Several weeks ago I received a pre-release YOGA 900, with Lenovo’s streamlined Windows 10 Professional factory software preload, to test and review. Now that the product has officially launched, I can share my thoughts on it.
The YOGA 900 is the next generation of the YOGA "Pro" series of convertible laptops, and follows comfortably in the footsteps of the YOGA 3 Pro (Y3P), while nicely building upon the heritage of its predecessors. Upon opening the box, you can see that heritage immediately with the watchband hinge carrying forward from the the Y3P.
Quite noticeable on the LCD cover are the new-style Lenovo logo, and unlike the Y3P, the Yoga marque is also prominently, but tastefully, displayed. These create very clear brand and "franchise" identification.
My review unit has the following technical specifications
Wireless: Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260 with Bluetooth 4.2r
Audio: Dolby Home Theater with JBL speakers
Webcam: 720p @ 30fps
Battery: 66 Whr (up 50% from the Y3P) with an estimated run time of up to 10 hours
Operating System: Windows 10 Professional
Footprint: 324 x 225mm (slightly smaller than the Y3P: 330 x 228mm)
Height: 14.9mm (slightly thicker than the Y3P: 12.8mm)
Weight: 1.29kg (slightly heavier than the Y3P: 1.19kg)
My first walk-around of the YOGA 900 Left- and right-side ports and controls are fairly similar to the previous generation, yet with some very notable differences.
Closest to the hinge, the YOGA 900 features the same type of proprietary combination power inlet / USB 2.0 port as found on the Y3P. Cable fitment in the inlet feels more secure.
Next to that is a familiar USB 3.0 port, which also supports always-on charging for attached devices (cell phones, tablets, etc).
Just to front of that is a new addition for the YOGA line, a USB Type-C port! I do not currently have any adapters or devices that can utilize the port, so there is not much more I can say about it, other than to note its presence. I am sure, though, that people will be happy with its addition. Note: this takes the place of the mini-HDMI port found on the Y3P, but adapters are available.
Finally, closest to the front edge, is the 4-in-1 card reader (SD, MMC, SDXC, SDHC) carrying forward from the Y3P. Similarly, though, it still does not allow for flush insertion of the cards. I am not sure what is just inboard of the slot and its connections that preclude design of the slot enabling flush insertion, but as UltraBooks get thinner, I am sure that system board real estate is all the more at a premium.
Closest to the hinge is the YOGA 900's second standard USB 3.0 port.
Next to that is the combination headphone / microphone jack. No surprises here.
Just forward is the rotation lock button, which functions as expected when the laptop is transitioned into Tablet mode.
Next is the Novo button, which functions just as in previous models. Pressing it from a power-off state boots the laptop to a pop-up menu offering access to the UEFI/BIOS setup screens, a boot device choice menu, or invoking a system recovery with the One Key Recovery program.
Closest to the front edge are the Power On / Off button and status indicator light. Again, no surprises.
*** Note: quite noticeably absent from the YOGA 900, though, is the physical volume rocker control, which was placed between the headphone jack and the rotation lock button on the Y3P. I am not sure what design or technical reasoning is behind this deletion.
Physical details show the heritage, and the evolution of the YOGA "Pro" series
The YOGA 900 keyboard now sports a sixth row, which makes using the Fn / multimedia keys much easier than the prior arrangement on the Y3P, where these functions were combined with the number keys. Two levels of backlighting rounds out the evolutionary changes to the keyboard, and it is quite welcome.
At first glance I thought that the YOGA 900's TouchPad was slightly larger, but it measures the same as the Y3P. It has an added styling detail around its perimeter, which is a nice touch.
A noticeable change in the physical LCD panel is that the glass extends completely to the edges. No more plastic bezel along the lower edge gives it a sleeker and more refined appearance.
As in the Y3P, there is a "grippy" edge / bumper around the perimeter of the lower and upper shells, which make using the laptop in Tent mode very stable / non-skid. The new model's bumper is nicely textured, also, which is a change from the Y3P's smoother edges.
The power block is a bit larger in size, and its output is increased to 65W (vs 40 for the Y3P), presumably to support the higher performance CPU offerings. The prong pivot mechanism feels much sturdier, also. One item to note, though, is that the placement of the prongs, in the middle of the block, may cause the block itself to interfere with adjacent outlets on a dual wall receptacle or on a power strip.
The watchband hinge looks very similar to the previous generation's design, yet it is subtly different. As I understand, it has been internally redesigned and enhanced, and I can confirm that there is noticeably less wobble in the LCD when in Laptop and Stand modes.
Impressions... so far
Ever since buying my first high resolution, IPS display equipped machine (a ThinkPad A31p with 15" UXGA LCD), I have been hooked on them, and the YOGA 900 does not disappoint. Like its predecessors, the Y3P and Yoga 2 Pro (Y2P), the QHD+ IPS display is beautiful. It's very crisp and bright, rendering photorealistic reproduction, at least to my eyes. While my Y3P and Y2P exhibited a bit of backlight bleed, which is common in IPS displays, the display on my Yoga 900 appears to be devoid of this artifact.
The trademark watchband hinge introduced in the Y3P has always been an eye-catcher. I have had many people comment on its uniqueness. At the same time, while the hinge never felt weak, there was noticeable back-to-front play in its motion when using the touchscreen in Laptop or Stand modes. The internal modifications to the hinge of the YOGA 900 have resolved that. It has the same distinctive appearance, but gone is all but the slightest movement of the panel under touchscreen usage regardless of mode. It really has a greater feel of strength and solidity.
I do not pay much attention to artificial benchmark tests. Instead I rely on the subjective "feel" of a machine's performance. The YOGA 900's switch back to Intel Core I CPUs is a welcome evolution. The Core M CPU in the Y3P was friendly to battery life, but it did run out of horsepower on occasion. Not so, at least so far, in my usage, with the YOGA 900.
Compared with previous models, the factory software loading, based around Windows 10 Professional on my review unit, has been significantly lightened. This is much appreciated follow-though on Lenovo's part, from communications earlier in the year.
*** Reduced are the number of value-add programs that come preinstalled on the laptop. This is a welcome change as many consumers have widely differing opinions of what constitutes a "value-add". Other than the usual antivirus and Office trials, I only see a couple of applications that I need to decide on whether to keep or remove. A completely new one, to me, is Stagelight.
*** The Lenovo Companion and Settings applications seem more useful to me. There was an application named: "One Key Optimizer" preinstalled on my Y3P, of which I was never a big fan. The few functions in that application that I found useful, Battery Conservation Mode as but one example, have moved to the new and improved applications.
The Y2P and the Y3P (and the original YOGA 13 prior to both) were my first exposures to non-ThinkPad Lenovo laptops. Frankly, I was unsure exactly what to expect from them as far as look, feel and perceived build quality were concerned. I have been quite pleased, though, with the high-quality feel of the Yoga machines that I have been able to review and use. The YOGA 900 does not disappoint and, in fact, feels even more refined.
The YOGA 900 is very nice evolution of the "Pro" line of the YOGA series of convertible laptops. It does very well maintaining the heritage of the models that preceded it, while at the same time, building upon the things that have made "YOGA" the machine that everyone loves to copy!
Well done, Lenovo! Thanks for, once again, listening to your customers!
(Disclosure: Lenovo provided the hardware. The words are solely mine.)