Lenovo Yoga Book C930 hands-on review

Playing with the new Yoga Book is the most fun we've had with a laptop in years

With an E-Ink screen for a keyboard, and a knock-twice-to-open-case, the Lenovo Yoga Book is sci-fi computing at its most fun.
With an E-Ink screen for a keyboard, and a knock-twice-to-open-case, the Lenovo Yoga Book is sci-fi computing at its most fun.
With an E-Ink screen for a keyboard, and a knock-twice-to-open-case, the Lenovo Yoga Book is sci-fi computing at its most fun.

Highs

  • Stunning design
  • Knock twice to open feature is fun
  • E-Ink screen keyboard worked well
  • Thin and compact
  • Stylus included

Lows

  • Expensive for previous-gen CPU
  • Possibly not suitable for long term, everyday use

Everything about the Lenovo Yoga Book C930 feels like the future. It’s the laptop James T. Kirk would use (in the new movies, of course). Why? Because it doesn’t have an actual, physical keyboard, and instead has a beautiful piece of glass covering an E-Ink screen on which the keyboard appears. What’s more sci-fi than typing on nothing more than a glass panel?

Of course, it’s actually not sci-fi at all, because the vast majority of us type on a pane of glass everyday. The touchscreen smartphone has made this a normal action, so why does having one on a laptop feel so futuristic? After all, we could type on a tablet too if we wanted more screen real estate than a phone. It’s all to do with the Yoga Book being an actual computer, despite its high-tech looks. At its heart, this is still a laptop.

Wait, no keyboard?

Without a physical keyboard, you’re probably wondering how you’re supposed to get any work done on the Yoga Book like you would on an ordinary laptop. But it’s less akin to typing on a tablet than you might think. Due to it being in a laptop configuration with the screen upright in front of you, typing feels quite natural. The E-Ink keyboard is sized perfectly, and I could touch type on it almost immediately, without much practice. The keys animate and even provide some haptic feedback vibrations depending on the key presses.

There’s even an E-Ink touchpad to navigate around Windows 10. Don’t dismiss it as slow because it’s E-Ink either, as there is no lag when using it as a keyboard. Typing is not usually an action that fills me with joy, but I smiled when typing on the Yoga Book C930. Take that as a sign that it’s a very special experience.

Lenovo even explained the keyboard has a degree of intelligence, where it learns how you type and will adjust its understanding of where you hit keys on a repeated basis. If you always hit the F key in a way that touches the R key, the Yoga Book will learn that’s how you type.

If you always hit the F key in a way that touches the R key, the Yoga Book will learn that’s how you type.

But it’s a special experience long before you even get to the keyboard. It’s ultra-thin when closed, and the wonderfully over-engineered hinge system looks fantastic, just like it did on the first Yoga Book. Lenovo is proud of its solution to the slightly awkward way of prising the old model open, and we think it’s one of the most fun solutions to an unusual problem we’ve seen in a while.

With the Yoga Book closed, you knock twice on the leading edge — really — and the top section automatically pops up a centimeter or so, allowing you to easily open the clamshell. It reminded us of Huawei’s innovative solution to where it would place the front facing camera on the MateBook X Pro. Different, innovative, and fun.

The E-Ink screen is more than just a keyboard too. Using a menu in the top right, you can change it to a notepad on which to scribble notes with the included stylus. A button on the stylus erases or copies text, all of it fast and responsive, even offering varying pressures for more creative uses.

lenovo yoga book c930 hingle
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

E-Ink limitations mean it’s not in color though. The pen magnetically attaches to the Yoga Book’s case when not in use, and is included with the package rather than being sold as an extra. Most will be familiar with E-Ink screen technology from e-readers like the Amazon Kindle, as it’s easy on the eyes when reading. The Yoga Book’s keyboard also has a reading mode, ready to display a book or two, but only in limited formats like PDFs at launch, with others to follow later.

You knock twice on the leading edge and the top section automatically pops up a centimeter or so.

Whether open or closed, the Yoga Book is a compact, highly portable computer at 0.39 inches thick and only 1.7 pounds in weight. In case you’re counting, that makes the Yoga Book the lightest laptop ever made — and very close to one of the thinnest as well. Its overall footprint is small too, with both screens measuring in at 10.8-inches. The LCD IPS main display has a 2560 x 1600 pixel resolution and looked bright and punchy in our brief hands-on, while the E-Ink screen has a 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution.

Inside there is a choice of processor, the seventh generation Intel Core M3 7Y30 or Core i5 7Y54, and both are matched to 4GB of RAM and either 128GB or 256GB of SSD storage. We’re a little disappointed Lenovo couldn’t use Intel’s newer 8th-gen Y-Series processors, especially since they were announced at the very same conference. Lenovo says it just missed the boat on integrating the new processors. Unfortunately, that means the Yoga Book could begin to feel quite outdated in just a couple of years. A 4G LTE version will be sold in some regions, but is not expected to come to North America.

Approximately nine hours of use is expected from the battery, while the E-Ink screen used on its own to read books will last around 13 hours on a single charge. There are two ports, both USB Type-C 3.1, plus a fingerprint sensor along the top edge of the E-Ink screen. It uses an infrared sensor to operate even if your fingers are damp. There are a couple of speakers, complete with Dolby Atmos, and a physical volume rocker on the side of the body, alongside a sleep/wake key.

Is it love?

While we fell completely, head-over-heels in love with the Yoga Book C930, we’re also aware this could be an old-fashioned crush that may spoil when we spend more time with it. There are question marks over the effectiveness of the keyboard when typing for a long time, or when accuracy fails due to tiredness or fatigue, things that a physical keyboard compensates for naturally.

We fell completely, head-over-heels in love with the Yoga Book C930.

The Yoga Book is also small for a laptop — and expensive too. It’s $1,000 for the basic 128GB Core m3 model and around $1,500 for the upper model. Only after spending more time with it will we know if it can challenge other laptop computers that cost this much, or if its natural competition is the Apple iPad Pro with a keyboard case and the Apple Pencil. It is unquestionably more versatile than the iPad, and definitely better-looking; but for travel convenience the iPad makes a very strong case for itself. There also won’t be an Android version like there was with the first model either.

It’s coming out in October, and despite not getting to swoon over it for very long, it’s still fresh in our mind as one of the standout new devices revealed at the IFA 2018 technology show. The Lenovo Yoga Book C930 has a fresh design, innovative enjoyable-to-use technology, masses of sci-fi cool, and a case you knock twice to open up. At this point, we’re counting out the dollar bills to get one.

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