PCs

Hardware upgrade for premium hybrid laptop

The Yoga 730 works with the Lenovo Active Pen 2, a Bluetooth-connected stylus that offers 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity.
The Yoga 730 works with the Lenovo Active Pen 2, a Bluetooth-connected stylus that offers 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity.PHOTO: LENOVO

The Yoga 730 is slimmer than its predecessor and comes with two Thunderbolt 3 ports and far-field microphones

I am a fan of Lenovo's Yoga laptops. These hybrid devices switch between tablet and notebook forms when rotated on a flexible 360degree hinge.

They are simple to use and less liable to malfunction compared to the more complex mechanisms used by other hybrid designs. Unsurprisingly, the Yoga devices have inspired the rest of the industry to come up with their own versions.

But the latest Yoga 730 gives me the impression that Lenovo is running out of ideas on ways to improve the machine's form factor.

It is very similar to last year's Yoga 720 model with a clean design. Coupled with good build quality, the Yoga 730 is unmistakably a premium product.

It is a tad lighter and slimmer than its predecessor. There are also a few minor refinements.

For instance, the Yoga 730 has two Thunderbolt 3 ports, up from one on the 720. More importantly, the laptop still has an older, full-size USB Type-A port that is still very much in use despite the introduction of USB Type-C devices.

It has no other ports, except for a 3.5mm audio jack. There is no built-in memory card reader.

  • SPECS

  • PRICE: $1,999

    PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-8550U (1.8GHz)

    GRAPHICS: Intel UHD Graphics 620

    MEMORY: 8GB DDR4

    SCREEN SIZE: 13.3 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels

    CONNECTIVITY: 2 x USB Type-C Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.0, audio jack

    BATTERY: 48 watt-hour

  • RATING

  • FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

New to the Yoga 730 are far-field microphones that can pick up your voice commands from up to 4m away - for Microsoft Windows 10's built-in Cortana voice assistant. But I believe most users will find this feature on a laptop more of a gimmick compared to the voice assistant on a smart speaker.

Like last year's model, the Yoga 730 comes in two screen sizes - 13 and 15 inches. The 13-inch version that I tested comes only with integrated graphics, while the larger 15-inch model has an option for a dedicated entry-level Nvidia graphics chip.

Both models will work with the Lenovo Active Pen 2, a Bluetooth-connected stylus that offers 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity. Bundled with the Yoga, this excellent stylus closely reproduces the feel of actual pen on paper with minimal lag.

Except for its chunky bottom bezel, the other bezels on the 730 are fashionably slim. But its in-plane switching (IPS) touchscreen is a bit too glossy and reflective. This could have been mitigated by having a bright screen, but unfortunately, the 730's screen is only at an average brightness of around 300 nits.

The backlit keyboard is on the shallow side, with less key travel than Lenovo's ThinkPad laptops. The keys are large and well-spaced so the typing experience is fairly good.

Like last year's model, the Yoga 730 has a fingerprint sensor located below the bottom right corner of the keyboard. It is fast, accurate and definitely more convenient than entering a password or PIN.

With its Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of system memory and a fast PCIe-based solid-state drive, the Yoga 730 scored 4,010 on the PCMark 10 system benchmark. This is similar to the performance of Lenovo's X1 Carbon ultrabook.

However, the base of the Yoga 730 did get quite warm when running an intensive app. Its thin metal chassis probably did not help. I had to put a cushion on my lap while using it on the sofa.

It clocked a decent battery uptime of 6 hours and 20 minutes in the video-loop battery test.

• Verdict: The latest Yoga hybrid laptop keeps a similar design to its predecessor, but upgrades the computing hardware.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2018, with the headline 'Hardware upgrade for premium hybrid laptop'. Print Edition | Subscribe