In this article, We have the Lenovo Yoga Book 9i, a remarkable dual-screen laptop with an unconventional design. Unlike traditional laptops, it doesn’t feature a physical keyboard or trackpad. The uniqueness of this product has piqued my curiosity, and I’m eager to put it to the test. Although it hasn’t been officially released for sale yet, I’m unsure of the exact date, let’s delve into its features and performance.
Design and Build Quality
The Lenovo Yoga Book 9i adopts a design language similar to the sleek Pro 9i, sporting an elegant and eye-catching teal color. Constructed with CNC anodized aluminum, it exudes a premium feel, while the curved edges enhance comfort during use. The build quality is outstanding, considering the multitude of features it incorporates. Remarkably thin at just 0.63 inches or 15.9 millimeters, and weighing around 3 pounds, it is highly portable. This means you can easily carry this dual-screen setup wherever you go, and let’s admit it, that’s pretty cool.
Lenovo Yoga Book 9i Ports
Now, the port selection on the Lenovo Yoga Book 9i is quite limited. It offers three Thunderbolt 4 ports, which can be utilized for docking purposes or connecting USB-C-compatible peripherals, including displays. While you can use adapters to work with other devices, the absence of additional USB-A ports or an HDMI port can be attributed to the inclusion of the second display. The compact design of the device leaves little space to accommodate larger connectors.
Unfortunately, I have to inform you that there is no way to access the internals of this laptop. As you can see, there are no visible screws, but this is understandable considering the complex engineering involved in the dual-screen setup. The memory and SSD are soldered onto the motherboard, meaning that they cannot be easily replaced or upgraded. This is the configuration you receive when purchasing the laptop directly from Lenovo.
Yoga Book 9i Dual OLED Screens
I’ve had the opportunity to explore this laptop-tablet hybrid, or rather, this multi-mode device, for a few weeks now, and I’ve gathered some thoughts to share.
First and foremost, let’s address the unique feature that stands out: the dual-screen layout. Typically, laptops consist of a screen, keyboard, and built-in trackpad. However, Lenovo took an innovative approach by replacing the bottom deck with another OLED display. Consequently, you’re presented with two stunning 13.3-inch, 2.8K OLED, 60Hz, 16:10 aspect ratio displays.
The visuals are truly beautiful, as OLED technology delivers rich, vibrant colors with deep blacks. Moreover, color accuracy remains consistent across both panels, covering 100% sRGB, 95% Adobe RGB, and 100% P3 color gamuts. While the brightness levels are respectable, reaching around 371 nits, it’s worth noting that using this laptop outdoors in direct sunlight can be challenging due to the glossy and highly reflective screens.
Nonetheless, the dual screens provide a vast canvas for various tasks, such as watching YouTube videos while browsing the web or engaging in productive endeavors. Adapting to this laptop does require a learning curve, as you need to familiarize yourself with several gestures to maximize your experience with the Yoga Book 9i.
So, if you wish to move an app from the primary display to the secondary display, simply tap and drag the window using your fingers. A small pop-up menu will appear, suggesting the second screen. If you tap and hold the window for a longer duration, you’ll see the default Windows-level multitasking layouts. To span an app across both screens, tap the current window with all five fingers, and it will present a massive portrait-style layout, allowing you to browse through web content seamlessly. It’s worth noting that to utilize this feature, you need to enable it through the User Center app. Due to the distinctive setup of this laptop, Lenovo had to develop its own set of drivers to ensure compatibility with Windows 11.
Virtual Keyboard + Trackpad
If you find yourself in need of a keyboard and trackpad, fear not, as they are virtual. Simply tap the bottom display with eight fingers, and you’ll witness a standard-sized keyboard appear, accompanied by a sizable trackpad that extends across the second half of the screen. Additionally, virtual primary and secondary buttons are also available.
I must admit, I was genuinely impressed with the trackpad’s responsiveness. It proves quite accurate when it comes to touch inputs like selecting windows and dragging groups of icons. Lenovo has even incorporated a haptic motor that responds to primary and secondary taps. However, it’s important to note that while the trackpad is responsive, it may not offer the same level of precision as a Precision Glass trackpad. There is a slight resistance when dragging your finger across the display, but over time, finger oil helps smoothen the navigation experience.
Now, let’s talk about the keyboard. It’s an interesting concept, and it does respond well to text inputs. However, it falls short compared to a physical keyboard. Personally, I often find myself accidentally pressing the “p” and “backspace” keys together when attempting to fix typos (which, admittedly, I make quite a lot). If you’re someone who types frequently, this might not be your cup of tea.
Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that the display tends to heat up over time when resting your palms on it, leading to discomfort. This can be observed through the surface temperature measurements. However, there’s a quick fix to address this issue.
Yoga Book 9i Physical Keyboard
You have the option to use the external wireless keyboard that comes with the laptop and place it on top of the virtual keyboard. It easily snaps into place, and the laptop recognizes it immediately, allowing you to start typing comfortably. I conducted a simple typing test between these two setups, and let me tell you, it’s like night and day. Nothing compares to the tactile feedback provided by a proper keyboard. Just keep in mind that it may slide up and down slightly, but that’s due to the glass surface underneath.
Since this is an external accessory, it requires external power. You can conveniently charge it via USB Type-C, and the battery life is decent. It will last you for about a month on a single charge. Additionally, there is a switch located here that allows you to power it off and reset the Bluetooth connection when needed.
If you require a bit more screen real estate, you have the option to shift the keyboard all the way to the bottom. However, it’s not a perfect solution because by default, it enables something called the widget bar, which displays the Outlook calendar and top stories for the day. Personally, I really wish Lenovo had added third-party support for this layout, such as HSL controls for Lightroom or editing tools for Premiere Pro and other applications. It feels like a missed opportunity here. Unfortunately, there’s no way to customize this widget bar. You can exit this feature and use it as a secondary display, but please note that Windows management doesn’t work as well in this configuration. Apps may get cut off due to the position of the keyboard, indicating that it’s not optimized for this semi-dual-screen layout.
Moreover, the 9i is also lacking several features that Lenovo’s marketing, like the Smart Note functions that allow you to quickly jot down notes while on the lock screen, add bookmarks, or launch a screenshot tool with the stylus. Lenovo states that these features are coming soon, but there is no definite timeframe provided at the moment.
Lenovo Yoga Book 9i Modes
This device is clearly designed to be transformable, allowing you to switch from laptop mode to tent mode. Tent mode is particularly useful for presenting PowerPoint slides, as it enables people facing you to see the content while you work in real time, referring to your show notes on the screen. Currently, PowerPoint is the only supported app for this feature, and there’s no option to mirror the displays, which would have been a great addition.
Then, there’s book mode, which is perfect for using the device as an actual book. You can have your PDF textbook displayed on one side while simultaneously jotting down notes on the other display using the included stylus. This is highly beneficial for students. However, it’s worth noting that the smart Notes app specifically designed for the Yoga Book is not available yet. In the meantime, you’ll have to rely on third-party solutions to accomplish that task.
For those wondering, you can also use this device in tablet mode. In this mode, the second screen is disabled, and the primary display is optimized for touch inputs, providing a seamless tablet experience.
Dual Screen Desktop Setup!
There is my most favorite mode, which I like to call the dual screen desktop layout, and it’s the mode I use most of the time when using the Book 9i. Here’s how it works: you take the folio case that comes with the laptop and fold it into a stand, following the crease as a guide. Then, you magnetically snap the keyboard into place. Once that’s done, you simply prop up the laptop at an angle, and voila! You now have one of the coolest portable dual screen setups.
In this mode, you can choose to use the laptop in either landscape or portrait orientation. Personally, for coding and other tasks, I prefer landscape mode as it fits my workflow well and provides a comfortable viewing experience across both displays. This orientation doesn’t cause any fatigue, unlike when using the laptop in standard laptop mode, where constantly looking up and down between the screens can be less comfortable.
Let me tell you, there are so many benefits to this setup, it’s truly remarkable.
Lenovo Yoga Book 9i Productivity
First and foremost, the productivity experience with the dual screens is exceptional. You can join a Zoom meeting on one screen while simultaneously typing up notes on the other display. If you’re into content creation, you can have the timeline displayed on the primary screen while keeping bins, effects windows, and audio levels on the second screen. Adobe Lightroom also takes advantage of the dual screens by allowing you to have your main controls on the primary display while keeping the library on the second screen. This setup proves incredibly useful, especially when editing a large number of photos.
Gaming is supported as well, but only with a limited selection of titles such as Asphalt 9, Modern Combat, and Dungeon Hunter 5. It’s important to note that these games are older, and the specifications of the Yoga 9i may not keep up with modern titles’ demands.
For those wondering about the included stylus, it can be easily stored in the loop conveniently attached to the folio case. It’s a brilliant design choice in my opinion, ensuring that the stylus is always within reach and securely stored when not in use.
Webcam and Speakers
Let’s talk about the webcam test on the Yoga Book 9i. As you can see, the quality is fantastic. Lenovo has equipped it with a 1080p sensor, resulting in detailed and clear images. The field of view is excellent, allowing you to fit more subjects into the frame. What’s interesting is the placement of the webcam. It’s conveniently positioned at the top, which is a great coincidence, especially when using the laptop in the dual screen desktop layout. Unlike traditional laptops where you have to constantly look down at the screen, here the webcam is right at the top, enabling comfortable and ergonomic conversations during video calls. Additionally, if you need to demonstrate something or set up a top-down view, you can simply bring down the screen and showcase whatever you want. Whether it’s a phone or any object around you, it works seamlessly and enhances the user experience.
I should also mention the webcam kill switch, which is conveniently located next to the power button. It offers an added layer of privacy and control over the camera.
Moving on, the built-in speakers on the Yoga Book 9i are fantastic. Lenovo has positioned two front-facing tweeters on the hinge bar to provide a 360-degree immersive audio experience. When using the device in laptop mode or the dual screen desktop mode, the sound projection is direct, resulting in bright and crisp trebles without distortion. The woofers deliver a satisfying amount of bass, although not mind-blowing. Overall, the audio quality surpasses that of laptops with bottom-facing speakers, making for a more enjoyable multimedia experience.
By the way, I highly recommend pairing an external Bluetooth mouse with the Yoga Book 9i, especially when using it in this particular setup. It will undoubtedly boost your productivity by a significant margin.
However, despite its unique characteristics, there were some quirks that I encountered while using this product. One of them is the sleep wake function, which proved to be a bit complicated. Unlike a regular laptop where tapping on the display would wake it up from sleep, here you have to press the power button, which is located at an unusual spot near the bottom edge. I found myself accidentally powering off the device when transitioning between different modes, and it became quite frustrating. Another inconvenience is that when trying to log in, the virtual keyboard doesn’t show up, so you have to rely on the default Windows login screen.
In terms of window management, it doesn’t always work seamlessly between the two displays. The pop-up menu to send a window to the second screen doesn’t consistently appear, sometimes requiring a reboot to resolve the issue. I also noticed an odd behavior with DaVinci Resolve. If you use the second screen as the primary editing layout and the first display for a clean video feed, the content ends up being inverted. Switching the screens around solves the problem, but it’s worth mentioning as an inconvenience.
Another annoyance I came across was that the app layout doesn’t reset when you enable the virtual keyboard. For example, if your last open app was on the second screen and you try to reopen the same application, it ends up hidden underneath the virtual keyboard, leading to frustration. Additionally, there’s the fingerprint fiasco. As fingerprints are bound to happen, I prefer to keep my tech clean and carry a microfiber cloth to wipe my devices. However, with the Yoga Book 9i, constantly cleaning both the bottom and top screens became high maintenance.
Fortunately, most of these quirks can potentially be resolved with software updates. However, the uncertainty lies in whether Lenovo will continue to support this ecosystem for the next five years, considering the possibility of a 2024 model with updated specifications.
Yoga Book 9i Performance
After running a few benchmarks and conducting initial tests, I can share some performance insights. Let’s start with the Geekbench 6 results, where the single and multi-core scores are surprisingly decent considering the processor being a U-series. Specifically, it’s equipped with the Core i7 1355U, featuring 10 cores (8 efficient cores and 2 performance cores). Although we shouldn’t expect high-end performance from a U-series processor, it does offer better battery life and satisfactory productivity for everyday tasks like Microsoft Office, email, and web browsing. The integrated Iris XE Graphics, while not exceptional for graphics-intensive tasks, does provide Thunderbolt 4 ports that allow for the addition of an external GPU, albeit at an extra cost. However, it’s important to note that the Yoga Book 9i is not designed for gaming or high-end 4K video editing. While lowering some settings may yield playable frame rates on popular titles, it’s not its primary focus.
I suppose one of the benefits of having an ultra-low voltage chip is improved battery life, and I must say, I was quite impressed with the Lenovo Yoga Book 9i in this regard. So, I decided to go the extra mile and conduct a test that deviated from our usual procedures. Since this device features two screens, I loaded a 4K YouTube video on the primary display while simultaneously keeping a web page refreshing on the second screen for 15 seconds. Surprisingly, the system lasted for approximately 6 hours, which, in my opinion, is rather impressive, especially when considering that it boasts an 81 hour battery.
Lenovo is definitely pushing the envelope once again with what I call the spiritual successor to the Microsoft Surface Neo, that ill-fated dual-screen device that never came to fruition. We’re seeing it here in the flesh, and in the 24 hours or so that I’ve been using it, I’ve actually been pretty impressed.
However, I have to warn you, it may just be a niche device at the end of the day. I don’t know if everybody needs dual displays. It’s just a matter of your application and your use case scenario. You’ll just have to make that decision for yourself.
For me, I like having that second display, especially when I want to be more productive and multitask, like when I’m doing video editing and things like that. I can definitely see an application here. But again, the $2,000 price tag may scare a lot of people away, and most people don’t need two displays.
However, if you’re a tech or geek like us, you’re going to love the innovation that Lenovo is putting forth here. You just gotta love what they’re doing. So, I give them a lot of credit here, and I look forward to seeing how they’re going to iterate on this. Hopefully, they’ll stick with it.
I’m having a lot of fun so far, and I can’t wait to bring you my full review.
Lenovo is definitely pushing the envelope once again with what I call the spiritual successor to the Microsoft Surface Neo, that ill-fated dual-screen device that never came to fruition.