Lenovo Yoga Book C930 Review: E-Ink Just Isn’t Our Type

If you possibly can eliminate the keyboard in your laptop computer and change it with a second tablet-like show, would you do it? In different phrases, would you like to work with two screens, Nintendo DS-style, as an alternative of only one, just like the MacBook-toting plebes of the world?

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Before you reply both method, you must spend a while with Yoga Book C930, a triumphantly pointless piece of know-how that stands earlier than the world with its fists on its hips and proudly proclaims, “We did it as a result of we are able to.”

Like cell telephones with folding screens and 3-D televisions, the Yoga Book is a proof of idea seeking an issue to be solved. The concept really dates again to 2016, when Lenovo launched each an Android and a Windows model of this Laptop Without a Keyboard. The authentic was a real novelty that obtained middling critiques, maybe as a result of pundits weren’t totally certain what to make of the factor and did not need to find yourself on the improper aspect of historical past ought to it really take off.

And now, come 2018, the Yoga Book is again for spherical two. If you are still scratching your head, let’s let Lenovo attempt to make its case.

The conceit all comes all the way down to the portion of the machine the place a keyboard would usually reside. Instead of bodily keys, there is a flat pane of glass. In the unique Yoga Book, this glass coated a capacitive touchscreen, however now the decrease panel options an digital ink system (like a Kindle). The higher (touchscreen) show is all the time working Windows, however the decrease half of the machine will be configured to function in three completely different modes. These embrace Keyboard Mode (which encompasses a full keyboard and a digital touchpad), Note Mode (for jotting with a finger or stylus), and Reader Mode (which emulates an E-Ink e-reader).

The concept is that you just use the mode that fits you finest, everytime you want it. Want to learn a doc or a ebook with out coping with the complete Windows expertise? Switch to Reader Mode and fold the display screen round in order that it is flat in opposition to the again of the bottom. Want to jot notes freehand? Note Mode is your pal, although solely with the included Precision Pen, a Bluetooth system, not your fingertip. And after all, should you simply need to use the machine like an everyday laptop computer, the Keyboard Mode is all the time on faucet.

The bother with the Yoga Book is that none of those three modes work exceptionally properly, and that units that do do these issues properly are extensively accessible—in reality, they are much higher than they have been simply two years in the past. Full 2-in-1 units just like the Surface and Lenovo’s personal Yoga 2-in-1 are each highly effective laptops with touchscreens that make freehand drawing and note-taking a breeze (with or and not using a pen). The Reader Mode is a compelling concept, however I actually cannot recall the final time I noticed some studying an book on a tool that wasn’t a Kindle.

And then there’s Keyboard Mode. Lenovo has realized many classes within the final two years, and certain sufficient it now gives two variations of the keyboard, the brand new one that includes a touchpad that pops up solely if you want it. Use the “traditional” default keyboard and you will find that it is nonetheless inconceivable to make use of the touchpad with out hitting the spacebar, one of the crucial maddening design flaws I’ve ever encountered. Very little about typing on the system on this method is any higher than earlier than, and whereas typing with any semblance of accuracy is barely marginally tougher on my iPhone, a minimum of my cellphone does not have a maddening delay once I do one thing that requires a couple of key (like urgent Ctrl-C to repeat). It additionally appears almost inconceivable to click on and drag one thing utilizing the keyboard and touchpad, to the purpose the place I often resorted to easily interacting with the first display screen as an alternative.

The “fashionable” keyboard, which minimizes the trackpad till it is wanted, is a big enchancment, however the catch is that right here the trackpad replaces the area bar when it’s referred to as up. You must faucet a key to reduce the trackpad once more, which is not excellent because of the additional tapping that is continually required, however it’s a honest tradeoff for upgraded usability, particularly as soon as you employ the settings menu to dial down the vibration and audio cues to one thing rather less jarring than the default.

Much of those usability quirks can be extra forgivable if the machine wasn’t agonizingly gradual to make use of. You can rely on lengthy delays for apps to load and instructions to execute; benchmark scores are roughly in step with laptops launched in 2014. That’s largely because of the stripped-down specs wanted to maintain the machine reasonably priced and funky sufficient to work and not using a fan: a 1.2GHz ultra-low-wattage Core i5 from 2016, a paltry 4GB of RAM, and a minimal 128-gigabyte SSD.

The excellent news is that with Eight hours, 44 minutes of working time, battery life is kind of stellar, and the 10.8-inch touchscreen is abundantly brilliant (although not blinding). The ultra-compact design makes this one of the crucial transportable machines available on the market, simply 11 millimeters thick and 1.7 kilos in weight, which is actually the principle level of the system. The spectacular heft is on par with a bigger pill—sans keyboard. And at simply over $1,000, the pricing does not appear out of whack, a minimum of on paper.

So what then does one do with a particularly gentle, underpowered, reasonably priced difficult-to-use, weird-ass laptop computer? It’s been instructed as a Christmas present for the techie who has every little thing, however with tablets, 2-in-1s with actual keyboards, and precise laptops all bettering dramatically during the last two years, the worth proposition is much less evident than ever. To be trustworthy, the e-keyboard idea was useless on arrival in 2016. As of 2018, it is totally six ft underneath.

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