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Lenovo Yoga Book 9i hands-on: bringing dual screens to a new level
Lenovo is no stranger to unique bendable and foldable designs, including the highly impressive X1 Fold. Now some of that same magic is coming to the brand-new Yoga Book 9i. While the 9i isn’t foldable, it is a dual-screen OLED laptop with a variety of unique use cases, many of which may look familiar to X1 Fold and even Asus Zenbook 17 Fold fans.
Not your father’s laptop
The Yoga Book 9i looks like a typical laptop on the outside, but instead of a keyboard and a screen, you get two 13.3-inch OLED displays that are connected by a hinge. The displays offer a crisp 2.8k resolution, 400 nit brightness, and a 60Hz refresh rate.
Opening up the laptop you’re greeted by nothing but two screens. You can absolutely use the laptop like this by turning on a virtual keyboard and trackpad. I was a little concerned that this experience would be awful for touch typists like myself, but the presence of haptic feedback makes it work better than you’d expect. Additionally, this mode is great if you want to use it with a stylus as a big drawing pad.
Still, what really makes the Yoga Book 9i truly special is the included accessories. You get a magnetic Bluetooth keyboard and a folding case that does double-duty as a folio stand — which we’ll get back to a bit later. There’s even a stylus with a holder built right into the case. In addition to handwriting support, the stylus also includes a handy button that lets you easily capture screenshots on the fly.
Focusing on the keyboard, Lenovo has a few different ways to use it. For starters, you can place the keyboard onto the bottom display, and you instantly get a traditional clamshell experience with a virtual touchpad. The awesome thing here is that you get haptic feedback, so it actually feels pretty close to a real touchpad.
If you’re interested in the Yoga Book 9i you are likely looking to get more out of it than simply using it like a traditional laptop. So let’s take that keyboard and slide it down on the bottom display. Now instead of a virtual touchpad, you get a series of widgets for things like a calendar, a calculator, notes, and more. This mode is very similar looking to what we’ve seen from Asus Duo laptops over the years, albeit with a Bluetooth Keyboard instead of a built-in one.
We’re not done yet. Let’s turn our attention to the folio case. With a few quick folds, the origami-like case transforms into a stand. You can then stack the two displays on top of one another, giving you a ton of screen space to work with. Place the keyboard down below it all and you have a handy big-screen workstation.
It’s also possible to place the displays side-by-side in horizontal mode if you want a massive screen, but this is probably my least favorite use case. For one, you have a very distracting hinge in the middle of everything, and the screens are pretty tall. I’m sure some folks will find horizontal mode useful, but I don’t think that mode is for me. Who knows though, maybe in time I’d grow fond of it too.
The Lenovo Yoga Book 9i also supports tent mode, which is perfect in situations like when you’re in a face-to-face meeting and want to slide a presentation on one screen while viewing and controlling it from the other.
Lenovo brings plenty of specialized software tricks to the mix
Lenovo has included some customized software and gestures to make the most of the Yoga Book 9i’s many use cases. We’ve already talked about the stylus, virtual keyboard, and touchpad. There are also some handy gestures here, like flick mode. Simply press and hold any app, then flick your finger on the display. The app will instantly jump from one screen to the next.
The Yoga Book 9i is all about multi-tasking, and so Lenovo makes it easy to divide up your display into a grid, letting you have up to four apps running at the same time. This is something that we’ve already seen before on the Lenovo X1 Fold. And of course, technically Snap modes are nothing new to laptops in general, it’s just that the grid system here works better thanks to the extra working space you have.
Grids are especially useful when you have this much real estate to work with.
Up next we have my favorite of the software tricks. When it is in stacked mode, you can also tap five fingers against the display and the app will spread across both displays. You instantly get a massive amount of screen real estate which is great when browsing the web, for documents, and so on. While having all that screen real estate is appreciated, keep in mind there’s a big hinge in the way when using the app across both displays. However, I got used to it fairly fast.
My time with the device was limited but we’re sure there are plenty of other software tricks beyond this as well. What’s clear is that Lenovo is making sure its software is designed to take full advantage of the Yoga Book 9i’s hardware.
What kind of specs and performance are we talking about here?
The Yoga Book 9i is a unique take on dual screens, but none of that matters if it doesn’t have the performance chops to back it up. Thankfully, you get pretty sold specs here, including a 13th-gen Intel Core i7-U15 processor, Intel Iris Xe graphics, 16 GB of LPDDR5X RAM, Wi-Fi 6e, and a 512GB or 1TB SSD. You also get a 1080p webcam and four speakers. The laptop is powered by an 80-watt-hour battery, which Lenovo says should last around 7 hours.
Considering how thin and light the hardware is, it’s not surprising that Lenovo has ditched legacy ports here. Instead, there are three Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports. As long as you don’t mind a dongle, this probably won’t be an issue for most users.
Overall the Lenovo Yoga Book 9i is a pretty powerful device considering its thin form factor. While this isn’t going to be a video editing or gaming beast, it should still be more than capable as a productivity and entertainment device.
Is the Yoga Book 9i what you’ve been waiting for?
I have to say I was pretty impressed by the Yoga Book 9i. Effectively you get the same experience as you would from a foldable laptop, but it looks much more modern and is actually cheaper with a starting price of $2,100. That’s not significantly cheaper than the X1 Fold, but it’s still a savings of almost $400. Also, let’s be honest, foldable technology is still new and can be fragile, so the Yoga Book 9i is the perfect compromise for those that love the vision of foldable laptops but aren’t yet ready to dive into a product category that’s still very much in its infancy.
The Yoga Book 9i combines the functionality of the X1 Fold with the practicality of more established display technology.
The only negative thing I can say here is that if you don’t like to have to carry around a bunch of accessories, this might not be the machine for you. To really make the most of the Yoga Book 9i you need the case, the stylus, and the Bluetooth keyboard. You might want to bring your own mouse as well. That’s a bunch of stuff to carry. For me, doesn’t sound like such a big deal but I tend to carry a lot in my laptop bag anyhow.
Has the Lenovo Yoga Book 9i caught your eye? You’ll have your chance to pick up it up this June.