Lenovo Yoga 920 (14) bends backward to look good (Australian review)

The new Lenovo Yoga 920 (14) bends backwards via a unique 360° ‘watchband’ hinge giving flexibility. Match that with a range of options including an FHD or 4K touchscreen, 8th generation Intel Core i5 or i7, memory storage and fingerprint reader. It is a complete package.

The Lenovo Yoga 920 (14) represents all that is right in the world of ultra-light, ultra-slim, laptops.

First, it has the 360° hinge that is more useful than a clamshell and sturdier than a hybrid 2-in-1.

Next, its designers have banished the typical bland polished aluminium for a beautiful bronze anodised finish. It looks different, better (to borrow an Aldi saying).

And if you have the cash (it starts at $1,899, but you really want to spend $2,999), you can get the latest and fastest everything.

What is a Yoga?

The Lenovo Yoga Family is a consumer-verging-on-prosumer line of 360° hinge ultralight laptops. It gets its name from the Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which is the adoption of specific bodily postures.

It sits below the ThinkPad and IdeaPad commercial range and above its Lenovo V (Value range).

Models include the 300, 500, 700, 900 (360°) and ThinkPad versions. Niche marketing at its best.

It was also the ‘sub-brand’ that Lenovo tried so hard to establish with a supposed hip, above-the-line advertising campaign last year.

Here is the TVC – love it or hate it.

 

Review model

Australian website here.

Our review model is the top-of-the-range Lenovo Yoga 920 (14) 920-13IKB Model 80Y7 – who dreams these numbers up. Online order price as tested is $2,999.

It has

  • Intel Core i7-8550U 1.8/2.4MHz (i5-8250U available)
  • Intel UHD Graphics 620
  • 9-inch UHD 4K IPS 300 nit Touchscreen (FHD option)
  • 16GB PC4-19200, 2400MHz DDR4 RAM (soldered on the motherboard – 8GB option)
  • 512GB PCIe 3.0 x 4 lane NVMe SSD (soldered on the motherboard 256GB option)
  • Battery and USB-C 65W charger
  • Wacom based Lenovo Active Pen 2 (option)
  • 720p webcam
  • JBL Tuned Dolby Audio Premium certification 2W x 2, quad array microphone, combo audio/microphone jack, Dolby Atmos-ready
  • Qualcomm Atheros Wi-Fi AC, QCA 61x4A, 2 x 2 MIMO and BT 4.1
  • Fingerprint reader and TPM Chip
  • 1-year warranty return to Lenovo (upgradable to 3-year $185.90 option)
  • 1 x USB-A 3.0
  • 2 x USB-C 3.1 Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • 323 x 223.5 x 13.95 mm x 1.37kg

And here is the TVC for the Lenovo Yoga 920

 

Out of the box

It is a very substantial box too – it would be lovely under a Christmas tree (hint, hint!)

  • The Lenovo Yoga 920 (14)
  • A Lenovo Active Pen 2
  • 65W USB-C 20V/3.25A, 15V/3A, 9V/2A, 5V/2A charger

First impressions

Mmmm bronze. My precious. It is polished anodised CNC Aluminium. It looks like a million dollars with a bronze chassis, darker bronze trackpad and steel grey keypad.

The watchband hinge, a Lenovo trademark, is stainless steel and slightly jars the aesthetics. But it is the only moving part and also houses the Wi-Fi antenna.

Lonovo Yoga 920Build quality

The Aluminium Unibody design is solid yet light. The is no flex on the base or screen. It uses screws to secure the base. There are no user serviceable parts apart from an integrated motherboard replacement.

The matte bronze finish resists fingerprints. It has four rubber feet that resist sliding around on a table. It does not have edge protectors (nor do its competitors) so use it carefully in tent mode.

Lenovo Yoga 920

The watchband hinge is solid, but the balance between screen and the base is fine – a slight touch on the screen can rock the base.

Setup

It has Windows 10 Home – no need to go there except to say that you can turn off every privacy option on install and it makes no difference to its overall function. Oh, and uninstall Candy Crush and other bloatware.

Lenovo Vantage keeps Lenovo specific drivers up to date and can run a range of hardware and software diagnostics.

It comes with a 30-day McAfee trial that is quite nagging after it has expired. You do need more comprehensive security software than Windows Defender provides. So the paid versions of McAfee, Norton, Bitdefender, ESET, Trend, and Kaspersky are the main options.

Just be aware that your out-of-the-box setup may require a few Gigabytes of downloads – not recommended for ADSL users.

Screen

The 13.9-inch 4K UHD IPS screen is superb. It has some of the blackest blacks you can get with IPS.

We measured brightness (white) at 320 nits (above the claimed level). Whites were even, and there was no sign of light bleed from the edge-lit base. Off-angle viewing was excellent.

Colour accuracy is 100% sRGB (about 75% Adobe RGB). The Intel UHD graphics software allows for colour adjustment. We could not locate any Adobe RGB or DCI-P3 colour profiles. Professional users will need to ask Lenovo if any models support that.

The contrast was excellent and allows for good daylight readability.

Bezels are 5mm on the side allowing for a larger screen in a smaller body.

Touch is precise and uses 10-finger inputs.

The Lenovo home screen is a simple black background and some coloured feathers. The sub-colour is burnt orange. This screen will impress the hell out of you.

Lenovo Yoga 920

Processor/RAM

The Intel i7-8550U processor is a four-core, eight-thread, 1.8/4.0GHz processor designed for ultrathin laptops. The Passmark is 8323.

It is the successor to the i7-7500U offering between 30-70% more single/multi-core performance and a similar power reduction.

It is also a very quiet system – at worst under full and sustained load, it reaches 34dB. The temperature never exceeded 40° on the base. Yes, that is warmer than the 35° comfort level, but that is at full load.

Graphics

The Intel UHD Graphics 620 (Gen 6.5) hardware decodes Google VP9, H.264, H.265/HEVC and main 10 with 10-bit colour depth. It also has HDCP 2.2 and will support dual external 4K+ (4096×2304) screens up to 60Hz.

It is roughly equivalent to GeForce 920M with the exception that it uses shared system memory. If you are into graphics, then get the 16GB option for sure.

SSD

The SSD is an M.2, PCIe, NVMe 1.2, 3.0 x 4 lanes. On paper that is the best, you can get.

Lenovo Yoga 920Ports and expansion

One full-sized USB-A 3.0, 5Gbps port (always-on if the charger is connected) provides needed flexibility to exclusively USB-C laptops. 10 points to Lenovo.

Two Thunderbolt 3 x 40Gbps ports on the left side. One is for upstream data and power (nominally 65W), and the other is for downstream data and up to 10A power.

We tested this with the Kensington 5200SDT Thunderbolt 3 dock that has GadgetGuy’s ‘Best for Windows’ approval. It performed flawlessly supporting one 4K screen via the inbuilt HDMI Port and another via the dock’s DisplayPort.

We also tried it with a USB-A to 4K converter running off the USB-A port. Lenovo has USB-C to HDMI (4X90M44010) or DisplayPort (4X90L66916) cables.

We also tested a range of USB-C unpowered dongles and docks, and these worked well including those with an HDMI and Ethernet output.

Our only issue is that it would have been better to have one USB-C/Thunderbolt port on either side to allow for different orientations.

Keyboard/touchpad/pen

The steel grey keyboard is beautifully laid out with contoured key tops. The chiclet key throw is 1.5mm and actuation is approx. 45g – as good as it gets for an ultra-thin with good feedback and no flex. It is two-stage backlit.

In typing tests, I achieved 85% of my speed and 90% accuracy compared to a thumping big mechanical Logitech G613 keyboard that is a ‘clackety’ dream for typists.

The oversized 105 x 60mm glass touchpad is precise and supports four-finger gestures. It will move the cursor from top right to bottom left of the screen in one swipe.

The Lenovo Active Pen 2 provides the natural feel of a pen-on-paper. It has 4096 levels of sensitivity (like Surface Book/Pro) and uses a Wacom two-button Digitiser driver. It is 100% Windows Ink compatible, so it is good for designers and artists. Apparently, there is a pen holder that plugs into the USB-A port. The pen uses one AAAA and two smaller button batteries.

Lenovo Yoga 920Front camera

It is a .9MP, 1280 x 720p camera. Colours are accurate but noisy. It will do [email protected] video for Skype. It does not support Windows Hello.

Sound

It is Dolby Atmos capable if you want to buy the software update from Windows store for $22.45. While I object to what amounts to paying for a driver I am assured it is to cover licensing fees. Dolby Atmos only works with wired and Bluetooth headphones. It will output a 5.1.2 signal to an amplifier/soundbar via the 3.5mm wired and BT.

It has four far-field mics good up to four metres.

Apart from Dolby Atmos, it is JBL tuned. Maximum loudness was 80dB. There is a thin upper-level bass (around 300Hz), balanced mids, and balanced highs dropping off at 12,500kHz.

This is a bright vocal (bass recessed, mids/treble boosted) sound signature. The EQ can adjust this to mid centric (for clearer voice).

Battery

Lenovo claims its 78Wh battery will give 15 hours with an FHD screen. It does not state the battery life with a 4K screen.

We ran a video 1080p video loop at 50% screen brightness in aeroplane mode and got 11 hours. Not bad. In office use with Wi-Fi etc., you could get 12+ hours.

It will charge, albeit slower on a Qualcomm 3.0 USB-C like the Belkin Belkin USB 3A, 5/9/12/15V x 3A (45W) charger for tablet. It will also work with any USB-C or Thunderbolt Dock with either pass through or 65W power.

Recharge time using the Quick Charger supplied was around an hour.

Cortana

Yes, she is there in the background as is Microsoft Bing and Edge. Constant Connect (Always-on but asleep) and dual ANC mics ensure you can talk to her from up to four metres away. Better still the mics are tuned for Skype and other video conference software.

Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Comms

It is interesting that Lenovo uses the Qualcomm Atheros QCA6174 Wi-Fi AC and BT4.1 chip instead of the Intel 8265 equivalent. Rumour has it that this is slightly faster.

At three metres from our D-Link AC5300 router, it achieved 867Mbps – the best you can get. At 10 metres it was 520Mbps – very good.

In data transfer tests (down/up from router) we averaged 700/600Mbps which is superb.

Security

It supports Fingerprint login but not facial recognition. It can also unlock via a proximity setting on a smartphone or via Cortana.

A TPM chip for security but lacks enterprise management like the ThinkPad.

Warranty

One year back-to-Lenovo (and courier return to you) is standard. The upgrade cost for three years is $185.90 – save the money.

GadgetGuy’s take. The Lenovo Yoga 920 (14) could be my new favourite.

It is not every day I get excited about yet another Windows 10 laptop. I am. This is one of the best, if not the best ultralight, premium, 360° laptops I have reviewed.

The premium end is a very crowded space.

I own a recent HP EliteBook x360 1030 G2. There is a HP Spectre x360 version as well – my wife has that. We love them to death.

I also have a Microsoft Surface Book at home and a Surface Pro 2017 for travel.

I lusted after the new ASUS ZenBook S (also 360°) as it was just so damned sexy.

So, for me to covet the Lenovo is probably the best endorsement I can give it. It needs to be on your premium shopping list.

Lenovo Yoga 920

Pro

  • Blazingly fast SSD
  • Excellent 4K screen
  • Good battery life
  • 2 x Thunderbolt 3 and 1 x USB-A 3.0
  • Fantastic build and love Bronze

Con

  • No user replaceable/upgradable parts

Rating

  • Overall: 4.4 out of 5
  • Features: 4.5 out of 5 – There is nothing missing. I would have liked a built-in mini-DisplayPort or mini-HDMI out for maximum convenience. Yes, you can use a dongle.
  • Value for money: 4 out of 5 – The 4K screen is amazing, but I suspect the FHD version and an i5 is the value sweet spot
  • Performance: 4.5 out of 5 – Well tuned for the processor
  • Ease of Use: 5 out of 5 – Its Windows and x360
  • Design: 4 out of 5 – great design and looks. I took a point off for non-user-replaceable RAM/Storage

Price

From $1,999 to $2,999

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