Lenovo provides battery life estimates up to 24 hours with the E Ink screen or 15 hours for the color LCD display).

The laptop has a 180 degree hinge that allows you to fold the notebook flat, but it’s not a 360-degree hinge so if you plan to use the ThinkPad Plus Gen 2 i in tablet or stand modes, you’ll be limited to using  the E Ink screen.

You can write notes or draw on the E Ink screen using a digital pen that docks and charges in a port in the side of the notebook when you’re not using it.

Lenovo says the 2nd-gen model is faster than its predecessor thanks to a move from 10th-gen Intel Comet Lake processor options to 11th-gen Tiger Lake, but it’s also quieter thanks to an updated cooling system.

The notebook has a magnesium body and aluminum lid and it’s powered by a 53Wh battery. It has two Thunderbolt 4 ports and a headphone jack, a fingerprint reader integrated into the power button, stereo 2 watt speakers, 4 microphones, an HD camera with a shutter that covers it when you’re not using it, and support for WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0.

press release

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  1. What a shame.

    It would be interesting if e-ink display could work as normal display too (in monochrome mode of course), so you can select if you want to use LCD or e-ink at each moment. There are e-ink monitors, so it can be done.

  2. I like the idea but the last gen model’s e-ink screen had very few features. For instance, only email through outlook. I think they should go back and just have the front be an android tablet that’s attached with a shared drive, because at least then there would be apps to use.

    1. I think the way to go would just be to treat the outside display as an almost regular monitor and use a custom launcher like interface (possibly made out of Rainmeter widgets or something) that could just launch normal windows applications (maybe at full screen only if need be). I’m thinking of Rainmeter mostly since it would require little effort to put together, and launcher widgets let you arbitrarily pick what applications you want to launch.
      That avoids conflicts like what happens when you try to open the same file in what’s considered two different machines, and it means you only have to deal with Microsoft’s spyware.