So many of the best touchscreen laptops came out last year, but Lenovo capped the year off with what may have been the best one, with the Lenovo Yoga 920 – the much-anticipated follow-up to the Yoga 910.
The Lenovo Yoga 920 keeps the trademark 360-degree hinge, but it improves upon its predecessor by including USB-C, Thunderbolt 3, a much better webcam (in a better spot, too) and much longer battery life.
However, considering the vast amount of 2-in-1 laptops that surfaced in 2017, including the awesome Surface Book 2, did the Lenovo Yoga leave an impression? The short answer is yes, but read on to see how it fares against the myriad competitors.
Here is the Lenovo Yoga 920 configuration sent to TechRadar for review:
CPU: 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-855OU (dual-core, 4MB cache, up to 4GHz)
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620
RAM: 16GB DDR4
Screen: 13.9-inch FHD (1920 x 1080)
Storage: 512GB PCIe SSD
Ports: 1 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB-C (Thunderbolt 3), headset jack
Connectivity: 802.11ac (2.4 & 5GHz); Bluetooth 4.1
Weight: 3 pounds (1.37kg)
Size: 12.7 x 8.8 x 0.5 inches (323 x 223.5 x 13.95mm)
(W x D x H)
Price and availability
As with other 2-in-1 devices, the Lenovo Yoga 920 comes in different configurations, though thankfully Lenovo hasn't gone overboard by offering a confusing array of options.
The base model comes with an Intel Core i5-8250U processor, 256GB SSD, 8GB RAM, a 13.9-inch 1080p touchscreen and an Active Pen stylus, and costs $1,199 / £1,199. This model is available in the US and UK.
A second model comes with the same spec as above, but features a faster Intel Core i7-8550U processor and larger 512GB SDD. This costs $1,549 / £1,349 and again is available in the UK and the US. From these prices you can see that in the UK, the higher-specced Yoga 920 offers much better value for money.
Finally, there’s a version that features an Intel Core i7-8550U processor, 16GB RAM, up to 1TB of storage and a UHD (3840 x 2160) screen. This model is only available in the US and Australia, and costs $1,999 / AU$2,999. Keep in mind that the Australian model is currently capped at 512GB of storage.
Australian readers may be a bit miffed about missing out on the lower-specced versions, but at least the price conversion compared to US$ works out very well. Meanwhile, if you’re in the UK you won’t have the option of that 4K screen.
While these are quite hefty sums to be parting with, they are around the price we normally see high-end and premium laptops and ultrabooks sell for, and they're still a fair bit cheaper than the Surface Book 2 (13.5-inch), the smaller version of Microsoft’s 2-in-1, which is comparable to the Yoga 910 in terms of size and power.
Prices for that device start at $1,499 (£1,499, around AU$2,600) for which you get a 7th-generation Intel Core i5 CPU, 8GB RAM, 256GB and an integrated GPU. The prices then rise to a pretty steep $2,999 (£2,999, around AU$5,200) for the top-of-the-range model, which comes with an 8th-gen Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD and a GTX 1050 graphics card.
That’s quite a difference in price, though it is worth noting that none of the Lenovo 920 configurations come with a dedicated graphics card. Instead they come with less powerful integrated cards which can handle most tasks absolutely fine, but will suffer when it comes to gaming and video-editing.
Overall, though, we feel the prices are pretty good for the various Yoga 920 configurations, and while they're certainly not cheap, these aren't ludicrous asking prices for the quality of device you’re getting.
When you’re paying a premium price you want a device that looks – and feels – premium as well, and Lenovo has done an excellent job of that with the Yoga 920. It has a thin yet sturdy feel to it, weighing 3.0 pounds (1.37kg) and measuring just 12.7 x 8.8 x 0.5 inches (323 x 223.5 x 13.95mm).
This means it has a nice heft, without feeling heavy or bulky. It also has a metallic finish which adds to the premium feel, although after only a few hours of use the metal became a veritable haven for fingerprints, so you may want to keep a small cloth handy to keep it smudge-free.
It’s a small price to pay, however, for such a good-looking 2-in-1. The hinges along the back of the Yoga 920 are also eye-catching – we’ve fluctuated between thinking they're stylish and finding them a bit gaudy. There’s no doubting the strength and build quality of the hinge though, which is essential for a convertible laptop as that hinge is likely to see a lot of action as you flip the screen orientation, so you don’t want it to be a point of failure.
Like the hinge on the Surface Book 2, it’s strong enough to angle the screen without the body tipping up, while the screen remains held in place. Unlike the Surface Book 2, however, the design of this hinge doesn’t stick out quite as much, and, of course, it can flip the screen a full 180 degrees.
2-in-1 convertibles that flip their screens to turn into a tablet-like device struggle to provide quite as good a tablet experience as 2-in-1s on which the screen detaches from the keyboard, as you’re still left with a slightly bulky device with a back that feels like a keyboard (because it is one).
Lenovo has managed to address at least one of these points thanks to the thinness of the design – even with the screen flipped all the way back this is still a thin device, though not quite as slim as standard tablets. That keyboard back remains, and while it doesn’t feel that nice (compared to the smooth, flat back of a normal tablet), it's at least clever enough to turn off the buttons, so they don’t interfere when in tablet mode.
Because of this we’d recommend the Yoga 920 as a laptop that can occasionally turn into a tablet, rather than vice versa. If you’re looking for something that you’ll use mostly as a tablet, but want it to also turn into a laptop-like device for typing on, we’d recommend something like the Surface Book 2, or perhaps a tablet that comes with a physical Bluetooth keyboard.
The bezel around the screen is impressively thin, and the webcam is now back at the top of the screen, in a central location. On the Yoga 910 the webcam was housed in the bottom bezel, which led to some unflattering shots, and in general people weren’t too happy with that placement. With the camera returning to the top of the screen videos look much more natural when using VoIP software – and thankfully, putting the webcam back there hasn't required making the top bezel any larger.
Given the thinness of the design, it’s probably no surprise that ports-wise there aren't a huge number of connectivity options. On the left-hand side there’s a headphone/mic jack and two USB-C ports (one of which is also used as the power supply), and on the right is a full-size USB 3.0 port. This isn’t the most generous offering, but it’s more than the MacBook’s single USB-C port.
To be honest, we didn't find the number of ports restrictive, and it’s a reasonable trade-off for the svelte design. If you have a number of USB devices that you want to attach you’ll need an adapter, though the Yoga 920 also has built-in Bluetooth support.
The fact that it still features one full-size USB port means there’s some flexibility here for using legacy devices, as well as memory sticks.
Stylus pros and cons
One thing we complained about with the Surface Book 2 devices was that despite their high prices the Surface Pen stylus wasn't included, necessitating an extra outlay on top of an already expensive purchase.
Thankfully Lenovo hasn't followed suit, and has included its Active Pen stylus as part of the package. This battery-powered stylus has a nice design, and the Yoga 920 responds well to it thanks to its screen being able to detect 4,096 levels of pressure. Light presses and hard presses were registered accurately in the art apps we tried, and the 920 kept up with even the most frantic scribbles.
Unlike the Surface Pen, which has a nifty feature where you can use the other end of the stylus as an eraser, you need to hold down one (of two) buttons on the stylus to engage erase mode. Overall, though, we were pleased with the Active Pen, and we’re very pleased that Lenovo saw fit to include it with the Yoga 920 as standard.
However, it's not all good news. Lenovo had to find a way to easily store the stylus within such a slim design. Microsoft’s solution with the Surface Pen and its Surface devices is to magnetically attach the stylus to the body of the main device; it's a nice feature that’s handy, though not completely secure, and it helps to give those devices a premium feel.
However, for the Yoga 920 Lenovo has decided on a plastic holder that slots into the full-size USB port and holds the stylus there. This ends up feeling a bit cheap and tacky, and it also means you’re losing access to a USB port while you're using it. It’s a shame, as so many other elements of the Yoga 920's design feel premium, and this just feels like a fudge.
First reviewed December 2017