Foldable computers? Maybe they will be the future, but the few experiments of the present are far from a success. Lenovo was the first to offer them, CES 2019, then Asus arrived this year. Lenovo announced here at CES a second generation of “foldable” that will arrive in the spring: the screen is always the same, the hardware changes but the critical points do not change in having a laptop with a form factor that Windows still doesn’t fully digest and a fold that instead remains indigestible to users.
However, Lenovo was smart: while it looks to the future, it also thinks about the present, and it understood that what many users who use notebooks on the move would like to have is not so much a bigger screen, but the flexibility of the same dual screen which is present in many desktop setups today.
The Lenovo Yoga Book 9i, one of the most interesting products seen at the fair in Las Vegas, is exactly this: a laptop that allows you to work in dual screen mode, increasing productivity.
We are faced with two OLED screens joined together by the classic Lenovo Yoga hinge: each 13.3” panel has 2880×1800 pixel resolution and an aspect ratio of 16:10.
They are 400 nits peak screens, with a 60Hz refresh rate, 100% DCI-P3 color space coverage, and full Dolby Vision support. According to Lenovo we are dealing with a product for content creators, however we will see later that compromises have been made in terms of hardware for a matter of consumption.
The logic is simple: we are dealing with a notebook that can be used in seven different ways, taking advantage of the flexibility of the hinge and thanks to the matching bluetooth keyboard. The latter also integrates a cover that can be folded to transform it into a support designed to hold the screen.
The classic mode is the one with the notebook open and the two screens positioned one above the other: in this way you can manage two different desktops or, by activating the waterfall mode, as a single screen where the contents flow from top to bottom.
By rotating the screens you can have two vertical screens side by side, a bit like an open book.
The keyboard is not mandatory, but it is supplied and is highly recommended: without a keyboard, the laptop uses one of the two screens to draw the keyboard and trackpad on the screen, and although it is still a usable setup, the sensation is very different from what you get when using a notebook, it feels like a tablet experience. Furthermore, the screen seemed a little too sensitive to fingerprints, even if we reserve a more in-depth test if the product also arrives in Italy.
Interesting is the possibility of hooking the keyboard above the screen, magnetically: thus obtaining the exact same result of a traditional notebook with the uncovered part which can become an active area for the widgets or the trackpad area, which is also active and on which can also draw with pen.
The Lenovo Yoga Book 9i, like all somewhat particular products, cannot rely on perfect integration between hardware and software: we tried it for a while and the application that manages everything is not yet perfect.
The rotation of the screens has some delay, the widget part is very poor and inflexible, the keyboard and the trackpad are not yet very precise. The best functioning is the one that foresees the two monitors managed as two separate monitors, with an external keyboard and possibly also a mouse: a desktop experience is truly replicated. Applications such as Resolve, for example, can take advantage of the dual screen to have the preview of the content in HDR in the upper part and all the tools and timeline in the lower part. It’s not a notebook for everyone, but it’s still a product that solves a need that can only be managed today with an additional external monitor.
As there are positive sides, there are also some sides that could be perfected in the future: the keyboard, for example, is something you must always carry around, therefore something extra. Something that also needs to be recharged. There is also a question of power: the product is designed for content creators however two OLED monitors consume. Just to keep up the autonomy Lenovo has made use of the Intel EVO platform, the one intended for ultraportables. The processor is thirteenth generation Intel Raptors Lake U series, with a base consumption of 15 watts. A processor with two high-performance cores and 8 high-efficiency cores, which combined with the two OLEDs and the 80 Wh battery should guarantee about 7 hours of battery life. As always, manufacturers stay very wide, and we fear that a laptop with a similar form factor may have at the same time low autonomy and reduced power compared to a machine with an H series processor, therefore really designed for content creation (45 watts and 6 core performance), mounted on a notebook with an IPS screen, more “echo” than an OLED screen. Lenovo has played a lot on black to reduce consumption, the native interface is dark and the desktop background too, but an OLED consumes much more than an IPS with edge lighting.
We don’t know the European price, but in the US it will be sold for $2,100 in the basic 16GB LPDDR5X configuration and 512GB of storage. Pen and keyboard are included.
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We tested the Lenovo Yoga Book 9i – ten times better than a foldable
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