Lenovo Yoga C930 review: Flagship 2-in-1 flirts with greatness

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  • Editors' rating
    9.0 Outstanding
  • $1,079.99

Pros

  • Solid chassis
  • Great speakers
  • Good battery life
  • A stylus housing that works

Cons

  • Minimal ports and connectors
  • Screen could be more vibrant

The Yoga C930 is Lenovo's flagship 2-in-1 ultraportable and has a starting price of £1,199.99 (inc. VAT), rising to £1,499.99. Its 360-degree-rotating 13.9-inch touchscreen includes Dolby Vision, which delivers "brighter brights, blacker blacks, and colours never before seen on standard displays" according to Lenovo's website. You also get a stylus, and there are pleasant surprises when it comes to speakers and battery life.

The Yoga C930 exhibits all the design prowess we're used to seeing from Lenovo. The 'Iron Gray' chassis of my review sample was nearly black, while the 'Mica' alternative is a lighter, more silvery grey. Either way, it provides a very solid shell for the innards. The lid is perhaps a little thick (4.5mm according to my measurements), but it doesn't bend or bow in the hands.

The Yoga C930 measures 322mm wide by 227mm deep by 14.5mm thick (at its thinnest), and weighs 1.38kg. It is not too large or too heavy for a small backpack, and considering the chassis packs in a 13.9-inch screen, it's pretty tidily designed.

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Top: the offset, angled design of the screen and keyboard sections make it easy to open up the laptop. Bottom: instead of the 'watchband' hinge, the Yoga C930 has a Rotating Sound Bar.

Images: Lenovo

The top and base sections are offset, a design feature accentuated by an angle at the long front edge. This also makes it easier to open the laptop one-handed. At the back, the distinctive 'watchband' hinge from previous Yoga models is replaced by a Rotating Sound Bar that creates a visual break between the two sections, while also allowing for the 360-degree rotation.

As its name suggests, the new mechanism not only hinges the top and bottom sections, but it also holds the speakers. This means sound pumps out towards you when you're working in laptop mode, and upwards when in tent mode. It's a neat solution to getting sound travelling in the right direction depending on the usage mode.

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The Rotating Sound Bar delivers audio to the user efficiently in all of the Yoga C930's usage modes -- laptop, tent, tablet and presentation.

Image: Lenovo

We're not talking about a couple of speakers here: the Rotating Sound Bar includes a Dolby Atmos speaker system hidden beneath its grilles that delivers sound quality superior to anything I've heard from a laptop. Bass tones are rich and bouncy, voice sounds clear, and stereo is delivered well -- watch TV and that car off-screen to the right really sounds like it's to the right. At top volume, which is pretty loud for a laptop, there's only minor loss of fidelity. This is a true marriage of form and function: well done Lenovo.

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This all matters because Lenovo is keen to push the Yoga C930 as a multimedia computer, catering for those who want to consume video and work with images, whether for work or for leisure. This ties in with the attention paid to the screen.

The 13.9-inch IPS screen (1,920 x 1,080 pixels; 3,840 x 2,160 is also available) delivered sharp and clear content, and I was quite happy with the way it handled streaming video. But brightness doesn't seem to go as high as some, and while it's good the screen isn't outstanding in the same way as the speakers. Still, this is an impressive audio-visual pairing, and the screen's minimal side bezels and narrow top bezel add to the appeal.

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There's just enough room in the top bezel for a camera, which has a privacy shield that's activated by a small slider. When the camera is covered there's a tiny red dot in front of the lens. This is a simple, fit-for-purpose solution.

The keyboard uses Lenovo's distinctive pot-bellied keys and has a fairly springy action, with good bounce-back after keypresses. The keyboard is a bit 'clicky', and heavier-handed typists will generate more noise than light-touch ones. I had no trouble touch-typing at my regular speed.

The touchpad is large and responsive, and I have no complaints about its functionality. I would have liked a status light to let me know when I'd disabled it though.

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The housing for the Yoga C930's rechargeable stylus is a great improvement on previous solutions.

Image: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

The Yoga C930 comes with a rechargeable stylus that lives in a housing on the back of the chassis, just outside the hinge. It pops out nicely, and recharges when docked. I can't count the number of times I have grumbled at Lenovo's rather cack-handed way of handling stylus housing -- most recently in my review of the Yoga 730. This is a nicely designed laptop with some compelling features, but a stylus housing made of plastic that consumes a useful USB 3.0 port just won't do. The Yoga C930 has a much better solution, which I hope becomes the standard going forward.

Battery life really matters for a laptop that's supposed to deliver this kind of rich multimedia experience. It might be used for relatively long workplace presentations, or, after a hard day's work, to deliver some relaxing video streaming. Lenovo says the battery is good for up to 14.5 hours on models with the FHD screen (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) or 9 hours with the UHD display (3,840 x 2,160 pixels).

My review sample had the FHD option. After connecting to wi-fi and working with web-based apps for two hours, plus a little media streaming, the battery depleted by just 13 percent. Screen brightness was on its default 'suggested' setting, which I felt the screen was a little dull. Moving up two notches -- from 'brighter' to 'brightest' -- and working for another two hours saw battery life fall by a further 15 percent, giving a total depletion over a four-hour period of 28 percent. By this reckoning, many users should be able to get a full working day on battery power.

There are several preconfigured variants of the Yoga C930 available on Lenovo's UK website, and also user-configurable options. My review sample didn't match any of the off-the-page models. Here are the entry-level and top-end models:

  • Intel Core i5-8250U, Windows 10 Home, 13.9-inch 1,920 x 1,080 pixel touch screen, Intel UHD Graphics 620, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD
    £1,199.99 (inc. VAT; £999.99 ex. VAT)
  • Intel Core i7-8550U, Windows 10 Home, 13.9-inch 3,840 x 2,160 pixel touch screen, Intel UHD Graphics 620, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD
    £1,499.99 (inc. VAT; £1,249.99 ex. VAT)

It's good to see 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage as the 'table stakes' -- these make the entry level option a more viable one than in those instances where these two components are halved. All variants have a fingerprint reader, sitting to the far right of the wrist rest area.

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The scarcity of ports on the Yoga C930 could be an issue for some users.

Image: Lenovo

Lenovo is less than generous when it comes to expansion options. There are two USB-C Thunderbolt ports, one of which doubles as the main power input, a single USB 3.1 port and a 3.5mm headset jack. And that's it. A minimal selection.

Conclusions

The Lenovo Yoga C930 is a laptop that almost manages to tick every box: tough yet reasonably lightweight; superb sound output and a good screen; a well-designed keyboard; a privacy cover for the camera; and plenty of storage and power even in the entry level unit. On top of all that, there's a good storage solution for the provided stylus, and -- at least with the FHD model -- all-day battery life.

On the downside, the screen doesn't quite live up to Lenovo's claims for it, and there's a shortage of ports and connectors. Overall though, this is a good laptop that's just shy of being a great one.

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Specifications

System
Notebook Type 2-in-1

Where To Buy

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Where To Buy

Lenovo Yoga C930 (81C4CTO1WWENUS1)

Part Number: 81C4CTO1WWENUS1