Lenovo’s Yoga laptops need no introduction. Full 360-degree rotation, solid build quality and aspirations to be all the laptop anyone would ever need is a fair summary of the line. Lenovo has stretched the Yoga moniker across its professional and more consumer-oriented lines, with the Yoga 910 earning recent plaudits from ZDNet. The Yoga 720 comes in two screen sizes, and we chose the smaller 13.3-inch version of this laptop to review; there’s also a 15.6-inch model.
The Lenovo Yoga 720 is no shrinking violet. My review unit, finished in a bold, bright copper — top and bottom, inside and out — is certainly a head-turner. This is the only option available if you choose the entry-level model. Iron Grey is also available in the mid range, and if you opt for the top specification you can also have Platinum (see below for more detailed specifications).
What’s notably absent from this Yoga model is Lenovo’s distinctive ‘watchband hinge’, as seen in other Yoga laptops like the Yoga 910 and Yoga 900s. In those laptops, the multipart hinge is a standout design feature. Here we have a much more conventional hinge design, looking for all the world like that found on laptops that lack rotating screens. The 360-degree rotation is still smooth and reliable, however.
Lenovo has used plenty of metal in the build, making for a solid and tough laptop. There is some flex in the lid, but very little. Anyone who doesn’t mind risking the odd scratch to the metal shell should be able to get away without a protective sleeve when on the road.
On the underside four rubbery feet help anchor the Yoga 720 to a desk when you’re working in traditional laptop mode. They’re not very pretty to look at, and rather detract from the otherwise sleek lines of the metal chassis.
Solid build quality does mean that the Yoga 720 is relatively heavy: it weighs 1.3kg, which is only 100g less than the 13.9-inch Yoga 910. Like the 910, the Yoga has a very narrow screen bezels on three sides, so that the 13.3-inch display is crammed into a chassis that’s barely wider than the screen itself. The system measures 310mm wide by 213mm deep by 14.3mm thick.
In fact, the Yoga 720 is a great competitor for the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1, which was hailed at launch as the world’s smallest 13-inch 2-in-1 laptop. Dell’s XPS 13 does just undercut the Yoga 720 in every respect, measuring 304mm by 199mm by 13.7mm and weighing 1.24kg, but it’s considerably more expensive than the entry-level Yoga 720, costing £1,399.99 at the time of writing.
The keyboard is very comfortable to use, with a somewhat spongy feel and an understated click as you type. As usual, the keys have the characteristic Lenovo ‘belly’ that makes them a little bit easier to hit and lends the company’s keyboards a distinctive look.
The backlight has two intensity levels, controlled using a combination of Fn key and spacebar. This is so much more convenient than the arrangement some laptop-makers use, which requires you to find a particular Fn key and can be difficult in gloomy conditions.
The trackpad is large and responsive, and both of the mouse buttons click reassuringly when pressed. There’s a fingerprint scanner in the top right corner of the wrist rest.
Unfortunately the keys don’t recess or lock out when the Yoga 720 is switched into tablet mode. As usual when holding a 360-degree convertible in this orientation I felt I was putting undue pressure on the keys, which could cause damage in the long term. Having said that, this laptop’s 1.3kg weight means it’s unlikely to be used in tablet use for extended periods very often.
The Yoga 720 is compatible with Lenovo’s £74.99 (inc. VAT) Active Pen 2 which supports 4,096 pressure levels. The pen itself is nicely designed and comfortable to use, but the plastic holder that requires access to the single USB 3.0 port on the laptop is a disappointment. Lenovo needs to think again and find a better way to anchor the pen to the laptop. The current solution is neither practical nor in keeping with the laptop’s design.
The touchscreen has full HD resolution (1,920×1,080 pixels) on all but the most expensive model, which offers a 3,840-by-2,160 pixel display (see specs below). The screen extends almost to the edge of the chassis on the top and sides, which have 7mm and 5mm bezels respectively. The bottom bezel is much larger 28mm, but when working in tablet mode I found this vital: there must be somewhere you can grip without making accidental screen taps.
My main criticism of the screen is that it lacks brightness. The maximum brightness isn’t as high as I’d like, and the ‘suggested’ level — about 50 percent, which I use for battery life tests — is just about usable. Anything below this is too dull to work with.
Incidentally, anyone looking for serious graphics performance might want to take a look at the 15-inch version of the Yoga 720, which uses discrete graphics courtesy of the Nvidia’s GTX 1050 chipset. The 13.3-inch Yoga 720 reviewed here uses Intel’s integrated HD Graphics 620 GPU.
A pair of JBL speakers sit on the underside of the chassis, which is probably the worst location possible. With the Yoga 720 on my lap sound was terribly distorted and muffled. Working on a desktop is better as those aforementioned rubber feet lift the speakers a few vital millimetres from the desk itself. Sound quality in these optimal conditions is perfectly good enough, and there’s enough volume to suffice for video calls and presentations to small groups.
There are currently three version of the 13.3-inch Yoga 720 on offer at Lenovo’s UK website. My review sample was the mid-range model.
- Intel Core i5-7200U, Intel HD Graphics 620, 8GB RAM, Windows 10 Home, 13.3-inch 1,920 x 1,080 touchscreen, 256GB SSD
£949.99 (inc. VAT) / colour option: Copper
- Intel Core i7-7500U, Intel HD Graphics 620, 8GB RAM, Windows 10 Home, 13.3-inch 1,920 x 1,080 touchscreen, 256GB SSD
£1,099.99 (inc. VAT) / colour options: Copper, Iron Grey
- Intel Core i7-7500U, Intel HD Graphics 620, 16GB RAM, Windows 10 Home, 13.3-inch 3,840 x 2,160 touchscreen, 512GB SSD
£1,499.99 (inc. VAT) / colour options: Copper, Iron Grey, Platinum
Connectivity runs to a pair of USB Type-C ports and a single USB 3.0 port. One of the Type-C connectors is also the charge connector, and Thunderbolt 3 is supported. There’s also a 3.5mm headset jack. A notable omission is a MicroSD card reader.
The power button is on the right side of the chassis. When the laptop is in use this button has a white backlight that pulses if the laptop is on and its lid is closed. This is a neat reminder to power down, but might be annoying if it’s pulsing away on the other side of the room as you’re trying to sleep.
The laptop also sports a Novo button, which is a small hole into which you poke the end of a paper clip if the laptop ever fails to boot. It then launches into recovery mode. This has been a feature of Lenovo laptops for a while now and is a neat, user-friendly insurance policy.
Lenovo claims 10.5 hours of battery life for the full-HD-resolution Yoga 720, and my review sample acquitted itself very well. After eight hours’ use involving mainstream productivity workloads, I had depleted the battery to just 40 percent. This was done with the screen brightness set to ‘suggested’, which as noted earlier is not as bright as I would like. Still, even using a higher brightness setting I’d expect to get through a full day’s work on a single charge. For the top-end ultra-HD model, the battery life claim is 9.5 hours.
There’s a great deal to like about the Yoga 720, which is well built, with a good keyboard and excellent battery life. The positioning of the speakers is suboptimal, the absence of an SD card reader is frustrating, and screen brightness could go higher.
The top-end Core i7 model with 16GB of RAM and a higher-resolution screen is more expensive and will deliver shorter battery life, while the entry-level Core i5 model may not have the performance that many business users require. Lenovo sent us the mid-range model with a Core i7 and 8GB of RAM, which probably offers the optimal combination of price and performance.
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