Since joining the biomedical engineering program as a PhD student several weeks ago, I am proud to announce that the Lenovo Yoga 900 has been supplementing my aging ThinkPad T420s. Now, before I get into why it has only been assisting my ThinkPad, let me briefly describe what I love about the system.
First, everything I liked about the Yoga 3 Pro a year ago has only been enhanced: The screen, a 13.3-inch, 3,200 x 1,800 touch display is gorgeous—it is a delight using the system to read journal articles in portrait mode and creating figures for my papers at hours at a time without suffering from eyestrain; regardless of the angle the screen is titled, color shift is not present. Quite frankly, it makes me realize how abysmal my T420s screen is.
With 16 GB of RAM, I have had no problem running MatLab with several YouTube videos open, PowerPoints, pdf’s, etc..the system crunches through the programs with aplomb—it does so with some fan noise, owing to the system’s thinness, but the noise is infrequent and not distracting (however, my T400 is SILENT, so this is a bit of an adjustment). I timed battery life on this system, and I easily exceeded 6 hours even after heavy use (thus, Lenovo’s claim of 7 hours isn’t so far-fetched). I was quite amazed by the sound quality of the system—it booms and is crystal clear; equally amazing, the direction of the sound changes depending on the mode of the system (e.g., Tent mode vs. laptop). This has proven to negate my need for external headphones—and considering that many of my professors have made many of their lectures as YouTube videos, this has proven to be much less cumbersome than being tethered to a system—I have never owned a ThinkPad with sound quality that could be described as anything above mediocre, so this is a surprise. Finally, as for durability, it approaches my ThinkPad. It is solid and the screen does not exhibit any wobble, owing to the gorgeous hinge.
Yes, I have exuded praise for the system. So why is it not my primary computer in academia? It boils down to the keyboard! The keyboard seems to be a second thought for such a beautiful system—the Shift key has been shrunken, the keys are crammed and the layout is confusing (check out the location of the Home button), the function keys have been combined with the volume keys, etc. Worse, the integrated mouse buttons just do not function well—I find myself accidentally right clicking when I mean to left click…and for me, a TrackPoint is a must. On a positive note, the tactile feedback is good, considering that key travel is less than that of my ThinkPad. For most users, I think a mediocre keyboard is expected and will suffice. We have entered an age where people rely more and more on touchscreens and less on a physical keyboard. But for me, when I switching between EndNote, Microsoft Word, a PDF, and a PowerPoint for creating a figure, I rely entirely on a keyboard. Dedicated buttons, a TrackPoint that allows me to keep my hands on the keyboard, and a logical layout mean my brain is entirely focused on the task on hand and not on correcting a mis-click. So, yes, my ThinkPad T420s, with its horrid screen, terrible sound, lackluster battery life, and aging performance remains my primary machine for typing papers simply because it has one of the best keyboards of any machine. For the average consumer who may be more focused on multimedia, gaming, and typing papers for class, this is a fine machine; for those of us, however, who grew up with a ThinkPad, the keyboard just falls far below the gold standard….For that reason, my Yoga 900 is my primary tool for reading PDFs, creating figures (the colors are accurate and the resolution is superb), and watching YouTube videos for class (the sound is clear and the battery goes on and on and on). But for everything else, nothing beats a ThinkPad.
About Gregory Costa
Gregory Costa is a decent biologist, mediocre writer, terrible formatter, but true Lenovo enthusiast, who admires the use of their products in both the academic and industrial setting...when he's not busy delighting himself in science, nature, or his OkCupid profile.