10-01-2016 06:36 PM
OK, so I've been using my Yoga for 6 months now, and that gives me enough time to have pretty much formed a permanent opinion of it.
It's been absolutely great. I rarely wind up with a piece of technology that exceeds my expectations/hopes, but this has done it. I build my own desktops, and had built my past 3 laptops as well. However, I wanted something very niche to suit my wide range of usage needs, and building it was not practical (probably not possible either, for that matter). That isn't to say that it's perfect; there are a few issues, which will be covered later. But it's been better than I had hoped, and that's a tall order.
What I use it for:
Basically, pretty much everything. I use it for light gaming when I travel. I use it as a replacement for paper-printed flashcards in the classroom when I teach. I use it for touch-screen edutainment games between classes (think wordworm). I use it for software and web development (c++, php), everywhere from an office to standing on the train and holding it in one hand while typing with the other. I use it for watching movies/TV/Youtube on the go. Heck, my cats even use it as a heating pad.
The screen. It's high res enough to fit a ton of code on the screen, yet large enough to use in a classroom and the kids in the back can see it. And despite being one-handed in both laptop and tablet mode, and getting chalk all over it on a regular basis, it has yet to show a single even minor scratch. I don't know what the heck they made it of, but if they make their smartphone screens of the same stuff, I'll seriously consider a Lenovo for my next phone (actually, I already am given how happy I am with the Yoga). And the decision to put glass to the bezel, but not the screen the whole way, is perfect. It feels great holding it, but you don't accidentally hit the touchscreen when holding it in tablet mode.
The weight. Granted, it might be a touch too heavy for some people, but I find it to be just right -- not so light that you can accidentally wave it around too much, but not so heavy that you can't run through the station holding it in one hand.
The horsepower. It's got enough raw power that compiling large projects isn't annoying, and enough RAM that I can leave 50 tabs open and my compiler running while I switch over to a game. It isn't going to replace my heavily OC'd, water-cooled i7 hexcore desktop, but then it fits in my backpack instead of a full tower case.
The hinge. It's just perfect. Stiff enough to maintain position even when using the touch screen, soft enough to easily flip into different modes.
The case. It's beautifully designed. There are no vents or weak points that you have to avoid when holding it. The cooling vents being at the hinge means that you aren't worrying about putting it in your lap (when the vents are in the bottom), or blowing on stuff behind the laptop (when they're straight in the back) -- it's kind of a hybrid, and it gives you the best of both worlds rather than the worst of either. For that matter, the fan is also incredibly quiet; even on full blow, it's only about as loud as many laptops' idle speed. The speakers are loud enough that I don't have to bring external speakers to play music/videos in a classroom. And for those of us who feel the need to disassemble anything that uses electricity, it's quite possibly the easiest laptop that I've ever broken down. Heck, it's easier than the whitebooks that I've dealt with, and those are *made* to be opened up. The decision to go for non-phillips screws to deter casual users rather than making it unnecessarily difficult to open is commendable.
The battery life. Personally, I don't have any major problems with it -- I can hook it up to charge between classes (or in the classroom in a pinch), and I've never had it run out of juice so long as I plug it in when I have access to a socket. On the other hand, I do have to plug it in whenever I *have* access to a socket, or it'll likely die at some point in the day. If I had to guess, I'd say that I get ~3-4 hours off of a full charge with my usage. However, that is with full screen brightness, and 0 power resrictions in power management (full-throttle CPU), and large CPU usage when I'm compiling or testing the compiled code (I tend to work on CPU-heavy applications like compression or image modification). Your mileage may vary.
The number of I/O jacks. It's probably fine for most people, in most cases. But for me, especially when I'm coding/photoshopping, I prefer my Steelseries keyboard and RAT MMO mouse, which takes up the two traditional USB ports. If I'm at the office, we don't have wifi, so I have to run the LAN cable in, which means using either the USB C port or the power/USB combo port. Normally, the type C would be better so I can charge, but if I'm running video out so I can use dual monitors, then I have to use the type A -- so then, I have to buy an ethernet adapter for both types, and still can't charge if I'm using the lan + video out. I could use a port, but that's even more crap to carry around, and introduces some other issues. I get that they made their decision for form factor reasons, etc, but I'd have liked to see just 1 more port built in -- display, network, or USB A/C, any would have done.
The price. This really should be up in the "good" section. Compared to just about every competitor, the Yoga has better specs and a far lower price point. It's almost on par with traditional laptops of the same specs. The only reason that it is in the "so-so" section is because, regardless of how good a deal it is, a lot of people are going to balk at a 1100-1200$ pricetag for a laptop. If you don't have specific usage needs, a Yoga 700 or even Yoga 2 is going to be where you should go, as you can get essentially the same experience for about 1/2 the price.
The finish around the keyboard. It's really comfortable, and more durable than I was initially worried that it would be. But for something that gets used with the keyboard surface often being down, it's a bit of a concern. I always have to be aware of what's on the table when I set it down, and it tends to cling to chalk/dust. Again, this will depend on your usage scenarios, and I do like the feel of it, I just wish that it was a bit more durable.
The manufacturer software. First off, as far as intrusiveness, it's pretty minimal. Small footprint, no nagging, all in all not bad. However, as someone who prefers more control over my OS (I usually nuke the vanilla install and load a custom modified Windows without any manufacturer software), it's a bit annoying that some of the features such as controlling the hotkeys and power saving options require the Lenovo software to be installed. It's not bloatware, which I know Lenovo has been accused of in the past. But I'd like the option to do away with it completely.
The... not so good:
The ghost touches. I'm not sure if it's a common issue, as this is my first touch PC. And to be fair, *usually* wiping off the screen and then closing and reopening the laptop will fix it. And it doesn't happen very often. But it's annoying. At least, a button to quickly disable the touch screen (without having to go to device manager) -- or at least, an option in Lenovo's power management taskbar app -- would go a long way toward minimizing the issue. As it is, I often leave it disabled in device manager except when I'm in class, because I can't stand it when I'm coding and start getting ghost touches.
The power adapter. Don't get me wrong, the idea to use the same port for the power and an extra USB slot was genius. I've used the power brick to charge other USB devices while traveling. I even get the desire to use a proprietary system (for those who don't know, off-brand and knockoff power adapters actually cost laptop manufacturers money as they sometimes are poor quality and can cause issues with the laptop, which the manufacturer has to cover under warranty). And they're even reasonably priced (many manufacturers charge 100$ or more, but you can get one of these from Lenovo for a cool 50$), so they're not using it as an excuse to gouge us. The big issue is availability. They're no longer on 6-week backorder, but not widely available in stores -- and if you use it extensively for work like me, even the current ~1 week delivery time (ships in 1-3 days, plus a few days for the mail to deliver it) is a killer. Essentially, you're required to just order an extra one when you buy the laptop, just in case something should happen to the one that comes with it. It would also be nice if you could buy *just* the cable or the brick, in case only one broke, though given the low cost, that isn't a huge issue.
The trackpad. Now, it's not that it isn't good. It is. It's accurate, responsive, bug-free, perfectly placed and sized... But I don't like unified trackpads. I like to have the tracking area, and two buttons. I don't mind whether the tracking area also functions as a LMB, but I don't like having to guess where on a unified trackpad the LMB ends and the RMB begins. Heck, even a slight scoring on the surface to indicate the areas would be sufficient. I understand that this is more or less down to personal preference, but that's my personal preference.
It's great. Not perfect, but really, what is? Most of the issues are minor, easily mitigated, or specific to my unusual usage scenarios or preferences. I regularly get people asking me about it, and unreservedly recommend it to all of them (though the above note about pricing means that many people might be better suited with a lower Yoga model). As my first experience with a Lenovo, I am very impressed.
10-02-2016 04:47 PM
Nice review - thanks. With all the many issues and complaints we get to read on this forum it's nice to occasionally read about someone who actually likes their unit. I've had my 900 since about May, and agree with most of your points. So far my biggest disappointment has been the power brick, and the lack of any external battery options. Since they've switched the charging on the 910 unit to a new system, I fear the 900 approach may be a one off that quickly gets forgotten. (Hey Lenovo, how about at least giving us the special power cord we need to use aftermarket 20V battery systems to charge the 900?)
I hope that someday in the future the manufacturers will standardize on a universal power charging port and system.