There once was a time when 2-in-1 laptops were the very definition of compromise. Yes, they boasted the lighter weight and portability of a notebook. And yes, they offered the convenience of tablet-style touch functionality. Oftentimes, however, that all came at the expense of computing muscle.
Then you’ve got the Lenovo Yoga 9i.
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Part of the latest crop of premium 2-in-1 offerings to hit the market, the Yoga 9i features excellent performance on top of the familiar advantages that convertible laptops hold. Is that extra computing power enough? And is it worth the extra price tag? We take the Yoga 9i to the mat to find out.
Solid design and audio chops
Looks may not be everything but it apparently was a priority when it came to the design of Lenovo’s Yoga 9i.
The leather version of the laptop that we tested exudes a premium feel thanks to its excellent build quality combined with its more luxurious finish. In addition to its aluminum chassis, this particular model also sports a comfortable palm rest with edge-to-edge glass as well as a Glass Sense touchpad. Its genuine leather lid cover also provides a nice contrast to the 9i’s metal accents, adding some warmth to its sleek yet otherwise cold industrial design.
The good vibes extend to the keyboard, which feels nice and responsive to the touch. Fan noise is also relatively quiet though not the quietest that we’ve tested. Its convertible hinge, meanwhile, does double duty as a means for enabling more tablet-like operation as well as housing a soundbar. Audio performance is definitely one of the highlights of the Yoga 9i, which has one of the best-sounding stock setups you’ll see in a small laptop. Audio from the soundbar has nice depth and separation between the mids, highs and lows, which makes for a pleasant listening experience right out of the box. Plug in some nice headphones or speakers and the Dolby Atmos-tuned sound shines even more. If you enjoy listening to music or watching video on your laptop, the Yoga 9i serves up a great audio experience. Just note that the soundboard hinge does not separate. This means that you can’t separate the display like you would, say, a Microsoft Surface 2-in-1.
While the excellent audio and beefy performance for a 2-in-1 make the Yoga 9i sound like a shoo-in as far as being a great multimedia device, it also suffers from a few niggles in that regard. Its webcam, for example, is just OK at 720p and lacks an infrared or IR camera for facial recognition and added security. The display — although nice overall — is not quite as brilliant as some top-of-the-line displays and could use additional brightness at its maximum setting. The form factor of its widescreen display also impacts one of the main selling points of the device. While the wider aspect ratio is nice for horizontal viewing, it’s admittedly narrow when flipped vertically in tablet mode.
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The Yoga 9i is also quite stingy when it comes to its number of ports. The laptop only comes with three connection slots in addition to its headphone and mic ports. You get one USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 connection, which is nice to have for folks who still use a lot of legacy peripherals and devices. It also comes with two USB-C 4.0 slots with Thunderbolt 4 support as well as DisplayPort and power delivery capability. One of those must be used for the power adapter when the laptop is plugged in, though, further lessening your available connection options.
One plus is the addition of a stylus, which can be conveniently stored in one of the corners of the Yoga 9i’s body. The stylus works quite well in tablet mode and charges in a jiffy. It also lasts for quite a long time on a single charge, making it conducive for longer sessions. Speaking of charging…
Battery life and performance
By nature of their smaller form factor and lighter weight, 2-in-1 laptops are excellent for being used on the go. There’s also one more key feature for any device to be considered a worthy road warrior. That would be battery life, which is something that the Yoga 9i has in spades.
Depending on your settings, this laptop can comfortably exceed 15 hours, which is enough to last a long road trip or even an intercontinental flight from San Francisco to Japan. Even at max display brightness and some performance settings turned up, the Yoga 9i still lasted several hours.
Performance, by the way, is another metric where the Yoga 9i shines. The model we tested featured an 11th Gen Intel i7-1185G7 quad-core 3GHz processor, Intel Iris Xe graphics and a 512GB solid-state drive. It’s a combination that proved to be quite zippy in performing various tasks. In fact, the Yoga 9i is among the top of the class for 2-in-1 laptops when it comes to a host of benchmarks for various activities. These include gaming as well as productivity work such as rendering and photo and video editing. While it might not be as powerful as larger laptops that are more geared toward such activities, the Yoga 9i is a great option for folks who are eyeing above-average performance while also putting a premium on portability. Admittedly, that convenience can come at a price depending on how you configure the device. Overall, though, the Yoga 9i compares favorably against its premium 2-in-1 competitors in the market.
Verdict: For folks looking for a convertible laptop with great performance and less of the compromises seen in older notebooks in the segment, the Yoga 9i is one of the best 2-in-1 laptops out there.
Jason Hidalgo covers business and technology for the Reno Gazette Journal, and also reviews the latest video games. Follow him on Twitter @jasonhidalgo. Like this content? Support local journalism with an RGJ digital subscription.
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