I’m a writer so there’s a few things I consider must-haves in a laptop. It should be lightweight, it should have a comfortable keyboard layout, it should feel good to type on and it should be quite nimble. In this regard, the Lenovo Yoga 910 Hybrid Laptop ticks the vast majority of my own personal boxes, but will it do the same for you?
My review period with the Yoga 910 was actually spent during my trip to Los Angeles for E3 back in June. Lenovo very kindly let me cart the little 14″ laptop with me through Australian, New Zealand and American customs and use it for reporting on the games I was playing at the show.
The Yoga 910 is functionally what was, only a few years ago, being called an Ultrabook. It’s slim, it’s light and absurdly well-spec’d. It comes in two flavours — the Intel i5-7200U or Intel i7-7500U, both 7th gen i-Series processors, both clocking in at over 3.1Ghz maximum output. There’s a whopping 16GB of RAM, a 256GB solid state hard drive, and it weighs in at just over 1.3kg despite its guerrilla glass touch screen. The screen itself comes in two flavours, 1080p Full HD or 4K. Being in the States was nice because I was able to stream in 4K and take full advantage of that very lovely screen.
The touch screen itself is very responsive, which is good because part of the Yoga 910’s charm is that you can fold the screen back flat against the base and use it as an oversized Windows tablet. The laptop turns the keyboard off so, despite the fact that the keys will be resting against your palm while using the laptop in tablet mode but won’t react or respond if you press them. This made it particularly useful while getting work done on the plane to and from Los Angeles — I was able to either prop the machine up on my tray table or simply fold it flat, put it in my lap and use the onscreen keyboard.
For such a well-spec’d machine, you would anticipate absolutely blazing performance and, for the most part, that’s what I got. The Yoga 910 boots up quickly, it runs quietly, it doesn’t get too hot — all good signs for a travelling workhorse. What I did notice, however, was that the system seemed to have a hard time with the Google Chrome web browser. Worse, I couldn’t actually tell whether it was the Yoga that was struggling with the notoriously resource-intensive browser, if Chrome was just sagging under its own Jabba the Hutt-esque weight or some combination of the two.
Here’s why I bring that up. Here at The Iris, our backend is a WordPress web portal. This means I need to be online and using a browser in order to post to the site. I tend to write my pieces directly into the CMS rather than putting them together elsewhere and the pasting them in. Imagine my frustration, then, when halfway through putting a piece together in the E3 media room or back at the hotel, the whole system would suddenly freeze up, sometimes for up to a few minutes at a time. One of these freezes was so severe that I was able to put the laptop aside, grab my wallet, head down the near-infinite hotel hallway to a vending machine, buy a Coke Zero, walk back and find it still trying to deal with whatever obliquely-shaped lump of data was clogging its arteries. Perhaps I’m expecting too much, but when your machine is running hardware as robust an i7 processor and 16GB of RAM, it’s pretty amazing that that can happen. At this juncture, I would like to make clear that your experience may vary — not everyone is doing the same things I’m doing on a work laptop, not everyone uses the same software I use on a work laptop, but it is something to bear in mind.
My only other gripe with the Yoga 910 is purely a design issue. The laptop is powered by an AC adaptor like any other. The only difference is that the 910’s charger ends in a USB-C connection. This is not bad thing! I’m actually all in favour of more laptops using USB-C (the machine actually has an extra USB-C port for data which is 10/10). What annoys is me is its placement on the left-hand side of the machine body. It’s just begging to be bent or snapped off. I wasn’t even wild about using the machine on my lap while I had my legs crossed because I didn’t like the way the charger sat in its port. I understand why the port is where it is — it’s hard to put the charge port on the back of a laptop that can fold 360 degrees — but I found myself constantly making sure the charger was secure and unbent.
These gripes aside, the machine handled itself quite well. It stood up to being thrown in my backpack and carted with me through customs in three countries, it was comfortable to write on and that folding screen opens up so many options for travellers and professionals alike. This is a solid laptop with a few strange quirks but, when the time came to send it home to Lenovo, I was genuinely sad to see it go.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
Highlights: Folding screen; USB-C; Huge spec; Lightweight
Lowlights: Annoying charger; Quite pricey