Lenovo’s philosophy The Yoga Book 9i laptop — ditching the keyboard and replacing it with a second touchscreen — has been done before, but never for good. Arguably the best example so far is the HP Omen X 2S, which has a tiny display mounted above a physical keyboard, but it’s definitely a niche idea designed for gaming, and it cost close to $3,000 at launch. It never got much attention. Now it’s Lenovo’s turn to go this route, and it may be the most ambitious and successful change yet.
For the Yoga Book 9i, “second screen” means full screen. There’s no keyboard here at all; the bottom half of the laptop is the same touchscreen as the top half. Clamp the two 13.3-inch OLED displays together with a hinge in the middle, and you get the idea.
Lenovo has done a lot of engineering work to make this happen, and while there are some flaws, for the most part, it’s a success. Of course, you’re free to use the laptop like two Windows tablets or one giant tablet, put different apps on either screen of the device, and hold the whole thing like Moses’ giant slate. equipment. Want to get creative? You can even place it on a table in an inverted V shape, with two kids watching different videos on either side (although you can only play one audio track).
All of this may sound whimsical, even boring, but the Yoga Book 9i is surprisingly good at getting real work done, and it’s probably more successful at it than a standard laptop. Open the device in standard laptop mode and swipe up with eight fingers on the lower touchscreen to reveal the virtual keyboard and trackpad area. Want to ditch the trackpad and move the keyboard closer to your body? Just drag it down and the keyboard will move towards you, making room for various configurable widgets in the few inches of open space that have been freed up.
Mastering all the swipes and gestures used to move objects around on the Yoga Book 9i (especially moving windows from one screen to another) took a bit of learning and a bit of trial and error, but with practice, it shouldn’t be hard to get the hang of it.
The Yoga Book works well with the touchscreen keyboard, although my typing speed is a bit slower than on a mechanical keyboard, although the haptic-based system can provide some level of feedback, which is understandable. The advantage is to fire up an external bluetooth keyboard and mouse (both included in the purchase, as well as a stylus) and use both screens as monitors. The two screens can be propped up side-by-side or one on top of the other by using the included folio stand, a simple gadget that folds into wedges and holds together with magnets. It’s compact enough to fit on a standard airline tray table (no mouse), which certainly makes you the only person in economy class using dual monitors.
Of course, it’s prudent to know the rest of the 9i’s specs, and the numbers are mixed. Both screens have a resolution of 2,880 X 1,800 pixels and are so bright that I had to turn them down because they hurt my eyes at full power. (Brightness can be set individually for each screen.) The device is just 18mm thick and weighs 2.8 pounds, making it lighter than it feels in the hand.
But behind the scenes, the specs are pretty basic. 13th Generation Intel Core i7-1355U (1.7 GHz) provides plenty of power, along with 16 GB RAM and 512 GB SSD, and integrated graphics. Overall performance is fairly mediocre: I found it slow to complete simple tasks such as recalculating spreadsheets and syntax checking long documents, though I was at least able to complete the full benchmark, despite repeated warnings that heavier graphics-based tests might fail run on the device.