Price : $ 1200 +
For the second year in a row I took a brand new laptop to CES (the largest technology fair in the world), so I could judge it under the toughest, most unpredictable circumstances. I did this because I hate myself, and I would like to turn this into buying advice for consumers.
This is what we like
- Light and compact for 14 inch
- Excellent keyboard
- Includes a fingerprint reader, backlight, and rechargeable stylus
and what we don't do
- Quite pricey for specifications
- Battery life far below maximum noted
- Bad speakers
- Fine button on side mounted on button
But I don't & # 39; t hate the ThinkPad X1 Yoga. I even really like it! It is a reliable two-in-one laptop that nails almost all classic ThinkPad design elements, yet is thin, light and flexible enough to be the ideal travel companion. Apart from a few strange port choices and matt audio, I found very few drawbacks … unless you are looking for a value.
Old Looks, New Twists
The X1 Yoga series adopts the respected ThinkPad X1 setup – a super-premium thin and light with business travelers in mind – and "Yogafies" it. That is, it changes it from a standard laptop design to a backward-folding two-in-one.
This is the fourth generation of the X1 Yoga design. The improvements over the previous model include a slightly lighter and smaller chassis, rearranged ports and, of course, the usual upgrade to the latest processors, with 10th generation Intel hardware. The latter is an optional upgrade, but more about that later.
I specifically asked for the cheapest version of the laptop, assuming it would be the most purchased. To my delight it included a 1080p screen, 8 GB RAM and a 256 GB SSD. Even on premium models, it is common for the cheapest version to contain only 4 GB and 128 GB respectively ( cough Microsoft Surface cough .
The basic model contains such conveniences as a standard fingerprint reader, backlit keyboard and a stylus tucked away in a special room. There is also a physical shutter that you can activate to block the webcam, although this cheaper model does not have the additional IR camera for face scanning of Windows.
The X1 Yoga is surprisingly light for a laptop with a full aluminum alloy chassis (just under three pounds, according to my kitchen scale). It is not completely light enough to "disappear" in your bag, but it is certainly lighter and more compact than most two-in-one designs.
On that note, the hinge is excellent, despite the lack of the more elaborate engineering of some of Lenovo & # 39; s Yoga designs. There is less wiggling on the screen while typing than even many conventional clamshell laptops.
The gates on the XI Yoga are a jumble. It has all standard connections: two USB-A, two USB-C (including one that connects to Lenovo expansion docks), a nice full-size HDMI port (no longer a given on portable designs) and a headphone / microphone connection (ditto ditto). Yet I noticed that I missed every card reader. A special SD or MicroSD card slot is a blessing for work trips – especially for something like CES, because I often use a special camera. I had to wear a dongle to make up for the defect.
I do not appreciate the placement either. Although there is a handy USB-A port on both sides of the keyboard, the USB-C ports are next to each other, so you can only power the laptop on one side. After using USB-C power ports on both sides of machines such as the Google Pixelbook for a few years, I noticed that I lacked the flexibility – especially on a machine intended for travel.
Finally, the on / off button on this thing is just bad. It is embedded in the right side of the keyboard and recessed so that it does not protrude. I see the utility behind the design – it is available in tablet mode and is not, for example, printed in a bag.
However, it is so superficial and difficult to detect that I often had to think that I had to physically turn the ThinkPad around so that I could press it. A standard button would be preferable, even given the two-in-one design.
This model comes with the Core i5-8265U processor, a midrange, Whiskey Lake ultra-low voltage model that is now more than a year out of date. If you want the newer Comet Lake upgrade, you have to jump for an i7 with a price limit of $ 400.
I doubt that many people would be disappointed by a lack of performance on the cheaper ThinkPad. Despite the older i5 processor, it was extremely responsive, even under the high CPU and RAM usage of my standard workload, which contains dozens of Chrome tabs and a handful of Photoshop files.
The integrated graphics card (Intel UHD 620) was even good enough to play a few rounds of Overwatch at 60 frames per second; I admit, I have turned the settings all the way down.
Unless you perform an intense graphics production that requires a separate graphics card (none of the X1 yoga's has that option), this cheaper configuration may work. You will not be able to play the newest and best games at full quality, but the occasional attack of Fortnite is well within the capabilities of this machine.
If you work with a lot of photos or other dense files, you may want to upgrade the SSD – unfortunately you cannot exchange this or the RAM like on some cheaper ThinkPads.
Classic ThinkPad Feel
While using the X1 Yoga as a standard laptop, it felt like … well, a ThinkPad. Obvious? Maybe, but that's a lot of praise from someone who's been a big fan of the ThinkPad design for years. I could take or leave the TrackPoint (or, as it is often called, the & # 39; nipple mouse & # 39;).
ThinkPad keyboards, however, remain the best of any laptop. They offer satisfactory, comfortable typing and the trackpad is also smooth and responsive. I wish Lenovo did not force me to swap the left Ctrl and Fn buttons via a software switch on every machine!
One of the things I like most about a two-in-one design is the ability to fold back the screen and use a mechanical keyboard and a special mouse in a much smaller space than a normal laptop. The X1 Yoga delivers on this note with a wobble on the screen, even if I hit Cherry switches.
The screen is a standard, 16: 9 affair, and although it is nothing special, it is pretty clear. However, the top and bottom edges are slightly thicker than the more elegant competition from Lenovo. My preference is for a 16:10 aspect ratio.
The included stylus achieves the neat (but not unique) trick of automatic charging when it is in the bay. It feels good in your hand (somewhere between a mobile and special stylus, à la the Surface Pen).
If you hope that this will replace something like a special Wacom stylus, it is not. It works great if you have to make adjustments to a digital painting, but it is more for beautiful digital signatures than special art creation.
As a way of doing work during my trip to CES, the ThinkPad X1 Yoga performed exceptionally well. I would have liked the option of an LTE radio (the one that was built into the Yoga 630 last year).
As long as you generally have web access, however, the X1 performs everything you need to run smoothly and with minimal fuss – especially in the field of software. Aside from Lenovo 's driver programs (which apparently have had a serious impact on usability since I last saw them), the laptop contained nothing but the typical Windows 10 applications.
The ThinkPad easily handled a full day of writing and research at CES, but it could not be stretched to two. On the day I forgot to charge it in the hotel room, I had to replenish the battery in the morning. (The included adapter is 65 watts, but it already charges after 30).
This makes Lenovo claim of 18 hours of battery life of the included non-removable 51 Wh battery seriously questionable.
The laptop lasted seven hours and 15 minutes on a loop YouTube video, with a screen brightness of about 70 percent. In my (admittedly) unscientific estimate, that comes down to nine to 11 hours of normal surfing on the web. That's pretty good for a laptop that is so small, but a far cry from 18 hours (which is par for the course when it comes to battery claims from laptop manufacturers).
Also to the advantage of the X1 Yoga, it charges quite quickly, even from sources that are less powerful than the sturdy included adapter. If you can get half an hour from an airport outlet, you are probably good for at least one cross-country flight. Although this thing is not an endurance champion, it is certainly better than many competitors.
Looks better than it sounds
The 14-inch, 1080p screen of the X1 Yoga is more than useful for work. It is also surprisingly good in media, with excellent contrast and viewing angles. The maximum brightness is 380 nits, which even goes up to 280 if you opt for the 2560 x 1440 upgrade. Given the size, I think the 1080p panel is the much better choice.
I wish I could be just as generous for the laptop's lower speakers. They are good and loud enough to fill a hotel room. However, you will seriously suffer from the highest high and lowest bass if you listen to quality. However, that is quite typical of laptop speakers – especially on ultra-portable models – so I can't hold the lack of sound quality against the machine too much. It is just an opportunity to excel that Lenovo has died.
The proud & # 39; Dolby Atmos & # 39; badge on the keyboard (where the speakers should be ) is almost spotty in context.
None a Great value
If there is one thing that drags the X1 Yoga down, it is value. This is the cheapest available configuration, and although I recommend recording an i5 processor, 8 GB RAM and 256 GB storage, a similar Dell XPS 13 two-in-one comes with the improved 10th generation processor and a MicroSD card reader .
An Acer or HP convertible laptop with identical specifications (but without that beautiful backlit keyboard or fingerprint reader and in a cheaper case) is $ 400 to $ 500 cheaper.
ThinkPad fans know they are going to pay a premium for the brand. Still, I can't help but think that Lenovo can be a lot more competitive here – especially with the XPS and Specter lines that come in so strong.
Whether you are willing to pay more for a ThinkPad is of course that is your choice. Although I am a big fan of aesthetics and the keyboard, I don't think I would.
Price: $ 1200 +
Here's What We Like
- Light and compact for 14 inches
- Excellent keyboard  Including a fingerprint reader, backlight and rechargeable stylus
And what we don't do
- Quite pricey for specifications
- Battery life far below the quoted maximum
- Bad speakers
- Finicky mounted on the side on / off button