That said, the 910 is just long enough that it won't comfortably fit into a standard 13-inch laptop sleeve; you'll want to size up to one designed for 14- or 15-inch systems. Unfortunately, too, another cost of that bigger screen is some blank space at the bottom -- a thick black bar where instead of pixels you'll find the 720p webcam. This isn't the first laptop we've seen with a camera on the lower bezel, so I can say from experience that a setup like this could make for some potentially unflattering angles.
Those drawbacks notwithstanding, it's a fine screen, with good contrast and viewing angles. Though higher-end configurations have 4K, 3,840 x 2,160 resolution, I tested the entry-level model, which has a lower-res full-HD screen and promises even longer battery life as a result. (More on that in just a moment.)
Instead of a Windows Hello webcam, you'll find a fingerprint reader at the right end of the palm rest. Unfortunately, the setup process wasn't nearly as seamless as the Windows Hello cameras I've tested -- I fought through repeated error messages saying the sensor couldn't detect my finger. Worse, this fingerprint reader wasn't nearly as reliable. More often than not, I was forced to enter a PIN instead.
Fortunately, the keyboard itself is mostly enjoyable to use. The buttons here are well-spaced and offer a surprising amount of travel, especially compared to competing laptops. The Control and Function buttons on the left are undersize, but this only occasionally tripped me up while attempting keyboard shortcuts. Speaking of the Function key, I appreciate that the Function row up top is home to things like brightness and volume controls, all of which you can control without having to hold down the Fn button. Having recently tested the MacBook Pro, which eschews the Function row entirely, I no longer take this for granted.
Sadly, the touchpad needs work. It's spacious, which seemed like an auspicious enough start, but alas, even basic stuff like single-finger tracking feels like a chore. As on some other Windows laptops I've tested, the trackpad has a tendency to latch onto stuff it wasn't supposed to, causing me to do things like reorder my pinned browser tabs. In this case, though, when I did want to click and drag objects around on screen, the touchpad didn't always register my left click on my first choice, leaving me no choice but try try again (and maybe again). I'd say a firmware update is definitely in order here.
Like so many other new laptops, the 910 offers USB Type-C ports, though Lenovo mercifully left one full-size one to complement the two smaller USB-C sockets. Weirdly, though, the USB-C ports don't work the same way: The one toward the back is a USB 2.0 connection meant for charging only, while the port next to it follows the USB 3.0 standard and is intended for video output. Neither supports Thunderbolt 3. Again, the mix of ports isn't bad, but ideally, those USB-C ports would be interchangeable, as they are on competing machines, like the new MacBook Pro.
Performance and battery life
I hadn't been doing much on the computer. I woke the morning after my birthday with one immediate goal in mind: Like and respond to all the nice Facebook posts people had left on my special day. And I did just that, occasionally stopping to check email and Twitter, but otherwise focused on the task at hand. To my surprise, even that was enough to get the fans spinning, with the noise loud enough for me to hear over my TV. The whirring persisted even after I took a break and walked away from the machine.
To their credit, at least, the fans do their stated job: The laptop never got hot on the underside -- unlike some other systems I've tested recently. Speaking of the underbelly, the two JBL speakers deliver serviceable quality (for a laptop) and pretty robust volume; when sitting alone in my apartment, I could get away with keeping the sound set at 30-something out of 100.
If all you wanted was to check email, Facebook and Twitter, you could spend half or a third of the price for a Chromebook or budget Windows machine, and possibly get less fan noise, too. But the Yoga 910 is powerful enough for more than just basic use, which I'd assume is a requirement for most people willing to spend $1,180-plus on a new laptop.
Indeed, that loud fan noise aside, the 910 is a fast machine. It boots in just seven seconds, and the NVMe-made SSD delivers average max read speeds of 1.59 gigabytes per second, according to the ATTO benchmark, though write speeds came in at a less remarkable 313 MB/s. The model I tested had the same 2.7GHz Core i7-7500U CPU and integrated Intel HD 620 graphics as the other available configurations, though my unit has 8GB of RAM and a full HD screen, whereas higher-end SKUs have 16 gigs of memory and 4K screen resolution.
It's worth emphasizing that the 910 packs one of Intel's new seventh-generation Core processors. What's more, the 910 remains one of the few machines to date that actually offers it (many rival systems are still stuck on older sixth-gen CPUs). You can see the edge in our benchmark results, listed above.
The 802.11ac wireless radio was mostly reliable, but on one occasion I was the only one in AOL's office not able to connect to the usually-fast network. I had to disconnect the network and then toggle WiFi on and off before getting it to work. In general, too, the machine seemed slightly slower than its peers to reconnect to known networks after waking from sleep. Again, though, once connected, wireless speeds were consistently fast.
Spoiler alert: I saw much, much better battery life on the 910 than I did on last year's Yoga 900. There are two reasons for that. One, Lenovo stepped up to a larger battery: 78Wh, up from 66Wh. Second, whereas last year's flagship was sold exclusively with a 3,200 x 1,800 display, the 910 is available with a lower-res (and more power-efficient) full HD screen option, which is the one I tested. All told, I got an average of 16 hours and 13 minutes on Engadget's video rundown test -- even more than the 15.5 hours Lenovo promises on the full HD model. (The company promises 10.5 hours with a 4K display and 16GB of RAM.)
Weirdly, early on in my testing I got one result in the 19-hour range and another around 17 hours, but neither of these stellar outcomes was reproducible; it was only in the 16-hour range that I ended up seeing consistent results, so it's from that batch of scores that I calculated the official score presented in the above table.
That's obviously a big improvement over the nine hours and 36 minutes I logged on last year's Yoga 900. Sixteen-hour runtime is also good enough to best most of its rivals, including the HP Spectre x360 and the new MacBook Pro.
Configuration options and the competition
The Yoga 910 starts at $1,180 on Lenovo's website, though $1,330 is presented as the original price. This is the configuration we tested, which comes with a Core i7-7500U processor, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB solid-state drive and full HD display. For $1,280 (usually $1,430) you get the same specs, but with a 4K display. Moving on, $1,630 nets you 16GB of memory and a 512GB SSD. Finally, for $1,650 you get the same processor, 16GB of RAM and 4K display, plus a terabyte of storage.
HP's recently refreshed 13-inch Spectre x360 is remarkably similar, in everything from price to specs. The machine starts at $1,150 and weighs 2.85 pounds, also with a 360-degree hinge and metal body. It, too, packs Intel's seventh-generation Core processors and up to 16GB of RAM and a terabyte of storage. The battery life is long, though not as quite as epic as the 910's, and there's no 4K screen option. The touchpad is also stubborn, but still better than the one Lenovo used. Also similar to the 910, the x360 can get loud, and it runs warmer, too. Still, I prefer it to the 910, partly because of the touchpad, and because it offers a Windows Hello webcam that performs far more reliably than the fingerprint reader on Lenovo's laptop.
You should also check out Microsoft's recently updated Surface Book thanks to its well-built design, 16-hour battery life and comfortable keyboard and trackpad, though the heavier weight (3.68 pounds) and high price ($1,499-plus) might be a turnoff to some.
The 2.7-pound Dell XPS 13 ($800-plus) is also a perennial Engadget favorite, thanks to its small footprint, nearly bezel-less display, comfortable keyboard and well-constructed build. Though it's had the same design for nearly two years now, Dell has done a good job updating the internals, with the maxed-out model offering the same seventh-generation Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage as the competition. Problem is, that model will set you back a whopping $2,250, which doesn't seem reasonable given what Lenovo et al. are charging.