About a week before Christmas late last year, I received a wonderful Lenovo Yoga 900 as an early gift. This is the successor to the Yoga 3 Pro, which quite honestly came up short on a lot of things. I’ve been using it for quite some time now, so now I’m going to give you my impressions on it (at least so far). How much do I think the Yoga 900 has improved over the Yoga 3 Pro? Keep reading to find out.
My Yoga 900 came with the following configuration:
Speakers: JBL Stereo Speakers with Dolby DS 1.0 Home Theater Certification
Battery life: Up to 9 hours of battery life
Display: 13.3″ QHD+ (3200 x 1800) IPS, 300 nits LCD
Dimensions (WxDxH): (inches): 12.75″ x 8.86″ x 0.59″, (mm) : 324 x 225 x 14.9
Weight: Starting at 2.8 lbs (1.3 kg)
WLAN: Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260 with Bluetooth 4.0
Ports: 2 x USB Type A 3.0, 1 x USB Type C 3.0 with Video-out, 1 x DC-in with USB 2.0 Function, 4-in-1 Card Reader (SD, MMC, SDXC, SDHC), Audio Combo Jack
On the left side (from left to right), we have a USB 3.0/AC adapter combo, USB 3.0 port, USB 3.0 type c port, and an SD card reader (SD, MMC, SDXC, SDHC).
On right side (from left to right), we have the Power button, Novo button, rotation lock button, a 3.5mm jack, and a USB 3.0 port.
My Yoga 900 came in silver, but is also available in champagne gold and clementine orange (the latter which is the color that has defined the brand). The lid and bottom cover are made of magnalium and aluminum. The palmrest has a comfortable, rubbery feel that looks like its coated in leather (I’m not so sure if it actually is) and provides great grip. It is a little bit thicker and heavier than the Yoga 3 Pro but its really not that big of a deal and is still thin and light. This and the build material make it feel sturdier than the Y3P. When I picked it up for the first time, it didn’t seem prone to flexing unlike the Y3P (there was barely any if at all) and I was very impressed with how rugged it felt compared to the Y3P.
The hinge follows on the watchband-inspired design that was introduced on the Y3P but seems to have improved. Compared to the Y3P, the Yoga 900 seem to wobble way less and feels tighter (but not so tight that its nearly impossible to open and close), whereas the Y3P’s hinges felt much more wobbly and looser. The 900 also now comes with color-coated hinges, which you can’t notice on the silver version but you can notice on the gold and orange ones. Lastly, the Yoga 900 comes with the new Lenovo logo with you can see on the left-hand side of the LCD and on the corner of the lid, plus the Yoga logo now adorns the top of the lid.
The Yoga 900 comes equipped with a 3200×1800 QHD+ IPS multitouch display at 300 nits. I use the 900 for graphic design and video production/editing and the screen is excellent for that purpose (obviously, I would prefer to use a P series ThinkPad for these tasks, but this is quite decent until I can get my hands on one). The screen is bright, crisp, and vibrant and a great pleasure to use – really not that different from my Y3P.
The downside to having such a display like this (at least in current times) is the DPI scaling issues (the DPI scaling in the 900 is set to 250% by default). This is really due to apps not having adapted to the new high DPI displays. The good news is that more systems are being equipped with them and more people are buying such devices, which means that there will be more programs supporting these kind of LCDs. The other downside to having a display like this would have to be the reduced battery life that normally comes from having such a crisp display like this.
The Yoga 900 comes with JBL speakers, which are located in the bottom cover on the front of the 900 and are coated in a sort of metal & chrome finish. It also comes with Dolby Audio, to enhance the audio.
The speakers on the 900 are phenomenal. I noticed that they’re much louder and clearer than that of the Y3P. However, if you’re looking external sound of an even higher quality, you’re better off getting some high quality speakers or studio monitors (which are special speakers that music producers such as myself use in order to have great detail and precision in the sounds we work with). Other than that, they are great for regular, casual listening.
With headphones on, the audio on the 900 sounds pretty decent, particularly with the Dolby software on (which can make your audio sound like you’re in a movie theater) – at least if your goal is easy, casual listening. If you want something of higher quality, you’re better off getting a quality headphone amp or audio interface and quality studio headphones. Overall, I think that the 900 has even better audio than the Y3P.
One thing I noticed that is missing from the 900 that previous Yogas had are physical volume buttons. Instead of being able to press a button on the right side of the system to adjust the volume from high to low or vice versa, you now have to press one of the multimedia/function keys on top of the keyboard (the ones for adjusting the volume). Adjusting to this has been quite difficult and feels awkward as I was so used to adjusting the volume on the right side of the Yoga on my Y3P and Y211. This is obviously going to present a problem when its in a mode other than laptop mode (I haven’t tried this yet so I can’t really give a definite answer). Overall, I don’t think removing physical volume buttons on the 900 was a very good idea and is something that I personally miss. Another thing I noticed is that its more challenging to plug in headphones in the headphone jack of the 900 than it is on the Y3P, but I don’t really have an issue with that.
Keyboard & clickpad
The keyboard on the Yoga 900 is actually not so bad (in fact, its pretty good). The 6-row keyboard is back on the 900 (whereas the Yoga 3 Pro had a 5-row keyboard) and it feels much more comfortable to type on than the Yoga 3 Pro. Typing on the Y3P’s keyboard was much more challenging for me and – along with the CPU – was my biggest complaint of the Y3P. Typing on the Y3P made me feel fatigued pretty quickly as I felt like I had to apply more pressure on the keys, plus it felt kind of mushy. I haven’t really experienced this on the 900. I’ve been using ThinkPads for 12-years so I’m used to typing on that legendary keyboard ThinkPads are very well-known and praised for, which means that typing on the Y3Ps keyboard was a dramatic change for me. I would have to say that the 900 comes pretty close to a ThinkPad keyboard (although I still prefer a ThinkPad keyboard) but I would really love to compare a modern ThinkPad to the 900 just to see how similar or different the typing experience is.
The keyboard on the 900 is also an improvement over my Yoga 2 11’s and even my Y3P’s keyboard on the travel key department. The travel on the keys of the Y211 was pretty short, while on the Y3P it was a bit better, and it made typing on it (the Y211) feel a bit awkward but this is not the case on the 900. One thing I missed on the Y3P was the multimedia keys on the function keys that my Y211 had. Thankfully, these keys made a return on the 900. The 900 also has a backlight keyboard, which can be turned on and off using the Fn key and spacebar.
Being a lifelong ThinkPad user and being very fond of its TrackPoint, I’m not a huge fan of trackpads (I prefer to use an external mouse when I’m not using a ThinkPad) but the trackpad on the Yoga 900 is quite decent – definitely a big improvement over the Yoga 3 Pro. It feels more comfortable, tactile, and clicky than on the Y3P (which felt more mushy and challenging to click).
Performance & Battery life
The Yoga 900 comes with a 2.5GHz i7-6500u, 16GB of RAM, integrated Intel HD graphics, and a 256GB SSD. So far, I feel like the 900 is a lot speedier than the Yoga 3 Pro (which had a Core M).
Perhaps the main thing (besides the keyboard) I didn’t like about Y3P is its Core M CPU. As a power user, the Core M felt very underpowered and I had a hard time doing certain tasks. Since the 900 has an i7 (which is obviously speedier), I don’t have those issues anymore. I was even able to install Adobe After Effects and Premiere Pro CS6 with no issues, which allowed me to upgrade my video editing and production setup! (Prior to this I was using Windows Movie Maker.) I was able to do this despite the fact that the 900 comes with integrated graphics (which was a big shocker to me). Sadly, I still can’t use the 3D modeling capabilities of Photoshop CS6 🙁 . I haven’t really had the chance to really test the limits of the 900 regarding After Effects and Premiere Pro, but so far its been able to handle everything I’ve thrown at it so far – which isn’t surprising since it has 2.5GHz i7, 16GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD.
Supposedly, the 900 is capable of getting up to 9 hours of battery life (if your BIOS is updated to V32, that is). How much battery life you get obviously depends on how you use it. My 900 got almost 6 hours of battery life with the brightness turned down to 65-75%, with the battery (obviously) draining out quicker while playing videos and doing more intensive tasks. It also goes without saying that the QHD+ screen obviously affects the battery life of the 900 (see above).
As you can see, I’m very impressed and happy with the Yoga 900 (with the After Effects and Premiere Pro support being the thing that impressed me the most). This is indeed a big improvement over the Yoga 3 Pro. Lenovo obviously listened to feedback from users, which just goes to show you that they do indeed listen to their customers and are always looking to improve. My only complaints about the 900 would have to be the lack of physical volume buttons, and of course, lack of a TrackPoint (which is really just me and just shows you that I’m truly a ThinkPadder at heart). Other than that, the Yoga 900 is an excellent successor to the Yoga 3 Pro and a robust 2-in-1 that is great for graphic design/illustration/digital art and multimedia – if this is something you’re looking at.
Here’s an unboxing video I did of the Yoga 900 the day I got it (which I used Premiere Pro, as well as a little bit of After Effects, Windows Movie Maker, and FL Studio, to make). I also unboxed the Yoga 900 Sleeve I got along with it, and included a small demo of the speakers towards the end: