The perfect travel companion – Yoga 900 review

I recently made the trip from Perth, Western Australia to Stockholm, Sweden. This wasn’t just some short trip overseas to catch up on the northern weather, but a full family move. And of course I brought my Yoga 900 along with me.

But, this is not about the why and when of my move..It’s about the experience I’ve had to date with the Lenovo Yoga 900. I should quickly add that I’ve also had the Yoga 3 Pro, the predecessor to the Yoga 900, which has also been covered by me in a previous post, and I’ll be drawing some “end-user” comparisons.

Specifications

The specs of my Lenovo Yoga 900:lenovo-laptop-yoga-900-13-silver-laptop-mode-3-big

CPU: Intel Core i7-6500U 2.5GHz 1866MHz 4MB
OS: Windows 10 60-bit
Display: 13,3″ QHD+ 3200×1800
GPU: Intel HD Graphics 520
RAM: 16GB LPDDR3-1600
HD: 512GB SSD SATA III
Weight: 1.29kg
Thickness: 14.9mm

A few things first. The CPU is a massive improvement to the Yoga 3 Pro; it’s a 6th gen i7 and having 16GB of RAM to play with is also a huge difference. I can definitely recommend looking at this configuration. I also got the silver edition instead of the orange version. Again, they’ve packed a 6th gen i7 into a device this thin and making it work!

Initial Impressions

It’s almost needless to say, but looking at the thickness at 14.9mm and a weight of only 1.29kg, you’d know that this is a thin and lightweight laptop. I’m a very heavy handed guy and sometimes when I pick up hardware that feels fragile, i’m almost overtly cautious about it. This was the same with the Yoga 900 – it’s so light and thin that I was seriously worried about breaking it. That quickly went away though – it’s a solid machine and doesn’t seem to have the “flexing” that’s been reported on the Yoga 3 Pro. At least, it was not something that concerned me at all after having handled it for a couple of hours.

The unpacking was, as expected, incredibly simple. The Yoga 900 rises neatly out of it’s setting when you opened up the lids (i’m generally not much of an “unboxing” fan, but this did give me a little smile) and everything is neatly packed away. It’s a no-frills package that’s there to provide a purpose, and the minimalistic approach is very much aligned to the look and feel of the Yoga 900. It’s a no-nonsense device with a very clean design…a shod it..it’s absolutely beautiful.

lenovo-laptop-yoga-900-13-gold-hinge-detail-6-bigThe Yoga-hinge is still present, but Lenovo has simplified it a bit (i’m not a mechanical engineer so i’m not sure how this is simpler), and it’s still a work of art in my not-so humble opinion. I mean, this is simplicity, form, function and beauty all in one. It also functions as a sort of heatsink as two tiny fans push the hot air out onto it. You’ll feel this getting warm under heavy load, but never hot.

The screen is fantastic. I mean, absolutely brilliant. The touch capability is spot on accurate and the audio, whilst not being terribly loud, is crisp and nice for both music and movies (think Netflix folks).

Ok, I’ve mentioned “laptop” a few times now. It’s actually not just a “laptop”; it’s a 2-in-1 convertible…But….

Is it a “laptop”?

We mostly attribute the word “laptop” to work machines, or heavier gear that can take a pounding from the kids. My version of “laptop” is something I can work on and this one easily kept up with demands during the workday. Running Visual Studio didn’t seem to phase it a bit, although it did get a tad warm at times. Secondly, had it hooked up to a second monitor and the onboard Intel HD 520 chip had no issue with that either.

As a consultant I’m also frequently on the move – 1.29kg is nothing for a bulky guy like me and this makes it absolutely ideal to bring along to client meetings. I actually found myself unplugging it and going for long periods of time without plugging it back in again. From a workload vs battery life then it almost went a “full” day for me. When i say “full” day then i should probably quickly say that i’m a 6am to 6pm worker. I never tried leaving the charger at home – can never be prepared enough as a consultant, but i’d feel confident not needing it for most of the day.

So, from the perspective of this being a “laptop” or a “tablet” – well it did provide the form and function for me during the day when I needed a “laptop”…But…

Is it a “tablet”?

Most tablets come in the 8″-10″ range. This is a 13″ tablet. No doubt about it. It’s not the one you drag out for the selfie-shot. It’s a work “tablet” and home “tablet” in one. Light enough when you need to bring both a tablet and a laptop along for your trip and powerful enough to step up when you need a little extra working resources.

I got several tablets – Yoga Pro 3, Yoga 10+ HD, Surface RT. Each of these are “entertainment” tablets. I use them to consume information, not to work on. (Will review the Yoga Pro 3 at some later stage..it has a friggin’ projector in it!!!). With the Yoga 900 I use the tablet to work on as well. Love the WriteIT app and the touch screen is super accurate, making it well enough to use during meetings, at the park, in the car and on the plane.

Why a convertible?

This isn’t just an easy question to answer. I’m like Jeremy Clarkson most of the time – gimme POWER!!! and i’ll lug around a power brick the size of Chernobyl happily enough. Over the years i’ve had some of the most powerful laptops out there – big, powerful monsters that was meant to crunch numbers and run virtual machines. With the cloud available 24/7 (yeah, yeah, yeah..not entirely true, but for 99% of the time it is and that’s all that matters to me) I’ve found that I don’t need to lug this monster around with me all the time. I can go lightweight and still be able to do my job (yes, there’s times where I do wish for some additional power, but i got my Y50 for when that’s needed and i’m looking to get hold of a mobile workstation as well).

Secondly, space is an optimum these days and it’s not always available to me. Especially if I need to cart around headsets, notepads/compendiums, external hard drives, cables, charging cables etc etc. I don’t want to look like an arctic explorer each time I go to a client meeting.

The convertible has the best of both worlds without setting foot in either camp entirely. It’s flexible and multi-purpose (check your phone folks, why do we suddenly log around smartphones that’s getting larger and larger?) and I’ve found the Yoga 900 to be a perfect travel companion. It doesn’t tell me what to do, it doesn’t push its elbows across to my seat on the plane and I don’t look like Quasimodo walking around Stockholm. It’s also not a fashion accessory like a pretty handbag (or dare I say Apple device??); it’s a functional device, which looks darn good as well.

Back to the beginning..

I had multiple choices as far as devices went, when I travelled from Perth to Stockholm, but I settled on the Yoga 900 as it was super lightweight. at 1.29kg it didn’t push the limit of what my luggage was allowed to weigh and I really didn’t want to be stuck in an airport (in case of delays and what not) without a device that gave me some flexibility.

It proved to be a great choice. Not only did it entertain me on the long flight (my eBook collection was sync’ed nicely so plenty of reading material in case I had a seat with a dud entertainment system) but it had enough battery charge to get me all the way. Granted, i had a nap along the way as well but for the majority of my trip I was reading and writing. One thing that did concern me was the reclining seat from the passenger in front of me. Would a laptop be too big and make it awkward for me to type and work? nopes, enter “Stand Mode”. With the awesome hinge I was able to flip it around, automatically disable the keyboard, and still sit and read.

Conclusion.

The Yoga 900 is a huge improvement over the Yoga 3 Pro. It has many of the same characteristics, but the improved CPU, more memory etc really puts it into another class altogether.

It’s the perfect travel companion too…

Leave a comment if you have any questions or feedback…Happy geeking!