With its Yoga Book C930, Lenovo signs one of the most amazing – and confusing – laptops of 2019. This device innovates as much by the look as by its functions. Its small, incredibly thin and light gray case – c775 small grams – looks more like a notebook or diary than a laptop.
And surprise, this machine does not have a keyboard … but incorporates two touch screens, one of which, based on electronic ink techno E Ink, displays a virtual keyboard, like on mobile phones. The other screen, the one above, is a 10.8-inch “classic” IPS-type active matrix. Thanks to a hinge that can rotate 360 degrees, these two screens can be adjusted at a right angle, to use the Yoga Book like an ordinary laptop, or folded over one another to transform the machine into a tablet … but also electronic reading light or drawing table.
One device, four functions. Is the Yoga Book C930 the bargain of 2019? In fact, no, not really! The device is undoubtedly a jewel of techno and a superb demonstration of industrial design, but we will see that it is not a very good laptop, due to its low power and its level of equipment far below current standards.
And yet it is expensive, this Lenovo! 1,000 euros for the basic version, nearly 1,500 euros for the most high-end model reviewed here, equipped with a 4G chip for wireless communications. We’re still happy that at this price, Lenovo will provide its machine with a stylus, to write or draw directly on the screen. At Microsoft or HP, this famous stylus is sold separately, around 100 euros.
What is this extraordinary machine really worth? Who is she talking to ? Here is our opinion, reviews in support.
A luxury case, elegant, slim and solid at the same time
All aluminum, the case turns out to be as elegant as it is solid and perfectly adjusted. The hinge that joins the two screens, which alone required a lot of R&D work at Lenovo, is just as well done, without any play in the articulation.
To open the machine, the Chinese manufacturer adds a little gadget function, but fun and original. It is enough to “knock” twice on the top of the case that the hood is raised! When it works – that is to say not always – the system has a little effect. But it is especially by its double touch screen that the Yoga Book attracts curiosity.
A very high definition, bright and well contrasted IPS panel
For the main screen, Lenovo uses an IPS panel with a native definition of 2560 x 1600 pixels. In Windows, the image is adjusted with a 200% zoom for easy readability of icons and menus. This screen in high definition turns out to be quite good, with a correct brightness (341 cd / m², according to our measurements), a high level of contrast (1445: 1) and a good homogeneity of the backlight, without clear spots on the edges. .
In tablet mode, fingertips or stylus, we appreciate the reactivity of the active matrix, which recognizes 4096 pressure levels. The only small “concern” to report on this very beautiful screen, its very shiny protective coating, typical of touch screens, generates many reflections. It is also a bit of a shame that this very beautiful screen is cluttered with a large black frame, while the trend, on ultraportables, is rather with extra fine borders.
E Ink screen: great for reading or drawing, but not for typing
If we are thrilled by the IPS screen of the Yoga Book, the E Ink panel leaves us a little hungry, at least when it is used as a virtual keyboard. When this function is activated, the layout and shape of the keys that appear on the screen correspond well to those of a traditional mechanical keyboard, but the “typing” is much slower and laborious, especially at the beginning. It takes a long time to get used to these “keys” that do not sink!
Lenovo partially compensates for this problem with a haptic feedback system (a key vibration when pressed), but this virtual keyboard is not worth a good mechanical keyboard for long work sessions in Word or Excel. Good point anyway for the fingerprint reader, in the upper right corner of the virtual keyboard, which allows you to unlock a Windows session without entering a password.
The electronic ink screen, on the other hand, is very pleasant to read PDF files or ePub, the digital book format that the Yoga Book has supported for a few weeks. Just activate the e-reader mode from the E Ink screen menu and then open the book using the file explorer that appears. The visual comfort is really excellent, thanks to the smooth display characteristic of electronic ink but also to the high definition of the screen (1920 x 1080 dots).
The menu also allows you to use the E Ink slab as a small drawing table, with some pretty cool options. It is thus possible to display a screenshot of the main panel – a photo, a web page, a video … – on the E Ink screen to annotate it. With a stylus, you can also draw or write on the E Ink panel – in black and white only! – then send your drawing or note to the main screen of the machine, with a simple copy and paste.
Equipment and performance unworthy of high-end
It’s nice, drawing and reading books in epub, but what is the Yoga Book worth for working on Windows? Alas, the results here are not very good, the fault of a too small engine and a configuration generally unworthy of such an expensive machine. Recall that we are reviewing here the most upscale model of the three Yoga Book C930 marketed in UK, which costs a whopping 1499 euros.
Obviously, it’s impossible to integrate a very large processor in such a thin and light case. But Lenovo still could have found better than an old 7th generation Intel Core i5-7Y54 dual-core chip (Intel is in the ninth today …). This chip is just barely good for basic office and multimedia tasks. Unsurprisingly, the Yoga Book C930 ranks at the bottom of our general performance review ranking (under PCMARK 10), in front of the basic version of the 13-inch MacBook Air of 2018, which was a disappointment on this point.
What is really unacceptable is that the Intel chip is also badly surrounded on a machine at almost 1,500 euros. Yoga only includes 4 GB of DDR3 RAM and 256 GB of SSD storage. We console ourselves a little with the many communication modules: the high-end Yoga Book offers Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac), Bluetooth (4.2) and 4G.
The more “economical” versions of the Yoga Book are even more ill-equipped. The 999 euro model comes with an entry-level Intel Core i3 processor, 4 GB of memory and an SSD of only 128 GB. Please note that this model is supplied without stylus! Another model, at 1399 euros, is equipped with the same engine as the model reviewed here (Core i5 chip, 4 GB, 256 GB on SSD) but it is deprived of 4G chip.
On the three versions of the machine, the connection proves to be rather poor, with only 2 USB-C sockets (Gen 3.1) and a microSD card reader. In the absence of network or HMDI sockets, Lenovo could still have added a headphone output!
Autonomy: no more than 6 h 13 minutes of continuous use
Lenovo announces 10 hours of continuous use for its Yoga Book, which features a 4,650mAh Li-ion battery. But, according to our reviews, the autonomy is significantly lower … and a little disappointing for an ultraportable. The Yoga Book C930 lasted no more than 6 hours and 13 minutes during our “versatile” autonomy review, which simulates various uses, including moderate office and multimedia use.
Here again, the Yoga Book C930 ranks poorly in our laptop autonomy ranking, far behind other hybrid machines like the Specter X360 from HP (9:24) or the Surface Laptop 2 from Microsoft (9:36). The big autonomy champions are still Dell’s XPS 13 (12:23 p.m.) and the 13-inch MacBook Pro (2:24 p.m.).