About the author: Joe reviews hardware based on how it fits into his life. Joe is a sales professional that manages a team, university professor and gamer. He travels weekly and is a father and husband who also has the privilege of being GWW’s President.
The Lenovo Yoga 900 is the first Surface Book competitor I’ve had the pleasure of testing. As an aside, I much prefer testing laptops at this level than the $200-$300 budget range. The quality of the laptops are typically much better at this level. The Yoga 900 is no exception. It’s gorgeous, sleek, portable, and fast. The keyboard is one of the best I’ve used and tent mode is a must during meetings with small groups. Lenovo has done a remarkable job since the first line of Yoga laptops of improving on the above-mentioned aspects. Powered by the new Intel Skylake processors, this is the best Yoga to-date as both computational performance and battery life have been improved.
The review unit I have is powered by an Intel Skylake i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and an Intel HD 520 GPU. PC Magazine did some light bench-marking if you’re curious. While I typically only need 256GB or storage (+1 for my in-home personal NAS), I’m pleased with the additional space. Outside of games, I don’t run anything demanding. Microsoft Office and Chrome tend to be my primary applications. So the additional cache in an i7 CPU, as compared to an i5, isn’t a necessity. Nevertheless, it’s appreciated. Particularity when the battery life isn’t suffering.
My first road trip with the Yoga 900 was a 2 day trip to LA on business. I left my house at 100% battery life, in sleep mode. After light use on the plane, a few hours later I found myself at 87% battery with 2 hours before the meeting I flew into town for. So I drove to a cafe to catch up on email and do some minor changes to my PowerPoint presentation. You’re probably thinking I’d end up around 50% by the end of the session. Nope! At full brightness on the screen and Wi-Fi running, I dropped to 74%. Impressive. By the end of t
he trip, and moderate usage, I returned home at 37%. The battery life is excellent. Period. Portability, on the other hand, is mostly a question of preference. I like to travel light. For day trips I don’t think I’ll be using the Yoga 900. It’s light and thin but it’s a 13.3″ screen so it needs to be in a standard-sized briefcase or travel bag. I like to travel very light on day trips so I have a simple Tumi that fits up to a 10″ ultrabook. I’m pretty sure it was designed specifically for the MacBook Air. I have, however, used it for several other machines in the Surface family, including the Surface 3 and (snuggly) Surface Pro 3. Of course, when you’re using a smaller laptop you give up so much. If you can’t see them side by side and you just have numbers to look at, consider the Yoga 900’s screen is 33% larger than a MacBook Air or Surface 3. If I can find a lighter cross-body bag that fits the Yoga 900, I’d probably reconsider what I take with me on a day trip. Because not only am I giving up screen size but also power. This i7 is fantastic.
You may be asking what isn’t fantastic. Well, I have only 2 issues with the Yoga 900. First, the hinge is very impressive in that it’s super sturdy. But unless you really drive your fingers between the screen and keyboard, you’re not able to open the laptop with one hand. It’s not that I’m too lazy to use two hands, but it just feels like you should be able to one-hand open this sucker. The second issue is the screen. Ok, the screen is super high resolution. It’s gorgeous and I can’t look away from it. But it almost feels too thin. I believe the Yoga 900 represents the most thin any user will want a laptop screen to be. It it so thin that it feels fragile, and that makes me nervous. The sooner we get to bendable displays, the better. We’ll likely see a whole slew of new designs that make this marvelous machine look ancient.
You may be thinking of other laptops you can get for $1499. At that price point you won’t find anything with the same specs, but the flexible designs are abundant. The Surface Book starts at $1499 but it uses an i5 with 8GB of RAM. There’s also the MacBook Pro to consider or a hefty gaming laptop, including those from Lenovo, ASUS and Razer. But those machines represent an entirely different market.
The bottom line is this: if you need a portable laptop that doesn’t compromise on power, design or quality, then the Yoga 900 is a must-own.