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Lenovo Yoga Book C930 Review: An Expensive, Compelling Companion

If you’ve been following Matridox over the past few years, you know that I love the Yoga Book. It’s by no means a perfect device (there’s a flaw for every good feature, after all), but it’s so futuristic and fun to use that I can’t help but love it. I’ve reviewed both the Android and Windows 10 versions in the past, with those pieces getting huge spikes in traffic thanks to folks like you.

Now, almost a year after it came out, I’ve gotten a chance to review the updated Yoga Book C930. There’s only a Windows 10 model this time around, but they made the right call. Having a product that comes in two separate models with two completely different operating systems can be confusing to the end customer, whereas the single model gets right to the point and makes the decision for you.

In a nutshell, the YogaBook C930 takes me back to the days of reviewing the original Yoga Book. It’s just as interesting to use day in and day out, and I’ve loved carrying it around. Can it replace your laptop? No. Is it cheap? Certainly not. But does it make for a nice companion to your digital lifestyle? Absolutely.

The biggest plus side to owning a Yoga Book C930 is enjoying just how portable it is. It weighs just 1.71 pounds (775 grams) and is 9.9mm thin. This is the perfect recipe for becoming susceptible to forgetting whether you remembered to pack your Yoga Book. It’s just that small and light.

In case you didn’t own the previous Yoga Book, let me stress to you just how hard it was to open it without looking like you’re trying to pry two wooden boards apart due to super glue. It is awkward, difficult, and cumbersome. With the new Yoga Book C930, however, the process of opening its lid is elegant, easy, and feels natural.

To open the lid, you knock twice on the top of it. This activates a sort of reaction between the two magnets that hold the device together to spring the device to life. Of course, you can also try to pry it open with your bare hands, but the knock-knock method of revealing the gadget’s dual displays looks way cooler. Everyone I’ve shown this feature to has been blown away, and at least for the first few times you use it, you’ll probably drop your jaw as well.

Speaking of which, yes, the Yoga Book C930 opts for dual displays, whereas the first Yoga Book stuck with one. This is because Lenovo replaced the keyboard/sketchpad Wacom digitizer of olden days with an E-ink 10.8-inch 1080p screen. This is paired with a 10.8-inch 2560×1600 IPS main screen that’s quite good-looking and boasts bright colors. Neither display looks cheap or unpleasant, and thank God, because this thing costs $1,000.

For that $1,000, the Yoga Book C930’s dual displays aim to offer more versatility than ever before. With the normal Quad HD display, you get a full-fledged Windows 10 experience that packs in all the normal apps and services you’re used to. On the E-ink side, you get a sketchbook that’s compatible with the included stylus, an e-reader, and a keyboard that offers visual feedback.

That last feature is important. Whereas the first Yoga Book simply responded to keypresses with vibrations and sound, the C930 also does so with visual feedback that makes it look almost like you’re typing on a real, mechanical keyboard. It’s still flat, mind you, and the vibrations don’t help a lot, but it’s much more visually appealing this time around, and I can’t help but appreciate that.

Whether this means your experience typing on the Yoga Book C930’s glass will improve depends on how much typing you plan to do with it. I’m constantly writing reviews and features for Matridox, and more often than not, I spend hours on end compiling drafts and making document changes. Because of this, despite the improvements Lenovo has implemented, typing on the Yoga Book C930 isn’t something I enjoy. Granted, entering passwords and replying to emails is okay, but do anything more than that and you’ll find yourself wanting to return to a proper, physical keyboard.

Near the bottom of the E-ink display on the Yoga Book C930, you’ll find a trackpad that’s present while you’re using it and disappears when you begin typing. This is another plus to having a keyboard that can shape-sift. The original Yoga Book had to stick to a cutout portion of its bottom panel for touchpad input. But the new C930 is able to handle multiple layouts, making a disappearing trackpad possible and much appreciated.

Whenever I think about typing on the Yoga Book C930, I always envision this device as being an alternative to, say, a proper laptop or desktop. It can’t replace either of them because using the device isn’t as satisfying. But I can tell you it’s way better than using your phone or a standard tablet with a single screen. All in all, the C930 is more of an extension of your typing experience, not a replacement.

This point is even more evident when you consider everything else the E-ink side of the C930 can do. In the top right-hand corner of the screen, you’ll find a few different options that let you use the panel as an e-reader or a sketchpad. The e-reader side supports different e-book formats including EPUB and MOBI, while the sketchpad lets you take notes or doodle. I recommend only taking notes with the standard screen since the latency between the pen and the E-ink display is pretty noticeable, but at least the feature’s there.

While we’re talking about note-taking, you do that with the included stylus which can be mounted to a magnetic portion of the Yoga Book C930’s lid. It’s not the most elegant, by any means, and it’s easy to lose track of the pen when you slot the device into a backpack. But at least you get an official way to store the pen with this generation, whereas the previous model didn’t include such a feature.

Altogether, this might be the most versatile keyboard you’ll ever use. Sure, there’s no backlight which makes using this screen in the dark next to impossible, only certain file formats can be displayed in the e-reader, drawing is a bad idea, and editing screenshots you take on the main screen is kind of pointless, but it’s still cool. This entire panel could replace your notebook alone. Heck, if Lenovo sold just this portion of the Yoga Book, I’d buy it. That’s how cool it is.

Then there’s an entire computer attached to the rest of the Yoga Book C930. Inside, Lenovo includes an Intel Core i5 Y-series processor which was designed for thin-and-light, fanless machines like this. You also get 4GB of RAM and up to 512GB of SSD storage. I was given a model with 128GB which is enough for what you’re probably gonna use this device for. If you buy a model with less storage than you need, there’s always a microSD card slot.

Performance on the Yoga Book C930 is okay. You can’t edit video or play graphics-heavy games, but why would you on a device like this anyway? This gadget is specifically built to handle common tablet tasks like reading emails, surfing the web, and watching movies. It has enough power to do just that. It’s also built to provide sufficient power to handle the sketchpad and e-reader portions of the additional E-ink interface. Again, the C930 passes. For what it’s designed to do, the C930 has enough power to handle it without slouching all that often.

I will say, however, 4GB of RAM is becoming a bit cumbersome. In the age where even our phones are shipping with more than 10GB of RAM, I think Lenovo could’ve at least included 8GB of memory. That way, when I have multiple Chrome tabs open, I won’t have to remember to shut them down every time I want to open another app. Make that one change with the next generation and we’ll all be better off.

As far as ports go, Lenovo includes two USB-C port on the left and right sides. That’s it. There is no headphone jack on the Yoga Book C930. I definitely thought Lenovo would permanently include this port throughout the lifespan of the Yoga Book brand, but I guess that assumption was too premature. Oh well.

On the bright side, you get some pretty decent speakers with this device. There are stereo grilles on either side of the device that produce a pretty rich and full sound. Mind you, they still sound like they’re projecting from a 5mm frame (which they are), but for what it’s worth, they’re decent enough to use for watching movies or playing some music.

Battery life is pretty good with the Yoga Book C930. Lenovo says you can expect up to 8.6 hours of usage when using both displays, and I have to say, I’ve reached that mark a few times. It’s been more like 7-8 hours of usage before I have to recharge, but I have gone beyond eight hours a few times which isn’t half bad, especially considering how thin and light this machine is. To recharge, you use the USB-C port on the left with the included 18W charger.

Like I said earlier, the Yoga Book C930 doesn’t necessarily set out to replace anything. Moreso, it sets out to compliment whatever workflow you already have. It can’t replace your laptop, it can’t replace your desktop, and you’ll probably like using an iPad more for tablet-centric things like watching movies. But if you want a thin and light mobile computer that can tackle the basics while on the go, the C930 can be that machine.

Is it worth $1,000? No. The processor isn’t up to speed, the E-ink’s cool but not $1,000 cool, and the overall experience isn’t as refined as some thousand-dollar laptops. But Lenovo regularly has this thing discounted on its website. As I type this review, it costs just $756.79 to pick one of these guys up. That’s much more like what I envision the C930 actually costing. If Lenovo had launched it for $749, I can see it flying off the shelves.

If you can find it for less than $800, the Yoga Book C930 will serve as a great companion device, albeit an expensive one. It’s a glimpse into a future where we all do our work on > 10mm computers and complain about typing on glass. If you want to experience that future today, the C930 is the device to buy.

Rating: 7.5/10

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