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Can Lenovo's Yoga Book 9i finally make dual-screen laptops a thing?

Lenovo takes another crack at making a dual-screen laptop that's less conceptual futurism and more practical portable workstation -- and this one might hit.
Written by Michael Gariffo, Staff Writer on
Reviewed by Kelsey Adams
The Lenovo Yoga Book 9i (Gen 8) at CES 2023

The Yoga Book 9i is certainly one of the most compact ways to port around a dual-screen computing experience to date. 

June Wan/ZDNET

Out of Lenovo's CES 2023 laptop and desktop lineup, the standout product for me is, without question, the Yoga Book 9i. 

It's by no means the first attempt at a multi-screen laptop. The Asus Zenbook Pro 14 received solid praise from us late last year, and devices like Lenovo's own ThinkPad X1 Fold have taken the concept and attempted to accomplish something similar with a single, folding screen. 

But, at least so far, none of these attempts have really created what I, and many productivity enthusiasts like me, have been fantasizing about forever: a true dual-screen computing experience you can take on the road. Can the Yoga Book 9i change all that? Let's take a look...

Also: Lenovo's eye-catching Yoga Book 9i, Tab Extreme tablet and more

The real benefit of having a dual-screen setup is how often it saves you from having to swap between windows to get work done. We've all experienced the pain of having to slog through major projects on tiny laptop displays, endlessly switching between spreadsheets full of stats, emailed suggestions from colleagues, media assets, and so on. The whole process slows you to a crawl and makes you want to pitch that compact little PC out a window.

An Asus Zenbook Pro 15 Duo OLED laptop on a desk with two monitors, a mouse, and a pair of wireless headphones.

The Zenbook Pro 15 with its secondary screen raised. 

Asus

Attempts like the Zenbook Pro 14, or the 15-inch model seen above, can get us partway there by squeezing smaller secondary displays into their, let's be honest, somewhat hefty form factors. This approach helps with things like the video editing timelines Asus is fond of using in example photos, but it's not practical for something like the aforementioned spreadsheets and emails. 

Also: CES 2023 Day 2: The biggest reveals

Smaller secondary displays that sometimes take the place of a laptop's touchpad suffer from similar issues. 

Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED

Ultimately, does what you see above really seem more practical and usable than a plain old one-piece laptop with a normal hinge?

Asus

What about just having one giant foldable screen then? That's what several laptop makers, Lenovo included, attempted with models like the aforementioned ThinkPad X1 Fold or Asus' Zenbook 17 Fold, seen above. 

At first glance, both devices seem straight out of the future. But, just like those transparent displays sci-fi movies seem so obsessed with, you have to wonder... is this actually practical? 

The answer has been no for the majority of users. None of these models has really gained widespread traction, and while they're certainly novel, they don't scratch the same itch that a desktop setup with two similarly sized displays can.

I've expounded on the wonders of multi-monitor setups for getting stuff done at length, so I won't belabor the point here. But, I will say, it's taken too long for laptop makers to do the obvious thing and create a practical clamshell laptop with two discrete screens. 

The Lenovo Yoga Book 9i (Gen 8) at CES 2023

Does it look a little odd? Sure. But you might be looking at the best take on dual-screen laptops yet.

June Wan/ZDNET

The only products that have come close are secondary and tertiary monitor add-ons for normal laptops. While add-on screens like these might be practical for the truly dedicated road warrior, the majority of us would likely be blushing at the coffee shop, wondering how much of a doofus we look like while the Transformers sound effect plays in our head through the lengthy setup process they require.

Also: How to choose the right monitor layout for work

This is what makes the new Yoga Book 9i so unique: it doesn't require any absurd setups, and it doesn't need any unusually shaped, tiny screens that apps may or may not play well with. It's basically just two average-sized laptop displays, on a hinge, with all the necessary hardware needed to run them squeezed into a slim outer shell.

Lenovo Yoga Book 9i

The ability to turn the entire device into portrait mode means even tasks like coding or reading long messaging chains can be accommodated.

Lenovo

Of course, even this form factor, which seems like the most objectively usable way to take a dual-screen setup on the go, still requires some adjustment. The detachable Bluetooth keyboard will require you to lug along an extra accessory, and you'll still be limited to using the dual touchscreens or the optional Lenovo stylus for input, unless you also bring a mouse. 

Luckily, even if you forget everything else, you can still opt for an onscreen keyboard or virtual touchpad, though either will eat into the dual-screen real estate that makes this device so special.

As always, it'll be up to the consumers once the Yoga Book 9i comes out in June to decide if the company has finally answered the dual-screen laptop question correctly. It'll also depend on whether they think the specs, which you can find below, are worth the $2,100 asking price. If the reality of the Yoga Book 9i finally lives up to the massive potential of a truly useful dual-screen laptop, it might just be a bargain. 

Lenovo Yoga Book 9i specifications 

Processor(s)13th-generation Intel Core i7-U15
OSWindows 11 Home, Pro
GraphicsIntel Iris Xe
RAM16GB
Storage512GB, 1TB
Displaydual 13.3-inch 2.8K, 400 nits, OLED touch screens, DCI-P3 100%, 60Hz, 16:10 4-side narrow bezel (91% AAR), HDR, PureSight, Dolby Vision
Audio2 x 2W, 2x 1W Bowers & Wilkins speakers, Dolby Atmos
CameraFHD IR+RGB (5M USB) webcam with privacy shutter
Battery capacity80WHr
Battery lifeMobile Mark 2018: up to 7.3 hours • video playback: up to 10 hours (dual screen on 150 nits), up to 14 hours (single screen)
Dimensions11.78i x 8.03 x 0.63 inches (299.1 x 203.9 x 15.95mm)
Weight1.38kg
Hinge360°
ColorsTidal Teal
Ports3 x USB-C (full function, Thunderbolt 4)
WirelessBluetooth 5.2, Wi-Fi 6E
SoftwareWindows Hello, Cortana, Lenovo Vantage, Microsoft Office 365, Amazon Alexa

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