The touch activated dual-display Yoga Book C930 is a “one a kind” computing device that cannot be categorized under any existing market segment since it is neither a laptop nor a tablet and cannot be viewed only as a note-taking product or a 2-in-1 tablet. That is why, unlike our typical reviews, it is difficult to compare it to any mobile computing product currently available.
The successor of the first Yoga Book released in Q4 2016, the Yoga Book C930 shares some of its key features while delivering much more performance and a lot of enhancements, for a higher price tag: $949.99 MSRP for the base version (128GB), and $1049.99 for the 256GB model. The 2016 version was very affordable: Android $499 for the Android model (64GB) and $549 for the Windows one which lacked decent performance.
Similarly to the original Yoga Book, the secondary display houses the virtual keyboard, however, it is an E Ink touch display, and not a printed capacitive touch surface, that can switch from keyboard-mode to handwriting and drawing-mode without the need to add paper on top of the touch panel.
Besides the E Ink display supporting the Active Pen (Wacom AES support), the most noticeable changes from the previous model are the operating system and the SoC, Lenovo favored Windows 10 over Android for the Yoga Book C930 and upgraded the processor from an Intel atom x5-Z8550 to an Intel Core i5-7Y54 (See our specs comparison page).
We were very happy about this significant system upgrade, knowing that most computer tablet users require a full version of Windows for the productivity applications, with decent performance to work while on-the-go.
What’s new? Yoga Book C930 vs. the original Yoga Book
- Programmable keyboard (from users feedback): the original Yoga Book had a static “Halo” keyboard which was “printed” and could not be modified. The keyless keyboard is the primary reason why the computer was so thin, so it had to stay, but now, it is housed by an E Ink touchscreen HD display. The typing experience is much better than with the Yoga Book.
- Larger touchscreen with higher resolution, the main display is now 10.8” and QHD (2560 x 1600)- it was 10.1” FHD in the previous model > the larger form factor allows having a larger keyboard and more comfortable typing experience in the secondary E Ink display
- Now you can take notes on both displays without the need of a paper notepad: on the new E Ink display and the color LCD display – a much-requested feature by early adopters
- Knock twice on the screen or long press the volume down button to open slightly, it is convenient for one-hand operation
- Lenovo added an infrared fingerprint sensor at the top right corner of the E Ink panel
- Now the Lenovo Active Pen features 4096 pressure levels, supports Wacom AES technology and is included with some models
- Impactful upgrade: Core i5-Y754 (4.5W TDP)! From an Intel Atom X5 processor in the original 2016 version
- No more 8MP main camera – Lenovo kept the 2 MP HD webcam for video calls
- Removed Micro HDMI, micro USB, and 3.5mm audio jack ports to replace with two USB-C ports (3.1-gen1, both with charging capability.
- A hair thicker at 9.9mm (vs. 9.6mm) and heavier 775g (vs. 690g) than the previous version for much better performance.
- 10.8” QHD (2560 x 1600) IPS touchscreen with pen support. 400 NITs
- 10.8” FHD (1920 x 1080) Flexible E Ink Mobius touchscreen with pen support
- Lenovo Active Pen (4096 pressure levels)
- Intel 7th Generation Intel Core i5-7Y54 (1.20GHz, up to 3.20GHz with Turbo Boost, 4MB Cache)
- Integrated Intel HD Graphics 615 GPU
- 4GB LPDDR3 RAM
- 128GB SSD or 256GB SSD internal storage
- Ports: 2x USB-3.1(Gen1) Type-C and MicroSD slot
- 2MP HD Front camera with microphone for video calls
- Infrared fingerprint scanner
- 36 Wh battery capacity
- Windows 10 Home operating system
- Dolby Atmos sound – two speakers
- 217.94 x 260.4 x 9.9 (mm), 7.1″ x 10.25″ x 0.39”
- 775g (1.71 lbs)
- At launch in October, the price started at $999 for the 128GB version, and the 256GB version was $1049.99
Industrial Design (Excellent)
From the outside, the Yoga Book C930 looks like its predecessor, with a similar thin and light body made of magnesium alloy and aluminum, and still features the famous slim and sturdy “watchband” hinge with a different color. Lenovo opted for a more subtle dark grey with a few silver highlights, to replace the shiny silver and gold hinge.
The inside is totally different, mainly with the replacement of the capacitive surface housing the printed “halo keyboard” by a 10.8” FHD (1920 x 1080) Flexible E Ink Mobius touchscreen with Wacom-enabled Active Pen support.
Weighing only 775g, the 10.8″ 2-in-1 tablet is only 9.9 mm when closed and 4 mm at it slimmest edge when open. The new secondary E Ink touchscreen and the more powerful hardware configuration explains the 85g weight gain and the slight thickness increase (only 4 mm).
According to Lenovo, the 2016 3-axis “watchband” hinge was made of 130 different mechanical pieces and 5 different materials to allow laptops to be very thin and to swivel at 360 degrees. And it delivers on the promises: at 9.9 mm (0.39”), the Yoga Book C930 is only 1.4 mm (0.06”) thicker than the Surface Pro 6 without its Type Cover (detachable keyboard housed in the cover).
With the Yoga Book C930, Lenovo delivers an impressive build quality in an ultra-thin and swiveling clamshell form factor, a first in that category."AN IMPRESSIVE BUILD QUALITY IN AN ULTRA-THIN AND SWIVELING CLAMSHELL FORM FACTOR, A FIRST IN THAT CATEGORY"
Double-knock or long-press volume down to open with one hand
Perhaps to maintain the design language slim and clean, Lenovo renounced to add a small cutout to open with one hand, and instead allows users to double knock on the cover or long press the volume down button to do so. Some people may not like this innovative feature because they prefer to stick to their habits, in my opinion, the double knock may be a good alternative to open a clamshell laptop once you get used to it.
Infrared fingerprint scanner
Since Lenovo opted for a Windows 10 version, the addition of an infrared fingerprint scanner was an obvious choice in case some businesses requiring security features would select that device. I am thinking about architecture or design firms, for example. Infrared fingerprint sensors might be more forgiving to greasy fingers.
The choice of ports was a topic of complaints with the previous model, and Lenovo seems to have listened to the user feedback. The single micro USB and micro HDMI ports have been replaced by two USB-C 3.1 ports, both charging, which is a better configuration. Some people would regret the removal of the audio jack, however, the trend is gaining more traction like in the most recent smartphones. The volume rocker and the power button are located on the right side of the E Ink panel. From our daily usage, we know it would be more convenient to have them placed on the right side of the IPS display.
The microSD slot is located on the left side of the E Ink display, close to the hinge and to the other the USB-C 3.1 charging port.
E Ink Display with Keyboard, Handwriting, and E-reader
What sets the Yoga Book C930 apart from any 2-in1 tablet computer is its secondary 10.8 FHD touchscreen E Ink display featuring three modes: virtual keyboard, virtual notepad/sketchpad, and e-reader. You switch from one mode to the other by tapping the icons at the top right corner of the monochrome secondary display, and from there you can access the E Ink panel settings.
Virtual keyboard and Typing Experience – better than the original Yoga Book
The Yoga Book C930 is not designed for people who need to perform long writing sessions like writers or journalists. It is best suited for burst typing, for people who mostly like to use an ultra-compact laptop on-the-go, writing emails, browsing the web, consuming visual content and taking notes or sketching. The keyboard learns your habits to improve the experience over time. I have not used it for long enough to check the claim. Please note that E Ink technology cannot be backlit.
Sound and haptic feedback for the keyless keyboard
The keyless keyboard offers different types of feedback to replace the physical sensation of the key travel with sound or haptic feedback. The latter slows down the responsiveness while the sound is sufficient to make the experience comfortable.
Classic and Modern keyboard modes in black or white versions
The Classic mode delivers the easiest experience since it displays the touchpad at all time while the Modern layout offers larger keys but hide the trackpad by default, and make it appear in place of the space bar when taping the area below it, which makes the usage more difficult.
Typing experience and trackpad – fine for short typing sessions
To be fair, I am not an expert typist, and I know this keyboard may be frustrating for fast-typers. For instance, I started to write this review on the Yoga Book C930, but honestly, my productivity was much better on my large 30″ display and my regular keyboard.
The trackpad is a little tricky to use at first, due to the absence of physical click, however, when in Classic mode, it is easy to get used to the left and right “(silent) click,” and select sentences for copy/paste. The LCD touchscreen can also be used for many actions, such as closing/moving windows, right clicks, etc. That reduces the need for using the trackpad.
As a designer, I tend to be a lot more comfortable with a mouse than a trackpad, specifically when I edit photos and graphics in Photoshop, and I always carry a USB wireless mini mouse for my laptop when on-the-go. I tried it with the Yoga Book C930, and it worked well.
Handwriting and Sketching with the Lenovo Active Pen
Lenovo Active Pen – pairable with Bluetooth for buttons customization and presentation mode
The Wacom-enabled and AAA battery powered Lenovo Active Pen comes with some models of the Yoga Book C930 (make sure to check it before buying). Out of the box, the pen starts to work immediately with the E Ink panel and Windows Ink, or with One Note and Photoshop if you have installed those applications.
The Pen’s three buttons are customizable only if you pair the pen with the computer over Bluetooth. One neat option is the ability to set the pen to take screenshots by double-clicking the top button.
Taking Notes: amazing experience with high responsiveness on both displays
Taking notes with the Yoga Book C930 can be done on the E Ink panel or directly on the LCD touchscreen in various applications, such as One Note or Windows Ink apps (or any compatible applications available for Windows). The responsiveness is very fast on both displays, and the experience is superfluid.
Convert handwritten notes captured in E Ink into text: could be more simple
The Yoga Book C930 is a computing device specifically designed for people like me who do not like typing and would rather take handwritten notes with a paper-like experience that would convert to text easily. On the E Ink panel, the handwriting conversion to text is quite complicated and not very clearly explained neither in the help section nor in the user guides that you can find on Lenovo’s website. Fret not, I’ll explain how to do it:
How to convert Handwriting Ink to Text with the Yoga Book C930
- 1/ you write a sentence with the pen
- 2/ you select the sentence after clicking the lasso icon in the menu bar
- 3/ then you long press on the double-rectangle icon in the menu bar at the top until a drop-down menu appears
- 4/ click on the sub-menu “Copy as Text” (image-to-text conversion happens now)
- 5/ Open any application from the main RGB display such as word or powerpoint
- 6/ Select the past function in that application, then your sentence is pasted as text there.
- I am not sure if there is a way to convert multiple pages of notes into text at once. Anyhow, I hope that the Lenovo software team will release an update of the E Ink panel application to allow for direct handwriting to text conversion of multiple notes. Researching this device
Sketching: great experience on both displays
The Lenovo Active Pen enables great control over the stroke width variations according to pressure and angle, thanks to the 4.096 levels of pressure, the top standard in today’s stylus technology. It feels almost like sketching on paper, the best experience for me was with the medium-size pen. If you need to perform a long note-taking session, the E Ink technology is a lot more power efficient. Trying it with Photoshop (professional version) was a great experience as well, even working on a large file, the system was highly responsive. For instance, I love the drawing and note-taking experience provided by the 6.4” Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and its S-Pen, however, sketching on a larger 10.8” display is much more comfortable and produces more satisfying results.
E-reader does not support popular ebook formats, only PDF
Unfortunately, the E-reader mode does not support popular ebook formats Mobi, and EPUB formats did not work), and works only with PDF files, which is quite surprising for a modern E-reader.
Reading on an E Ink display may be better for the health, it is easy to convert ebooks to PDF
On the bright side, it is now very easy to convert Kindle ebooks into PDF files, and with the Yoga Book C930, you can do everything from your bed on one device. Granted that your ebook file is already on your computer, convert it to PDF in the browser, and comfortably read it on the integrated E Ink reader, which is now recommended by health professionals to avoid the exposure to blue light from regular displays (TVs, phones computers), because it might interfere with your sleep.
Lenovo is expected to support the ePub and Mobi ebook format next year (to be confirmed).
The user interface could be better as well, it is not that easy to adjust the zooming, and overall, besides reading, the user experience is less agreeable than what you get in the Kindle.
I hope that Lenovo will work on the E-reader app and provide a better software with an update next year.
High resolution and pixel density, good contrast with deep black
The larger 10.8” QHD IPS LCD tactile display delivers deep black levels and vivid colors. The glossy finish makes it reflective but enhances the color saturation. Lenovo pumped up the resolution from the last model, and the increased pixel density (280 PPi vs. 224) is nice to have and higher than the one found in the Surface Pro 6 (12.3” at 2736×1824 > 267 PPI).
Premium brightness level
The original boasted a high brightness at 400 NITs (according to Lenovo), and the new Yoga Book C 930 delivers 375 NITs as measured in our lab.
That level of brightness is very good for a laptop, 350 NITs and above is a range for premium devices like the Dell XPS 13 or the Surface Pro 6, with few of them reaching 500 NITS and above – think MacBook Pro, LG V40, Huawei P20 Pro and Mate 20 Pro smartphones.
Decent color gamut
The display has an 85% sRGB color gamut according to the technical specifications, and it definitely looks like it. It is slightly below the average for this price and might not be ideal for Creative applications that require a very accurate color reproduction. For sketching or casual video editing, it should be fine, and it’s no problem for casual gaming.
Lenovo kept the 2MP HD webcam for video conferencing at the top of the Quad-HD IPS display and got rid of the 8MP main camera previously placed on the keyboard panel.
The side mounted speakers deliver a great sound quality with a surprisingly good volume and sound quality for such an ultra-thin chassis. The device features Dolby Atmos support.
Lenovo favored Windows over Android for this unique compact computing machine, and with this new model, you get Windows 10 Home, which is Windows full version for consumers. As described in the keyboard and handwriting paragraph earlier, the E Ink display features proprietary software that allows to switch from a virtual keyboard to a note-taking and sketching application and finally an e-reader.
A laptop processor inside a tiny dual-screen fanless and swiveling form factor!
Managing to integrate an Intel 7th generation Core i5-7Y54 (4.5W TDP) in a fanless ultra-thin and ultra-light dual-screen clamshell design with a keyboard is utterly difficult. The same processor powers the larger and much heavier 12.3” Pixel Book 2017, so, Lenovo probably faced extreme challenges to package it in this tiny foldable computer.
From the benchmarks we suspect that Lenovo had to throttle the performance to make the thermals work, the consequence is the Pixel Book 2017 is slightly faster with the same SoC.
The closest device we can compare to this dual-display tiny swiveling computing machine is the 12.3” Microsoft Surface Pro 6, which features a larger form factor and is thicker (10.7 mm) when you include its Type Cover that houses the keyboard.
Many people commented on the better performance delivered by the Microsoft device, thanks to its the 8th generation Intel Core i5-8250U or i7-8650U (15W TDP). We know that it is easier to house a powerful processor in a larger and thicker chassis that is not split in half, specifically to accommodate the thermals.
A great performance upgrade compared to the original Yoga Book
Lenovo came up with two versions of its original Yoga Book, one featuring Android and the other running on Windows. However, the Intel Atom x5-Z8550 was not powerful enough to make the Windows experience sufficiently fast for most users, so we reviewed the Android model.
In the Geekbench 4 chart below you can see how much performance gain the new CPU (in green) delivers compared to the predecessor (in purple). (processor benchmark)When compared to other 13” and 14” clamshell laptops featuring more muscular processors such as the Dell XPS 13 (9370), you can see on the PC Mark 8 Home that the new Yoga Book C930’s performance is closer to a larger laptop performance than the previous Yoga Book.
Perceived performance: very powerful for the size
We tested the system with compute-hungry applications, such as photo editing and drawing using Photoshop with multiple files open (one was high-resolution 24MP 6000×4000) while multiple tabs were open in the browser as well as on Word file. The Yoga Book C930 could manage well, although it was a little slower than a top laptop configuration only for opening the files. The performance was great for photo editing and drawing. We recommend to perform note-taking sessions on the E Ink display without Photoshop running.
Please note that I tested the system with Photoshop (professional version) because some people would probably like to draw using Photoshop’s fantastic tools. However, this device is not targeted as a primary computer for imaging professionals (i.e., photographers, videographers). It is not suitable for long and complex sessions of photo editing on hundreds of images simultaneously. The Yoga Book C930 is fine for editing smaller batches of high-resolution photos.
With a battery capacity of 36WH and a battery life estimated at 8 hours with Mobilemark 2014 by Lenovo, on the paper, the Yoga Book C930 is on par with our experience working on various Windows laptops. In real life, battery depletion speed is so highly dependable on which workload and type of tasks you perform that it is nearly impossible to estimate any “average” duration.
We measured the battery usage under various workloads, so those examples might be good indicators to estimate what it would look like for different users.
Intense workload with WiFi on – 6 to 7 hours of battery life
1/ Using Photoshop for drawing, Word open, Internet browser open over wifi, multitasking back and forth on both displays, measured during one hour: the battery dropped by 14%
Which means that the Yoga Book C930 would last for 7 hours and 14 minutes on a single charge. (If we consider the battery depletion as linear under a similar workload)
2/ Downloaded Chrome and Firefox and typed text on a Google doc, multiple tabs open, WiFi on, measured during 51 minutes: the battery dropped by 13 %
Under a linear battery depletion rate with a similar workload, the battery would last for 6 hours and 4 minutes.
In our experience multitasking on Windows laptops powered by Intel processors (with WiFi on), we never got more than 5 to 6 hours of battery life, which is similar to what the reviewers at Windows Central found for the Surface Pro 6 using the PC mark 8 test.
Ultra minimal workload with WiFi on – 19 hours 33 minutes of battery life
When measured for four hours and thirty minutes with some internet browsing, sketching for a limited amount of time on Photoshop and taking notes back and forth on both displays with WiFi on, and on sleep mode in between short work sessions, the battery dropped by 23%.
Under a linear battery depletion rate with a similar workload, the battery would last for 19 hours and 33 minutes.
We did not try multitasking with only the E Ink display on and no WiFi for an hour, so we do not know how the battery would perform under that particular workload.
Deep sleep with WiFi on – 3% battery drop in 18 hours
When on deep sleep with WiFi turned on during 18 hours (automatically connected before and after going into deep sleep), the battery dropped by 3%.
Slow Charging – 2 hours to charge in full
The charging time is quite disappointing, at 0.3 Wh per minute (18Wh/hour) it takes about two hours to fully charge the Yoga Book C930. This is below average performance and way slower what Lenovo usually delivers for its Windows laptops. For example, the ThinkPad T480 charges at 0.9 Wh per minute (54 Wh/hour) and is fully charged in about one hour.
The Lenovo Yoga Book C930 is an extremely innovative laptop built with two distinct features:
1/ an extremely light and small clamshell design
2/ a unique E Ink secondary display.
These would be the reasons why consumers are contemplating a purchase.
E Ink provides a unique visual experience that LCD or OLED display can’t mimic. Many people just love that feeling, and they might not want to carry a dumb ebook device for that. In a footprint that’s comparable to an E Ink ebook (like the $550 Onyx Book), you can get a full-blown Windows computer which is surprisingly powerful for its size."AN EXTREMELY INNOVATIVE LAPTOP"
The clamshell chassis stands in stark contrast with the legions of tablet-like devices that get only thicker and heavier after you add the keyboard. Clamshells also give users much more control over the orientation of the display.
As with any product not designed for the masses, there are trade-offs such as relatively high price, typing speed, computing power, number of ports, etc.,
In the end, this laptop is targeted for a niche market, and it seems like you have done your homework. Thanks for reading!
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