Lenovo Yoga Book 9i hands-on review: Goodbye folding screen

Foldable screens on laptops have had their moment in the limelight. But Lenovo introduced a laptop at CES 2023 that has the same use case and form factor, but a completely different approach.

Instead of one big foldable screen, the Yoga Book 9i has two 4K OLED screens that fold together. It is very similar to Microsoft’s Surface Neo device, which was canceled in 2020.

Two displays of Yoga Book 9i on a table.

But with the Yoga Book 9i, the concept is alive and well — and it’s every bit as engaging as I always hoped it would be.

Not unlike the ThinkPad X1 Fold, the Yoga Book 9i can be used in a variety of different postures and modes, all of which require some unique engineering solutions to work.

The key to unlocking all of its capabilities is this origami stand, which folds together magnetically and allows the Yoga Book 9i to be set up in some unique ways. The magnets all feel strong, allowing it to fold down into the shape of a pencil pouch. There’s no doubt that the designers learned a few things from working on the ThinkPad X1 Fold, I think.

Once you have the origami unfolded, you can prop the device into portrait mode, where both screens are facing you. Considering they’re both 16:10 13-inch screens, that’s a lot of vertical screen real estate — and it’s definitely the most visual way to set this thing up.

Just as easily, you can flip the screen vertically for simultaneous multitasking. Windows handles two screens natively except, of course, that you manage the individual windows the same way you would an external monitor.

Either way, the detachable keyboard certainly magnetizes the stand. My only complaint about these modes? I felt like I needed a wireless mouse or something to really take advantage of controlling both screens independently. You can’t just drag a window from one screen to another, so the idea of ​​multitasking in this mode seems impractical.

The Yoga Book 9i's digital keyboard.

But don’t worry. The Yoga Book 9i offers ways to use it for even better control. For example, you can put it in laptop mode and slide the magnetic keyboard down just above the screen. From there, you’ll find some freestanding widgets or a digital touchpad. It gives you a complete laptop experience when you need it.

Lenovo also designed a digital keyboard that could be used, and surprisingly, it wasn’t terrible. Each of the keys has some haptic feedback, which feels surprisingly tactile. It’s not perfect, but it might be the best virtual laptop or tablet keyboard ever. The left and right click buttons on the digital touchpad offer some feedback as well. It impressed me more than anything.

Yoga Book 9i is an amazing dual screen laptop! #Shorts

The whole thing is a really attractive package too. Where the ThinkPad X1 Fold and Asus ZenBook Fold 17 felt a bit lifelike with their thick bezels and highly layered (and reflective) screens, the Yoga Book 9i looks like a modern piece of kit.

It’s very slim at 0.63 inches thick and weighs only three pounds. It’s no more than a standard 13-inch laptop, despite the extra screen.

Profile shot of the Yoga Book 9i.

Under the hood, the Yoga Book 9i has pretty much everything you’d expect in even a modern laptop. A 13th-gen Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB or 1TB of storage.

Other important features include a 1080p webcam up top and four speakers. The Yoga Book 9i brings the Hinge soundbar from the Yoga 9i 14. It turns out to be a great location for the speaker, especially with this screen in vertical mode – although I wasn’t necessarily too impressed with the audio.

The laptop also comes with an 80-watt-hour battery, and it charges entirely via USB-C. And sorry, it doesn’t have a headphone jack.

The Yoga Book 9i will be available from June 2023 for $2,100.

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