CES 2022 gave us a glimpse into the future of our foldable laptop – and I can’t wait

CES 2022 is over, and while the show has been a bit more low-key than usual this year thanks to last-minute COVID-19 complications, computer enthusiasts have still received some exciting news for the. coming year.

We took a look at First batch of 12th generation Intel laptop processors, which will begin appearing in laptops later this year. Intel Says Leading Chips In This Line May Outperform Apple’s M1 Max, which is exactly what they need to do after Apple blew us away last year with the performance of the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips in its 2021 MacBook Pro.

State-of-the-art chips from Intel are expected to help deliver unprecedented performance in Windows laptops released this year, and we got a glimpse of what that will look like at CES 2022. Big, beefy gaming laptops like the Acer Predator Helios 300 to ultra-fine machines like the Asus ROG Flow Z13 and Dell XPS 13 Plus, there are a lot of exciting hardware in stores this year.

The Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED’s 17.3-inch display can fold into a clamshell, and the Asus ErgoSense Bluetooth keyboard can nestle atop the bottom if you want to use it like a traditional laptop. (Image credit: Asus)

Personally, I am very excited about the promise of the Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED. Unveiled at CES 2022, this futuristic laptop (pictured above) is essentially a 17.3-inch OLED touchscreen that you can fold in half. When unfolded, the screen should be large enough and bright, offering 2,560 x 1,920 pixels in a 4: 3 aspect ratio with up to 500 nits of brightness (according to Asus). Fold it into a clamshell configuration and the top half becomes a 12.5-inch 1080p display with a 3: 2 aspect ratio, while the bottom half can display a virtual keyboard. And if the thought of typing emails on a touchscreen sounds miserable to you, Asus offers an alternative – an ErgoSense Bluetooth keyboard with integrated touchpad designed to sit on the bottom half of the fold when you’re using it as a laptop. traditional laptop.

Of course, you can also prop up the screen with its built-in kickstand and place the keyboard in a comfortable place to type, allowing you to use all of the Fold’s screen space while working with it in all kinds of different ways. laptops / tablets. hybrid configurations.

Spreadsheets have never looked so futuristic. (Image credit: Asus)

It should also be a fairly fast laptop, as the Zenbook 17 Fold will ship with the latest 12th gen Intel Core i7 U-series processors, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB NVMe SSD for storage. With just a pair of Thunderbolt 4 / USB-C ports and a headphone jack, it won’t be the most versatile laptop we’ll see in 2022, but hopefully the 75WHr battery gives it enough juice to last for the long haul. at least eight hours on a full charge. We’ll find out later this year, although Asus still hasn’t announced a more specific price or release date than Q2 2022.

But even if the Fold ends up being a failure, I’m glad it exists because of what it bodes for the future of laptops. Of course, foldable displays still have significant weaknesses right now: Android phones have had them for years, but even the best foldable phones (like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3) tend to be overpriced and under. -powered. The market for foldable laptops is much less developed; Lenovo took a big step forward by releasing its ThinkPad X1 Fold, the world’s first foldable laptop, and as cool as it was, it was also an underpowered battery hog that cost too much (starting price: 2,500 $).

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold was the first major foldable laptop, and while that was a good idea, it was also too compromised to be a great device. (Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

The ThinkPad X1 Fold launched in late 2020, and since then we haven’t heard much about the future of foldable laptops. But at CES 2022, this vision of a more flexible and beautiful future for PCs got a boost thanks to both the unveiling of the Zenbook 17 Fold and a host of folding screen concept demonstrations of the Samsung screen. Samsung Display is the industry leader in foldable display technology, and its Flex Note concept is particularly intriguing because it (like the Zenbook 17 Fold) is essentially a 17.3-inch touchscreen that can fold into a computer. 13 inch laptop.

Many laptop manufacturers source screens from Samsung Display, so it’s likely that we will start to see more foldable laptop designs hit the market in the years to come as Samsung refines the technology and prompts OEMs to design laptops around it. Intel will also help advance the development of foldable laptops with its Intel Evo platform, which is essentially a set of guidelines on what Intel expects from a “premium” laptop powered by Intel. Laptops that meet all of the guidelines may be marketed with the Intel Evo brand; you’ve probably seen it on the little stickers you peel off your laptop after you buy it.

Intel announced the third iteration of its Evo platform at CES 2022, and among the new additions is a set of specifications for Intel Evo laptops with foldable displays. Intel says it expects a number of foldable laptop designs to pass the Intel Evo verification process this year, which is the best indicator I’ve ever seen that foldable laptops are becoming. a reality after years of just being a weird flexible dream.

Personally, I can’t wait. Of course, foldable screens seem like a silly gimmick. Laptops don’t need them to be quality products, and I expect the early years of foldable laptops to be riddled with expensive designs that compromise too much for too little benefit; we’ve seen something similar happen in the foldable phone market over the past few years.

But now foldable phones are starting to feel durable, powerful and affordable enough to be worth it. I’m an iOS man at the moment, but every time I see a demo of the Samsung screen or hear from a colleague of mine reviewing a new foldable Samsung (because it seems to me that everyone except Samsung dreads foldable phones), I’m a little jealous. I’m starting to wonder if it’s time to go back to Android. But most of all, I think how cool it would be to have a big, beautiful screen that I could fold up and slip into my pocket.

It’ll probably be a while before you see any foldable laptops that you can stow in your pocket, of course – unless you’re wearing the biggest ’90s cargo pants on the planet, that future is probably still a few years away. . But the prospect of having a 17-inch OLED ultraportable that I can fold up and slip into a shoulder bag later this year seems positively futuristic. Of course, the Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED probably won’t be the best example of a foldable ultraportable, as it will weigh around 3.6 pounds – and that’s before you factor in the extra bulk of a Bluetooth keyboard. . But at less than half an inch thick, it should be a pretty svelte device, and its arrival later this year will be a big step forward in what increasingly looks like a glorious future for laptops. foldable.

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