Lenovo Yoga 920 review: a flipping powerhouse

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Lenovo Yoga 920 review: a flipping powerhouse
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But is Lenovo’s latest 2-in-1 laptop with its price premium? We put it to the test.

Other than the Microsoft Surface range, there's been very little in the way of exciting devices on the convertible market. With most 2-in-1s failing to distance themselves from the design Microsoft popularised, most end up being Surface clones. Within the convertible space, specifically flip-style ultrabooks, it's even rarer to come across something that makes a device truly stand out, let alone anything market leading.

However, recently there's been a surge of impressive 2-in-1s entering the market, and Lenovo's Yoga 920 is one of the better examples. It manages to strike that wonderful balance between beautiful aesthetics and powerhouse performance, without the typical sacrifice to battery life in the process. 

But is this impressive offering worth the price, which ranges from $1,899 to over $3,000? 

Design and connectivity

The Yoga 920 is one striking machine and, thanks to its elegant hinge design, is fast becoming one of the most recognisable convertibles on the market. The most important aspect of the 920 is that it feels every bit as premium as the asking price would suggest. Superb build quality and a sturdy metal frame help give the device a solid feel, despite it only being 14mm thick.

At 1.4kg, it's a little heavier than most ultrabooks on the market, but that can be forgiven somewhat given its solid frame and 13.9in display, and it's still light enough to comfortably carry around. Lenovo has packed in as many premium materials as possible while maintaining the slim profile you want from an ultrabook.

The 920's most unique feature is the 360-degree watchband-style hinge, which upon first impressions felt a little flimsy, as if such an intricate design would surely break under strain. However, after a few uses, it quickly became clear that the hinge is far stronger than it looks, and is able to comfortably support the screen at any angle. The hinge is a wonderfully elegant solution that shares many similarities to the hinge on the Surface Book range, except with 360-degree support.

Convertibles have a bit of an identity crisis in today's market. They inevitably make sacrifices to land somewhere between an ultrabook and a detachable 2-in-1 hybrid, yet with so many compelling examples of both the former and latter available today, compromise can be a difficult sell. For 2-in-1s in particular, the need to lug around a keyboard often makes them far too cumbersome to use as a tablet for any length of time.

The Yoga 920 solves this issue in part thanks to a slim frame and a low profile keyboard, and holding it in its tablet form feels more comfortable than you might expect. Its superb hinge makes it easy to transition between modes, however, being slightly heavier than the average ultrabook, using it as a tablet for extended periods of time can be a little uncomfortable. Also, given that pressing your hand against a keyboard instead of a smooth back is far from an elegant solution, the Yoga 920 is, like any other convertible, very much a laptop first and a tablet second.

Given its thin profile, it's unsurprising to see that port options are fairly limited. The good news is that you get two USB type-C ports and one USB 3.0 port, offering some choice when it comes to peripherals. Unfortunately, that's all you get. There are no extra ports for different display adapters, no SD slots or networking options, and one of the USB C ports will often be reserved for charging.

Keyboard and trackpad

Lenovo has clearly understood that for a convertible to work effectively, its keyboard needs to be as unobtrusive as possible. As such, the keyboard is very thin and light, and a super low profile means there's barely any travel time to the keys.

If you're a fan of Lenovo's ThinkPad range, particularly the X1 Carbon with its chunky keys, you're almost certainly not going to enjoy typing on the Yoga 920. Yet for those used to, say, the MacBook Pro's ultra-svelte keyboard, you'll feel right at home. However, typing differs slightly to the MacBook Pro, as the Yoga has a slightly spongier feel with each key press, creating just a tad more feedback while typing.

It's also very difficult to fault its trackpad, which provides a smooth, non-stick surface, is incredibly easy to use and is big enough to comfortably perform Windows multi-touch gestures. If we were being picky, we'd say the left and right click sounds were just a tad too loud, but that's entirely forgivable.

Display

The Yoga's 13.9in screen certainly looks impressive. Lenovo has opted for the ultra-thin bezels that are becoming a mainstay for ultrabooks looking for that premium feel, and as a result, you get a truly gorgeous-looking screen. Furthermore, it’s available in Full HD or Ultra HD resolution.

Our review unit had the Full HD screen, and unfortunately its raw performance was a little underwhelming. With a maximum brightness of just 289cd/m2 and a colour range of 84%, there's little here to help it stand out.

However, the display’s 1403:1 contrast ratio was surprisingly good given the fairly lacklustre scores, ensuring bright whites and deep blacks are beautifully recreated. Unfortunately, it's something that's quite lost on that fairly dull screen.

Overall, it's a perfectly usable screen for day to day tasks, just don't expect it to hold up too well in direct sunlight or in an especially well-lit office.

Next: Performance, battery life and verdict

Lenovo Yoga 920
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