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Lenovo Yoga 900 – A Truly Mobile Workhorse

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I am not a hardware guy. I appreciated a great graphics card when I played games on a regular basis, but with an Xbox One and PlayStation 3, this need quickly went away. As long as the machine will do the job and let me use Visual Studio, Chrome, Camtasia, Snagit, video editing software and other developer tools I am happy. I was using my “Dellasaurus”, a 6 year old Dell XPS 1645, which was top of the line when it came out. I even bought it secondhand of a good friend when he upgraded and I still used it for about 2.5 years. However, in the last couple of years I have been travelling a lot, presenting at various conferences and combined with being a freelance consultant I carry my laptop around everywhere. And the Dell was heavy! It was also starting to slow down considerably and I was constantly running out of storage. It was time to upgrade my mobile office.

Criteria for Upgrade

I had three main criteria for choosing a new laptop. Light weight, powerful and great battery life. Other nice to haves were touch screen, USB-C, 16GB ram and at least a 512GB SSD.

I considered a large range of devices, including the very sexy Dell XPS 15, the unbelievably cool Surface Book, the HP Spectre and the very capable Lenovo Yoga 900. All of these devices are super capable and I would have been more than satisfied with any of these, but alas I only needed one. While all these can be configured with an i7 Skylake processor, 16GB ram, a large hard drive and touch screen, immediately there was a huge difference in price on especially the Surface Book. It is $1400 more than the Lenovo,

Ultimately I chose the Lenovo Yoga 900 with 16GB ram and 512GB SSD, as it has the best combination of all the factors that are important to me, and on top I absolutely love the hinge, which makes the device a real 2-in-1, both laptop and tablet.

Yoga 900 Hinge

Battery Life

I guess I am not that hard to impress when it comes to battery life, as my Dellasaurus had next to none. Having more than 30 minutes of non-tethered use of a laptop is a novelty to me. So the 6+ hours I get out of the Yoga 900 is pretty darn cool. I use the laptop just I used the old one, without thought on how much battery life is left. When I am done I just put it on charge and I haven’t run out once yet. That might happen on one of the long haul flights though.

Yoga900 battery

Setup with Three Screens

Another first world problem I have got accustomed to is working with three screens in my home office. I have routines and systems for using three screens in different ways depending on the task. For programming work I have specification, Visual Studio (or other IDE) and output. For document writing it is comms (Skype, Slack etc.), text editor and research. Each work flow is optimized to three screens.

I did some research to make sure the laptop would run three screens through HDMI, DVI and a USB connection. I then settled on the WavLink USB 3.0 Universal Docking Station, as it provides 2 additional USB 3.0 and 4 USB 2.0 connections, as well as the DVI and HDMI connections for the screens. It works a treat, and the Yoga 900 runs all three screens with no issues at all.

Yoga 900 3-Screens

Portability

At only 1.2kg I have a couple of times put the machine in my backpack, then forgotten I did and looked to put it in again, simply because the weight is so insignificant. I realise that most modern laptops, especially in the ultrabook category, don’t weigh much, but being used to carry around half of the Rocky Mountains on my back, this is a hugely welcome change.

Yoga 900 Working anywhere

Power Power Power

It doesn’t matter what I have thrown at the Yoga 900, it has just dealt with it. It is no doubt in large parts due to the 6th gen Core i7 processor. My build time is faster in Visual Studio 2015, Resharper is not being annoying, Camtasia processes videos super quick, large files in PowerPoint aren’t jerky and everything just kinda works. In other words, the hardware is not getting in the way of the work I want to do.

The Not So Good Bits

As happy as I am with the Yoga 900, there are little things that really annoy me. All the crapware that comes loaded on the device, especially the “Lenovo settings”, which just gives you all the same information that you get through Windows 10 settings seems really pointless. Adding another battery indicator on my taskbar? Really? And once you have opened some of the application once, they continually pop up messages and generally just get in the way. Yes, I am looking at you Lenovo Photo Master. Please just let me choose what software I want to install and use.

Finally…

I am 100% sure I made the right choice, both in terms of budget and hardware. Despite the annoying software that comes preinstalled I wouldn’t want to change this laptop for anything. Except maybe a Surface Book, which is so fantastically awesome, but oh so expensive. I have already recommended the Yoga 900 to a few people, as I don’t believe there is a better value for money option on the market currently.

What do you think? Did I make the right choice? Leave a comment with your thoughts.

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6 Comments

  • Reply Jeff Ammons |

    Hi, Lars.

    I’m in the same boat trying to decide which 2in1 to buy.

    I’ve reached *nearly* the same conclusion.

    At the moment (could change right up until I actually plonk down my credit card) I’m thinking about the Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga 14″.

    I’ve wrestled between the 900 and the Thinkpad, and frankly it depends on which day you ask me which answer you’ll get…

    So today’s answer is the Thinkpad.

    It has most of the benefits of the 900 (except that excellent looking hinge), but it promises less crapware. I’ll probably immediately re-install a fresh, clean copy of Win 10 from MSDN in any event. One of the best features of the Thinkpad line vs other Lenovos is the keyboard.

    The one killer feature for me is that you can upgrade both RAM and SSD in the Thinkpad Yoga. Supposedly. I’ll let you know how that goes. 😉

    I don’t know about you, but I tend to go into mental spin cycles on this kind of decision. Spending money is physically painful to me in a border-line Scrooge McDuck way, so I like to be 110% certain (it took me nearly 10 years to buy my first HD TV…).

    I started with the idea that a Surface Pro 4 would be great since it would be perfect for presentations: lightweight and pen for whiteboarding.

    That leads immediately to the Surface Book because the keyboard is SO much better (and included). Then you look at the price and think, “This is a joke, right?”.

    I went through the same list you did, and have now boiled it down to Yoga 900 and Thinkpad Yoga. I’d really, really love the Thinkpad X1 Yoga, but it’s back up into Surface Book $$s.

    Thanks for the write up! Hopefully I can post a follow-up from the Thinkpad perspective with a few weeks (not sure when I’ll actually talk myself into parting with *gasp* money).

    • Reply Lars Klint |

      Hi Jeff,

      I totally feel your pain. I don’t like parting with $$ for hardware either, but when I have to do it I want to do it properly. When I first considered a Lenovo I looked at the exact same machines as you, but my choice fell on the Yoga 900, as it is much better priced than the X1 and the Yoga 460 doesn’t support up to 16GB ram that I could find. I really do like the SP4 as well, and I still use my Gen1 Surface Pro, but it just didn’t present the same value proposition as the Yoga 900.

      Let me know what you decide and why. I’d love to hear your decision making rationale as well.

      Cheers,
      Lars

  • Reply Thomas Strike |

    Thanks for not helping me guys. 🙂 I’m trying to decide between these two and you’re both so close to being on the other machine it doesn’t help me at all.

    I’m still waffling. 🙁

    Thomas

    • Reply Lars Klint |

      Hehe, I hear your pain Thomas. They are both great machines, and you can’t really go wrong. You still gotta choose one though….

  • Reply Stephen Haunts |

    Well, I picked the Yoga on your recommendation nearly a month ago Lars and I am very happy with it. I have really put it through it’s paces over the last few weeks and it is performing excellently.

    The only thing I am not keen on, and it is a very small thing is the size of the right shift key. I keep missing it and hitting the up arrow, but that’s my only tiny gripe. During office hours it is connected to a docking station with a Logitech keyboard, so it is not a problem 90% of the time.

    • Reply Lars Klint |

      I am really pleased to hear that mate. I have not had a problem with the right shift key in the same way though, so it must just be you 😛 No, it is half the size of the left one, so I can see how that could be a small issue.

      You keep on being awesome, you hear!

So, what do you think ?