Lenovo Yoga 920 review: A flipping powerhouse
While it sets the bar for convertibles, its price may be a little steep for some
It's not often these days we see an innovative convertible laptop. Bar the Microsoft Surface Pro, which is perhaps the closest we've come to perfection in the 2-in-1 market, we're still awaiting something to really wow us.
The flip-style ultrabook market has certainly become a little lacklustre, but the Lenovo Yoga 920 is trying to break away and make its mark in an area of computing that's become a little tired.
In the Yoga 920 we have a device that certainly fits the part, with a pretty sleek design and impressive internals. But what makes it crash back down to earth is its price.
At 1300, there are a lot of better-performing, lighter-weight laptops on the market that could be snapped up for a whole lot less. The question, then, is whether the Yoga 920 is worth that extra cash, or should you stick to the tried and tested Surface range?
Lenovo Yoga 920: Design & connectivity
The Yoga 920's overall looks are pretty striking, with a hinge design not seen anywhere else on the market. It does feel premium, with a solid metal frame and build quality at the top of its game. It's pretty heavy at 1.4kg because of the metal chassis probably and measures 14mm thick, which fits alongside its rivals.
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. 2-in-1s in particular usually do a better job at delivering a tablet experience, as the need to lug around a keyboard often makes a device far too cumbersome.
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.
Lenovo Yoga 920: Keyboard & 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.
Lenovo Yoga 920: Display
While the Yoga's 1080p screen certainly looks impressive, it's raw performance is a little underwhelming, which is disappointing given its asking price.
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. Unfortunately, with a maximum brightness of just 289cd/m2 and a colour range of 84%, there's little here to help it stand out. For example, the much cheaper Acer Spin 7 has a 95% coverage and 321cd/m2 max brightness.
However, the Yoga'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.
Lenovo Yoga 920: Hardware & performance
While the display is average at best, the Yoga's raw performance is anything but, and was able to deliver some truly impressive results in our benchmark tests. The Yoga achieved an excellent overall score of 90, which puts it on par with some of the top-end ultrabooks and 2-in-1s. For example, a top-of-the-line Microsoft Surface Pro, priced at over 2,000, scored 102 in our benchmark tests.
In fact, it's one of the fastest convertibles we've ever tested, and is more than capable of handling most daily business tasks, whether it be word processing or multi-tab browsing. It will even stand up well to slightly more demanding tasks like image editing or working across multiple screens, which is not something we can say that often about ultra-slim convertibles.
That performance is thanks to the inclusion of Intel's eighth-generation Core i7-8550U processor clocked at 1.8GHz, which offers substantially higher power output than the Y series that's found in many rival machines. What's more, you're also getting 8GB of RAM and a particularly generous 512GB SSD.
While many ultrabooks sacrifice longevity for raw power, the Yoga 920 is one of those few devices that's able to maintain both, which is especially surprising in this price range. With a score of 12hrs and 29mins, it managed to last two hours longer than the new Surface Pro and almost four hours longer than the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1. That's staggering given that, in the case of the Surface Pro, you're getting a machine that's more than a match for a market leading device, but for more than 700 less.
Lenovo Yoga 920: Verdict
Lenovo's Yoga 920 truly earns its place as one of the better convertibles on the market today. While its asking price is a little above the average, we feel it's worth it given the superb package your getting. Not only is it one of the more visually striking devices on the market, it's also one of the most powerful, with a battery that will last all day. That's not something you'd generally expect from a 2-in-1 device.
Had more attention been given to the Yoga's display, the 920 could've been a serious game changer, but as it stands, there are still some cheaper rivals that could entice customers away from the Yoga's steep price.
For those looking for a machine that looks and feels premium, and willing to fork out that little bit extra, look no further than the Yoga 920.
A rare example of a convertible that strikes the perfect balance between striking looks and raw power, the Yoga 920 is one of the best devices of its kind on the market. Only a fairly mediocre screen and a steep asking price tarnish what would be convertible gold.
|CPU||Intel Core i7-8550U 1.8GHz|
|Display||13.9in, 1920 x 1080, IPS|
|Dimensions||323mm x 224mm x 14mm, 1.4kg|
|Ports||USB Type C x 2 w/ Thunderbolt, USB 3.0 x 1, headphone port|