IFA is about to kick off in Berlin this week, and coupled with the introduction of Intel’s latest generation of processors, that means it’s time to gawk at a bunch of shiny new laptops and 2-in-1s! Lenovo is here with refreshes to their Yoga and Miix lines of 2-in-1s, and while all their new devices are getting the usual upgrades, it’s the beauty on the outside that’s catching our eyes.
Lenovo and Star Wars have decided to be best buds in 2017 — on top of the augmented reality headset experience they’re working on together, the upcoming Yoga 920 2-in-1 is getting special edition Rebel and Alliance designs. The Yoga 900 series is the best of the best for Lenovo, too — this is their ultra-thin 2-in-1 with high-end laptop specs and their trademark watchband 360-degree hinge. The Star Wars designs will be part of Lenovo’s line of special edition Gorilla Glass cover designs, which will feature glass backs along with the usual aluminum builds. Otherwise, the device will come in bronze, copper, or silver.
Inside, this is more or less the same 900 series we’re used to, albeit ever so slightly lighter and thinner. It’s got the same 13.9″ display, which comes standard with a 1080p IPS panel with a 4K option. The display is paired with JBL speakers and Dolby Atmos processing, which should make for a great all-around entertainment experience. We’ve got the expected bump up to an 8th generation Intel Core i processor, backed with either 8 GB or 16 GB of RAM and up to 1 TB of PCIe SSD storage. Lenovo says you should expect 10.8 hours of battery life with a 4K display and 15.5 hours with a 1080p display.
There are some pretty sweet unexpected upgrades from last year’s model, too. There are now two USB Type-C Thunderbolt 3 ports, so we’re looking at much faster transfer speeds. A DisplayPort will make it easy to hook the Yoga 920 up to an external monitor, if need be. Better yet, Lenovo has reversed course on their unpopular decision to move the front-facing camera to the bottom of the display — it’s back up top again this time.
There’s one more interesting development for frequent Cortana users. Lenovo has used far-field microphones that allow you to issue voice commands to Cortana on the Yoga 920 from up to 13 feet away, even when the PC is asleep. That’s intriguing now that Microsoft is finally starting to turn Cortana into something more like Alexa. For security, the fingerprint scanner is back in the same spot in front of the keyboard, allowing you to use Windows Hello to log in.
For artists, Lenovo is offering the Lenovo Active Pen 2 as part of a bundle package with the Core i7 model. Introduced last year, Lenovo’s stylus has 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity, making it a really nice tool for sketching (the only knock is the lack of tilt detection).
The Yoga 920 is being joined by the 12″ Yoga 720. This more modest 2-in-1 still has a 360-degree hinge, just not the fancy watchband hinge from the 900 series. This 12.5″ machine can only be configured with up to 8 GB of RAM and 512 GB of SATA SSD storage, and sticks with last year’s 7th generation Intel Core i processors. This one also doesn’t have a 4K option, with just the standard 1080p panel available. Lenovo is putting battery life for the 720 at up to eight hours.
The 720 won’t quite be the same multimedia powerhouse from an audio standpoint, either. We’re looking at Harman speakers with Dolby Audio processing, not Dolby’s more impressive, immersive Atmos software. Artists can grab a pen with this one, too, but the bundled stylus won’t quite be as smooth as the one coming with the 920.
The more Microsoft Surface-like Miix line is also getting a new family member in the Miix 520. Like the Surface line, the Miix 520 has a fold-out kickstand from the back with a detachable keyboard and a pen. The starting price is a bit higher than that of the Surface, but there’s good reason — both the keyboard and pen (Lenovo’s top-notch Active Pen 2) are included.
The Miix 520 builds on the Miix 510, introducing an upgrade to 8th generation Intel Core i processors, which are joined by 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of PCIe SSD storage. It’s still a step below the Miix 700 series, which is distinguished by high-res displays — the Miix 520 can only be configured with a 12.2″ 1920 x 1200 IPS display. Lenovo says to expect 7.5 hours of battery life out of this one.
The far-field mics, which really seem to be Lenovo’s key new feature this year, are also present in the Miix 520. That gives Lenovo a whole lineup of devices that can essentially act like smart home speakers, just with Cortana instead of Alexa. Unique to the Miix 520 is LTE connectivity, thanks to a little Nano SIM slot on the side that looks refreshingly easy to access. Lenovo has also added a fingerprint scanner this time, making the Miix 520 much more fully featured than the Miix 510.
The lightweight form factor and the high quality stylus should make the Miix 520 attractive for digital artists, but here’s another little surprise. Using the Miix 3D camera and the MagicWindow app with the 8 MP rear camera, you can snap shots of real world objects and drop those scans into the projects you work on. It’ll probably amount to a fun novelty, but hey, nothing wrong with that.
All three new Lenovo devices will be available in October. The Yoga 920 will start at $1,330, while the Yoga 720 and the Miix 520 will start at $650 and $1,000, respectively.
Check out more of our IFA 2017 coverage right here!