You may have already seen how slim and pretty Lenovo's Yoga 900 laptop and the Yoga 900 Home convertible desktop computer are -- and Dilip Bhatia, Vice President, Global PC Design and Marketing at Lenovo, was careful to reiterate how sleek and light the new machinery was at a San Francisco hands-on event Monday, October 19, 2015.
But the real story isn't that the Yoga 900 weighs a scanty 1.29 kilograms, or that the Yoga 900 Home is a reasonable 7.6 kg. The real story is how Lenovo's looking at computing now. In sharp contrast to a computing environment with an emphasis on highly personalized wearables and mobile devices, the Yoga 900 Home is a computer designed for a family experience, with an emphasis on multiuser, multitouch computing.
"The original product was called Horizon, and it was launched as a tabletop PC. It sat on the table, and it really tried to leverage Windows 8 multiuser and multitouch. We were groundbreaking in that approach," said Andrew Barrow, Worldwide Consumer Product Marketing Director.
"The challenge that we had then was limited software development for multiuser multitouch. So what we've done with Yoga Home and Windows 10 -- we've now removed the requirements to use our SDK for multiuser multitouch, and we're now linked in to the Windows store, so we've opened up a much broader portfolio of apps."
There are currently 500 apps that have been tested and are available for download.
I sat around a Yoga 900 Home with a few other folks to see whether it's really a go-to for family game night, or as a family media hub. I didn't get to see the picture-sharing function -- Barrow says that once you've got the right software installed, all you have to do is shake your phone at the Yoga 900 Home and your pictures move from tiny phone screen to the 27" screen.
But I did get to see what it's like when you and a few other people are all grabbing for the same item on the screen at the same time -- the kind of scenario likely if there are kids playing on the device -- and I did see how easy it is to pinch, zoom, resize, and drop-and-drag photos and video clips all over. The computer responds well to multiple people touching it at once: When another reporter and I tried simultaneously clicking on different menu items, it basically shut us down and rewarded take-your-turn behavior.
My only complaint about the table-top computer: the device does not automatically orient to whomever is touching it; I spent a lot of time looking at a menu upside-down.
I asked Barrow, "This is really meant as a social machine, for multiple people to do something together, isn't it?" He agreed.
Because the computer's got a convertible kickstand behind it, it can easily move from being a game board -- it comes with three Hasbro games preloaded, including Scrabble -- to a video screen. It's an all-in-one appliance for family entertainment, with some serious speed behind it. That'll be useful for loading and playing both videos and games. The battery life's also not too shabby: three hours or so.