The Yoga 900 follows on from the Yoga 3 Pro, which was a hotly anticipated laptop upon its arrival back in January due to being the first to house Intel’s power-sipping Core M processor inside.
Unfortunately for Lenovo, Core M wasn’t quite ready for prime time and the Yoga 3 Pro suffered from sluggish performance and poor battery life. Despite looking great, the machine's classy watchband-hinge design just wasn’t enough to make it tick.
With the Yoga 900 Pro (pictured above), Lenovo has switched tact and moved away from Core M, returning of the full Intel Core-series processors that powered the impressive Yoga 2 Pro.
Keeping the Yoga 3 Pro’s attractive design while increasing the power under the hood seems like a smart move, so has Lenovo found the formula to make the perfect 2-in-1 laptop?
Place the Yoga 900 beside the Yoga 3 Pro and it would be difficult to tell the two apart. On first glance, your eyes are once again drawn to the six eye-catching watchband-style hinges spaced out along the Yoga 900’s spine.
individually made up of 813 pieces of aluminium steel, they don’t quite have the same “wow” factor as they did on the Yoga 3 Pro (mainly because we've seen them before), but they still look great and help differentiate the Yoga 900 from other 2-in-1s out there.
They’re also stronger this time around, allowing for a smoother action when closing the lid that means it doesn’t snap shut so harshly. However, despite Lenovo's claims that you can now open its lid with a single hand, we were unable to do so after multiple attempts on our pre-production model and had to use a second hand to keep the base from lifting up off the table.
The Yoga 900 is ever so slightly heavier than the Yoga 3 Pro, weighing 2.8 pounds against the the Yoga 3 Pro’s 2.6 pounds. It’s a bit thicker too, measuring 14.9mm against the Yoga 3 Pro’s 12.9mm.
The Yoga 900 largely has the same feature set as the Yoga 3 Pro, which includes a 13.3-inch QHD+ touchscreen display toting a 3,200 x 1,800 pixel-resolution. Considering the Yoga 900 is being touted as a souped-up Yoga 3 Pro, it’s a shame Lenovo isn’t offering a 4K version this time around.
Still, improvements have been made. The Yoga 900 apparently comes with improved JBL speakers (something we didn’t get to test on our pre-production model), and Lenovo has rectified one of the Yoga 3 Pro’s more annoying layout choices by equipping the Yoga 900 with a dedicated row of function keys above the keyboard, which also gets Windows 10-specific shortcut keys.
Speaking of which, Lenovo has reduced the keyboard’s key travel in comparison to the Yoga 3 Pro. The keys are now very shallow and feel similar to the Dell XPS 13, which is unfortunate because the Yoga 3 Pro’s keyboard was one of its best features.
If you’re a power-hungry user, the Yoga 900’s upgrade to Intel’s sixth-generation processors will be music to your ears. We expect that it’ll deliver a big jump in performance over the Core M chip in the Yoga 3 Pro. The Yoga 900 can be configured with up to a 512GB SSD and up to 16GB of RAM – double that of the Yoga 3 Pro. The entry-level model comes with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.
Battery life was a particular pain with the Yoga 3 Pro, and thankfully Lenovo has upgraded that machine’s 44Whr battery to a 66Whr battery in the Yoga 900. That’s still not huge, but it is a welcome boost and should help it achieve around eight or nine hours of battery life with the display’s brightness taken down a notch or two.
Graphics duties are taken care of via Intel’s HD 520 integrated graphics. While that should be enough to power older games, don’t expect it to run newer titles like The Witcher 3 or Fifa 16 with ease.
Like the Yoga 3 Pro, the Yoga 900 can be used in a variety of different modes and positions, depending on whether you want to use it as a traditional laptop, a tablet or in stand mode with the keyboard tucked away.
Even though the added bulk and weight has made the Yoga 900 only slightly more porky than its predecessor, it's enough to make it quite cumbersome to use in tablet mode.
We were unsurprised, then, when Lenovo told us that it's ditched the Harmony software that came on the Yoga 3 Pro. Harmony asked users what they did on their Yoga 3 Pro, and well over 90% said that they mainly used the machine in laptop mode — rather than tablet, or tent, or stand mode. That's likely to be the case even more with the Yoga 900.
In many ways the Yoga 900 offers best of the Yoga 2 Pro and the Yoga 3 Pro in one smart package. Switching back to Intel’s Core-series processors should make it more than powerful enough for every day computing tasks – from editing video and images to crunching through spreadsheets and even playing basic games.
It’s doing all of that in style thanks to the timepiece-inspired design, which has been subtly refined to make improvements where the Yoga 3 Pro fell short. On the downside, it’s far from the lightest or thinnest 2-in-1 out there and is a little bit unwieldy when used in tablet mode, and the lack of a 4K display may put off multi-media buffs.
The Yoga 900 is out today starting at $1,199 (around £775).