We'll skip to the bottom line on Lenovo's Yoga 920: It's as good as they come for Windows 2-in-1s this year.
The 13.9-inch convertible notebook has style, performance and some useful extras — along with fixes to flaws that appeared in its predecessor, the Yoga 910.
The Yoga 920 also has plenty you won't find in Apple's latest MacBook Pro. Our tryout in the CRN Test Center suggests the Yoga 920 may be Lenovo's most serious alternative yet to the MacBook Pro, even as Apple's workhorse laptop sees a resurgence in sales.
For creative professionals that gravitate toward the Apple universe, the Yoga 920 might be tempting for a few reasons.
To start, the laptop works with Lenovo's Active Pen 2, marking the first time a Yoga 900 series laptop supports the digital pen. We found the pen to work smoothly in our tryout for such things as drawing, scribbling notes and highlighting text. The MacBook Pro, of course, doesn't have an option for a touch-screen display and can't offer this sort of functionality to creatives.
While we're talking about the display, the Yoga 920 also has an option for higher resolution than the MacBook Pro — 4K/UHD (3,840 x 2,160)--along with an entry-level FHD model. The MacBook Pro, by contrast, offers 2,560 x 1,600 for its 13-inch model and 2,880 x 1,800 for its 15-inch model.
Ultrasharp and bright, the Yoga 920's 4K display is the best we've tried on a Windows laptop this year.
It's also worth noting that the 13.9-inch size continues feeling to us like the ideal size for a laptop display, in terms of providing a good amount of screen space without getting too bulky overall. Creative pros, in particular, may appreciate having more room to work on the Yoga 920 display than they'd get on the Dell XPS 13 or the 13-inch MacBook Pro.
Lenovo, of course, pioneered the 2-in-1 notebook with its Yoga product line. And it's clear to us that the company continues to lead the category with the addition of Yoga 920 -- featuring the sturdy, metallic watchband hinge for 360 degrees of display flexibility.
We especially like having the 2-in-1 capability for plane rides and other cramped spaces. It's a real game-changer to be able to fold the screen halfway or all the way back for easier reading or Netflixing on a long flight.
Lenovo delivers a highly appealing design with the aluminum body on the Yoga 920, which was redesigned from past models. Our unit came with the "platinum" (i.e., silver) color, which resembles that of the MacBook Pro color scheme, while the Yoga 920 is also available in bronze.
We should mention here two of the Yoga 910's flaws that Lenovo corrects in the Yoga 920.
The biggest is on the keyboard. With the Yoga 910, we were among the many that observed that the crucial shift key was in a strange place on the right-hand side. What Lenovo had done was reduce the size of the right shift to make room for a larger up arrow key — but for us and others, that just led to constant typing mistakes.
Lenovo includes a mea culpa in its guide for reviewers: "Customer feedback showed that many traditional typists preferred a full-sized shift key as opposed to the larger directional arrow keys." Thus the shift key is back where it belongs on the Yoga 920.
Overall we had a good experience with the keyboard. The keys are not all that deep, so it's not the best laptop keyboard we've ever used, but it's still superior in our view to the shallow MacBook Pro keyboard.
Mea culpa No. 2 is on the camera, which had been located underneath the display on the Yoga 910. In the reviewers' guide, Lenovo notes that this "meant that during videoconferencing, the camera showed a less flattering view." For the 920, the camera is put in its usual place above the display.
As for the internal specs on the Yoga 920, there's little to disappoint. The laptop is one of the first on the market to feature Intel's eighth-gen Core processors, and the performance was ultra-speedy in our tryout, with web pages and applications loading in an instant. Our unit included the Core i7 chip and 16 GB of RAM. Notably, in Intel's eighth-generation chips (aka Kaby Lake R), even the Core i5 processors are quad-core for boosted performance. As the Yoga 920 comes with an option for either eighth-gen Core i5 or i7, even the entry-level model of the laptop will come with a speedy four-core chip.
In the ever-important area of battery life, the Yoga 920 yielded seven hours on a charge for us, with 75 percent brightness and heavy usage. That's a great result for a 4K touch-screen laptop, and the battery life could of course be extended further with the battery saver mode and less touch-screen use.
Cutting back on using the touch screen won't be a huge issue because the touchpad on the Yoga 920 is fantastic -- nearly as good as that of the superb MacBook Pro touchpad. The only disadvantage in comparison is a little bit of latency in Google's Chrome browser, a persistent issue with Windows laptops that isn't a problem in the macOS universe.
On portability, the Yoga 920 weighs the same amount as the 13-inch MacBook Pro – 3.02 pounds. So it's not the lightest notebook you'll find, a trade-off for including the premium metal materials.
The Yoga 920 is pretty thin however, at 0.55 of an inch thick, versus the 13-inch MacBook Pro (0.59 of an inch thick) and 15-inch MacBook Pro (0.61 of an inch).
The only significant concern we have with the Yoga 920 is the fan, which typically came on during charging and then stayed on for much of the charging process. It wasn't exactly quiet, either. This was an issue that we'd noticed with the Yoga 910 as well. We wouldn't consider it a deal-breaker with the Yoga 920, though, since you often won't be around when the laptop is charging (we didn't notice it while using the laptop unplugged).
On price, even though it has many features the MacBook Pro doesn't have – such as the convertible touch-screen display, digital pen and eighth-gen Intel processor -- the Yoga 920 is still more affordable. The starting price for the Yoga 920 is $1,200 (with FHD display, eighth-gen Core i5, 8 GB RAM). The entry-level MacBook Pro (with a notably slower seventh-gen Core i5 and 8 GB of RAM) starts at $1,299.
The Yoga 920 with UHD display starts at $1,800 (which also brings eighth-gen Core i7 and 16 GB RAM). By comparison, that's roughly the same price as the 13-inch Touch Bar MacBook Pro (which has a seventh-gen Core i5 processor, half the RAM, and a smaller, lower-res non-touch display).
Compared to Apple's latest MacBook Pro, the Yoga 920 offers a lot more value for the money — so long as you're OK going with Windows over macOS.