The novelty’s wearing thin
The ‘S’ in the name might stand for ‘slim’: at 12.8mm, this touchscreen laptop-tablet hybrid is one of the skinnier options. It’s also light, shaving 300g off of the Yoga 900, Lenovo’s top-end model. This is the company that took over IBM’s laptop pision, so although it’s become known for its endless variety of budget two-in-one hybrids, it also wants to sell durable mid-range systems to people who don’t mind spending a bit extra for quality. And quality is what you see when you open the box.
This build, with its intricate hinge and two-tone black-and-aluminium styling, hasn’t changed much since 2014, but it still looks classy. And it still has a full-size USB 3.0 port, as well as the new USB Type-C version, which can connect a monitor, plus a USB 2.0 that also serves as the power input. The keyboard isn’t detachable, but it does fold all the way back when not required. While you’re typing, that hinge keeps the display at the exact angle you want.
Unfortunately, we didn’t find typing much fun. The 12.5in format provides plenty of room for full-size keys, but for some reason Lenovo has made the keys smaller, and given them an odd shield-like shape with lots of space in between. This confused our fingers, even if our wrists were comforted by a cosy faux-leather finish on the area just in front of the keyboard. The touchpad, unlike the Yoga 900’s, worked flawlessly, as did the touchscreen.
2560×1440 pixels, also known as QHD, is a very sharp resolution for a screen of this size, so everything looked amazing and crisp, and Windows 10’s scaling options allowed us to choose whether to fit more in or make it bigger. But our tests revealed that it only covered 86 per cent of the sRGB colour range, which won’t please photo or video editors, despite good contrast and acceptable brightness.
You’ll have to take our comments about its performance with a small pinch of salt, because our test model came with 8GB of memory, whereas the equivalent m5-processor model in the shops has half that amount. That’ll make multitasking more of a chore, and if you need top speed for a full range of tasks you might want to consider more expensive variants of the 900S, which go up to an i7 processor as well as the extra RAM. Even with 8GB, the m5 is no match for Intel’s i-series processors, which come in desktop PCs. The 900S managed to run our 4K video-processing tests, which is more than can be said for some budget laptops, but this isn’t a budget machine, and it scored about a quarter of what we’d consider acceptable for a desktop PC at a similar price. Windows 10 in general was usable, but demanding programs and multitasking did slow things down quite noticeably. It’s absolutely fine if using Microsoft Office and web browsing are the kinds of tasks you have in mind, but look elsewhere for a desktop PC replacement.
What a low-power processor should offer, as well as a thinner case with less fan noise, is longer battery life. Here the 900S doesn’t quite deliver. Our videoplayback test lasted eight hours 39 minutes, enough for most work days but not as reassuring as the 900’s 11-plus hours. The latest 12in MacBook, which costs a couple of hundred quid more in its m5 configuration, managed 10 hours 12 minutes, while the cheaper Dell XPS 13 lasted 11 hours 30 minutes.
On the other hand, the bulkier Dell weighs 30 per cent more and lacks the touchscreen. So, as ever, it comes down to where you choose to compromise.
It’s not badly priced for an attractive and practical laptop-tablet, but the 900S doesn’t break any moulds
Intel Core m5-6Y54 processor • 4GB memory • 128GB SSD • 12.5in 2560×1440-pixel screen • 1x USB 3.0 • 1x USB 2.0 • 1x USB Type-C • 802.11ac Wi-Fi • Windows 10 Home • 12.8x305x208mm (HxWxD) • 999g • One-year warranty