I recently reviewed the ThinkPad T470, and the kind folks at Lenovo shortly followed up to send me the second generation ThinkPad X1 Yoga for review. Initially announced back at CES 2017, the second generation ThinkPad X1 Yoga brings many improvements from the previous generation, including a new silver color option, improved battery life, keyboard, a Microsoft Precision Trackpad, and a rechargeable ThinkPad Pen Pro. This refined and powerful 2-in-1 has really impressed me over the past few weeks of my use, so here is my in-depth look at the unit.
This review unit is powered by a 56-watt hour battery and the 7th generation Intel Core i5 7300U CPU clocked at 2.6GHz and 8GB of RAM. It features a 1920 (x) 1080 resolution 14-inch FHD IPS touch display, Intel HD 620 graphics, and comes configured with a 256 GB Toshiba SSD. Weighing in at 3.15 pounds, and measuring 13.11" x 9.02" x 0.69, it also is relativity light for a 2-in-1 device.
Of course, there is also an HD 720 P Fixed Focus Webcam, 2(x)2 Watt Speakers, 6 Row wave spill resistant keyboard with LED Backlight, and an inbuilt fingerprint reader. As configured, the unit would cost $ 2,303.10, though there are other cheaper customizable options as well.
Build and Design:
The ThinkPad X1 Yoga features an all around impressive build and design. The silver-colored body and chassis begs for the laptop to be touched from the minute you take it out of the box, and just like with other Lenovo products, it features very familiar carbon fiber hybrid material. It's not too thick, and it's not too heavy, which means it's perfect for carrying around on the go.
Since this is a 2-in-1, the device also features a Yoga Dual hinge mechanism which allows for the system to be bent over 360 degrees, into various modes for various scenarios. Impressively so, The hinge is very sturdy and quiet, and I really didn't feel it getting loose, or feel any pressure points when I moved the device into the various positions. Lenovo says that the X1 Yoga passes 12 MIL-STD 810G tests, but I never really took my durability testing that far.
Unlike other devices in the Lenovo lineup, ports are not really the focus on the X1 Yoga. While there are a couple of ports on this device, they're not entirely as useful to me as the ports on the Lenovo T470. Though this device comes with a Mini RJ45 port, I really wish Lenovo has thrown in a standard Ethernet port, eliminating the need for the included dongle.
I also wish Lenovo could have thrown in a full sized SD Card port, and not a MicroSD card slot, which as you can see below, is located in a rather odd spot near the hinge. The lack of these ports, though, would make sense, as Lenovo likely had the goal of keeping things slim and nice.
Regardless, Lenovo does include a lot of modern ports on this device, which is kind of impressive, since it means it will absolutely be future proof. We start with the right side of the device. Right next to the power and sleep button, we have a headphone and microphone jack, a Mini RJ45 port for networking, a USB 3.0 Type A port, and an HDMI port for direct connections to TV and monitors. There's also a Kensington Lock port, which can be used to lock the laptop down.
On the left side, the story is mainly the same. There are two Thunderbolt 3 ports, the first of which is used to charge the device. Both of these ports use Lenovo's "anti-fry" technology, which means the device is protected from poorly designed USB-C chargers and external peripherals.
In addition, there is another USB 3.0 Type A port and second USB 3.0 Type A port which is always on. As in the past, the final of the USB 3.0 Type A ports is useful for when you want to charge another device while the computer is turned off and plugged in, eliminating the need for a second charger.
Display, & Stand, Tent, or Tablet modes:
The display on the X1 Yoga is my favorite part of the device and is another area where I am impressed. It's a beautiful 14 inch IPS FHD display with a resolution of 1920(x)1080. Though there are some huge bezels which run along the top of the display, it's still downright glorious. At lowest brightness, everything on the screen pops out, and the finest details show up during the watching of HD movies. There is also no big glare when using the X1 Yoga in a bright room, and the viewing angles are all around incredible no matter which angle you turn it to.
Since this is a 2-in-1, there are multiple modes which the device can be used. Along with the standard laptop mode, there's a stand mode, a tent mode, and a tablet mode. Switching between modes is seamless, and the keyboard will automatically retract back into the chassis as you move between modes, which means you won't be accidentally pressing keys as you work in tablet and other modes.
Generally, using the touch screen in the laptop mode is a bit odd, as the screen can get a little wobbly. Needless to say, this mode still makes for a cool experience especially since Windows 10 has so many touch-friendly features. I naturally ended up touching the screen in laptop mode during most uses, just because I knew I was using a touch screen device.
My favorite of all the modes is the tablet mode. In this mode, the glorious 14-inch touch screen comes front and center since the screen lays flat to the rear body of the laptop. Use of the included pen is almost natural in this mode, and it feels like you're writing or drawing on a canvas of your own. It's definitely more natural feeling than a Surface Pro 4.
Tent mode is what I preferred for multimedia purposes, especially when watching YouTube videos, or streaming movies on Amazon Prime Videos. In tent mode, the display is folded over and moved front and center, especially useful if you're sitting at a desk with an external keyboard and mouse. I also preferred to use this mode when plugged into an external monitor. It really extends that feeling of a dual monitor setup, since it frees up some extra space on the desk by putting away the built-in keyboard.
I never really used the stand mode, as I found it rather odd to have the screen facing me like that. It's still a great way to use the 2-in-1, though, and I can see the ways in which this mode can be useful in retail situations. For instance, where the device can fold and sit flat on the desk with the touch screen facing a cashier for easy access to touchscreen functions.
Included with the X1 Yoga is the ThinkPad Pen Pro. The pen is charged by, and slides into the side of the X1 Yoga, though I found it quite tricky to pull out and push back in. Even so, the ThinkPad Pen Pro uses Active Capacitive technology, removing the digitizing layer from the display panel.
It features a total of 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity, and a right and left click button. Lenovo tells me that charging the pen for 15 seconds will bring up to 100 minutes of use time. Unfortunately, however, the lack of an in-screen digitizing layer means that the Surface Pen will not work on the X1 Yoga.
Generally speaking, the pen is awesome and allows for inking to come front and center but I don't find it nearly as comfortable as the Surface Pen which is included on the Surface Pro 4. I appreciate how it can easily be docked inside the X1, but this slim design is also what makes it a bit uncomfortable for long periods of use.
There's also the fact that the pen needs to be recharged since it does not have a user replaceable battery like the Surface Pen. That, though, is understandable, and it never died on me while I was using it. Lastly, the pen does not have an eraser like the Surface Pen, which means I needed to constantly rotate the pen and search for the button to erase. That's just one small personal problem, and not a reason you should put down buying this excellent device.
Drawing, and inking on the X1:
Drawing and Inking on the X1 Yoga is very fun and downright impressive. Everything felt natural, and I was able to open up Fresh Paint and craft up a beautiful masterpiece without any lag whatsoever. The pen easily glided across the 14-inch screen, and the X1 Yoga even rejected my palm movements. This would make sense because Lenovo tells me that they added firmware algorithms which improve palm rejection.
The keyboard on the X1 Yoga does not disappoint. This second generation ThinkPad X1 Yoga features a newly redesigned "Wave" keyboard. Unlike with other 2-in-1's like the Surface Pro 4, with the new "rise and fall" mechanism on this keyboard, the keys get pulled down into the chassis of the system. This means that the keyboard is automatically disabled when you're using the device in tablet mode (or in 180 degrees,) eliminating rogue keyboard presses.
Generally speaking, the keyboard is similar to what is included on other Lenovo devices. While it feels a bit more plasticity, it still very quiet, and keeps the same type chiclet style keys, there is no dip in the keys this time by. For me, this means that the keys feel very soft to the touch, and my fingers can easily glide as I type.
There is also a fingerprint scanner directly under the right side of the keyboard. It's in a very strange spot, but it serves its purposes and allows for quick and secure Windows 10 sign in via Windows Hello. Throughout my time with the device, the fingerprint scanner never gave me issues. It was easily able to read my fingerprint and imminently throw me into my desktop in Windows 10 every time I touched it.
As has been in the case with most Lenovo laptops, the X1 Yoga features both a TrackPoint and a Microsoft Precision TouchPad. I never really liked the TrackPoint, as it's way too sensitive to movements, but the touchpad is a different story. Unlike the other touchpads on 2-in-1's, it is fairly large and has a very glossy and smooth feel. Though most my time is spend touching the screen, my fingers were easily able to slide and click on this touchpad when I needed it. Things also stay clean due to the glossy surface, and sweat, dirt, and dust never collected on it during my extended use.
The Microsoft Precision touchpad standardizes the touchpad experience, and allows for easy use and less worry about drivers and other issues, along with the added benefits of customization, and using Windows 10 gestures.
Everyday use/battery life:
The second generation X1 Yoga is powered by Intel's 7th generation processors, which provide longer battery life and increased performance. Throughout my 3 week use, this is exactly what I experienced. I was easily able to get through my 8-hour writing shift without recharging the 56-watt hour battery, and I was even left with 4 hours and 18 minutes to spare. Even when I did have to recharge, it was quick and easy thanks to Rapid Charge Capabilities. I was easily able to go from 0% charge to 80% charge in a little over an hour, which is especially important when I just wanted to grab up the Yoga and travel without my power cord.
When it comes to everyday use, I found it hard to go back to my Surface Pro 4, or my other devices. With with the 8GB of RAM, The X1 Yoga performs as smooth as butter, and I was able to multitask with multiple instances of Google Chrome open without any slow down. I was even able to get some light gaming done, such as Minecraft Windows 10 Edition. Without getting into the technical details, I must say that using Windows 10 on this device was an all around pleasant experience, even down to the 2 (x) 2 watt speakers which are very pleasent when listening to music.
Final thought, conclusion:
At the end of the day, if you're looking to pick up a new Windows 10 2-in-1 device, then the X1 Yoga is for you. While a bit hefty for the price, you'll enjoy the beautiful display and the versatility that comes with using the device in 4 different modes. Additionally, thanks to the Lenovo ThinkPad Pen Pro, you'll also enjoy the inking and pen friendly features of Windows 10, and drawing in apps like Fresh Paint. And, when using it in laptop mode, you'll be at peace with the performance of the Intel Core i5 7th generation chip, and knowing that you won't be needing to constantly run to the nearest power outlet.
While the base model starts at $2,267.10, you can pick up the exact model I received for $2,303.10 by visiting the Lenovo website here and customizing. Most models will ship in 5-7 business days directly from Lenovo.