- ProsInnovative hinge allows for many usage modes. Extremely light and thin for a convertible. Long-lasting battery. Includes USB-C port. Supports optional Active Pen.
- ConsPricey. 4GB of memory, 128GB SSD. Auxiliary keys are small.
- Bottom LineThe Lenovo Yoga 900S is one of the thinnest and longest-lasting convertible-hybrid Windows laptops you can get. It’s highly portable and has a full-size keyboard, but you will pay for these conveniences.
Joel Santo Domingo
With the Yoga 900S ($999.99), Lenovo applies a shrink ray to the design of the convertible-hybrid Yoga 900 to come up with a laptop that is both svelte and sturdy. Given its size, you wouldn’t think it would have a lot of battery power, but it can keep going for up to 12 hours. That’s longer than the Acer Aspire R 14, our top pick for the category, but you will have to pay a few hundred dollars extra for that longevity and the slim frame that comes with it.
Design and Features
The Yoga 900S is one of the thinnest and lightest convertible-hybrid laptops currently available, measuring 0.5 by 12 by 8.2 inches (HWD) and weighing 2.21 pounds. That’s a little heavier than the 1080p version of the HP EliteBook Folio G1 and the latest Apple MacBook, but those are traditional laptops. It’s certainly lighter than the Toshiba Satellite Radius 12 (P20W-CST3N01) and the Acer Aspire R 14, two thicker convertibles with touch screens. Carbon fiber construction and internal reinforcement help give the system a solid feel, despite its light weight, and its metallic finish (available in gold or silver) imparts a stylish look.
The watchband-inspired hinge on the Yoga 900S is also used in the larger Lenovo Yoga 900 and the Yoga 3 Pro. It shaves a few millimeters off the overall height, and lets you open the system and lay it flat at 180 degrees. Of course, you can also use the Yoga 900S in the usual Laptop, Stand, Tent, and Tablet modes.
Most users will be satisfied by the sharp and clear 12.5-inch 1,920-by-1,080-resolution (full HD) IPS touch screen, though videophiles, photo enthusiasts, and spreadsheet jockeys may welcome the larger 2,560-by-1,440 (QHD) screen on Core m7–powered model, which costs and extra $200. The wide screen bezel contains both a 720p webcam and a touch-sensitive Windows key, both of which are accessible in all the system’s modes.
Because it’s so thin and light, the Yoga 900S works fairly well in Tablet mode. It’s more usable as a tablet than the Acer Aspire R 14 or the HP Spectre x360 15t (15-ap011dx). The screen’s 16:9 aspect ratio makes the system a bit taller than slate tablets like the Microsoft Surface Pro 4, but you can use it comfortably in one arm for at least 30 minutes before it starts to feel clunky. The screen includes a digitizer, so it can be used with an optional Active Pen ($39.99), which has 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity. That’s ideal for creating sketches and signing documents, in addition to navigating websites and online forms.
As for the keyboard, the QWERTY keys, the arrow keys, and the number row are all full-size, though the function key row, the Backspace key, the Enter key, the Tab key, and both Shift keys are smaller than usual. Although their travel is a little shallow, the backlit keys are slightly scalloped and a bit more comfortable than those on the Apple MacBook’s stiff keyboard. The palm rest and keyboard deck have a soft-touch surface that’s also more comfortable than the MacBook’s bare metal. The touch screen and one-piece touchpad are both responsive and easy to use.
Since this is the base model, it comes with only 4GB of system memory and a 128GB solid-state drive (SSD). That’s a little light for a $1,000 system, seeing that the Acer Aspire R14 and Toshiba Satellite Radius 12 both come with 8GB memory and a 256GB SSD and cost hundreds less. Sure, that’s because the Acer and Toshiba are less expensive to make, but that’s still a considerable premium.
Connectivity is limited, which is understandable for such a thin laptop. The Yoga 900S comes with a USB-C port and a USB 2.0 port that does double duty as a charging port on the left side, and a USB 3.0 port on the right. That means you won’t need an adapter for external drives, but you will need one (for the USB-C port) if you want to connect the laptop to a business monitor or HDTV via either HDMI or DisplayPort. A headset jack is the remaining I/O port. Bluetooth 4.0 and dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi provide wireless connectivity. Lenovo includes a standard one-year warranty, half of what you get with the Toshiba Satellite Radius 12.
The base version of the Yoga 900S comes with an Intel Core m5-6Y54 processor with integrated Intel HD Graphics 515. The system returned a good result on the PCMark 8 Work Conventional test. Its score of 2,636 lagged what we saw from other convertible systems like the Acer Aspire R 14 and HP Spectre x360 13t, but not by much. You’ll have no problem with simple tasks like document editing, Web browsing, and video conferencing.
See How We Test Laptops
The Yoga 900S is a bit slower at multimedia tasks like video editing, photo editing, and CGI rendering compared with the other, thicker convertible laptops. Its times at Handbrake (3 minutes, 54 seconds) and Photoshop (5:24) brought up the rear, but even during strenuous tasks like these, you won’t hear a cooling fan, because the Core m5 CPU doesn’t need one. Results on our 3D gaming tests were on par with those of other systems with Core m5 processors: Don’t plan on playing strenuous 3D games with maxed-out settings, but simpler titles like Minecraft and Civilization V should be playable at moderate sttings.
The Core m5 processor and fanless design really help with battery life. The Yoga 900S lasted an amazing 12 hours, 6 minutes. That matches the HP Spectre x360 15t, which has a lot more battery capacity due to its larger body. If you’re a writer working on your next novel, the Yoga 900S will last all day (and then some). Other convertible systems, such as the Acer Aspire R14 (9:37) and Toshiba Satellite Radius 12 (7:45), hung on for a respectable length of time, but not nearly half a day.
With the Lenovo Yoga 900S, you certainly pay for portability. It’s a good choice for the traveling writer or small businessperson, thanks to its light weight, flexible and easy-to-pack build, and long-lasting battery. But you will pay a premium for those features. Midrange convertible-hybrid laptops like the Acer Aspire R 14 and Toshiba Satellite Radius 12 offer similar portability with more system memory and storage for $200 to $300 less. Our Editors’ Choice for midrange convertible-hybrid laptops remains the Acer Aspire R 14 given its lower price ($699.99), larger screen, better performance, and overall value. That said, if you absolutely need a long-lasting laptop that’s easier to carry everywhere, the Yoga 900S is worth a look.
Other Lenovo Laptops & Notebooks
Lenovo Yoga 700-14ISK (80QD004QUS)
Lenovo 100S Chromebook
Lenovo Yoga 900
Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 11e
By Joel Santo Domingo
Joel Santo Domingo is the Lead Analyst for the Desktops team at PC Magazine Labs. He joined PC Magazine in 2000, after 7 years of IT work for companies large and small. His background includes managing mobile, desktop and network infrastructure on both the Macintosh and Windows platforms. Joel is proof that you can escape the retail grind: he wore a yellow polo shirt early in his tech career. Along the way Joel earned a BA in English Literature and an MBA in Information Technology…