Lenovo Yoga 900, and Little Brother Yoga 900S

Tablets and phones can be great productivity tools, but there are times when only a traditional computer will work for the project you’re working on.  In the past, you generally had to choose between a big, thick, powerful laptop, or a thin, light, less powerful counterpart.  That’s not really a problem with today’s technology.  Recently I received the Lenovo Yoga 900 2-in-1 to review and it turned out to be a very impressive machine.  I was also able to review the Yoga 900S, which is the little brother to the Yoga 900, but still packs a powerful punch in an even smaller, thinner design.

Physical Build / First Impressions

The Yoga 900 came packed nicely in a well presented box that had the charger and cable tucked away and well organized.  The 900 itself had a nice weight, and just look amazingly well designed.  It had a slick premium feel and the screen/keyboard fit together flush, like it was one piece that was split to form two.  At the top of the screen was a 720p webcam for video conferencing and pictures.  Probably the most noticeable feature of the 900’s physical build is the joint.  Instead of the traditional two or three hinge points, the entire joint is one long hinge with what looks like a series of bars intermingled with some metal mesh.  It truly looks like the hinge could move in all directions and just plain looks cool.  It’s the first thing anyone comments on when I showed it to people.

The 900S is almost identical in build, but smaller and noticeably lighter.  Both models come in a variety of colors, memory and disk configurations, and run Windows 10 Home as the operating system.

yogaspecs

Buttons and Ports

The right side houses the power button, reset button, rotation lock button, headphone jack, and full size USB port.  The left side houses the SD card reader, USB type C port, another full size USB port, and the charging port.  The trackpad and keyboard were pretty standard but fit right into the premium feel of the laptop, including the ever useful back-lit keyboard.  The one thing that did drive me crazy was the placement and size of the backspace button.  The backspace was just slightly larger than a single key size, which for someone like me (big fingers and uses backspace often) meant I kept punching the Home key on accident.

Again, the 900S is very similar in build to the 900, but with a few less items lining the edges.  The right side of the 900S houses the power button, headphone jack, and full size USB port.  The left side houses the reset button, USB Type C port, and the charging port.  So there is no additional USB port, SD card reader, or rotation lock button.  The keyboard itself is slightly smaller as one would expect, and also has the smaller backspace issue.  Another issue I’ve found with this model is, due to the keys being back-lit and the gold coloring of the keys, it’s sometimes hard to see the letters on the keypad at certain angles.  It’s not a major issue, as I don’t often look at the keyboard when typing; but for someone who needs to hunt and peck, it might be a little annoying.

Multimedia

Both the Yoga 900 and 900S screens are impressive QHD IPS touch displays that have great color and resolution.  The 900 screen has a resolution of 3200 x 1800 while the 900S has a resolution of 2560 x 1440.  Both models use integrated Intel HD Graphics cards.  The Yoga 900 is every bit a media machine, and watching movies was nothing short of awesome.  The sounds was great thanks to JBL stereo speakers with Dolby DS 1.0.  While the 900S didn’t have the JBL speaker setup, the speakers were still more than capable of playing decent audio for movies and music.

Battery and Performance

The Yoga 900 was a beast of a machine as one would expect running an Intel i7 processor and 16GB RAM.  I was very impressed with how fast it loaded and ran applications.  The battery was equally as impressive with it lasting well over a day even after watching a couple movies, using it throughout my work day, and at home.  The games I played on the Yoga ran great with no lag or performance hits.  Of course, since the amount of memory and drive space can be customized, there might be a difference in performance with different configurations.

The Yoga 900S employed a Intel Core m7 processor and 8GB RAM which performed very well, but there was certainly a slight dip in performance when playing some of the games.  Even Minecraft was a little laggy at points, but nothing that was really bad enough to impact the fun of gameplay.  With a similar amount of use I was able to get a solid days worth of battery out of the 900S before needing to charge it back up.

Both models had great WiFi reception even at the furthest point in my house or at work, and both devices used SSD Hard Drives which provided fast startup and fast read/write times.  All of which equals increased performance.

The 2-in-1 Factor

If you’re not familiar with 2-in-1 devices, these are devices that allow you to use it like a laptop or a tablet due to a specific hardware function that allows the transition.  In the case of the Yoga 900 and 900S series, the screen hinge allows the screen to flip completely backwards so the bottom of the laptop and the top of screen are touching.  This allows you to use the device as a tablet.  However, because of the hinge, you can also set the tablet up in a third tent mode which is primarily used for watching movies, giving presentations, or other media functions.  The Yoga series does a great job with their devices in allowing these transformations, due in no small part to the unique hinge design.  I generally have problems with positioning the screen at just the right angle or loose hinges, but there were no issues like that with either of these models.

The tablet mode within Windows 10 made using these as a tablet much better, however, between the keyboard being exposed on the bottom and the additional “laptop” weight, using them as your primary tablet device doesn’t always seem viable.  They got very heavy, very fast after using them for an extended period of time…but this was no surprise.  If you plan on using a tablet as your primary device, you’re best off getting a traditional tablet.

Software

Both the Yoga 900 and Yoga 900S run Windows 10 as the operating system.  Since this review is primarily about the hardware of these devices, I won’t go into great detail on the OS.  Windows 10 ran very well on both Yoga models.  Transition from laptop mode to tablet mode was without issue was nearly instantaneous.

Conclusion

The Yoga 900 was a fantastic machine that is a huge step forward for the ultraslim 2-in-1 devices.  It had all the tools to be a great multimedia device and the power to handle almost any work task you throw at it.  If you’re looking for a true workhorse device that won’t let you down, the Yoga 900 should be high on your list of devices.

While the Yoga 900S may not have the raw power it’s big brother has, it’s only a small step down in performance.  The smaller size and lighter weight make this a truly powerful portable device.  As much traveling around as I do the lightweight Yoga 900S was a dream to carry around.  For anyone that wants a great device, low profile, and won’t weigh you down, the Yoga 900S is a solid choice.

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