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Lenovo Yoga 9i First Impressions

Posted March 30, 2022 | Hardware | Lenovo | Mobile | Windows | Windows 11 | Yoga 9i

For its 7th generation Yoga 9i, Lenovo is offering an all-new design, 16:10 aspect ratio displays, and big keyboard and touchpad changes.

I’m a big fan of the new design, which is available in two color choices—the review unit is a pleasant storm gray color—and offers elegantly curved edges that are as pretty to look at as they are comfortable to hold. I’ve often railed against the hard edges on laptops, especially MacBooks, and this is the perfect response.

As good, Lenovo has moved the Yoga 9i to 16:10 aspect ratio displays, leading to more onscreen real estate and smaller bezels. There are a few different display panel choices, including Full HD+ (1920 x 1200) and 2K (2880 x 1800) options, but the review unit comes with a vibrantly colorful 4K+ (3840 x 2400) IPS OLED panel that outputs 400 nits of brightness and provides Dolby Vision HDR capabilities. It’s stunning.

I also really like the Yoga’s unique Bowers & Wilkins rotating soundbar, which orients the two tweeters correctly no matter which orientation you use with this convertible laptop.

But what really puts the sound over the top is the Yoga’s two woofers, which are found on either side of the keyboard deck; combined with the two tweeters, they offer terrific Dolby Atmos sound for music or videos. It’s always a good sign for a computer’s sound system when I get lost in what I’m watching because it sounds so good, and that was definitely the case here.

The backlit keyboard is mostly successful, with snappy, low-throw keys and a unique soft landing feel that I really like. I also like that the Ctrl key is in the right place—at the lower right corner of the keyboard, unlike with many ThinkPads—and the way that Lenovo integrated the fingerprint reader into a new key at the lower right of the keyboard.

That said, the Up Arrow and Down Arrow keys are hard to hit accurately, and I’m not sure what to make of the new 1-Click function keys—for Smart Power, Background Blur, Audio Profile, and Color Mode (and the fingerprint reader—that are available in a new column of keys on the far right of the keyboard. These don’t seem like keys I’d need a lot, while keys I do need a lot—like Home, End, PgUp, and PgDn—are only accessible via hard-to-access Function-based keyboard shortcuts. I prefer the way HP handles this on PCs like the Spectre x360 14.

I’m also not sure what to make of the ginormous buttonless glass touchpad, which, aside from being too big, pushes the keyboard further back, making it uncomfortable to reach. I have large hands, so I can only imagine this will be even more problematic for others who don’t.

Lenovo bundles a smartpen of some kind with the Yoga, but I don’t see any documentation explaining it yet, so I’ll investigate that further.

Inside the Yoga 9i, you’ll find powerful and modern 12th-Gen Intel Core mobile P-series chipsets with 28-watts of thermal design power (TDP), almost double the TDP of previous-generation U-series processors. These feature Intel’s new hybrid architecture, with both performance and efficiency cores, and they’re bolstered by Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics, faster LPDDR5 RAM, and Wi-Fi 6 connectivity. The review unit provides an Intel Core i7-1260P processor, 16 GB of RAM, and 1 TB of SSD storage. And, yes, it’s an Intel Evo-certified PC.

The new Yoga also features a larger 75 watt-hour battery (up from 60 Wh) that supports fast charging via Lenovo’s Rapid Charge Boost technology: 15 minutes of charging will give you two hours of charge, the company says.

On the outside of the Yoga, you’ll find the expected assortment of modern connectivity options. There is a full-sized USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 port and two Thunderbolt 4/USB4 ports on the left.

And on the right, you’ll find a combo headphone/microphone jack, a USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port, and a power button.

There’s also a 1080p webcam—can I get a Hallelujah?—and it supports Windows Hello facial recognition and has a manual (physical) shutter for privacy. Lenovo also enhances Windows Hello with a Smart Assist solution that turns off the display when you step away, preserving battery life.

The software loadout is mostly OK. The review unit ships with Windows 11 Home, and there are Lenovo Vantage, McAfee LiveSafe, and Amazon Alexa icons on the taskbar. Beyond that, there are 7 Lenovo-branded utilities (plus Smart Note for the pen) in the Start menu, three Intel utilities, and a few other hardware-related utilities, but no real crap.

The Yoga 9i weighs almost 3.1 pounds, which is actually a bit heavy for a 14-inch Ultrabook these days, but I think the quality of the materials and its 16:10 design explain and justify that. I’m looking forward to traveling with it in April.

More soon.

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