The Lenovo Yoga 900 is like a Transformer wearing an Armani suit and a Rolex. This superthin premium convertible ($1,199 to start, $1,399 as reviewed) features a slick, understated design on the outside and a pixel-packed quad-HD+ 13.3-inch screen and a powerful 6th-gen Intel CPU on the inside. Lenovo's innovative watchband hinge holds the whole package together, making it easy to switch among multiple modes. Other laptop-tablet hybrids last longer on a charge, but the Yoga 900 is easily one of the best 2-in-1s money can buy.
The Lenovo Yoga 900 is a vision of 2-in-1 sleekness. Never mind that it's a tenth of an inch thicker than last year's Yoga 3 Pro; the 900 features lovely magnesium panels on the top and bottom, and a new luxurious, faux-leather plastic on its deck and palm rest. But as with its predecessor, the standout feature is the sparkling watchband hinge that's made of 813 individual pieces, ensuring the screen is always secure no matter what mode the 2-in-1 is in. It's sturdier than last year's watchband hinge.
A closer look at the base of the hinge reveals some clever cooling vents that help keep temps down in this superthin hybrid, and new for this year is the Lenovo's ability to match the hinge's paint with whichever color you choose for the system (options include clementine orange, champagne gold or platinum silver).
Lenovo has also included what it calls Auto Lock hinge technology, which is supposed to make the system easy to open with one hand. But unless you really grind your fingers into the tiny crack between the deck and the lid, this gimmick doesn't really work.
Lenovo includes a shadowy capacitive-touch home button in the fat bezel beneath the display, while the rest of the buttons are located on the right side. There's a power button with a small white light, a tiny recessed button for triggering Lenovo's OneKey Recovery software, and another button to toggle the system's rotation lock on and off.
At 12.75 x 8.86 x 0.59 inches and 2.8 pounds, the Yoga 900 is ever-so-slightly smaller, and noticeably lighter, than other 13-inch convertibles, including the HP Spectre x360 (12.79 x 8.6 x 0.6 inches and 3.26 pounds), the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 SE (13 x 8.7 x 0.75 inches and 3.63 pounds) and Microsoft's Surface Book (12.30 x 9.14 x 0.51-0.9 inches and 3.34 pounds). Even the 13-inch MacBook Air, which is often thought of as the leading thin-and-light laptop design, is a touch larger and heavier, at 12.8 x 8.9 x 0.11-0.68 inches and 2.96 pounds, and it's not even a convertible.
|Lenovo Yoga 900 Size|
|Size||12.75 x 8.86 x 0.59 inches|
Keyboard and Touchpad
Like most Lenovo laptops, the Yoga 900 features the company's scallop-shaped keys, along with two levels of backlighting. The 900 retains the frustrating half-size right Shift key from last year's Yoga 3 Pro, but to help make amends, this year's flagship hybrid has a new set of slim Function keys above the number row. These keys give you dedicated buttons for controlling things such as brightness and audio. (The Yoga 900 lacks a volume rocker, which some other 2-in-1s do have.) Just be careful about accidentally hitting the Close Window button that doubles as the F4 key.
The keys have a short travel distance of just 1.1 millimeters, but the relatively springy response and 58-gram actuation weight help combat any sense of deadness when bottoming out. This allowed me to hit 81 words per minute on my first run through 10fastfingers.com's typing test, which is actually slightly higher than my typical 75- to 80-wpm range. Users with sensitive wrists will find that the soft-touch deck makes their hands feel more comfortable while typing.
The one-piece touchpad measures 3.5 x 2.5 inches and features a soft-touch finish across its top. Using two fingers to scroll through Web pages was supersmooth, and the system never confused left or right mouse clicks during normal use (unlike the Surface Book). Ideally, Lenovo would have made the touchpad a little wider, because a little more mousing real estate would have been nice, and the silky coating is so seductive I just want more of it to touch.
Featuring a pixel-dense 3200 x 1800 13.3-inch display, the Yoga 900's screen is supersharp and does a wonderful job of showcasing photos and movies, no matter which mode it's in. Images remained bright and colorful even at very wide angles. When I watched the trailer for Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight, the rich, goldenrod lapels on Samuel L Jackson's jacket provided a great contrast to his dark winter coat.
The biggest weakness of the Yoga 900's display is its brightness, which is slightly below average. We measured the Lenovo at 284 nits, which makes the Surface Book and the HP Spectre x360 13 significantly brighter, at 387 nits and 339 nits, respectively. The Dell Inspiron 13 7000 was only slighter more luminous, at 316 nits.
MORE: Best Lenovo Laptops
The Yoga 900's color range was a tad short of covering the entire sRGB color spectrum, scoring 93.2 percent. That puts it ahead of the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 (88.6), but behind the Spectre x360 (103.2 percent) and the Surface Book (98.5 percent).
The Yoga 900's color accuracy was similarly strong, but not at the head of the pack -- it earned a Delta-E rating of 2.77 (closer to 0 is better). The Surface Book scored a superb 0.57, while the Dell Inspiron and the Spectre x360 were also better, at 1.16 and 1.25, respectively.
The Yoga 900's stereo JBL speakers are positioned behind two grilles and feature Dolby DS 10.0 Home Theater Certification. Unfortunately, even after playing around with the included Dolby Audio app, I found the bass was lacking. However, when I listened to Drake's "Hotline Bling," I liked the crisp sound of the staccato percussion and richness in the mids and vocals. One downside of the speakers' bottom-mounted design is that audio can shift greatly from quite airy to sometimes harsh depending on what surface the system is resting on.
You'll get the best audio experience when the Yoga 900 is transformed into tent mode. The biggest improvement Lenovo could make on the 900 is to find a way to position speakers on the front of the display, possibly on that big bottom chin, in hopes of delivering a more direct and powerful audio environment.
Ports and Webcam
This is how you do ports on an ultraportable. The Yoga 900 has not only one reversible USB Type-C port for forward-thinking tech enthusiasts, but also three other USB ports (two USB 3.0 and a combo USB 2.0/DC-in) for connecting to a plethora of peripherals. There's also a full-size SD card reader on the left side and a combo headphone/mic jack on the right. Although there's no dedicated video-out connector, you can still push content to an external monitor using the USB Type-C port with a DisplayPort adapter.
For video chatting, there's also a 1-megapixel 720p camera, which pleasantly surprised me with well-exposed images. A picture I took in our well-lit office produced sharp details both on my face and in the background, which is pretty impressive for a sensor with such limited resolution.
Featuring an Intel Core i7-6500U CPU, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD, our review configuration of the Yoga 900 is more than capable of handling the needs of a demanding home or business user. With multiple video streams, more than 20 browser tabs and Photoshop open in the background, Lenovo's well-equipped hybrid didn't miss a beat.
On Geekbench 3, a synthetic test that evaluates overall system performance, the Yoga 900 scored 6,264. That's better than both the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 (6,085) and the HP Spectre x360 (5,614), but less than the base Core i5 Surface Book (6,814).
|Lenovo Yoga 900 (Core i7 / 16GB / 512GB): Performance Tests|
|Benchmark||Score||How it Compares|
|Geekbench 3||6,294||Above Average|
|Spreadsheet Macro Test||4:18||Above Average|
|File Transfer Test||181.76 MBps||Above Average|
When we used the 512GB SSD to duplicate 4.97GB of mixed media files, the Yoga 900 finished in 28 seconds, for a transfer rate of 181.76 MBps. Once again, that's fast enough to beat the Spectre x360 (141.4 MBps), the Inspiron 13 7000 (127.23 MBps) and the ultraportable average (154 MBps), but slower than the Surface Book's superfast 318 MBps SSD.
To test real-world performance, we also used OpenOffice to match 20,000 names and addresses. The Yoga 900 took just 4 minutes and 18 seconds to complete the task, which was slightly faster than the Inspiron 13 7000 (4:32) and 40 seconds quicker than the Spectre x360 (5:04), but pretty much the same as the i5 Surface Book (4:17).
The Yoga 900 is far from being a gaming machine, but with its Intel HD Graphics 520, it's still possible to enjoy a game or two. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft ran like a dream at max resolution and medium settings. World of Warcraft ran at a not-too-shabby 49 frames per second on auto settings and 1920 x 1080 pixels. Dell's Inspiron 13 7000 and HP's Spectre x360 managed just 27 fps and 26 fps, respectively, at the same settings, although the Surface Book with integrated graphics wasn't too far behind, at 43 fps.
In 3DMark's Fire Strike graphics test, the Yoga 900 scored 840. That's ahead of the 710 from the HP Spectre x360 and the 630 from the Dell Inspiron 13 7000, but slightly behind the 854 from the Surface Book with integrated Intel graphics. The ultraportable average is a good deal behind, at 665.
With a runtime of 7 hours and 57 minutes, the Yoga 900's battery life is just shy of the ultraportable laptop average (8:07) and almost 2 hours longer than last year's Yoga 3 Pro (6:05). Unfortunately, 7:57 is still short of times put up by similar 13-inch convertibles, such as the HP Spectre x360 (9:28) and the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 SE (8:26). And let's not forget the Surface Book -- Microsoft's premium laptop managed an impressive runtime of 12:29.
|Lenovo Yoga 900||7:57|
Even with its superthin design, the Yoga 900 does a good job of staying cool. On the Laptop Mag Heat Test, the bottom of the system measured just 92 degrees Fahrenheit, which is safely below our traditional 95-degree comfort threshold. Elsewhere on the system, temps were even cooler, measuring 87 degrees between the G and keys and just 80 degrees on the touchpad.
The Yoga 900 starts at $1,199, which includes a 6th-gen Intel Core i7-6500U CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. Another $100 bumps up the storage to 512GB, and an extra Benjamin on top of that increases the RAM to 16GB, for a fully loaded price of $1,399. testFor those looking for some color in their hybrid, it's nice to see that there's no price difference between the base clementine orange, champagne gold and platinum silver models.
|Lenovo Yoga 900 Cost By Configuration|
|Config||CPU||RAM / Storage||Price|
|Base / Recommended||Core i7-6560U||8GB / 256GB||$1,199|
|Splurge||Core i7-6560U||8GB / 512GB||$1,299|
Software and Warranty
The Yoga 900 features Windows 10, a small selection of preloaded Lenovo tools and utilities, and a trial for McAfee LiveSafe. That means you have access to Microsoft's digital assistant Cortana, its new Edge Web browser and the built-in mode detection that can automatically switch between laptop and tablet views depending on which position the system is in.
Lenovo's preinstalled apps include Lenovo OneKey Recovery, Lenovo Companion 3.0, Lenovo Photo Master, SHAREit and REACHit. The most useful of these is SHAREit, which allows you to easily transfer and receive files from nearby PCs and mobile devices, even without a Wi-Fi or cellular connection.
Previously, HP's Spectre x36013t was easily our favorite 13-inch 2-in-1, but the Yoga 900 makes it very difficult to choose between these two commendable convertibles. HP's machine offers a slightly lower starting price and longer battery life, but the Yoga 900's crisp, high-res display; 15 percent lighter body; slick hinge; and even better performance can't be denied. People who prefer a detachable design may consider Microsoft's Surface Book, though it is more expensive, and has shorter battery life in tablet mode and a worse touchpad. However, among consumer 2-in-1s, the Yoga 900 reigns supreme due to its irresistible blend of premium design and potent performance.