Product Review: Lenovo Yoga 900

Lenovo has delivered a fantastic device in the Yoga 900, firmly supplanting my long-time favorite HP Spectre x360 as the top device for 2015.

Rod Trent

November 18, 2015

8 Min Read
Product Review: Lenovo Yoga 900

I’m a fan of 2-in-1 computers. Ever since I acquired the HP Spectre x360 earlier this year (review HERE), I can’t see myself using any other type of portable computer. 2-in-1’s give me true lapability with quick-o change-o touchscreen tablet abilities. With a quick twist of the wrist a 2-in-1 allows me to go from mouse and keyboard productivity to touchscreen fury in seconds. Microsoft touts lapability with the Surface Pro 3 and 4, but if you’ve ever used a 2-in-1 for any length of time you know that the Surface tablet line still leaves a bit to be desired in this area. Plus, a 2-in-1 doesn’t give you “Surface thighs” – you know, when you use the Surface on your lap and the kickstand leaves thin, red indentations in your legs like you’ve been sunbathing, face down on an old-style lounge chair.

Being enamored with 2-in-1’s and having grown fully charmed by the HP Spectre x360, every single laptop or similar device I’ve tested this year has (unfortunately) been scrutinized and compared against the Spectre. If HP doesn’t win some sort of 2015 design award for the Spectre x360, I’ll be surprised. But, here’s the thing – I believe that the Lenovo Yoga 900 is better. It took almost the entire 2015 calendar year, but someone finally manufactured a unit that I believe is better than the HP Spectre x360. And, I think it really has a lot to do with the length of my testing. There’s nothing major about the Yoga 900 that makes it superior to the Spectre, but it’s the little things – the extra attention to detail – that make it stand out that can only be experienced by using it longer than a couple days. So, Lenovo is actually pretty fortunate I was on my way out the door for another week-long trip when the Yoga 900 arrived. I had enough time to setup and personalize the Yoga 900 and take it with me to be my single computer for the week.

Even though I’ll admit that the Yoga 900 is a better device than the HP Spectre x360, it’s not perfect. So, let’s start there. There are a few dings I give the Yoga 900 that I think are minor, but for some of you may represent a deal-breaker.


  • Unwanted software – Ah, Lenovo. Blasted in the news and by journalists for installing spyware, the company can’t seem to realize that customers really don’t want extra software. With the Yoga 900, Lenovo doesn’t mend any fences. There’s a litany of “Lenovo” branded apps pre-installed and none of them are very good. They are easy to enough uninstall, but still, a clean PC should be a goal for a company trying to prove its not spying on customers. On first boot, I was confronted with a McAfee security screen asking me to sign-up for a subscription. No thanks.

  • Doesn’t offer pen support – The HP Spectre x360 offers pen support, the Lenovo Yoga 900 doesn’t. The one for the Spectre is an additional, semi-expensive add-on but at least HP gave credence to those that might possibly want the ability. However, it’s now almost 8 months since the Spectre release and I don’t see too many people using a pen on a tablet regularly – even on Microsoft’s Surface line.

  • AC Adapter is too bulky – Lenovo provides a unique power adapter with the Yoga 900, but it’s just too bulky. On a power strip or in a two-socket power outlet, the size and shape of the AC adapter means you sometimes can’t plug in anything else beside it.

  • Smaller trackpad – While other manufacturers are increasing touchpad real estate (the Surface Pro 4 has a bigger touchpad now), Lenovo has kept it small on the Yoga 900. To be honest, I didn’t find it limiting in any way, but it is a lot smaller area than most of today’s laptops and 2-in-1’s.

With the dings out of the way, it’s time to highlight those areas that I believe make the Yoga 900 an exceptional device and truly those areas that vault this 2-in-1 over the HP Spectre x360 that I loved (I still love it, just not as much as I now love the Yoga 900).

  • Battery life – HP touts 12-hour battery life for the Spectre x360, but after a couple weeks using the Yoga 900, I can personally say that the Yoga’s battery life is much better, even though Lenovo only rates the Yoga at around 9 hours. I believe the newer, 6th Gen Intel Core i7 processor has a lot do with that.

  • Performance – this is an obvious plus over the Spectre and rightly so. While the Spectre I have runs on an i5 with 8 GB RAM, the Yoga 900 runs the i7 with 16 GB RAM. Running Windows 10, apps snap open and web browsing is almost instantaneous. I initially had some constant Intel graphics driver issues that is notorious for Windows 10 PCs, but those went away after updating the graphics driver from the Lenovo web site.

  • Cooler operating – again complimenting the Intel i7, the Yoga 900 runs way cooler than the HP Spectre x360, and the internal fan rarely kicks on, though Lenovo says the fan has 15-percent better airflow and 30-percent better cooling. It should also be noted that all-metal design of the Spectre lends to it feeling like it runs hotter. The Lenovo keyboard deck, I think, helps curb heat effects, but I’ll delve into that in an upcoming bullet point.

  • Hinge – I’ve long lauded the HP Spectre’s hinges, and while they are neat and possibly more aesthetically pleasing than the Yoga, the Yoga 900’s watchband hinge is more sturdy and seems engineered to last a lot longer.  After about 8 months of use, the HP 2-hinge design is showing wear. After months of opening, closing, and flipping the Spectre lid the hinges are really starting to loosen – meaning a day might come when they fail to hold the screen lid in place. The Yoga 900’s watchband hinge runs the device's full width, making it feel more solid.

  • Keyboard – Lenovo got dinged a bunch recently over some of its lower-end laptops due to the lackluster keyboards. Lenovo has always had great keyboards and keyboard layouts, so it’s great to see the Lenovo give attention to this area. The keyboard on the Yoga 900 is a dream and the layout and function is exceptional. As an example. The Spectre requires you to hit a key combination with the FN key just to do a pagedown/pageup. This is painful and generates a lot of mis-keys and mistakes. The Yoga 900 gives the Home/End/PgUp,PgDn their own area on the right-hand side of the keyboard. For computer typists, this is hugely valuable.

  • Keyboard deck material – This may sound like a silly thing, but the nuance of the material Lenovo uses on the keyboard deck has become an important factor for me. The Spectre’s all-metal design makes it always cold to the touch – particularly when typing. It makes me think of what it must be like sitting on a cold metal gurney in an operating room. If I had tested the Yoga 900 for just a few days instead of a couple weeks, this aspect of the design probably would have never come through. However, using it every day for the last two weeks, the keyboard deck material makes it a more welcoming experience.

In my First Look article, I noted that the Yoga 900 seemed heavier, but I was wrong. After carrying it around for these past two weeks, it is definitely lighter and thinner. I’ve gone back and forth between the Yoga 900 and the HP Spectre x360 a few times and the weight and thickness is evident.

Bottom Line

I honestly thought I’d go completely through 2015 without finding a valid competitor for the function and design of the HP Spectre x360. But, the Lenovo Yoga 900 exploded onto the scene and into my hands right at the end.

I review a lot of products and hope by now you realize I’m not afraid to give dings where dings are due. I don’t give fake reviews just to get a pat on the back by the manufacturer, or to be the first in line to get a doorstep surprise – which some clearly do. At the end of the day, I want you to know that if a product sucks, you’ll hear it that way from me. I have a couple lower-end laptops from Lenovo sitting here waiting for my review, but I’m procrastinating because the review will be scathing. So, when I finally admit that something is worthy of a look, you can bet it’s a solid product.

I remember reviewing the Microsoft Lumia 735 earlier this year and was so enamored by it that I went straight out after returning the review unit and bought one for myself. And, that’s exactly the way I feel about the Lenovo Yoga 900. I really don’t want to give this thing up. It’s that special. And, while Microsoft has recently released a new Surface tablet (Surface Pro 4) and its very first premium laptop (Surface Book), I’ll choose the Yoga 900.

Don’t get me wrong, the HP Spectre x360 is still a great unit, it’s just that its 8 months on and Lenovo has finally come up with something that’s better. And, that actually says something about both companies.

The Lenovo Yoga starts at $1,599.99

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