Lenovo made headlines at CES 2024 with their unveiling of a fascinating 2-in-1 concept, the ThinkBook Plus Gen 5 Hybrid. This new 2-in-1 attempts to fuse an Android tablet and Windows 11 laptop into one device. It’s bold to combine two operating systems like this, essentially sticking two different gadgets together. But while it may be a bit outlandish, there is some real value in the concept if it works. While not the first hybrid laptop, this is the first one that feels thought out in a way that could be exciting, but I still have my concerns.
At first glance, the idea seems incredibly interesting: use the Windows side for productivity as a regular laptop, then detach the display to switch to tablet mode running Android. There are advantages and disadvantages to each OS, and while you can already dual boot if you want some Android-like interface, it is far from elegant and nowhere near as slick as Lenovo has with the ThinkBook Plus Gen 5 Hybrid.
The hardware itself seems powerful enough, with the Windows half packing a high-end Intel processor and plenty of RAM and SSD storage. The Android tablet has its own solid mid-range Qualcomm chip, and on paper, it should be more than enough for media consumption or even light work if you want to take advantage of the OS’s unique features. And sharing a stunning 14-inch 2.8K OLED touchscreen when docked is clever.
It is where the two communicate via a software solution that I have some concerns. Getting these two operating systems to play nice together couldn’t have been easy. In early hands-on tests, it seemed to take a worryingly long time for the tablet to be recognized by the Windows-base when it was reconnected. This, combined with the details of how the two systems share files, makes me reluctant to jump on the 2-in-1 bandwagon.
I’ve used 2-in-1 dual-OS laptops before. In fact, ASUS’ Transformer Book Duet did this back in 2014 with mixed results. There has always been a degree of compromise to make anything with two systems work, with either one part of the laptop feeling underdeveloped or both suffering as a result. From what I saw of the new ThinkBook Plus Gen 5 Hybrid, it seems that Lenovo has taken the time to think through the many aspects and is discussing a shared drive that will allow files to be shared, but time will tell if this takes shape as it could.
There is a lot to like about the new concept, and Beyond that key hybrid functionality, the ThinkBook Plus Gen 5 works just fine as both a regular laptop and a detachable tablet individually. But you can already buy quality devices focused on doing one thing well, so the appeal lies specifically in the ability to swap between Windows and Android on the fly. The form factor and concept make it something that I could see using daily if it worked. It would be great not to need to bring two devices while travelling, while still getting the best experience of both.
If Lenovo manages to smooth out the rough edges via software updates, then sure, having a versatile 2-in-1 with that added flexibility could be great. But I have some doubts about how seamless they can make the experience in reality. And for a pricey $1,999 starting point, it needs to work perfectly. It has just been announced, and Lenovo detailed there is still work to do, so I am hopeful of the final results.
Beyond my worries, the cool factor of the ThinkBook Plus Gen 5 Hybrid can’t be denied. Being able to easily transition from desktop-class Windows productivity into a high-end Android entertainment tablet sounds excellent…in theory! Whether Lenovo can stick the landing is another matter.
“…but even as a demo unit, I was more impressed with the Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 5 Hybrid than with any other laptop that has tried something similar…”
Previous attempts at unconventional dual-screen or foldable laptops have often failed to live up to their ambitious promises. Unique isn’t always practical. But who knows, maybe the ThinkBook Plus Gen 5 will beat the odds and set a new standard. I like the idea on paper. Once reviewers have had a chance to put the hybrid features to the test over an extended period of time, we’ll see how well this Windows/Android amalgamation actually works in the real world.
The Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 5 Hybrid seems set to either reinvent expectations of what a 2-in-1 convertible laptop can offer… or serve as another valiant but flawed attempt at innovation. I’m intrigued but skeptical. There are a lot of things that could go wrong with the concept, but even as a demo unit, I was more impressed with the Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 5 Hybrid than with any other laptop that has tried something similar, so I have high expectations. We will find out more when it hits store shelves in Q2 2024.