Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Yoga is a pleasure to work on, and has all of the business-class perks you'd expect from a ThinkPad notebook, plus top-notch note-taking capabilities. The laptop has a flexible folding design and a built-in active stylus, which makes it easy to jot down notes and annotate documents right on its 14-inch display. It also lasts really long on a charge and has an excellent keyboard.
Starting at $1,394, the ThinkPad X1 Yoga is pricier than nonconvertible options with similar hardware, but I still think it's the most well-rounded business laptop currently on the market.
The X1 Yoga is one of the lightest 14-inch laptops on the market, weighing in at just 2.8 lbs. It's not quite as light as the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, which weighs just 2.6 lbs., but it is noticeably lighter than the 3-lb. MacBook Air, even though that machine has a smaller, 13-inch display. That makes the X1 Yoga a better option for commuters and frequent travelers who need a notebook that's easy to carry around.
The X1 Yoga is also really thin, with a profile that measures just 0.66 inches. That's still thick enough to accommodate a full range of ports, including an Ethernet port for connecting to wired Internet or secure work networks, as well as a full-size DisplayPort and HDMI ports for linking the machine to a larger monitor or projector.
And it wouldn't be a Yoga laptop if you couldn't use it as a large tablet. The X1 Yoga sports a special hinge, so you can fold the screen back a full 360 degrees, giving you easy access to the touch display. I'm a big fan of the intermediate modes, which let you fold the display back partway. That comes in handy for presenting a slideshow to a small group, using touch-screen apps or taking notes with the included active stylus that's housed in a silo along the notebook's right edge.
Commuters will appreciate the X1 Yoga's durability credentials. According to Lenovo, the notebook was designed to withstand bumps, drops, dings, dust and extreme temperatures. The system's carbon-fiber lid and magnesium chassis certainly feel extremely durable to me.
My X1 Yoga review unit came equipped with a crisp 1080p display. The 14-inch panel is the perfect size for productivity, offering plenty of room for screen-intensive tasks like viewing large documents, without making the notebook feel too cumbersome overall.
Text looked nice and crisp, and colors were vibrant on the X1 Yoga. Viewing angles were also generous, so the image didn't look washed out when viewed from the side.
Keyboard and trackpad
The ThinkPad X1 Yoga's keyboard is perfect for marathon typing sessions. The layout offers a substantial 1.67 millimeters of key travel on each stroke, which is above the 1.5 millimeters we look for in notebook keyboards. Deeper keyboards are better because they provide a more comfortable, desktoplike typing experience.
It's not the best keyboard you'll find on a ThinkPad, though; the ThinkPad Yoga 260 offers a full 2 mm of travel, but that system is thicker and heavier than the X1 Yoga and has a smaller, 12.5-inch display.
Like other ThinkPads, the X1 Yoga offers two distinct ways to control the mouse cursor. The 2.9 x 2.2-inch touchpad felt fine, with a smooth finish that let my finger glide easily. Two-finger scrolling and other gestures were responsive as well. The TrackPoint nub lets you accurately control the mouse cursor without moving your hands from the keyboard's home row.
The X1 Yoga's excellent pen support might convince you to leave your paper notepad at your desk during your next meeting. A stylus slides out of a slot on the system's edge, which means it's within reach right when you need it. That's an improvement over tablets like Microsoft's Surface Pro 4 or Apple's iPad Pro, which don't offer such a secure way to stow your stylus when it's not in use.
The trade-off is that the X1 Yoga's pen is relatively thin and short. I had no trouble jotting down notes and drawing diagrams with the pen, though, and Lenovo sells a full-size pen separately if you want it.
Handwriting felt extremely accurate, without a hint of lag. The display has a built-in digitizer, which means it can detect how hard you're pressing down, letting you feather your pen strokes and vary your line width, just as you'd do with a real pen.
The X1 Yoga comes preloaded with Microsoft's OneNote software, which offers excellent pen support. Lenovo's own WRITEit app, which lets you handwrite directly into any text field that you encounter in any app, also worked very well during my testing period.
A fingerprint scanner, located just below the right edge of the keyboard, lets you keep the X1 Yoga locked down, with no need to fuss with a cumbersome password screen. I was pleased to find that the fingerprint scanner worked with just a single touch, making it much more reliable than the scanners on machines like the ThinkPad T460 that require you to slowly slide your finger down over them.
The X1 Yoga also comes with excellent encryption in the form of a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip, which keeps your data locked down at the hardware level.
The X1 Yoga will run through the end of the workday and beyond. The system lasted for a very solid 8 hours and 38 minutes on our battery test, which involves continuous Web browsing over Wi-Fi. That handily beats the ThinkPad Yoga 260's time of 7 hours and 46 minutes, though the Vaio Z again outperformed the X1 Yoga, with a runtime of 9 hours and 4 minutes.
Even demanding workers will probably be pleased with the X1 Yoga's performance. The machine proved quite capable throughout my testing period, without any lag during moderate multitasking. However, I did see a few performance hiccups when editing a large spreadsheet while streaming HD video with more than a dozen tabs open in my Firefox Web browser.
The machine racked up a respectable score of 6,465 on the Geekbench 3 test, which measures overall performance. That easily outperforms the category average score of 4,971, though the Vaio Z Flip was even speedier, with a score of 7,235.
The X1 Yoga did pretty well on our spreadsheet test, matching 20,000 names to their addresses in just 4 minutes and 30 seconds. That's better than the ThinkPad Yoga 260's time of 4 minutes and 42 seconds, but trails the Vaio Z Flip's mark of 3 minutes and 47 seconds.
Lenovo sells the ThinkPad X1 Yoga in a handful of hardware configurations. The base model comes with a Core i5-6200U processor, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of solid-state drive (SSD) storage and a 1080p touch display, for $1,394.
The midrange model featured in this review might be the best bet for the average business user. Its specs are identical to the base model's, but it doubles the storage to a more manageable 256GB, and costs $1,655.
The top-end version is equipped with a speedier Core i7 processor with 16GB of RAM, 512GB of storage and a sharper 2560 x 1440 display. That pixel-dense display will result in about an hour less battery life compared to other models, though.
No matter what you're looking for in a business laptop, the ThinkPad X1 Yoga can probably meet your needs. It's packed with business-friendly features, including a superior keyboard, fast performance, strong security and durability, and a portable design that won't weigh you down on your commute. Plus, its folding hinge and built-in active stylus make it an ideal machine for serious note-takers.
It's pricey, though, starting at $1,394. Lenovo's $989 ThinkPad Yoga 260 is a more affordable option, but it has a smaller, 12.5-inch screen. If you don't plan to make use of the pen, Lenovo's $980 ThinkPad T460s is a good pick. But workers who want the most versatile business laptop on the market should choose the X1 Yoga, hands down.