Hands-on review: CES 2016: Lenovo Yoga 900S

When Apple reinvented the MacBook last year it was a revolution in engineering to make one of the world’s thinnest and lightest laptops leaving many Windows machines looking considerably flabby. This year however, Lenovo has completely outdone itself to produce the Yoga 900S, a 2-in-1 laptop that doesn’t sacrifice full-sized USB 3.0 ports be even thinner.

You would be right if you guessed the Yoga 900S is essentially a ‘s’limmed down version of the Yoga 900 going for $1,099 (about £745, AU$1,506). And in fact, the 900S is a 12.5-inch hybrid notebook that’s both smaller and thinner than the 13.3-inch Yoga 900.

Lenovo Yoga 900S review

Measuring in at just 0.5-inches (12.8mm) and weighs 2.2 pounds (0.99kg), the Yoga 900S is even more of a featherweight machine than the 2.03 pounds (0.92kg) Yoga 900 and its thicker 0.59-inch (15mm) frame. Comparatively the Macbook stands at 0.51-inches (13.1mm) tall and tips the scales at 2.03 pounds (0.92kg). And keep in mind, those are the 900S measurements with a touchscreen.

There are some substantial differences outside and they continue onto the internals. The Yoga 900S is outfitted with a lightly pared down spec sheet including a QHD (2,560 x 1,440) display and Intel Core m7 processor. That might seem like a significant step down from the 3,200 x 1,800 screen and Intel Core i7 processor on the Lenovo Yoga 900, but Lenovo explains that its latest hybrid will appeal to users who want maximum portability.

Lenovo Yoga 900S review

There are actually a handful of cool features Lenovo has managed to squeeze into this ultralight convertible. For starters the motherboard is actually about the size of a credit card. The remainder of the notebook consists of 53 watt-hour batteries, which should yield up to 10.5 hours of run time. The whole laptop is so light thanks to a new carbon fiber process according to Lenovo.

However, the most amazing thing about the Yoga 900S is how little has been cut from it. You still get a clicky trackpad, traditional scissor switches beneath the keyboard and even one full-sized USB 3.0 port. Meanwhile, these are all hurdles Apple had to engineer around to make the MacBook as thin as they could shave it.

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Lenovo Yoga 900S review

The Lenovo Yoga 900S feels quick and responsive. The QHD screen matches well with the Intel Core m7 chip – as it provides about the same amount of performance as an Intel Core i5 processor – so it seems like Lenovo has learned its lesson since the underpowered Lenovo Yoga Pro 3 and its Intel Core M CPU.

The touchscreen similarly is sublime, offering pinpoint touch control and adding to the Yoga’s versatile tablet modes. It also works seamlessly with Lenovo’s Active Pen, though, Surface users might find it odd that the stylus simply writes while hovering over the screen, but it still feels very accurate.

Lenovo Yoga 900S review

Still there are a few annoying quicks about the using the Lenovo Yoga 900S. The keyboard has a better tactile feel than the MacBook, but the key switches only depress by a few more microns and the size of each button feels a bit small. The trackpad also feels oddly small when it could easily take up more room on the palm rest.

These are likely limitations made to accommodate 12.5-inch hybrid’s massive batteries and for now they seem like small annoyances – but hopefully they don’t become maddening with everyday usage.

Lenovo Yoga 900S review

Early verdict

The Yoga 900S is one of the finest and amazing laptops Lenovo has ever created. It schools Apple’s MacBook in several regards while creating an identity of its own as an uncompromising thin notebook. While it doesn’t offer the same amount of power or display sharpness as the Yoga 900, the extra portability is a welcome trade off.

With a starting price of $1,099 (about £745, AU$1,506), it’s looking to be an excellent all around Windows 10 device whether you’re looking for a light laptop or thin tablet. But before I can approve it whole heartedly we’ll have to see how well it holds up with real world usage in my full review.

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