Lenovo’s Yoga Book was one of our favorite mobile computing devices of the last few years for its originality, charm and attempt to do something different, but it was marred by poor processing power. Now, Lenovo’s sequel, the Yoga Book C930, addresses that and every other flaw, presenting a promising return at IFA 2018 to a product line widely thought had been an experiment.
However, to get to this point, Lenovo had to entirely reposition the Yoga Book toward a different audience than before. To deliver the experience that Lenovo sought to achieve with the previous model, the product had to be more expensive.
And, boy, is it pricier: to the tune of $450 (about £340, AU$600) more than before. No longer is the Yoga Book looking to introduce the mainstream to a new way of computing, but instead it is aimed at the high-end crowd looking for something even more versatile than what’s already out there.
But, can this strategy survive against competitors that are delivering quality, focused experiences at the entry level – e.g. Surface Go and iPad – and even higher-quality and more versatile ones at the high end? We sure hope so, because the Yoga Book C930 looks and feels fantastic and fresh.
Price and availability
You might remember Lenovo positioning the first Yoga Book as being priced so as to make its unique technology accessible to as many as possible. At $999 (about £750, AU$1,300) to start, this is not the case for the second edition Yoga Book C930.
That price nets you a 7th-generation Intel m3 processor paired with 4GB of DDR3 memory and a 256GB PCIe SSD, all beneath one 10.8-inch, Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) E Ink touch display. Of course, the processor also drives a QHD (2,560 x 1,600) touchscreen as the main display.
If you wish, you can upgrade the processor to a 7th-gen Intel Core i5 Y series processor, a step up from the m3 chip, though both are designed for products without room for cooling fans.
The reason for this hike in price is all about the experience Lenovo looks to achieve with this device. It’s more powerful than before to better drive both of the displays, as well as all of the overlaying software required to make this machine. That isn’t the best answer, but we’d much rather see this concept work well for fewer people than work poorly for more.
Design and display(s)
At first glance, the Lenovo Yoga Book looks largely unchanged from the device released a few years back, which is a good thing because that wasn’t the problem with the previous version. Once again, you’re looking at a laptop with two screens held together by Lenovo’s trademark watchband hinge, though it’s a bit more refined now with more actuation points.
The laptop is only slightly heavier than before at 1.71 pounds (775g) and measures just as thin, at merely 0.38 inches (9.9mm). This is particularly impressive considering the screen size grew on the diagonal by 7 inches, with the displays following suit.
This design only leaves room for so many ports, but Lenovo managed to squeeze in two full USB-C 3.1 ports on the laptop’s base, not to mention a new, infrared optical fingerprint reader for biometric login through Windows Hello.
The main display of the laptop has not only been increased in size but in resolution, from Full HD to now QHD, and the difference is stark. Everything on this version simply looks more crisp than before. The bezels surrounding the display are thick, but that helps give the device graspable areas without affecting screen contents.
While the main display is gorgeous to look at (and feels responsive), it’s the new display on the laptop’s base that has seen the most significant change. It’s now based on E Ink technology rather than Lenovo’s proprietary Create Pad with capacitive touch and EMR pen technology.
This allows for so many more applications of the laptop’s base screen, like that of an e-reader especially. The display’s keyboard is now more widely laid out, thanks to the screen size boost, and features a trackpad that expands upon touch and shrinks again when it’s not needed.
Typing on the display is also vastly improved, with more defined haptic feedback now as well audio cues when digital keys are pressed and animations. None of this truly replaces the intuitive feeling of a real keyboard, and likely never will, but Lenovo is getting excitingly close here.
This new display technology requires a new stylus, based on active electrostatic (AES) technology that utilizes a conductive pen tip to cause reactions in the E Ink display’s digitizer. The end result is a far quicker drawing response, with the digital cursor following your pen nearly one-to-one.
Better yet, the stylus is included and attaches to the device via magnets in its sides.
All told, these are all hugely welcome changes to the Yoga Book design that should result in a far more viable product once it launches this October.
It’s always difficult to discuss performance in a hands-on review without being able to run benchmark tests. However, we can confidently expect this sequel to be much more powerful than the first.
That’s mostly because Lenovo itself set somewhat of a low bar to surpass, with the previous model using an Intel Atom processor. Even the Intel Core m3 option will show a strong spike in power – it’s been used before to power the 12-inch MacBook, for instance.
Of course, by that logic the Intel Core i5 Y series option will be your best bet to future-proof your purchase, but the Core m3 should be enough to drive a better experience than before. Just don’t expect a multitasking powerhouse with just 4GB of DDR3 memory.
Lenovo promises up to 8 hours and 36 minutes of use on a single charge from the new Yoga Book, which would keep it right in line with our results for the previous model. Given that the screen size and resolution have both increased, we wonder whether this battery life figure will come to bear in our testing.
The new Lenovo Yoga Book C930 is an update that addresses practically every bugbear that we had with the original model. Both screens are slightly bigger, with the digital keyboard and notepad being vastly improved with E Ink technology.
Turning the Yoga Book into more of a premium product should prove to be a smart move for Lenovo, as the hardware priced where the previous model was simply isn’t enough to drive that sort of truly hybrid experience Lenovo is looking for. And now, we’re looking at a more complete execution of Lenovo’s vision.
It’s a shame that the Yoga Book C930 has to cost so much more than it previously did, especially when up against 2-in-1 devices that look and feel just as luxury, i.e. the new Surface Go, for hundreds less. We’ll see whether the Yoga Book C930’s unique properties and experiences befit its steeper price in a full review.