Adapting to an Ultrawide Screen – Lenovo ThinkVision P44W-10 Review

For years I’d been wanting to try an Ultrawide monitor. I had a 27″ 1440p Chinese import brand that did the job quite nicely at home, and two 24″ screens in the office but there’s something alluring about a single giant pane of ‘glass’.

I also had apprehensions which put me off buying one. Was one giant screen better than two for me? Everyone’s different, but I liked the idea of having a centre of the two screens you can look at for ergonomic reasons – not possible with two 24″ screens unless they’re stacked (which then presents other ergonomic problems of having to look up), or one in the centre and one off to the side. Alternatively, the single 27″ screen didn’t have this problem, but had less screen real estate; I couldn’t really run two windows side by side without it feeling awkward due to the resulting shape appearing squished.

I didn’t know if it would just be too weird having a stretched screen. Going from the old 4:3 ‘square’ screens to 16:9 wide screens seemed much more logical, but was this over the top?

Lenovo came to the party as part of their Lenovo Insiders program and gave me a ThinkVision P44W-10 to try. A 43.4″, 32:10 HDR, FreeSync monitor. Awesome! I really wanted to see if it was usable for work and home, and if I had to change my ways for the better or worse to accommodate the vast difference in screen.

If you want the pure specs, here they are from Lenovo:

Monitor Specifications

DimensionsHeight269.8 mm (10.62 in.)
Depth461.1 mm (18.15 in.)
Width1058.3 mm (41.67 in.)
PanelSize43.4 in.
Aspect ratio32:10
StandTiltRange: -5° ~ 22°
VESA mountSupported100 mm x 100 mm (3.94 in. x 3.94 in.)
ImageViewable image size1102.36 mm (43.4 in.)
Maximum height351.43 mm (13.84 in.)
Maximum width1052.66 mm (41.44 in.)
Pixel pitch274.05 um (10.79 in.)
Power inputSupply voltage100-240V AC
Max supply current3A
Power consumption Note: Power consumption figures are for the monitor and the power supply combined.Normal operation<250 W (max)
 <70 W (typical)
Standby/Suspend<0.5 W
Off Note: without
<0.5 W
Video input (DisplayPort)InterfaceDisplayPort
Input signalVESA TMDS (Panel Link™)
Horizontal addressability3840 pixels (max)
Vertical addressability1200 lines (max)
Clock frequency720 MHz
Video input (HDMI)InterfaceHDMI
Input signalVESA TMDS (Panel Link™)
Horizontal addressability3840 pixels (max)
Vertical addressability1200 lines (max)
Clock frequency600 MHz
Video input (Type-C)InterfaceType-C
Input signalVESA TMDS (Panel Link™)
Horizontal addressability3840 pixels (max)
Vertical addressability1200 lines (max)
Clock frequency720 MHz
600 MHz
CommunicationsVESA DDCCI
Supported Display ModesHorizontal frequency30 KHz – 178 KHz
Vertical frequency48 Hz – 144 Hz
Native Resolution3840 x 1200 at 60 Hz

Shipment Group

  • Monitor with stand and base
  • Power cable
  • USB 3.1 Type-C Gen2 cable
  • DisplayPort 1.4 Cable
  • HDMI2.0 cable 
  • USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A to C cable
  • Harman Kardon™ certified speaker
  • Color Calibration Factory Report
  • Quick setup guide

Here’s also some great reviews: Storagereview, Anandtech and TheVerge. It’s worth noting that Lenovo also released a Legion Y44w Gaming Monitor with identical specs, but a different chassis around the monitor – so pick whichever you like the look of more, or can get cheaper.

A giant box turned up, bigger than I expected. The monitor itself measures 41.5″ wide (ignoring the curve) and it felt a bit comical taking it out of the box, like holding an oversized novelty item… but mixed with holding something that was purely impressive in it’s size.

I immediately set it up, which was just a matter of attaching the base to the monitor itself, plugging in power and a USB-C cable to a ThinkPad X1 Yoga. It worked, which was the first relief of opening up any new high end device. This photo gives some idea of the scale of this single screen, compared to a 14″ laptop.

It’s hard to not be dazzled by it, especially if you haven’t dealt with ultrawide screens before; as I heard comments of ‘that is impressive’ and just a plain ‘wow!’ setting it up.

I was thinking of setting it up on my desk at work, but instead decided to take it home.

I removed the 27″ and 24″ monitors I had in place, and replaced it with this screen. I was still wondering what I’d signed up for and if it was too big:

I should mention the connection options; we have two USBs, a USB-C 10G port, DisplayPort. another USB-C port but 5G, and two HDMI ports.

I started with the USB-C 10G port thinking that was the best choice, but after some reading up and research changed to the DisplayPort. I wanted to try AMD’s FreeSync technology (which when plugged into a supported graphics card, greatly reduces problems in gaming like screen ripping, lag and out of sync issues), and it supported the highest resolution over DisplayPort as per AMD’s page:

Also note that AMD recently changed the name from “AMD Radeon FreeSync 2 HDR” to “AMD FreeSync Premium Pro” but it’s the same thing.

While setting up I discovered a part of the monitor that pops down in the centre middle to provide a headset jack and two USB 3.1 ports. I then ran a USB-C cable from the computer to screen to connect these up as it’s quite handy to plug these in and access from the front for ad-hoc devices.

I also wanted to check the monitor was on the latest firmware before I played with it too much – and yes, the monitor has firmware you can upgrade. It wasn’t too hard to do following this official guide.

The stand it’s on is also height adjustable purely by pushing up or down on the monitor itself, and I haven’t had it slide down without me making it. The base is quite heavy and large, but flat so you don’t really lose desk space when things can be placed on it.

There was also a piece of software availalable (optional) that supported the Thinkstation P44-W called Lenovo ThinkColor. As per the download page, this software does the following things:

  1. Display information and basic settings
  2. Scenario modes selection, adjustment and customization
  3. Color adjustment, including color gamut and color temperature with preview
  4. Quick pivot to rotate display direction
  5. Print assist to design in real size
  6. AppThink to automatically apply different color settings on different applications
  7. Desktop partition for easy and customizable multi-tasking
  8. PBP and PIP management for supported models
  9. Customizable hot key
  10. Adjustment supports multiple displays

The most useful feature beyond general configuration options (like enabling/disabling HDR) is the Desktop partition function. You’re able to select how you’d like to divide up your screen from the 11 options available (or customize). When dragging a window, you can drag and drop onto a section of the screen that shows a copy of the desktop partition you chose below, and it’ll snap the window to that size. This means you can quickly and easily move windows around to your preferred layout, without trying to constantly size them. If you just want a left and right option right down the middle, Window 10’s native snap options work a treat, but for anything else this is ideal and just as easy.

Also yes, the montior supports HDR. HDR in Windows 10 is worth looking into to understand more: https://www.pcmag.com/how-to/how-to-play-games-watch-videos-in-hdr-on-windows-10. I mucked around with the option and tried to find some videos to show off HDR, but of course finding a video that extends the entire screen and with HDR isn’t an easy feat, so I made do with this:

HDR in Windows 10 isn’t the best experience – maybe it was something I was doing wrong, but I would only toggle it on for games or movies. General usage seems to be affected in some scenarios, a white background gets greyed out. That’s nothing to do with this monitor as I found a lot of info online about other people with the same problems – but, as I went to re-test it while writing this, and re-Googling the problem, it looks like it’s been fixed. Unsure if it was an AMD or Windows issue, but there’s a giant thread here about it along with plenty of others; so now, I’ll leave HDR on.

Here’s what the problem looked like when I was first testing:

Now, it’s not an issue. If you do enable HDR in Windows 10, make sure you adjust the slider for SDR content to your liking (I changed it from the default 50 up to 60):

There’s also another option where you can plug two devices into the monitor at the same time, and split half of the monitor off to different ports – so one PC might be on HDMI1, and the other DisplayPort, and the single screen acts like two separate screens. I thought that was a handy feature if you need to work on different physical devices, as you can flick back and forth between split and single. That’s called PBP – Picture by picture, and there’s also PIP – Picture in Picture which works in a similar way, but overlays one over the other.

Work wise, I RDP a lot. I was a bit concerned how that would work on this monitor, but I usually end up having a single RDP window in the middle of my screen running at 1920 x 1080 resolution. and have something like Twitter via Tweetdeck on the browser behind it full screen – so the first few and last few columns are always visible. I’ve also not run out of screen when using Micrsoft Azure, well known for using a lot of wide screen real estate.

If I need a dual screen setup, snapping one window to the left and the other to the right results in two 1920 x 1200 screen – which is plenty and replaces the function of having two screens quite well.

After checking all that out. it was time to try out some games. First up I picked Rocket League just to check out the field of view, and wow can you see a lot:

Of course about two minutes into this, my eldest son wanted to have a turn, and insisted in playing his favorite game at the time, Goat Simulator:

As part of writing this post, I *had* to play a few rounds of Call of Duty Modern Warfare to continue to show off that field of view. I streamed one round to Facebook Live and got 4th, not bad without a warmup:

Here’s a few screenshots in game at the full 3840 x 1200 resolution (10mb photos full size):

It quite honestly makes a huge difference. Instead of focusing on the entire screen at once, it’s impossible at this size, so you start using your peripheral vision more and glance around rather than purely moving your view with the mouse.

So, as I write this review with WordPress in full screen and huge amounts of white space I find that I like it. I use this when I want to focus and not be distracted, because if it was any smaller then I’d see what was behind it – other open windows, or a desktop with colourful icons. I also usually have a bunch of tabs open like we all do these days, and can actually see what they all are when it’s full screen :)

It took me maybe a week or two, but it has easily become the new norm. Slightly jarring at the start, but I can strongly recommend going ultrawide. 34″ was the original size I was looking at, but now I feel that would be a bit small. Probably the same way we all now have 55″+ TVs and can’t imagine watching TV on a smaller screen than that, which again shows how quick we adapt to bigger screens.

I haven’t got any other ultrawide monitor to compare the Lenovo P44W-10 but I’ve had no issues with this one. As you’d expect, a monitor should just work – and it does. Ultrawide seems to have reasonable gaming support too these days, so it wouldn’t surprise me if this becomes the new norm, replacing the current norm of dual screens.

Lenovo Thinkbook 14 Review

Lenovo’s Thinkbook brand is aimed at the SMB market – it’s as close to being a ThinkPad without being an actual ThinkPad, and the price reflects it.

The Thinkbook 14 follows up from the Thinkbook 14s (compare on Lenovo’s site here) which I saw while I was at Lenovo Tech World and was the first time I’d even heard of the Thinkbook brand. A few months later, I managed to get my hands on one as a trial unit from Lenovo to have a play with the hardware, as it was at a price point that I was looking at, and above the minimum specifications I needed.

Let’s start with the hardware, and then I’ll dive into what I liked/disliked about the laptop:

ProcessorUp to 10th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-1065G7 Processor (1.30GHz, up to 3.90GHz with Turbo Boost, 4 Cores, 8MB Cache)
Operating systemWindows 10 Pro
Display14″ FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS, anti-glare, 250 nits
GraphicsIntegrated Intel® UHD GraphicsIntegrated Intel® Iris Plus Graphics
MemoryUp to 16GB DDR4 2666MHz
StorageUp to 512GB SSD PCIe-NVMe M.2
BatteryUp to 9 hours* with 45Wh battery* Based on testing with MobileMark 2014. Battery life varies significantly with settings, usage, and other factors.
AudioStereo speakers with Dolby® Audio™Dual-array mic, Skype for Business certified
PortsUSB 3.1 (Gen 2, USB-C + DisplayPort + Power Delivery)USB 3.1 (Gen 1, USB-C)USB 3.1** (Gen 1, Type-A, always-on)USB 3.1** (Gen 1, Type-A)Hidden USB 2.0 (Type-A)HDMI4-in-1 card reader (SD, SDHC, SDXC, MMC)Headphone / mic comboRJ45Power DC
Connectivity 802.11AC (2 x 2)Bluetooth® 5.0
Camera720p HD
Dimensions326mm x 230mm x 17.9mm / 12.83″ x 9.06″ x 0.7″
WeightStarting at 3.3 lbs (1.5 kg)
KeyboardFull-sized keyboard with backlightOne-piece touchpadHot Keys for Skype for Business****Requires Skype for Business account, not pre-installed by Lenovo
SecurityThinkShutter Camera CoverSmart Power Button with Fingerprint ReaderActive Protection System (APS)Trusted Platform Module 2.0 (firmware)
ColorMineral Grey
What’s in the boxThinkBook 1465W AC adapter3 Cell Li-Cylinder 45Wh internal batteryQuick start guide

Tech Specs Source: Lenovo

As you can see from above, this isn’t a low end laptop. Processor wise, I only need an i5 CPU rather than an i7 which is fine for my requirements (I went with the i5-10210U), and it’s running the latest 10th GEN Intel CPU.

Display again I only need a 1080p screen, this isn’t a laptop designed for 4K video editing (although possible with a 4K screen attached) and for business requirements, most people want a 1920 x 1080 screen.

The older Thinkbook 14s only supported up to 8GB of RAM, but this supports 16GB which is what I promote as the standard you should aim for these days, which Chrome/New Edge using a lot of the RAM in our web driven world.

Storage, battery, webcam etc are all standard good specs and nothing notable there.

The keyboard is backlit which I always like. The inclusion of Skype for Business keys is a little strange with Skype for Business Online ending in July 2021, leaving only on-premises users; and if you’re running Skype for Business yourself as a phone system you’re probably a medium sized company or bigger, and this is a SMB laptop. Regardless, I personally am a fan and still use Skype for Business so it’s great for my use case, and I expect future models will instead have Microsoft Teams buttons. Maybe these buttons work with Teams anyway – I haven’t tested that yet. The buttons are secondary functions on the ‘print screen’ and ‘insert’ buttons, so worst case you can easily ignore them as they aren’t intrusive in any way, and there’s no dedicated buttons to Skype for Business.

Here’s some side shots of the Lenovo Thinkbook 14:

Front: Looks nice, not much else to see here!

Lenovo Thinkbook 14 Front

Back: No ports here either!

Lenovo Thinkbook 14 Back

Left Side: From left to right we have an RJ45 ethernet port which opens up when needed – seemed solid enough that it wouldn’t snap off easily, full sized HDMI, USB 3.1 with always on, USB-C, USB-C + DisplayPort + Power in, audio jack.

The one complaint I have is that the power in USB-C is the more front of the two ports, where every other Lenovo laptop I’ve had it’s been the one closer to the back. I initially plugged in the wrong one for power and wondered why it wasn’t charging! A minor issue though.

Lenovo Thinkbook 14 Left Side

Right Side: USB 2.0, card reader, USB 3.1, Power.

Yes, behind that little panel is a hidden USB 2.0 port, more on that below. You can also use the older rectangle shaped charger on this laptop, and it’s in it’s rightful place at the back.

Lenovo Thinkbook 14 Right Side

Base: nice long rubber stoppers to stop the laptop sliding around on a desk.

Lenovo Thinkbook 14 Base

Hidden USB 2.0 Port:

This seems like such a simple idea, yet I’ve never seen it before: a port that’s great for your wireless keyboard/mouse dongle, which is recessed into the laptop and has a cover. You’ll no longer have that awkward dongle sticking out of the laptop, asking to be knocked and bent out of shape. All laptops should have this!

Other notable features are the camera shutter so you can avoid feeling like someone’s watching you, and the ‘Smart Power Button’ which has a fingerprint reader, but also briefly ‘saves’ your fingerprint when turning the laptop on, to use when logging in. This means you can turn on and login to the laptop at the same time, getting to your desktop quicker. Another feature that seems simple and hopefully we see more of in other models.

There’s also two Dolby Audio speakers and dual array microphones, as one of the use cases for this is to be a reliable audio/video calling device without needing a headset.

The laptop feels solid and sturdy enough, but not as nice as a high end ThinkPad. You can feel the join where the top and bottom halves of the laptop were joined together, as one layer is on top of the other – but how often are you gently caressing the case of your laptop? Only every few days if you’re me.

Overall I’m very impressed with the ThinkBook 14 for the price point I can see at the time of writing with promotions applied. You won’t get military-spec testing, but you’ll still get a decent laptop fit for SMB.

Lenovo claim that “ThinkBook undergoes stringent tests to withstand spills, bumps, drops, dust, and extreme temperatures.” but I have yet to test the hardyness myself – maybe I will inadvertently.

Although Lenovo provided a demo unit, this was a trial only and the unit returned.

Lenovo Tech World Day 4

See my other posts on:
Lenovo Tech World Day 1
Lenovo Tech World Day 2
Lenovo Tech World Day 3
Lenovo Tech World Day 5 & 6

Day 4 arrived rather quickly – it was the second day of Lenovo Tech World and a day that focused on the consumer side of things, rather than business. All the gadgets!

Again we boarded the bus early, and sat for our 90 minute drive to the convention center.

Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing (aka YY) again introduced the day, tieing in what was presented yesterday in the world of business and SiOT, and how it came back to the devices Lenovo currently had, and were planning. It also tied into the technologies we’d seen at the Lenovo Future Center two days before, which helped explain their vision in a bit more detail.

The ‘deeep’ acronym was used a lot to explain this vision, which was:

smart device
Cross-device engine
Home Edge server
App/Service ecosystem
People-oriented smart experience

Lenovo recognised that people now want smart, stylish and personalised devices. They’re applying this to their Core Smart Devices, and extending out to Other Smart Devices

Then, with a slight hint of smugness, YY announced the was ‘One More Thing’… which ended up being two things; the world’s first foldable PC (The X1 ThinkPad Foldable) and the Motorola Razr. For the two days we’d been expecting this, as we’d spied a little Motorola circle hiding right up above the stage. We were right, it slowly descended for YY to take out the new device, and show off it’s folding ability as he proceeded to pop it into his top pocket.

Next up were more devices, and a demonstration of the Lenovo One software. This software allowed an Android phone’s screen to be duplicated and controlled on a laptop screen which was cool in itself, but also extend the Android’s screen to result in a second screen, running separately to the first. The Lenovo One solution also had file sharing capabilities, and tied back into the Home Edge Server aspect.

Home Edge Server was another interesting angle Lenovo was approaching things on – the idea of a home server isn’t something new, but it was tying all the devices and technologies for ease of use, to have the smarts and storage of a device in your home rather than in the cloud. They didn’t touch too much on the ‘why’ of this that I picked up, but I think it’s a bit more about giving the control and trust of this back to people, rather than relying on a central resource to do it. It seems Lenovo is playing it both ways (which is good to give people options) – bringing centralised cloud based smart systems to businesses, and bringing centralised home based smart systems to consumers.

Moving onto more devices and continuing the theme of ‘having it both ways’, Lenovo delved into two product lines; ThinkPad and ThinkBook. The former being the more conservative style, and the much newer brand ThinkBook being a more modern feel with customisations.

Some of the cool things coming to these devices:

ThinkPad was coming with ‘E-privacy guard’ where it would automatically detect someone looking over your shoulder, and blur out the screen.

ThinkVision M14 was brought up again as a useful standalone monitor, able to be plugged into a mobile or laptop ( I still really like this one!)

The ThinkPlus brand was brought up again, this time as a Smart Conference Solution. It was the reasonably standard video conferencing solution, but again trying to encompass the entire solution rather than bits and pieces – video camers, screens, devices, and real-time translation from one language to another. This seemed to resonate with several people I talked to later, around providing a much more inclusive solution when dealing with people in different languages – everyone could talk in their native language and be more confident.

The show wrapped up with the announcement Lenovo would be sponsoring the Chinese Women’s National Volleyball team, and had a chat to the captain – which was a nice moment to end on.

With the show over, we were rushed away to have a quick opportunity to get a hands-on with the Motorola Razr that everyone wanted to check out.

I was really interested to see how the screen folded for starters – and although this was a prototype and not the end product, it seemed quite robust. The screen actually moved up or down when opening/closing the device to prevent stress on the end-point, which makes sense when you’re told it, but it’s a strange thing to see the entire screen move a little!

The Razr was also thinner than I expected. I liked the take on making a phone smaller to carry around and use (and that front display screen is also touch, and able to do basic phone functions + photos without actually opening the phone), rather than trying to make the device size we’re used to have a bigger display again.

We then wandered around the convention centre a bit more, where I bought my thinkplus USB-C 13000mAh, 48W laptop battery pack that I later lost at the airport. I still have the empty box that haunts me, reminding me of my ignorance in battery-in-checked-luggage rules.

It was time to be a tourist again, so we hopped on the bus and headed to the Temple of Heaven. I learnt a little about all the sacrificial customs they obeyed at the time, and yet again was amazed at the effort, detail and age of all the constructions and artifacts on display.

Following that was another impressive dinner served on a lazy-susan and a good night’s sleep.

Again I tweeted as much as I could on the day, so have a read through my Twitter thread for a few more bits of information and photos I took along the way:

Lenovo Tech World Day 2

See my other posts on:
Lenovo Tech World Day 1
Lenovo Tech World Day 3
Lenovo Tech World Day 4
Lenovo Tech World Day 5 & 6

After having the best sleep I’ve had in a long time, in a rather classy hotel room at Shangri-La;

…. I headed down for a buffet breakfast. An abundance of new foods lead me to choose a bowl full of bite sized samplers, many of which I don’t know what they’re called or contain – but all were quite tasty:

After filling up, we loaded onto the bus to visit Lenovo Headquarters in Beijing. I had no idea what to expect inside, apart from visiting the ‘Future Center’ and seeing some products:

At the Lenovo HQ Enterance

We were ushered through to the Future Center after using the fingerprint driven lockers (which seems like a much better idea than the old PIN style lockers), we had two volunteers have their face scanned in for a lot of the facial recognition systems we were about to see.

Those people’s faces were used to unlock a rather impressive silver ball structure, causing some of the balls to change colour. The faces were then used to get past security gates, again showing now accurate and quick facial recognition can be with real world use cases.

After some impressive visual displays, we were taken into Lenovo’s vision of what AI tech at home could look like. Some of the concepts were:

In the lounge, having a system that would give recommendations driven by AI and machine learning from news, weather, holiday destinations, movie and TV selections and shopping to display to you what you want without needing to select it in the first place – e.g. sitting down in the evening after dinner usually means you want a movie selection, so it will display that information first.

In the bedroom, monitoring your sleep and keeping a perfectly climatised environment, along with opening the blinds in the morning for natural sunlight.

In the kitchen, interfaces which can guide you through a cooking process from beginning to end – knowing what food you have and ordering more if needed, telling you what ingredients to add and how exactly to do each step.

And in the garage (ok it’s car related but I’m keeping the ‘home’ theme going) a car that unlocks with an app rather than a key, and more importantly, is connected to a network that controls the entire road experience – from finding the best route based on traffic, to knowing when pedestrians are crossing the road from intersection cameras and reporting back to the car rather than expecting onboard cameras to see all risks.

None of this is mind-blowing in itself and in isolation, but together this all builds a picture of what our lives could be in the very near future. AI and machine learning are buzzwords constantly thrown around these days, but seeing and understanding how these high level concepts can be applied in particular situations, and Lenovo’s vision of how they see it working is worth understanding. Of course Lenovo is not the only company working towards these goals, but one of the messages that came across is that Lenovo is working hard to build relationships with other vendors to achieve those goals – Lenovo are trying to build upon their specialities, and partner with other companies who have different specialities that can come together for an all encompassing solution.

After the eye-opening Future Center experience, we then entered through the next several rooms containing Lenovo hardware. First up was several office desk setups including Ultrawide screens, stand-up and sit down desks, and artist peripherals.

Next we entered an area containing gaming devices – from a gaming computer in a Star Trek USS Enterprise NCC-1701 case, to a water cooled computer in a bubble known as ‘Winbot’. There were several Legion branded laptops and desktops too.

The Virtual Reality units Lenovo is involved in were also on display; Star Wars and Marvel AR headsets, the Lenovo Mirage, and the Oculus Rift.

Then we had a look at the mobile options – both Lenovo branded phones which aren’t globally available, and Motorola which are (and Lenovo now owns). Some of the other less known products were shown here too – like electronic door locks, robot vaccuums and air humidifiers.

We then saw some of my favorite product line devices – the ‘Think’ series. The Thinkvision P44w – a 43.4″ ultrawide monitor caught my eye first, as it’s on my ‘love to have’ list. The small ThinkPlus Mini 45w power adapters were also there, which really looks like a great travel accessory to replace the standard laptop power brick we’re all used to. Of course all the latest ThinkPads, Yogas and other Lenovo laptops were on display too, as well as the ThinkVision M14 – a portable USB-C monitor that can be a secondary monitor for your laptop or tablet/mobile phone.

The tour kept going, and if you can’t tell already, this was probably the main highlight of the entire trip and I wish we’d had more time there. The next area was more server focused, with again a bunch more hardware laid out to look at. This included an enclosed datacentre amongst server hardware:

Finally for the Future Center we were able to see some of Lenovo’s ideas in action – an area that showcased how their technology can and is being used in the real world. Focuses included a learning environment where students could be monitored to see if they were sitting/standing, reading/listening, happy/neutral etc – things a teacher does already, but can glance at a screen to quickly identify what the entire room is doing rather than relying on their own visual check of everyone. Lenovo also have their foot in the door for medical solutions, and 3D rendering/virtual reality/engineering. It was good to see where Lenovo had found use cases for the ideas they had.

Next up was the ‘Unmanned Store’ – an actual working store in Lenovo, that lets staff use facial recognition paired with reading NFC (I assume) chips attached to supermarket supplies, letting someone go into the store, load up on what they want, and self check-out the items. It worked a heck of a lot better than I’ve seen the local supermarkets trying to let customers self-service, and I even got someone to buy me a warm Ovaltine drink :)

Even more stuff! We then went over to the Lenovo Reliability Labs where we saw staff working away on several things – vibration tests, sound tests (and going into a room with next to no echo is a great way to unnerve yourself), radio wave interference tests, and environmental tests. The environmental tests are performed by putting a device into a large oven like system, and they showed what happened to a screen at 150oC.

After lunch, even more tech treats were in store for us. We spoke to a few Lenovo employees who were talking about the product lines they looked after, which included William (who owns over 300 different ThinkPads – world record holder!) who brought in some nostalgic and weird devices from the history of ThinkPads. We also had a hands on with the new Legion laptops, and the Yoga S940 amongst others.

If that wasn’t enough for one day, we then visited the Summer Palace, and had another great dinner which as always, was presented on a Lazy Susan as we politely fought for access to the plates we wanted the most.

Here’s what I tweeted for this day of the trip – click through to see a bunch of observations and photos:

Lenovo Tech World Day 1

See my other posts on:
Lenovo Tech World Day 2
Lenovo Tech World Day 3
Lenovo Tech World Day 4
Lenovo Tech World Day 5 & 6

About a month ago, I received the invitation to attend Lenovo Tech World in Beijing, China – fully sponsored by Lenovo for being a part of their Lenovo Insiders program. I jumped at the opportunity and thankfully was able to organise work, home and the visa requirements for getting into China in a short enough time to make the trip.

I’d never been to China before, so the prospect of both a completely new place to visit, plus being emersed in the latest technology from Lenovo was a double win to look forward to. The trip was planned for 5 days plus travelling, and included a mix of technology and sight-seeing. On the trip I learnt that this was part of Lenovo’s goal – to expose more of China to the rest of the world since it’s where they come from themselves.

Beyond having a very long 3 leg flight from Adelaide > Sydney > Hong Kong > Beijing and being very tired at the end of it, the journey was rather uneventful. Landing in China and getting past immigration wasn’t much of a hassle, and I even had a driver waiting holding up my name to take me to the accomodation we were staying at – the Shangri-La Hotel.

I expected more of a culture shock than what I actually experienced – beyond everything being written in Mandarin wherever I looked, I didn’t feel offput – just interested in seeing the differences of the world I’m used to in Australia compared to China. One lesson I learnt very quickly was about zebra crossings – cars just drive through them and unofficially seem to have right of way. An Australian could very easily get run over as we’re used to all cars stopping when crossing the road on a crosswalk!

After getting to the hotel, I was treated to an amazing lunch with Lenovo staff and journalists who were also attending Tech World. This was an example of all meals to come – vast amounts of options of premium food catering to all tastes. I’m generally not someone who takes photos of what they eat, but all the food was both greatly different to what I was used to, and visually appealing (for the most part!).

My first meal in China

Following lunch and after a much needed nap, I was awoken by the hotel room phone asking where I was. I’d slept a bit longer than planned, and in a half asleep daze rushed downstairs again to meet and have dinner with the other Lenovo Insiders who’d been invited also. In no particular order, here they all are – all very friendly and smart people:

Arthur H Walker, Vernon Chan, Onica Cupido and Lawrence Mann. I’ve linked to their Twitter accounts, but they’re present in different social media spaces too.

I also have to mention Yuszela from Lenovo who looks after us Insiders, who’s incredibly easy to work with and gets the best outcome for everyone involved. Although I’d been dealing with her for years, this was my first opportunity to meet her in real life too – icing on an already stunning cake of tech, people and environment that was making up this trip.

One of the intriguing parts of China that pretty much everyone’s heard of, is the Chinese Firewall – internet in China doesn’t allow many sites including Google, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – so a lot of time was spent testing and trialing different VPN solutions so we were able to do what we’re here for; sharing the experience with others. There seems to be a cat and mouse game happening between commercial VPN providers and China in shutting down and getting around VPN blocking. In my limited experience it seems no one VPN solution is a silver bullet answer, so if you’re travelling to China and need guaranteed access to the entire public internet, make sure you have a few VPN options available.

I’m sure there’s a few things I’m forgetting about day 1, but I’ll use the excuse of being too tired to remember. The tech starts tomorrow with a visit to Lenovo HQ, so stay tuned for that!