The Two Most Innovative Notebooks At CES

CES was pretty amazing this year and, while issues were doing the event remotely, it was quickly the most enjoyable CES I’ve ever attended.  CES is about innovation, and while there were lots of notebook computers showcased at the show this year, the two that caught my attention were the updated HP Elite Folio and the Lenovo X1 Fold.  

Let’s talk about what makes these two notebooks uniquely innovative this week and why I think they not only appeal to very different and diverse users, but they represent the current pinnacle of PC design. 

The ThinkPad X1 Fold

This laptop is the first Foldable PC that has come to market, and it has won a whopping 43 CES awards to date.  With a 13” foldable display, this thing will fold down to easily fit into a woman’s handbag, arguably making it one of the few Laptops with a unique capability that appeals to women.  (We need more woman-focused products in this segment).   Using Intel technology and wrapped by both Intel and Lenovo security, this leather-wrapped offering is straightforward to carry, and it can fold down to an ultra-small form factor for use in tight spaces.  With prices between $2.5K and $3.1K, this laptop isn’t a cheap date, but well-made revolutionary products seldom are because of economies of scale issues.   

One of the most compelling use cases is a book, something I’ve come to love about my Surface Duo phone.  Partially folded, it holds like a book making it far easier to use as a book reader.   Unfolded, the 13” screen, which has a kickstand, can be used to watch movies, and it has a kickstand. You don’t end up holding the thing for everyone else.  

The optional keyboard either nests on the X1 Fold or can be used separately, turning the notebook into a tiny all-in-one that is particularly good for watching videos on a plane.   The laptop is wrapped in leather (black), making it easier to carry by itself, and the lack of crease in the foldable screen is pretty amazing.  It has decent battery life of between 8 and 10 hours and up to 1TB of storage, depending on the configuration.  With an optional 4G/5G modem, you can be connected most anyplace you are.   

Dolby Atmos sound, a four-microphone system, and an IR Camera (for Windows Hell and Zoom backgrounds) make this a decent video conferencing PC.  

The Updated HP Elite Folio

The HP Elite Folio was my instant favorite notebook when it came out in 2019.   It had a built-in 4g WAN, it carried like a portfolio, and it was the first notebook I carried where I felt I could leave my backpack at the office or in the hotel room when traveling.  It was convenient in court, and its cantilevered screen made it ideal for coach seats in airlines back when I was still flying.  

This notebook came the closest to matching how I worked and mostly lived on social media, Outlook, Microsoft Edge, and Microsoft Word.   Battery life was adequate, but the one thing I hated was the color choice.  It came in brown and burgundy, and I still think the 80s wanted their colors back.  

Well, the new Updated HP Elite Folio is a ton better.  First, it has the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx processor with decent performance and incredible battery life; second, it has a 5G modem now for blinding fast WAN speeds; and third, it comes in black, a modern color for modern times.  

It carries like a portfolio because it is covered with padded leather, just like a portfolio, and it feels good in your hands.  More important, even when your hands are sweaty, it doesn’t appear to get as slippery as plastic does, and the leather does protect it if dropped.  Finally, it has an impressive amount of recycled content (the frame, for instance, is 90% recycled magnesium by weight).  

It comes with HP’s unique privacy feature, Sure View Reflect, which does an excellent job of keeping the nosey person next to you from seeing your stuff.   There is truly only one word for this notebook, and that is AWESOME!

Wrapping Up: 

At CES this year, there were two genuinely innovative notebooks, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 fold (which I’m now testing) and the updated HP Elite Folio.  Both products showcase the cutting edge of laptop design and technology. Both are covered in leather and come in black, and both address a balance of male and female users unusually well.  

This month is still really early for 2021 innovative products, so these two offerings suggest 2021 will be an excellent year for cutting-edge technology, particularly in notebook computers.  It is nice to say goodbye to the horrid 2020 and say hello to what is starting to look like a far better 2021 now if we can just mitigate the damned virus. 

Stay safe out there!