PC

Lenovo's Yoga 900 gets more powerful chip and bigger battery

Lenovo's latest version of hybrid has more rigid hinge, but battery lacks stamina

The Yoga 900, the latest version of Lenovo's flagship hybrid computer, switches between tablet and laptop modes with a hinge that rotates 360 degrees.

The Yoga may not generate the same level of excitement in the average consumer as a new Apple laptop. But it has heavily influenced the PC hybrid segment. Two recent hybrids, the HP Spectre x360 and the Dell Inspiron 13 2-in-1, sport a hinge similar to that of the original Yoga.

However, last year's flagship Yoga 3 Pro fell short of expectations. It used a low-power Intel Core M chip that traded performance for battery stamina. But it got neither. The Yoga lasted a dismal four hours in our battery life test compared with the typical six hours for its competitors.

This year's version attempts to fix these flaws. The Core M chip has been replaced by a new and more powerful sixth-generation Intel Core chip. The battery on the Yoga 900 is larger (66 watt-hour) than the 44 watt-hour battery on its predecessor.

The Yoga retains the watchband hinge introduced last year. This hinge is classy, eye- catching and functional.

Perhaps because of these tweaks, the new Yoga is slightly thicker and heavier than the previous model, though Lenovo says the 14.9mm Yoga is the thinnest of the hybrids in the market using an Intel Core i processor.

The Yoga retains the watchband hinge introduced last year. This hinge is classy, eye-catching and functional. I did not have an older Yoga on hand to compare with, but the new hinge feels less creaky and more rigid.

Rotating this hinge lets the Yoga transform into four usage modes - tablet, laptop, stand and tent. Like other 13-inch hybrids, the tablet form is the least usable because of the Yoga's weight (1.3kg).

  • TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $2,599

    PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-6500U (2.5GHz)

    GRAPHICS: Intel HD Graphics 520

    RAM: 16GB

    SCREEN SIZE: 13.3 inches, 3,200 x 1,800 pixels

    CONNECTIVITY: 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 3.0 (Type-C) with video out, power input with USB 2.0 function, SD card reader, audio jack

    BATTERY: 66 watt-hour

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 3/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

This year, Lenovo has played up the Yoga branding, displaying it prominently on the lid while its own logo is shoved to the corner. The edges of the hybrid have a rubberised finish that contrasts nicely with the smooth aluminium lid and base. The inside of the hybrid has a soft-touch finish that appears more resistant to smudges than other laptops that I have tried.

The Yoga's touchscreen looks crisp because of its ultra-high 3,200 x 1,800-pixel screen resolution. Viewing angles are great, though the glossy display is reflective. Contrast could be better as blacks look greyish when the screen is at maximum brightness.

The bezel is relatively thick, especially at the bottom, and is unattractive when compared with the ultra-thin bezel introduced by Dell on its XPS 13 ultrabook.

Lenovo has added a sixth row to the backlit keyboard for function and short-cut keys. This is convenient when adjusting the screen's brightness and volume. The keys are comfortably spaced, but shallow.

The touchpad from Synaptics is not the best I have used, but it is good. The surface is smooth, although the area could be larger. There were occasional glitches when I tried to scroll using two fingers.

The Yoga uses a USB Type-C port for video output. You will need an adapter cable, though, to pair the laptop with an external monitor. The power input doubles up as a USB 2.0 port. Absent from this year's Yoga is a physical volume rocker at the side. This is inconvenient if you use the Yoga as a tablet.

Although the Yoga gets slightly warm at the base when running apps, it does not get too uncomfortable. Apps feel responsive and open quickly. Battery life has improved only slightly over its predecessor. The new Yoga lasted 4.5 hours, compared with the 6hr 10min on the HP Spectre x360.

  • VERDICT: A high-end hybrid with a watchband hinge, the Lenovo Yoga 900 is still lacking in battery stamina.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2015, with the headline 'Yoga gets more powerful chip and bigger battery'. Print Edition | Subscribe