Don't let his looks fool you. Beneath a smiley, baby face, PeterTWJ, one of our Asian tech gurus, possesses a depth of knowledge for all things audio. The forums guru, who joined the community in 2010, has since stuck around to help other customers with their Lenovo systems, and derives much pleasure from being able to do so.
We catch up with the 23-year-old polytechnic student, who hails from Temasek Polytechnic in Singapore, to find out more about him and what makes him tick.
In three days, I'll be in the air headed to San Francisco to TechWorld 2016 with the MotoMakers Advocate team! I'm looking forward to meeting new friends, and reconnecting with friends traveling with the Lenovo INsiders Advocate team!
It's always a challenge to figure out just exactly what to pack in the tech backpack. This time I'm switching things up a bit and won't be taking ThinkPad laptop with me. Shocking, I know!
This is a fast trip, so I'm planning to travel UltraLight!
Of late, I've become quite enamoured with my Yoga 900S. It's very light, very well suited to its use cases, and it turns heads everywhere I take it. So it will be my principal machine on this trip.
I'll also have my ThinkPad Stack power bank and external hard drive since one can never have enough power or storage space. Beyond that, I'll have a couple nondescript tablets with me, for backup, and my IEMs to drown out jet engine noise. So, why is the Yoga 3 Pro in the picture? Well, that nice piece of kit will be on the first leg of its journey to a new home. It's being gifted forward, and I'll report on that in a future Spotlight article.
TechWorld is going to be great!
Tune in on the 9th, and watch Facebook and Twitter: @lenovo, @Moto_USA, @lenovoUS and @lenovoforums, along with the #LenovoTechWorld, #MotoMakers and #LenovoIN hashtags for all the stories as they unfold!
More soon from San Francisco!
He’s one of our youngest community moderators, but don’t let his age fool you. Meet Bryan Baker, or XBrav, as he is known in our forums, who is not just nice to humans in need of computer help, but also creatures of the feline kind.
He's one of our newest forum gurus, but OS/2 expert Martin Iturbide, or martiniturbide is no stranger to helping folks on the internet. Meet the Sci- Fi aficiando and tech enthusiast here.
You have seen our badged contributors - gurus and moderators, who help out in our forums community as volunteer subject matter experts, as well as arbitrators, but what makes them tick? Meet David Hocker, who not only helps techies, but also furbabies find their forever homes where he is.
Over the past year, our product design and engineering teams have been using your feedback from the Lenovo Product Ownership Survey to help make our products better. In return for this valuable insight, we have chosen at random one lucky winner, Chang-Eun Lee, to receive a brand new YOGA 900 just for completing this 10-minute survey!Read more...
A couple months ago I received an email inviting me to be Lenovo's and Forums' guest at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. I think it may have taken all of two nanoseconds to send off my reply of "Yes! Thank You!"
The following weeks were filled with briefings, schedules and logistics planning, and with very much anticipation! I've been to CES a number of times, previously, but this year was especially exciting as I would be meeting up with fellow forum supermoderators, bananaman and JaneL (who was traveling with the Lenovo INsiders advocacy group). bananaman and I commented on our preparations here: https://forums.lenovo.com/t5/Community-Spotlight/C
I've put this account together in chrono-journal style. While it may seem to jump around, I think it conveys the vast quantity of access to people, products and projects to which we were given access.
Travel & Welcome day... Tuesday, 5 January
I didn't sleep much the night before as there was much too much to do.
Air travel check in... check! Laundry... check! Bag packed... check! Laptops & assorted bits sorted... check! Backpack packed... check!
A quick nap and the alarm rang at 0300. I was off on my first leg by 0330, a ~90min drive to the airport. Just about the only good thing about a 0645 flight is that the bag check and security lines are usually short! As we taxied for take-off, the horizon was just starting to light up!
A few hours, a bunch of text messages, numerous tweets, and an hour ground-hold in Atlanta later, and I'm in Las Vegas! And on time, no less. The pilot made up all of the delay!
Baggage collection was a breeze this year, compared with past years and, amazingly, the cab line was nonexistent! Within a short while, JaneL and two INsiders program invitees, Kris M. and Scott B., landed and we met up in the baggage area for first-time introductions. As bananaman was still a ways out, I stayed behind to meet him and share a cab to the hotel. After a quick settling-in at the hotel, he and I met up to walk over to the venue space in the Venetian on Restaurant Row, and to take in the sights of CES getting geared up.
In the process, we found a place able to repair bananaman's glasses, and to celebrate that we stopped for a refreshment before joining the rest of the invitees and our host, Taylor W., for our Welcome Dinner in the Mirage.
Left-to-right and around the horn: Dan A., Scott B. Taylor W., Kris M., Dave K., bananaman, JaneL. Lizza M. and Arthur W. joined us a bit later. We had a great time getting to know one another! After a great dinner, and going over the schedule for the next few days' events, we split up. Some, back to the hotel, while a few of us walked around the general area helping Taylor W. get some pictures for Lenovo. Since the rain had stopped, it was a great way to end a very long day! We needed to be up early and ready for the start of the show, so we ended the day.
The Lenovo Exhibitions officially open, Day 1... Wednesday, 6 January
Since this was the day that the product exhibition in AquaKnox opened, after a quick breakfast, I took a spin through to get a feel for the coming days. It was getting busy quite early!
This is also the first day we were able to get into a new addition to Lenovo's venue setup - The X1 Lounge! It was to become my favorite of all the spaces!
Around the outer perimeter of the space above, there was a Legacy Wall. On display were eight laptops that span the evolution of ThinkPad, and culminating in today's state with the 4th generation X1 Carbon, and the 1st generations of the X1 Yoga and the X1 Tablet.
(Image 1, top and left-to-right: 700c, 560, 240, X20; Image 2, top and left-to-right: 701c, X41, x60, x300)
Our first event in the venue was a keynote presentation by Luis Hernandez, Vice President and General Manager of ThinkPad, entitled: What is Customer Centric engineering? He focused on the evolution and expansion of the X1 family of products.
Following this we headed back to Public House, the main meeting venue, for Product Review sessions with Steve Gilbert (Commercial Portfolio) & Andrew Barrow (Consumer Portfolio). We were offered an overview of the new and exciting products in each portfolio, and had the opportunity to ask questions and offer feedback. Of course, of particular interest were the expansion of the X1 family on the commercial side, and the Yoga 900s Ultrabook & Y900 gaming laptop on the consumer side.
Next up was our executive discussion session with Dilip Bhatia, VP Global Marketing and User Experience for PC and EBG Lenovo. Our discussion spanned a number of topics including, of course, favorites at CES 2016. (Video may be available at a later date)
Two Lenovo INsiders conducted interviews with Lenovo product managers. Kris M. chatted with Jonathan Calkins about the YOGA 900 and YOGA 900s, and Dan A. chatted with Mattney Beck about the newest additions to the ThinkPad Stack:
Towards the end of the afternoon we returned to the X1 Lounge for a keynote presentation by Dilip Bhatia, VP Global Marketing and User Experience for PC and EBG Lenovo, entitled: Addressing the needs of "Progressives". A key point from his talk is that Lenovo, clearly, listens to and responds to customer feedback.
A bit later, Lenovo INsider Arthur W. chatted with Teddy Lee about the Y900 gaming laptop:
Following dinner, we headed back to the X1 Lounge for a keynote presentation by Peter Hortensius, Chief Technology Officer and Senior VP Lenovo, entitled: Insights to Technology of Tomorrow. Key messages included focusing on "Right and relevant innovation" and "Solving real problems".
The evening concluded with a party sponsored by Intel. It was a good opportunity to relax from the day's activities, indulge in more food & drink, and share notes with other attendees.
So much to see & do, and so little time, Day 2... Thursday, 7 January
The morning started on a high note! Lenovo's Chairman and CEO, Yang Yuanqing, was in the AquaKnox showcase for a walkthrough. Lizza M. did a Periscope session with him, and we were able to get a group picture with him, too!
Our next stop was the X1 Lounge for a keynote presentation by David Hill, Chief Design Officer and VP Lenovo, entitled: ThinkPad Design and Heritage. His phrases, "Purposeful evolution" and "Intersection of form, function and emotion", are very resonant concepts for any ThinkPad lover.
We returned to Public House for our executive discussion session with Peter Hortensius, Chief Technology Officer and Senior VP Lenovo. Once again, the discussion began around favorites at CES 2016, and progressed afield from there. Amazing access to the most senior people at Lenovo! (Video may be available at a later date)
Back in the X1 Lounge, next we had an INsiders Q&A session with David Hill, Chief Design Officer and VP Lenovo. Topics ranged from challenges in the design process, to time from inception to implementation, to favorites ThinkPads along the way, and we even touched on the Retro ThinkPad.
Then we were back to Public House for our final executive discussion session with David Roman, Chief Marketing Officer and Senior VP Lenovo. I can't stress enough how unique it is to be afforded access to the company's highest executives, and to know that our voices are heard! (Video may be available at a later date)
Just before dinner, we received a good overview of the Lenovo Apps: WRITEit, SHAREit and REACHit, followed by a live, hands-on demonstration in the AquaKnox exhibition venue.
The evening activities kicked off with exclusive access to the press event to announce and detail the Project Tango collaboration between Google and Lenovo.
Following that, we headed over to the X1 venue, where we were given the opportunity to learn more about Project Tango and to play with prototype developer kit Tango devices.
The evening concluded with a party sponsored by Microsoft. Once again, it was a good opportunity to relax from the day's activities, partake of refreshments, and share notes with other attendees. I caught up with David Hill, and bananaman & I were able to spend some time chatting with him. A great pleasure!
Winding down, catching up & farewells, Day 3... Friday, 8 January
Following two very busy days, we now had an opportunity to catch up with all we'd experienced. We had some time to start curating pictures, writing up reports & blogs, and preparing for homeward travel.
During the day, though, INsiders had opportunities to interview two product managers. Scott B. chatted with Tim Bass about the X1 Tablet, and JaneL chatted with Sachin Pathak about the X1 Yoga and X1 Carbon:
To celebrate a successful CES and our participation with Lenovo, we took a nice evening walk south on the Strip to the Bellagio where we had a great dinner!
(Photo courtesy of Chris F.)
From there it was a short walk to the "O" Theater to see the Cirque du Soleil show of the same name. Truly a great one!
Then it was back to the AquaKnox for the last part of the Social Media Party. All of the hard-working Lenovo folks who make CES such a success were finally able to relax a bit before shutting down and returning home. It was our chance to say our farewells and express our gratitude to our hosts (especially Taylor W.), and farewells to our fellow advocates.
The road home... Saturday, 9 January
As it began, so it ends.
After a short nap, the alarm sounded at 0300. My bags were packed and I was headed to the airport at 0400 for the journey home.
Thank You, Lenovo, for inviting me to be a part of your CES 2016!
AND THEY ARE OFF SOON!
Supermods bananaman and sarbin are all set and ready to go on an epic adventure to Las Vegas next week, where they will get first dibs alongside other Lenovo delegates and advocates on getting first hand information and sneak peeks at our exciting product lineup next year.
We catch up with them in the midst of the holidays to see how they are going, and find out what they are going to bring to the event, which will take place from 5 Jan to 9 Jan 2016.
I'm really excited to be joining sarbin on behalf of the Lenovo user community at CES! I'll be leaving my stack of ThinkPads at home, and traveling light:
That's all I need to give the community an inside view of Lenovo at CES!
P.S. Yes it's me on the motorcycle.
In a few short days, I will be taking to the sky, headed to the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show!
(Jan 6-9, in Las Vegas)
Fellow forum advocate, bananaman, and I will be the guests of Lenovo this year, and we will be meeting up with others from the Lenovo INsiders program. Together, we will have front-row seats to all of the new technology that Lenovo will be releasing over the coming months. We'll also be meeting with a number of key executives to learn more about the company and to provide our feedback 'from the customer'. As we explore the product showcases, you will find us posting in the forums, so if you have questions, please do start your own threads, too. We will try to get you answers! You can also follow and participate in CES discussions on social media by watching the #LenovoCES, #CES2016 and #LenovoIN hashtags.
The first time I attended CES, in 2001, I lugged (lovingly) my ThinkPad A31p. For its day, it was a great beast of a machine, and it went everywhere with me. This year though, thankfully, I will be able to travel much more lightly, and more powerfully! I will be taking along my ThinkPad X1 Carbon (gen3) and my pre-production Yoga 900. I wrote about both, previously. Taken together, they are a combined package that's thinner and lighter than the A31p! I will also have a couple of my ThinkPad Stack modules with me. Certainly the power bank, and likely also the external hard drive to store all of the pictures and video I will be capturing at the show.
I have always been a true road warrior when it comes to computing and technology. Now that machines are becoming so thin and light, without giving up power and performance, I can easily travel with complete redundancy and capability. I find the combination of Carbon3 plus Yoga900 to be great! I will be working on the Carbon3 while monitoring and interacting with social media on the Yoga900 in 'tent' mode.
Edit to add: My CES2016 kit is set!
(Back to front, left to right: Lenovo backpack, Yoga 900, ThinkPad Stack bag holding all manner of cables and adapters, Gen3 X1 Carbon, ThinkPad Stack power bank and HDD, moleskin notepad, 7" tablet & Gen1 Moto360)
Stay Tuned! Much more to come once we are on the ground in Las Vegas!
Have a question for our advocates? Post them in our special board available very soon. They will actually be live on the ground helping to answer YOUR questions and be your eyes and ears direct from CES2016!
Back in May 2015, one of our Spanish community moderators, Tasurinchi, made a trip on his own to the Bratislava (Slovakia) office where the very excited tech enthusiast, who is also a Lenovo Insider, got to have a look-see around the premises.
We catch up with the super helpful advocate, who is also incidentally a foodie, in one of his very first interviews in Spanish.
The English Language transcript is below:
I am Tasurinchi, A Spanish Community Moderator. Good Morning.
WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO THE COMMUNITY?
A bit of a long story but to summarize it, I am a ThinkPad collector; I am a big fan of ThinkPads. I started collecting notebooks in 2006 when in my job they gave me my first T30, since then I started collecting ThinkPads that generally sold as broken. I started fixing them and in order to fix them I started to register in forums to try to get more knowledge and information. That is how I got to the Official Lenovo Forums.
At the time I had a sizeable collection of ThinkPads. Around 50-60, I don’t fully recall. I also had gathered enough knowledge as to be able to help out in the forum instead of just asking things.
My first visits in the forums were asking questions but that slowly changed and I would answer more and more questions. Eventually Miguel discovered me and asked me if I could help, contribute more and dedicate more time to the Spanish Community. One thing led to another, from user to Guru, from Guru to Moderator. That is how I got to where I am now, spending my time looking for ways of how to help users that are facing issues with their notebooks or tablets.
HOW HAS THE SPANISH COMMUNITY CHANGED?
Well, it has changed a lot. I remember that in the beginning, to be sincere, there weren’t that many questions but that has boomed and now I see more and more users involved. More questions about different models. Originally I visited the ThinkPad forums more but I have seen an extreme growth in the phone and tablet forums and yoga and ThinkPad tablets. It is really hard to explain in numbers but my feeling is that it has doubled, even tripled from when I registered in the forums.
WHY DO YOU THINK IT HAS GROWN SO MUCH?
Well, I suppose it is due to the high penetration Lenovo has in a very diverse portfolio of products. Initially, I saw Lenovo more associated with ThinkPads but now I see they are so diverse that they are associated with tablets and phones. Lenovo has a very large range of tablets, based on prices and specifications. Generally, a great diversity of models that allows for more users to buy them and in turn for more users to have questions and that the amount of posts and threads grow.
HOW IS THE SPANISH COMMUNITY DIFFERENT FROM OTHERS?
Well, I suppose that the most obvious difference with the English Community is the volume of posts it receives. Not only English speaking users are registered there but also users from Africa, Asia, Europe, different countries there. The volume is much greater than what we have in Spanish speaking countries.
Lenovo has grown in the last few years in the Latin-American markets but that is the biggest difference I notice.
The other difference is the type of posts. The Latin-American user is far more insistent, more how can we say, more impatient in terms of time. Very often I see in the difference from being active in the English and German Forums. Of course there is always the urgent issue but for the Latin users the question is always urgent and if in one day there were no replies then there is already another post. This forces us to more closely follow discussions.
The technical level of the moderation team among communities is very high and very consistent. This is something where I see no difference between the German, English or Spanish Forums. This is excellent because it denotes that the quality among languages is on par. Besides the language I see a very high level of technical knowledge.
The Spanish team has grown quite a bit. I remember that originally it was 4 of us when I got promoted to guru and then mod, now we are 3 more. This has grown proportionally to the growth in the community and in the Lenovo portfolio.
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU TO GET INVOLVED AND ANSWER QUESTIONS?
I personally do it in part because I am thankful for the time when I was registered to ask questions. Easily 70% of my ThinkPad collected was fixed due to someone that helped me out in the forum or an answer someone had posted there. So, in a way it is my contribution. I AM not able to go back and thank all of the people that previously helped me, they probably knew more than me and had solved their problem, and I think it is my biggest contribution from what I learned from the forums. Giving a bit back and help the people.
On the other hand, it also as an experience is a very positive thing. It is really nice to hear someone say “oh this really helped me, thank you very much.” They were probably able to solve their problem and potentially extend the life of their notebook. Maybe even bring back a notebook from the dead and be able to use it. A thankful user is very rewarding as a moderator.
A user that thanks us and leaves the forum happy is a big payoff as a moderator.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE THE COMMUNITY?
My first piece of advice is to keep the same level of response. Everytime I see a new question it is followed by a prompt answer. Keeping this level of customer service or to increase it.
For me another recommendation is to explore other areas. I for example feel more comfortable in the ThinkPad section but I have seen there are a lot of questions in the tablet section, I would recommend the MODS to look into increasing their knowledge of other products.
The growth of tablets and phones has been exponential and for that reason it is an area that we can’t ignore. For the time being we are ok but we need to make sure that we keep up as to not see continued post growth that we wouldn’t be able to answer.
HOW CAN LENOVO EMPOWER YOU IN YOUR ROLE?
Well Lenovo has something that I really liked. They always had excellent Hardware and Maintenance manuals. For me this is something they must keep in the whole spectrum of Lenovo products. Having the manuals can guide us on how to troubleshoot certain problems. Guides on what steps to take in order to keep your system in a good working state. For me documentation is key, it is essential to keep well documented information of the product. Having a strong online presence is also important, to have all products listed and include all relevant information about a product or a line products.
ANYTHING YOU WOULD LIKE TO TELL THE FORUM TEAM?
Thank everyone for their help, because many times I’ve required help from other MODs, especially if I have a problem replying to a certain question or technical problem. After all, I don’t know everything. Thank them for the collaboration; even with the time difference as some of us MODS are here in Europe and others in Latinamerica. There has always been excellent and prompt communication. That is something that I really appreciate about our team.
It's amazing how quickly time whizzes by - and how much the Lenovo Forums community has grown. Started in Dec 2007, it was and still is, a platform for all our customers to get together to share their knowledge.
And how it has grown and changed, where we now even seek to get your thoughts on product designs and what you want in future iterations of our products.
We catch up with a few of the very special people who help us run our community - and some of them are our founding members!
Yes, Virginia.... there is a real desktop in Windows 10 - but there is something you need to be aware of in order to find it on a Yoga 900. Read on for the detail on what to watch out for, and much more!
We are truly proud of our forum advocates, who go out of their way to help those less privileged and fortunate. Our latest hero is John Polanco or jcpolanco (in red t-shirt below) who is a Forum Moderator in our Spanish community, and he shared with us this amazing story of how he helped some kids back home.
"In my country, Dominican Republic, there are many children and young people of limited means who regularly do not have access to technology. That's why I'm always willing to offer my services on a voluntary basis, to reach out to and teach and help them learn about computing and the digital world.
Some time ago I chatted with the Spanish community lead for the Lenovo Forums, Miguel_Lenovo, who said he had access to some t-shirts for children and asked if I could do anything in my country with the clothing, that it was possible for him to send them to me to be used. I immediately jumped at the opportunity and planned it such that I would co-ordinate with an institution locally (that worked with underpriviledged kids) to do a presentation about technology, get them some hands- on experience and exposure to devices, and gift them the t-shirts, as well as treat them to some snacks.
After much planning and co-ordination, I conducted a presentation "The History of the Personal Computer" to an awesome bunch of kids. In addition to the food and t-shirts, I also took several pens, notebooks and other souvenirs that I had received on my visits to different events I had attended, and gave these away as prizes. It was fun to answer the many questions the innocent kids pose and hearing their point of view about how tech works, such as how they thought a CD-ROM operated or how the world of technology has evolved over time.
It was truly a blessing to be able to interact with them. Just look at the beaming smiles on their faces! Makes everything just so worthwhile."
This review is an analysis of a (then (yet-to-be-released) large-format, all-in-one computer that visually resembles the Lenovo Horizon 27” multimode computer. The target audience is the home user. The computer can serve as a focal point for sharing various kinds of multimedia content and also provides a platform to run single and multi-player games. From my experience with the YOGA Home 900 I found that it is also very capable of running normal business and home applications.
The machine I was seeded was based on an ultra-low voltage Intel i7-5500U CPU and came with 8GB of DDR3 memory. It has a large, bright 27” touchscreen. The system automatically switches between integrated (Intel HD Graphics 5500) and Discrete (nVIDIA 940a) graphics. The only ports are three USB3 connectors, a headphone jack, an HDMI-in port and a power connector. The USB3 ports can be connected to a hub for additional expansion options. Networking is handled by a Realtek 8821 AE, which supports wireless 802.11ac connections. It also has Bluetooth and an NFC reader. The machine was loaded with Windows 10 Standard Edition. The hard drive was a 1TB Western Digital WD10S21X-24R1BT0-SSHD-8gb, a hybrid drive.
Since I am not a game player and am more of a business or technical power-user, I am not part of the primary audience, so my review is more of an assessment of the hardware from a technical point of view, than an assessment of how well the machine runs full-motion, high-speed games. However, the idea of an all-in-one to replace my desktop was attractive, so one of the items I wanted to include was what features, if any, would be needed if I were going to use the machine as my primary computer.
My first impressions were positive. The computer was well packed in a large shipping box. I opened and unpacked it and found that it came with a soft carrying bag, and a wireless keyboard and mouse. I thought that the physical design was good. The stand seemed very sturdy and easy to use. I started it up and, as I always do with a new machine, I took an image backup. I then looked through the installed programs to see what was there. I looked under Device Manager to make a list of what hardware devices were present, and what I thought I should test. I let Microsoft Update install any important updates, and then I downloaded and installed Lenovo System update. Since I am primarily a business user, and I had a spare Microsoft Office license, I installed that next. As I had hoped, all the common software worked without issue. At the end of the first day, I needed to get the computer off the dining room table, so I shut it off and put it into the included soft bag. The bag has 2 straps with reinforcements and briefcase-type handles in the center. I tried to pick it up by the center handles and one of them immediately tore out. Luckily, the bag was on the floor when I lifted it, otherwise, it could have fallen and broken on the first day, which would not have been a good beginning. I think the straps are fine and necessary, but I suggest leaving off the center handles; they are simply not sturdy enough to support the weight.
I had expected problems related to the video driver because the nVIDIA 940a is a new (not yet released) device, and new chips generally need frequent driver updates. I tried to force several applications to use discrete graphics, using the nVIDIA control panel. All the mainstream software ran without issue. To be honest, since I was not testing applications that ever really stressed the video, it would have been hard for me to know if I were really using the discrete video chip. When I did the temperature stress testing described below, the video testing software that I used certainly did exercise the nVIDIA graphics chip without issue.
One unusual feature is the video capture (HDMI-in) port. It seemed to work fine. Since it is uncommon, and many users are probably unfamiliar with it, I tried to test it fully. I included a brief description at the end of this review. There is no video-out port; I found that fact interesting, but probably not a problem for the intended audience. I ran slideshows and movies on smaller machines, connected to the YOGA via HDMI (connected both by cable and Wireless Display), and everything worked without issue. The YOGA Home 900 made an excellent presentation device.
I also wanted to test the NFC chip (Near Field Communication), but I had the same problem that I had when I tried to use the NFC reader on my desktop. I was never interested in using it for authentication, which seems to work, but when I tried using the feature to establish a transfer process to move pictures automatically from my phone, it “worked” exactly the same way it did on my desktop. The devices recognized each other; the connection was established, but nothing was ever transferred. I am yet to find a use for the NFC technology that helps me with anything.
The YOGA Home 900 also has an ambient light sensor that automatically controls the screen brightness based on how light the room is. I have never cared for that sort of device and I find automatic brightness changes distracting. I turned the feature off.
When I ran video and CPU stress testing software, I was never able to get the machine anywhere near overheating. My primary laptop is a quad-core ThinkPad W540, and my desktop is a generic, mixed-breed tower with a quad-core 4th generation i7 chip. The YOGA Home 900 ran cooler than my W540 and about the same as my desktop. I wouldn’t expect heat to be a problem. For my tests, I used Furmark to test the graphics chip, and the Intel Burn Test to stress the CPU.
I did find the disk to be a little slow in running benchmark tests, but for the business-type software I generally use, it would not be an issue. Again, I am not a game player, but I would expect that games might be a little slow to load, but most things (screen maps, etc.) would tend to be kept in memory. For me, the slow speed was only noticeable at startup.
I opened the machine to do two things: I wanted to learn about expansion options, and I wanted to swap hard drives so I could try testing a clean install of Windows 10 (described below). For the clean install, I wanted the safety of testing the install while retaining the original, working drive. Having a spare drive also let me test backup and restore. There was no Hardware Maintenance Manual (then) to describe splitting the case, but since the machine is similar to the Horizon 27, I used that computer’s manual. I think there is an error in the description, so I will provide a clarification. The Horizon 27’s manual talks about putting a screwdriver into a slot and pressing with a lot of force until the case starts to split. Actually, the slot is fairly large, and you need to press against a particular part of the slot. If you press anywhere else, nothing will happen until you press hard enough to break the whole thing. When you look at the slot, it is all black inside so it is hard to understand what is really there. After I got the machine apart. I laid the back cover onto a piece of white paper and shined a flashlight in. The area to press shows up as white in my picture. I pressed against the right spot with a fairly large-sized screwdriver and as soon as the case just barely began to split, I used a rigid, sharp putty knife to gently separate the 2 halves.
The machine is heavier than smaller laptops because of the weight of the screen, and the force needed is significant. The job requires more dexterity than what is needed to open most computers, so I would hesitate suggesting that a user open his or hers, unless that user was experienced in doing repairs. In any case, I would provide a warning.
As far as expansion, the YOGA Home 900 has a single memory slot with no memory soldered to the motherboard. Since it has a 5th generation core i3/i5/i7 CPU, it would be expected to support 16GB on a single DIMM. The memory required is standard, unbuffered, 1.35V, 1600 mHz (PC3-12800), CL11, non-ECC, 204-pin DIMM. I tried a generic (no-name) DIMM meeting those specifications, and it worked without issue.
The YOGA Home 900 has a single SATA slot that seems to work with any standard 2 ½” drive that is 7mm thick. There is no internal slot for an mSATA or M2 drive, or a WWAN card. The lack of such a slot would probably be expected in a machine designed for home use.
The inside of the machine seems well-designed and there are three cooling fans, which may help account for the cool temperatures.
Even though I am not in the target market, there would not be many necessary changes to make me consider using the Yoga900 Home to replace my desktop computer, even though the configurations are very different. My desktop is a quad-core I7 and the YOGA Home 900 is a dual-core, low-voltage i7 CPU. Also, my current desktop has 32GB of memory, while the maximum RAM in the YOGA Home 900 is 16GB. I would seldom, if ever, notice the memory, but I would be more affected by the CPU. I can see that the heat generated by a standard-voltage quad-core CPU would be incompatible with the thin profile of the YOGA Home 900. I would need to run more extensive tests to understand whether it would be a large or small issue. For me, it would be worth a small loss of performance to get rid of my desktop’s tower. My current desktop has large hard drives that I use to hold online backups. I expect that I could simply migrate to network-attached storage. Optical drives and ports could be connected via a USB hub. I find the hard drive slow when Windows is starting or shutting down. (Drive speed is most noticeable when reading or writing a lot of small files. When that is happening, head movement and rotation time or latency times are more significant than transfer rate. Startup and shutdown are the most common times for such activity to occur.) I would probably have the machine configured with an SSD. The feature I would miss the most relates to my monitor, which, at first glance looks exactly like the YOGA Home 900’s screen. Both are clear, bright 27” touchscreens. My current monitor is attached to a swing arm that allows it to be 6” (15cm) above my desk, so it is at eye level. That monitor has VESA standard mounting holes (4 holes on 100mm or 75mm centers), so it can be attached to an arm via thumb screws, allowing quick attachment and removal. Looking at the internal design of the YOGA’s stand makes me think holes could be added.
Overall, I would rate the machine very high. I am not well equipped to test the gaming, but everything I tried worked fine, and I was surprised how cool it ran, for a high-performance machine. I expected to have driver and software problems, because of the newness of the hardware, but that was not the case. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a large-format gaming machine.
Using HDMI-in Port for Presentations
One of the unusual features of the YOGA Home 900 is the HDMI port that allows the machine to be used as a remote, secondary display. When connected, the YOGA Home 900 becomes the equivalent of a high-definition television, and all control is passed to the connected (sending) computer. An operator doing the presentation can sit in the back of the room with a laptop and drive the YOGA Home 900 sitting in front of a group. The group can be a business meeting, or it can be friends and family viewing photos or videos on a large, clear screen, while the slideshow or video can be managed remotely.
The photo shows the YOGA Home 900 showing a movie that is controlled on a remote computer, connected via wireless display adapter.
The setup is simple. If you use an HDMI cable, you simply plug it into both computers and the YOGA Home 900 display shows a copy of the other computer’s screen. Having a cable limits where the devices can be located, but it is as easy as plugging a cable.
There are also wireless options. The most common is the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter. The device is plugged into the HDMI-in port and there is a USB cable that is plugged in to provide the power. The sending computer must be running Intel integrated graphics; it must have free software installed, and it must have one of several Intel wireless cards. I could not get it to work with my desktop computer that has a Broadcom wireless device. Setup was fairly simple. The Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter comes with instructions for pairing the 2 computers.
Windows 10 Clean Install from Generic Microsoft Media
The first step in any clean install is to be sure to back up your existing installation using whatever tool(s) you prefer. Having too many backups is better than missing something. I am probably overcautious, but my preference, whenever it is reasonable, is to remove the hard drive physically and keep it in a drawer until I’m sure I won’t need it. I then put a new drive into the computer. In case things go bad, you can swap the old drive back in.
If you wish to or need to install Windows from a generic Microsoft image without Lenovo applications and drivers, the process is easier if you do things in a certain order. I downloaded a new image from Microsoft right before the install, to get the latest drivers included. Be sure to get the edition that matches your license key that is embedded in the BIOS. You can determine the edition by looking for the sticker on the bottom case. The key should be picked up automatically during a clean install, but I always suggest that people extract their key so it can be entered if requested during the install, or for later activation. (If you don’t have the key and need it, you can install an un-activated copy and you will have 3 days to get the key and activate.) I like to use RWEverything to get the key. The program is free and widely available. When you run the program, choose the ACPI table icon at the top. Scroll to the right to the MSDM (Microsoft Digital Marker) table, and you will see your unique key.
Clean installs work best if you delete everything from your hard drive. If you are reusing your old drive, use whatever wiping program you like. I use Active Killdisk, free edition. Your BIOS might be set to boot from UEFI only. That setting complicates booting from utility DVDs or USB sticks. You can boot into the BIOS and go to the “Startup” tab. Turn on “CSM” (compatibility support module) and select the option to boot from “Legacy First”. (Be sure to boot into the BIOS again after wiping in order to set the startup options back.)
Unless you are getting rid of the machine and need to wipe any sensitive material off the disk, you can interrupt the wiping program after it erases the first few tracks, where the boot sector and partition tables are located. The program I suggested, does that part first. I let the program run about a minute.
Now boot from the Windows 10 medium. Choose “Custom: Install Windows only”. Now, make a cup of coffee and wait. I installed from a DVD and was never prompted for a windows key. There is a process that is used by large organizations with cloned drives and a group of keys stored in a certain format on a USB stick, and used one at a time. I have seen problems where installations from USB sticks have had complications in which the installation process tried to get a key from the install medium, rather than getting the key from the BIOS. If that happens, install without providing a key and activate later. DVDs don’t ever have that problem.
After the install completes, go to device manager and check for problem devices. I had a few. I simply selected each one and clicked the driver tab and chose the option to search for the driver using Windows Update. All the missing drivers were found using this method, but my display adapter, while not a problem device, was still listed as a generic Microsoft video adapter, rather than the nVIDIA 940a.
I then searched for and downloaded the latest version of Lenovo System Update. For some reason, the install took minutes, rather than seconds to start, but it did start and install. Running System Update updated six drivers, including the one for the nVIDIA video.
Finally, I ran Microsoft Update to get all the latest changes, and I made another backup.
I would come back with a later review further down the road.
Join me on my voyage of discovery about WIndows 10 - is it as good, or bad, as many claim? Is it going to work for me?
Watch this space!
About a year ago I wrote a series of articles on my Android Adventure, on then new Lenovo Yoga Pro 2 tablet, running Android 4.4 (aka kit Kat). This year its brand new adventure - this time with a Yoga 900 convertible and Windows 10.
Join me as I work through the practical aspects of learning a new laptop model,and tweaking the latest version of Windows to meet my needs.