Last year, Apple pulled off a revolution in engineering to make the MacBook the world’s thinnest and lightest laptop, leaving many Windows 10 machines looking considerably flabby. Since then, notebook manufacturers have struck back with even thinner and faster systems, like the HP Spectre 13 and Asus ZenBook 3.
Lenovo itself has come out with the Yoga 900S, a 12.5-inch 2-in-1 laptop that’s even thinner than the MacBook but doesn’t sacrifice full-sized USB 3.0 ports. Beyond being thinner, this capable hybrid laptop comes with a faster processor, sharper screen and amazing battery life to boot. However, with a $1,099 or £999 (about AU$1,481) starting price, Lenovo’s thinnest 2-in-1 comes at a demanding premium.
You would be right if you guessed the 12.5-inch Yoga 900S is essentially a slimmed down version of the 13.3-inch Lenovo Yoga 900. The laptop’s overall design bears a striking resemblance to Lenovo’s flagship hybrid from the magnesium shell, leatherette interior and the watchband-inspired hinge.
Completely lifting the Yoga 900’s design isn’t a bad thing, though. Lenovo practically doesn’t have to make any major changes because it has already mastered the 2-in-1 format.
Lenovo’s high-end hybrid is among the few notebooks that are luxurious without having to resort to obnoxious rhinestones or a tacky gold finish. Although this is the third Yoga notebook to feature the company’s exquisite watchband hinge, it’s still an amazing feat of design that this mechanism seemingly defies gravity, holding the screen up despite of how thin it is.
Measuring in at just 0.5-inches (12.8mm) and weighing 2.2 pounds (0.99kg), the Yoga 900S a tenth of an inch thinner and lighter than its predecessor. That’s a hair thinner than the new MacBook, though a tad heftier.
And keep in mind, those are the 900S measurements with a touchscreen, which Apple continues to argue would add unnecessary thickness to the MacBook.
The Lenovo Yoga 900S has quite a few other things over the MacBook, including full-sized USB 3.0 ports in addition to USB-C connectivity. What’s more, the touchpad actually clicks when pressed, and the laptop houses a keyboard with slightly deeper key travel.
That said, the Yoga 900S’ touchpad is a bit on the small side – at least it offers a smooth, glass-lined surface. Similarly, the keys on the keyboard are a bit on the small side, but they’re spaced far apart and offer a decent amount of travel given the laptop’s thin frame.
Personally, the typing experience on this 2-in-1 is only slightly more tolerable than Apple’s low-pile keyboard. However, you would be better served with plugging in or connecting a dedicated keyboard if you’re trying to do serious work with either machine.
The hybrid you want as a tablet
I’ve honestly never been a fan of the Lenovo Yoga 900; its 13.3-inch screen is simply too big to use as a tablet. By comparison, the 12.5-inch Lenovo Yoga 900S is a few notches thinner and narrower while being almost an inch shallower.
These might sound like small reductions, but they add up and help make the 900S a much smaller pseudo-slate. It doesn’t feel as much of a giant sheet of glass and magnesium as it predecessor does. And, it’s noticeably less unwieldy given its smaller size, which allows me to hold it up for longer stretches.
All the while, it’s still large enough to use as a notebook without feeling like it’s about to slip out of your lap or being quite as cramped as smaller 10 to 12-inch laptops.