Lenovo's Yoga 900S is a solid laptop choice for workers who prize portability above all else. The insanely thin and light laptop includes a crisp 13-inch display, a flexible 2-in-1 design and excellent stylus support. Plus, commuters and frequent travelers will love its long battery life and supremely portable design.
But because it's a consumer-focused laptop, it lacks business-class security and durability credentials. Demanding users might find themselves wishing for speedier performance, and picky typists will be turned off by its shallow keyboard. Mobile workers should still give this versatile notebook a look, though.
Limitations aside, the Yoga 900S is a head turner. A subtle gold sheen shimmers on the lid, and a luxurious soft-touch finish graces the keyboard deck. The system's shiny watchband hinge lets you flip and fold the display a full 180 degrees. No matter which way you fold it, the Yoga 900S has one seriously thin, sleek profile.
And it's as light as it looks. The Yoga 900S weighs in at a featherlight 2.2 lbs., making it one of the lightest laptops on the planet. It's noticeably lighter than its closest rivals, including the 2.9-lb. Dell XPS 13 and the 2.65-lb. HP Elite x2. That's good news for workers who need a device that's easy to carry around.
Like other Yoga laptops, the Yoga 900S features a flexible 360-degree hinge, so you can fold back the display and use it like a large tablet. Unlike most other hybrid laptops, this one is actually thin and light enough to make tablet mode feel practical. The folding design is also handy when you want to take notes on the display, which features full pressure sensitivity — but more on that later.
The Yoga 900S offers decent connectivity options for a notebook with such a slim profile. The right edge includes a single USB 3.0 port for plugging in accessories. However, plenty of basic ports you'd find on larger laptops are missing: There's no HDMI port and no Ethernet port, so workers who need those ports will have to pick up a USB adapter.
The left edge has a USB 2.0 port that doubles as the charging port, as well as a USB Type-C port that can be used to link the system to external displays.
There's no way around it: Multitasking on the Yoga 900S' compact, 12.5-inch display can feel cramped. The display is noticeably smaller than the 13.3-inch screen you get with the XPS 13. Basic productivity tasks, such as editing documents and browsing the web, are comfortable, but split-screen multitasking on Lenovo's system can feel very cramped.
At least it looks good. The 1080p panel is sharp and colorful, so text appears crisp and images are vibrant. While watching the HD trailer for "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," I could make out the individual feathers on a winged beast, and the swirling blue magic special effects really popped.
Thanks to its flexible design and excellent stylus support, the Yoga 900S is a note-taking beast. Both tablet mode and the intermediate stand mode give you easy access to the display, so you can start jotting down notes with Lenovo's stylus.
Writing on the Yoga 900S feels smooth and natural. The display comes with a digitizer that detects up to 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity. Technically, that's twice what you get with the Microsoft Surface Pro 4; though, frankly, I can't tell the difference in real-world use. Regardless, while writing in Microsoft's excellent OneNote app, I could vary my line width and taper my strokes, just as I would with a real pen.
But because the system sports a wide-screen, 16:9 aspect ratio, your canvas can feel awkwardly narrow when you're writing in portrait mode. And remember that the Yoga 900S doesn't come with a pen; if you want the accessory, you'll have to shell out an extra $40.
The Yoga 900S' keyboard is surprisingly comfortable for such a slim laptop, but it's still a definite weak point. Workers who type all day won't want to put up with the shallow feel of the keyboard, which has just 0.6 millimeters of key travel — well below the 1.5 mm we look for in a work laptop. The snappy, responsive feel of the keys helps mitigate the issue, though.
The bottom line is that although it's fine for hammering out the occasional email, the Yoga 900S is a poor pick for marathon typing sessions. Demanding typists would be better off with the XPS 13, which offers twice the key travel and a better typing experience overall.
The Yoga 900S won't blow you away with its longevity, but it will last solidly through your workday. The system ran for 8 hours and 46 minutes on our battery test (continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi), which is pretty good for a system this slim. It easily outlasts the Elite x2 (6:54), and tops the average for ultraportable laptops (7:55).
Dell's XPS 13 (configured with a nontouch display) is the battery-life champ in this category, though, running for an epic 11:54.
Power users might be disappointed by the Yoga 900S' middling performance. Outfitted with an Intel Core m5-6Y54 processor and 4GB of RAM, the system sped along nicely on everyday work tasks but lagged a little during heavy multitasking. Working on a large spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel with a dozen tabs open in my Chrome browser was enough to cause some momentary slowdown while I switched between tasks.
The system trailed behind competing systems on the Geekbench 3 test, which measures overall performance, scoring a mediocre 5,343. The 12-inch MacBook (5,906), Dell XPS 13 (6,374) and HP Elite x2 (5,769) are all speedier.
The Yoga 900S also lagged a bit on our spreadsheet test, matching 20,000 names to their addresses in 5 minutes and 9 seconds. Both the XPS 13 (4:28) and the Elite x2 (4:37) were faster, though not by a lot.
Lenovo sells the Yoga 900S in a couple of hardware configurations. The low-end model is equipped with a 12.5-inch 1080p touch display, an Intel Core m5-6Y54 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB solid-state drive, and costs $949. The $1,149 midrange model offers a speedier Core m7 processor with 8GB of RAM, making it much better equipped for heavy multitasking.
Mobile workers looking for a portable, flexible laptop will love Lenovo's Yoga 900S. The system is wonderfully sleek and slim, and its 360-degree folding design is actually useful. Good battery life and excellent stylus support round out the package, making this a solid pick for frequent travelers.
On the other hand, the Yoga 900S is a consumer system, so it lacks extra security features such as hardware-based encryption. It also lacks the extra durability credentials you get with business-class systems such as Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Yoga. However, the ThinkPad X1 Yoga starts at a whopping $1,394 — nearly $450 more than the entry-level Yoga 900S — and it isn't as small or as light as the Yoga 900S.
Dell's XPS 13 is another great option. It has a similarly sleek design, longer battery life and more powerful hardware configurations, though it weighs a half pound more than Lenovo's system. That's why workers who need a supremely portable work companion might want to give the Lenovo Yoga 900S a look.