Lenovo Yoga 900 review: A big power boost for Lenovo’s ultra-slim Windows 10 laptop
Lenovo Yoga 900 review: Display
As you’d expect for a high-end laptop, the Lenovo Yoga 900’s display has more pixels than you can shake an impossibly tiny stick at. The 13.3in touchscreen sports a resolution of 3,200 x 1,800, and is crisp enough for even the most discerning of eyes. It looks lovely: bright, crisp and colourful in all the right ways.
After spending a little more time with the Yoga 900, however, I began to notice that the display isn’t quite as good as its rivals. There’s no problem with brightness – it reaches a respectable maximum of 341cd/m2 – but contrast is dire, with our X-Rite colorimeter recording a contrast ratio of only 454:1.
That’s not great compared to its rivals that routinely exceed 1,000:1, and this results in images losing out noticeably in terms of punchiness and shadow detail. Fire up a moodily lit movie – anything with “Batman” in the title, for instance – and the Yoga 900 struggles to eke out the detail you’ll see on the Dell XPS 13 or the 13in Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display.
Colours look pretty good, it has to be said, but even here the Lenovo is a little off the pace. The display covers 89.6% of the sRGB colour gamut, meaning colours aren’t quite as rich and saturated as the Dell XPS 13, which reproduces a wider 95%. To the Lenovo Yoga 900’s credit, colour accuracy is a touch more consistent than on the Dell XPS 13, which suffers due to its dynamic contrast, but most people are unlikely to notice that. Overall, it’s the lower contrast that’s most noticeable, and you don’t need expert eyes to see the difference.
Lenovo Yoga 900 review: Keyboard, touchpad and connectivity
I’ve lost count of the number of laptops that have aced every possible category and then fallen to pieces at the final hurdle, and the Yoga 900 is another to add to the list. The keyboard isn’t awful, but it’s not even close to the best at this price. The keys have very little travel, and aren’t pleasant to type on, and some of my biggest bugbears – not least the decision to chop the right Shift key in half to make room for big cursor keys – are in evidence. Yes, Lenovo has now added a row of Function keys, but frankly I’d swap those for a keyboard that was a better all-rounder.
And no, the buttonless touchpad isn’t great either. The touchpad is still too small, and although it depresses with a nice clean click, it often just doesn’t do anything. When you have to make multiple attempts to click an onscreen icon, or bring up a context menu with a two-fingered tap, then something’s very, very wrong.
Connectivity saves the day – partially, at least. Lenovo’s decision to employ a power connector that doubles as a USB 2 port remains welcome, and there are a further two USB 3 ports – one on each edge. Another tiny bonus? The Lenovo’s charger uses a detachable USB cable, so you can use it to charge other USB devices at a pinch. Meanwhile, a USB Type-C port takes the place of the micro-HDMI on the previous model, so you will need to shell out for some compatible adapters. Unsurprisingly, no video adapters are included in the box.
Wireless connections include 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4, which is all well and good, but I noticed some tiresome bugs with our review unit, which included a tendency to refuse to detect wireless networks upon waking from sleep. The only solution? Restart the computer. You can expect this to be fixed ASAP, but it takes the sheen off what’s meant to be a luxury device.
Lenovo Yoga 900 review: Verdict
The Lenovo Yoga 900 is a significant improvement over last year’s disappointing Yoga 3 Pro. There’s only one, tiny little problem: Lenovo’s rivals have also made huge strides forward since last year, and this leaves the Lenovo Yoga 900 with some catching up to do.
I’ve no issue with the Yoga 900’s super-flexible design. It flits effortlessly from giant tablet to slimline laptop, without the bulk associated with most such designs – but its limber attitude can’t make amends for its flaws. The keyboard is merely acceptable, the touchpad still too small, and the display is middle-of-the-road. For a £1,300 laptop, that just won’t wash.
If you want a superb Windows ultraportable, then I have one simple piece of advice: buy the Dell XPS 13 instead. If you primarily want a tablet, then go get a Microsoft Surface Pro 4. Sorry, Lenovo, you did good, but you’re going to need to do better.
See also: The best laptops for 2015/16 – your ultimate guide
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