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Grow Your Business Technology

Lenovo Yoga 900 Review: Is It Good for Business?

Lenovo Yoga 900 Review: Is It Good for Business? The Yoga 900 features a superthin, folding design. / Credit: Jeremy Lips

Work laptops don't get much sleeker than this. Lenovo's Yoga 900 is smaller and lighter than other convertible laptops. You also get strong performance, a gorgeous 13-inch display and a surprisingly nice keyboard for such a slim notebook. It's not the longest-lasting laptop-tablet hybrid, though, nor the most affordable. So does it belong in your work bag?

[For more information on how we test mobile devices, visit our testing methodology page.]

As the name implies, the Yoga 900 features a flexible design that lets you fold the display back a full 360 degrees. That's handy for times when you want to use it like a large tablet. However, workers will probably get more use out of the intermediate modes, which let you prop up the notebook using the keyboard as a base. 

Stand mode is useful for using the touch screen in crowded quarters — for instance, on an airplane tray table — or for showing off a presentation to a couple of clients or colleagues.

The Yoga 900 is ideal for commuters and frequent travelers, thanks to its small size and lightweight design. At 12.75 x 8.86 x 0.59 inches and 2.9 lbs., it has a smaller footprint, and weighs less than, most competing machines, including the HP Spectre x360, the Inspiron 13 7000, theMicrosoft Surface Book and even Apple's 13-inch MacBook Air. Dell's XPS 13 is even smaller and lighter (11.98 x 7.88 inches and 2.8 lbs.), but it lacks 2-in-1 functionality.

 

I love the Yoga 900's watchband-style hinge, which looks sharp and is sturdy enough to stabilize the screen when you're tapping the touch display. The magnesium lid has a classy silver paint job, and the black keyboard deck sports a soft-touch finish that feels luxurious.

 

 

The Yoga 900 sports a supersharp, 13.3-inch quad-HD display that's gorgeous to look at. Images are sharp, and text looks crisp. The display's high resolution is nice for productivity, as it makes split-screen multitasking more comfortable.

 

I just wish the screen were a bit brighter. It tops out at 284 nits of brightness, which is a bit below average, and dimmer than the Surface Book (387 nits) and the HP Spectre x360 (339 nits). A brighter display is easier to view outdoors or in direct sunlight, but all of these notebook displays are fine for indoor use.

The Yoga 900's keyboard feels nicer than you'd expect from such a thin laptop, despite a few issues. The keys are well spaced and have a sculpted shape, which makes them easy to navigate by touch. They feel snappy and offer a good amount of feedback on each stroke. You also get two levels of backlighting, which is handy for low-light typing.

 

On the other hand, the key travel is a bit on the short side, at about 1.1 millimeters — that's shy of the 1.5-mm average we look for. A deeper keyboard would provide a more desktoplike typing experience. Touch typists might also be irked by the slightly truncated Backspace and right Shift keys, which are a bit shorter than standard. At least the short Shift key makes room for full-size arrow keys, which are handy for navigating around documents and Web pages.

 

The 3.5 x 2.5-inch touchpad feels good, too, with a soft-touch finish that let my finger glide easily. Cursor navigation felt precise, and gestures such as two-finger scrolling were responsive.

With a speedy Intel Core i7-6500U processor and 16GB of RAM, the fully loaded Yoga 900 we tested outperformed most competing systems. The machine provided smooth performance during heavy multitasking that included editing a larger spreadsheet while streaming HD video, with about a dozen tabs open in my Firefox Web browser.

On the Geekbench 3 test, which measures overall performance, the Yoga 900 racked up an impressive score of 6,264, which beats the HP Spectre x360 (5,614) and the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 (6,085). The Core i5-powered Surface Book beat all rivals, with a score of 6,814.

The Yoga 900 also performed admirably on our spreadsheet test, matching 20,000 names to their addresses in just 4 minutes and 18 seconds. That matches the Surface Book, and beats the Inspiron 13 7000 (4:32) and the Spectre x360 (5:04).

The Yoga 900 should last through most of the workday without its charger. It ran for 7 hours and 57 minutes on our battery test, which involves continuous Web browsing over Wi-Fi. That's about average among ultraportable notebooks. Competing machines ran longer on the same test, though, including the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 (8:26) and the HP Spectre x360 (9:28). 

The Yoga 900 comes equipped with a nice selection of ports, including a whopping four USB ports for connecting peripherals, as well as a USB Type-C port for quickly charging newer smartphones and tablets or linking the notebook to a larger monitor with a DisplayPort adapter. The lack of a full-size HDMI port might be an issue for some workers, but a USB-to-HDMI adapter can be purchased for about $10. The omission of an Ethernet jack, however, is typical for thin-and-light laptops.

Lenovo sells the Yoga 900 in just a handful of hardware configurations. The cheapest model includes a quad-HD touch display, a 6th-generation Intel Core i7-6500U processor with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB solid-state drive (SSD), all for $1,199. For $1,299, you can get double the storage with a 512GB SSD, and an extra $100 gets you 16GB of RAM, for a top-end price of $1,399.

Lenovo doesn't sell the Yoga 900 with a more affordable processor, which is a shame. A Core i5-equipped model would have provided plenty of performance for daily work tasks at a lower price.

The Yoga 900 is a dream machine for commuters and frequent travelers who don't want to sacrifice performance for a thin, lightweight design. The $1,199 notebook offers a powerful Intel Core i7 processor, a nice keyboard and a flexible design that's genuinely useful. Unfortunately, the lack of a more affordable hardware configuration for this machine will make it a hard sell for some workers.

You can pick up HP's Spectre x360 for just $999 — a full $200 less than the Yoga 900 — with a capable 6th-generation Intel Core i5 processor and 8GB of RAM, which is more than sufficient for everyday productivity. The trade-offs are that the Spectre x360 is noticeably heavier and has half the storage and a lower-res screen compared to the Yoga 900.

That's why the Yoga 900 is our favorite overall 2-in-1 laptop, at least for workers who can afford it.

[For more information on how we test mobile devices, visit our testing methodology page.]

Brett Nuckles

Brett Nuckles has been a working journalist since 2009. He got his start in local newspapers covering community news, local government, education and more before he joined the Business News Daily staff in 2013. He graduated from Ohio University, where he studied Journalism and English. Follow him on Twitter @BrettNuckles.