Hands-on review: CES 2016: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga

Tech Radar

Hands-on review: CES 2016: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga

Lenovo’s ThinkPad lineup has traditionally been the darling of business users. Powered by formidable processors, tons of RAM and a utilitarian design meant for productivity, the ThinkPad lineup was made to help you get stuff done.

In recent years Lenovo has upped the ThinkPad family’s game in terms of consumer-level design. The apex of this evolution is the new Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (starting at $1,449, about £980, AU$1,984).

Built with an optional OLED QHD display that provides a crisper and less reflective viewing experience than traditional laptop monitors, as well as a 360-degree hinge that lets you use the laptop in a variety of modes, the X1 Yoga might very well be la crème de la crème of your business hybrid options.

ThinkPad X1 Yoga

Design

Although the X1 Yoga is capable of packing one of the more gorgeous displays you’ll see on a laptop, Lenovo has maintained the traditional ThinkPad build on the rest of the device.

I’m not terribly fond of the black on black chassis with subtle hints of glitter, nor do I love the dual silver hinges, but the ThinkPad has a long and dedicated following of users, so Lenovo continues to opt to not fix what isn’t broken. This includes the basic, chiclet-style keyboard that collapses and locks into place when the laptop is rotated into tablet or display mode.

The X1 Yoga is a compact and light device that weighs only 2.8 pounds (1.27kg) and is 0.66 inches (16mm) slim. This is light and skinny enough to fit into a typical backpack, but it’s nowhere near the lightest or slimmest device on the market, so if that’s your main concern, look elsewhere.

ThinkPad X1 Yoga

Fortunately for me, the chassis and the keyboard are not the star of the show here: most of the monitors that come on your typical consumer and business laptops feature LCD, or Liquid Crystal Displays. The ThinkPad X1 Yoga comes with an exquisite QHD OLED, or Organic Light Emitting Diode display option, which is superior (and more expensive) than the LCD variety.

OLEDs typically provide better contrast ratios, viewing angles and black levels. Unfortunately, OLEDs also come with a few flaws, including the potential for burn-in and shorter lifecycles than LCD displays. We can’t immediately tell if the X1 Yoga will have these issues, but it was obvious to me and to my colleagues that the OLED monitor featured more vibrant colors, more complex blacks and much less glare than its LCD brother.

If you decide to buy this device, the OLED upgrade will only cost an extra $200 (about £135, AU$278). If you’re not into OLEDs, you can also purchase this notebook in WQHD, Full HD and HD LCD versions.

ThinkPad X1 Yoga

Specs

If you’re more concerned with what’s under the hood than what’s on the display, the X1 Yoga is still an excellent option. It features up to 1TB of storage, up to 16GB of RAM, and up to an Intel Core i7 processor. Those are exquisite upgrade options, especially for a notebook as light, thin and flexible as the X1 Yoga. We can’t tell you how this will perform until we run it through our battery of tests, but on paper, this would be a nice configuration.

You’ll also appreciate the laptop’s 11 hour battery life (9 hours with the OLED display), which isn’t best-in-class, but is certainly respectable. We can’t verify this claim until we run it through our battery life test, but this is a good starting reference point provided by Lenovo.

The X1 Yoga features three USB ports, a microSD slot, WAN support and OneLink+ support, which can drive dual 4K monitors or an Ethernet expansion.

For security-minded individuals and businesses, all versions of the X1 Yoga come with touch fingerprint scanners and a stylus. The stylus is particularly cool in that it charges within the X1 Yoga. You can pop the digital pen into a small slot in the laptop and within 15 seconds you’ll have 1.5 hours of battery life, according to Lenovo.

ThinkPad X1 Yoga

Early verdict

Display nerds, graphic designers, artists and photo editors will want to line up to try the QHD OLED version of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga. This exquisite screen will make viewing and creating content more enjoyable than on your typical laptop.

However, if you can’t tell the difference between an OLED display and an HD matte display, the X1 Yoga’s asking price is probably more than you’re willing to pay. This is likely to be a niche device for a specific set of users that have design-heavy needs.

If you’re a design-focused user, you can’t ask for more than what the OLED version of the X1 Yoga is offering. Consider this: an OLED QHD laptop with 16GB of RAM, 1TB of storage, an Intel Core i7 processor and a stylus that charges within 15 seconds. What more could you ask for?

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