Technophile

Everything folding up at CES 2020

Mala Bhargava | Updated on January 10, 2020 Published on January 10, 2020

The X1 Fold is powered by Intel Processors and will first be available with Windows 10 with Windows 10X being awaited thereafter

In 2019, Samsung and Huawei whetted our appetite for a new form factor for the good old gadgets we’ve been using all these years. This year, it looks like we’re ready to be hooked by foldable devices — not just phones but PCs. The initial crop of these gadgets showed up at CES 2020 at Las Vegas, which ends on Friday.

Intel’s Horseshoe Bend PC

At the event, Intel showed off the concept for a laptop which has essentially a large 17.3-inch display bent in half. It neatly folds over creating a ‘Horseshoe Bend’ to hinge over. So the bottom flat half where you would normally see a keyboard actually also is a display. There’s a curved opening or gap when it’s folded over, but interestingly, a separate magnetic keyboard can be slipped into fill this gap and also make it more like a regular 12.3-inch laptop when needed. If one doesn’t want to use a physical keyboard, a virtual one will pop-up on the bottom portion of the display. When opened up completely, you have one large screen — or a giant tablet.

The Horseshoe Bend concept is really attractive and fascinating. It’s powered by Intel’s Tiger Lake processor and seems to work smoothly when scrolling with the content flowing from the bottom flat part of the screen up to the half of the screen that faces the user. The magnetic keyboard clips rather neatly on to the bottom part of the screen to go back to a more familiar form factor. It’s a versatile machine that can be used in so many different ways. The outer leather cover also folds along with the display. The device has all the ports and connectivity of a laptop.

Intel’s laptop is a prototype and is not ready for market yet: The concept has to be taken up by companies, customised, and finally sold to consumers.

Lenovo’s foldable ThinkPad

The first foldable Windows machine in the world comes from Lenovo as part of its solid ThinkPad collection of notebooks. The ThinkPad X1 Fold was actually showcased in May of 2019 but is now closer to market availability sometime this year. It will be an expensive machine, costing over Rs 1.7 lakhs.

Lenovo X1 Fold

 

The pOLED screen of the X1 Fold shuts like a book with a mechanical hinge. You can actually use it like a book, lay it down flat to use as a 13-inch tablet, or be used like a regular laptop with either a virtual keyboard or a separate physical Bluetooth keyboard — one has been created specifically for the X1 Fold. There’s also a kickstand available to set the device in full laptop mode.

The X1 Fold is powered by Intel Processors and will first be available with Windows 10 (with Windows 10X being awaited thereafter). Lenovo has already been bundling a stylus or ‘Active Pen’ with many of its notebooks for an added layer of functionality and these work with the X1 Fold as well. The machine is aimed at those who see themselves as having to be multi-taskers focused on productivity.

“Creating the world’s first foldable PC is a major engineering challenge, but Lenovo is more than up to the task,” said Christian Teismann, President, Commercial PC and Smart Device Business, Lenovo. “Our legendary ThinkPad heritage has given us the foundation for progressive design over the years to now build an engineering masterpiece with X1 Fold, a new category of device that comes along once in a decade.”

Dell’s Duet and Ori

A concept 13-inch laptop, the Duet, is also a two-screen device on which you could quite conceivably take a video call on the top screen and scribble notes on the lower one. A digital pen is included with this machine. It could also be held and read like a book, with a page on each side.

Interestingly, this device has a special keyboard attachment and can be placed on one portion of the screen, for full laptop functionality. It leaves half the lower screen free to be a giant touchpad.

Dell has a second concept device called the Ori, possibly short for Orignami, the Japanese art of folding paper. The Ori folds like a book and has a bit of a crease, but is obviously larger than Samsung’s Fold at 13 inches. This device didn’t seem to have a keyboard at CES but then it’s not the final product. Less is known about the Ori though it seems to be also a Window based device.

TCL’s foldable phone

A working foldable concept phone was showed off at CES by TCL, with the promise that it will not cost the earth on top of being foldable.

TCL's tri-fold phone. Photo credit: cnet.com

Many believe that this device will put quite a bit of pressure on the competition to bring their prices into more affordable territory. It’s a 7.2-inch device and seems to have mid-range specs in this prototype. The screen is plastic and fragile, like the one on the Galaxy Fold and has thick bezels which may well protect it somewhat. There are four rear cameras and no front camera. The prototype shown at CES has a green diamond pattern on the back, looking quite attractive. It uses a hinge created e company using gears. It isn’t ready to reach consumers yet but it may well be later this year and by then may have many changes. TCL had more than one type of foldable phone at the show and is said to be working on a large number of foldable devices.

Motorola Razr foldable

This device is all set to hit the US market. The foldable rebirth of the Motorola Razr opens up like a clamshell and seems to have a strong visible hinge and snaps shut with no gap visible. It’s a smaller device than the Galaxy Fold. But like it, time will tell how durable it is and how it withstands wear and tear. There’s a screen on the outside with a camera and fingerprint scanner as well as microphones and other components. The device has enough elements that evoke the nostalgia US users feel for the Razr flip phone of long ago. It becomes quite compact when closed up and so is quite easy to carry. Instead of opening up into a big tablet it actually closes up to be more easily pocketable. It has a 6.4-inch screen, a mid-range processor working with 6GB of RAM with Android 9. For now this device is very expensive at $1,499.

Published on January 10, 2020
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