Lenovo Yoga 9i (as reviewed)
Lenovo knows how to design a computer. The Lenovo Yoga 9i is a stunner. The device is sculpted and shiny. The display is beautiful, and the sound is outstanding. The 12h Gen Intel® Core™ i7 processors offer a smooth experience, complete with the Intel® EVO experience, improved Wi-Fi, Thunderbolt™ 4, better battery life with a large display, and various AI features like wake-on-approach, gaze-based diming, and walk-away lock.
The review unit was an entry-level Yoga 9i. Higher-end units offer up to a 3840×2400 OLED display with HDR and a 1 Terabyte PCIe SSD Gen drive.
The display on the basic 9i is gorgeous WUXGA 1920×1200 IPS, glossy touchscreen. It supports Dolby Vision and outputs at 400 nits.
As usual, Lenovo offers a great keyboard with slightly sculpted keys and an excellent layout. And unlike its ThinkPad line, it doesn’t clutter up the keyboard or the trackpad with the aging TouchPoint nib and secondary controls. Just clean and simple. Unfortunately, the keys don’t inherit the deepness of the ThinkPad keys, which proves a missed opportunity to make the 9i work as well as it looks.
The snappy 12th Gen Intel® Core™ i7 delivers strong performance from its 12 cores, 16 threads, and 18MB of Cache. The 9i never stuttered or hesitated while I wrote, watched, and browsed across multiple displays.
Nicely, the 9i comes with fingerprint and facing recognition, along with all the other Intel and Windows security features. A trial of McAfee is also included. Unfortunately, my review unit’s coverage expired, so I defaulted to Microsoft standard anti-virus and malware features.
The Lenovo Yoga 9i is not a business, but it could be. The numerous function keys don’t directly address collaboration features like call pickup or hangup. It does, however, include background blur and microphone muting. I would love to see the camera shutter control move to software and a key rather than a physical sliding cover.
Audio is also very good coming from Bowers & Wilkins speakers boosted by Dolby Atmos®. I ran a Marvel’s Infinity War outside in a pop-up during a 90-degree day. The sound filled the area, and the bright screen kept up with the bright side light.
The full HD camera is bright and smart, offering automatic centering.
Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2. That’s as modern as wireless gets.
2 Thunderbolt 4 ports, an additional USB-C port, a USB-A port, and a headphone jack offer enough connectivity for most. With USB-C docks running less than $50, such as the Monoprice 7-in-1, there is no excuse not to have one.
I connect my review hardware to a VisionTek VT 4510: keyboard, mouse, display, Ethernet, wireless headsets, and other features connect via a single USB-C cable, which makes swapping out review devices extremely easy.
As noted above, the Yoga 9i is one of the best-looking Lenovo laptops ever made. The curved, smooth, shiny edges suggest a level of sophistication. That said, the shell doesn’t reach the same level of style as the edges. One more level of review might have yielded a more cohesive design.
The fans might be a little loud for some, but the i7 needs them to keep its performance cool.
Lenovo makes no sustainability claims about the 9i.
Lenovo Vantage offers a variety of settings and support options, as well as a wellness dashboard. After years of PC manufacturers not understanding software, it is wonderful to see them understand how to embed features for on-demand access, like Lenovo voice, and what people really need in a management console. A system tray pop-up provides access to the core Lenovo Vantage functions.
Vantage, unfortunately, suffers from too many features living behind a paywall. So many clicks, like high-end privacy monitoring, will lead to the need for a subscription. Lenovo should at least offer a year for testing. Ideally, they would make it clear before a click if a feature was available or not. That’s an easy fix they need to implement sooner than later.
Several contextual software solutions include background noise suppression and eye care mode; those don’t require a subscription.
What we like
What do we like? Almost everything. The high-quality, 14-inch display fits in a cover with little top and side bezel above a typically well-laid out Lenovo keyboard and a broad, responsive touchpad. The unique tilting speakers offer solid sound.
The redesign of the Lenovo Yoga 9i offers a good template for Lenovo’s laptop designs going forward. It challenges the imitative laptops that copy Apple’s aesthetic and the industrial angles of Lenovo’s less inspired designs. It also offers a solid contrast to other strong designs like the HP X360 and its chamfered-edged sophistication.
The simplified trackpad and TouchPoint-less keyboard should set the direction for an updated Lenovo design language.
An include sleeve helps protect the 9i from scratches on its glossy edges.
What could be improved
There is very (very) little not to like about the Lenovo Yoga 9i, but there are a couple of things.
First, I’d like to see it ship with 16GB of RAM. I understand the global chip shortage, but 8GB puts an unnecessary upper limit on power use. The i7 needs room to run. However, all of the other more expensive versions of the 9i do ship with 16GB of LPDDR5 5200MHz RAM.
I remain unconvinced about PCs as tablets. Compared to an iPad Pro 12.9, any convertible PC feels thick and heavy. The stylus, while full-sized and functional, has no home on the device, but it does not require charging (and don’t get me wrong, Lenovo, I don’t want to see a thin, short stylus like those tucked away in slots on ThinkPads).
The convertible features, however, are fine in that they offer increased use cases for the 9i, such as desktop presentations and alternative content viewing.
While laid out and spacious as the best keyboards, the keyboard lacks the depth that would make it truly outstanding as a writing device.
Even for a consumer laptop, I’d like to see more collaboration special features, including connection/disconnection and a camera security switch (versus the manual shutter).
Lenovo comes very close to making one of the best laptops I have ever used. I would suggest the next generation concentrate on incremental improvements that address current shortcomings rather than rethinking the entire design. So close.
Lenovo Yoda 9i: The Bottom Line
Lenovo created an outstanding device in the Yoga 9i. Its eye-catching design and solid performance make for a refreshing new computing experience. Of course, higher-end versions offer a better monitor, more RAM and more storage than the entry-level version. But even the entry-level Lenovo Yoga 9i, hamstrung with only 8GB of RAM, performed admirably.
Those looking for a top-performing, beautiful laptop should seriously consider the revamped Lenovo Yoga 9i.
Lenovo provided the Lenovo Yoga 9i for review. Images courtesy of Lenovo.
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