Lenovo

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen2 Review

In 2016, the first Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Yoga (which I reviewed) was released in the ThinkPad lineup. It was my pick of laptops, being a solid all-rounder.

It’s 2017 now, and the second generation of this laptop has been out for a few months now. You can buy it straight from Lenovo or other suppliers… but is it still as good, and what’s changed in this latest generation?

Let’s start with the tech specs:

Processor
  • 7th Gen Intel® Core™ i5-7200U Processor (3M Cache, 2.5GHz, max. 3.1GHz)
  • 7th Gen Intel Core i5-7300U Processor (3M Cache, 2.6GHz, max. 3.5GHz), vPro
  • 7th Gen Intel Core i7-7500U Processor (4M Cache, 2.7GHz, max. 3.5GHz)
  • 7th Gen Intel Core i7-7600U Processor (4M Cache, 2.8GHz, max. 3.9GHz), vPro
Operating System
  • Windows 10 Home 64-bit
  • Windows 10 Pro 64-bit – Lenovo recommends Windows 10 Pro.
Display
  • 14″ FHD (1920×1080), glossy, 270 nits, 700:1 contrast ratio, narrow bezel FHD panel (on models with no WWAN only), IPS
  • 14” WQHD (2560×1440), glossy, 270 nits, 700:1 contrast ratio, IPS
Multi-Touch
  • Capacitive touch panel, supports 10-finger gesture
Hinge / mode
  • Yoga hinge, 360 degree / Laptop, tent, stand and tablet
Pen
  • ThinkPad Pen Pro
Graphics
  • Intel HD Graphics 620 in processor only, supports external digital monitor via HDMI or USB Type-C; supports 3 x independent displays; max. resolution: 4096×2304@60Hz (USB Type-C), 4096×2160@24Hz (HDMI)
Adaptor (optional)
  • HDMI to VGA adaptor
  • USB-C to VGA adaptor
  • USB-C to DisplayPort adaptor
Memory
  • 8GB / 16GB, LPDDR3 1866MHz, soldered to systemboard
Webcam
  • HD 720p resolution, fixed focus
  • IR camera and HD 720p camera (option is available on models with narrow bezel FHD panel only)
Storage
  • M.2 SSD / SATA 6.0Gb/s: 128GB
  • M.2 SSD / PCIe NVMe: 256GB OPAL2 / 512GB OPAL2 / 1TB OPAL2
Optical drive
  • None
Dimensions (W x D x H)
  • FHD/WQHD: 333 x 229 x 17.05 mm
Weight
  • FHD/WQHD: 1.42 kg
Case colour
  • Black
  • Silver
Case material
  • Carbon-Fibre Hybrid
Battery
  • 4-cell integrated battery (56Wh)
Battery life
  • FHD: up to 15 hours
  • WQHD: up to 14 hours
AC adaptor
  • 45W Type-C
  • 65W USB Type-C (support Rapid Charge)
Keyboard
  • 6-row, multimedia Fn keys, spill-resistant, wave keyboard, backlit
UltraNav
  • TrackPoint® pointing device and multi-touch with 3+2 buttons click pad
Fingerprint reader
  • Touch style fingerprint reader on keyboard bezel
Audio support
  • HD Audio, Dolby® Audio Premium / stereo speakers, 2W x 2 / dual array microphone, combo audio/microphone jack
Ethernet
  • Gigabit Ethernet via Ethernet (RJ-45) adaptor
Wireless LAN
  • Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265, 2×2, Wi-Fi + Bluetooth® 4.1, M.2 Card
  • Intel Tri-Band Wireless-AC 18265, 2×2, WiGig™ + Wi-Fi + Bluetooth® 4.1, M.2 Card (available only on models configured with vPro processor)
Wireless WAN
  • Sierra EM 7430 (optional)
SIM card slot
  • Micro-SIM card slot (models with 4G card only)
NFC
  • None
Ports
  • 2 x Intel Thunderbolt 3
  • 3 x USB 3.0 (1 x AlwaysOn)
  • HDMI
  • microSD
  • microSIM (models with 4G card only)

Processor wise, we’ve jumped a generation too, now on the 7th Gen Intel series of CPUs. Pretty standard there. The 8th Gen has already started releasing Q4 2017, but that’s early days with both series being released in the same year, and companies like Lenovo need time to incorporate these into their products.

The display options are good too, the two resolutions I’m happy to pick from. OLED is supposed to be available, but I have personally not seen one in real life, nor can I find any information in Lenovo’s tech specs on it, so you’ll have to read some other reviews to get a take on that. From everything I’ve read though, it’s highly praised. Hopefully I’ll get to see one soon!

Touchscreen, 360 degree hinges and the stylus are standard again, which makes this device particularly versatile. It’s still my preferred style of hybrid laptop/tablet as no functionality is lost in laptop mode, and you don’t need to undock/dock and worry about where half the device gets stored.

Graphics is still on board, which these days is more than enough unless you’re doing high end graphic design or gaming. Having a full HDMI port is nice too, instead of finding adapters or the right cable when outputting video – full size HDMI is today’s standard.

RAM wise, 8GB and 16GB options are all you need, again unless you’re doing some real high end work, or trying to run several virtual machines at once. Storage is the same as last year, no complaints there.

The size of the newer Yoga is identical to last year’s, apart from this new one being thicker. THICKER? Yep, a little, 0.25mm. It’s also heavier by 6 grams. I don’t think you’re going to notice either of these changes though, here’s then Gen 1 and Gen 2 stacked together:

X1 Yoga Gen 2 on top of a X1 Yoga Gen 1

You might be wondering why the newer one is slightly thicker and heavier, and I believe this is because of the keyboard.

It’s called a ‘Wave Keyboard’ and it rises and falls with the opening and closing of the screen. The idea of this is to protect the keys from damage when in tablet mode:

I like it, and the keyboard itself still feels normal despite having this extra ability.

Battery life has been improved again, and quite drastically – a claim of 4-5 hours more than the previous generation. Quite impressive!

Here’s a full photo of the keyboard:

After using this for a while, I have no faults to pick. Caps Lock is where it should be, as well as page navigation buttons (such as home and page up). The keys are nice to use, trackpad is a great size and has the physical mouse buttons if you prefer. There’s also a fingerprint reader that works great with Windows 10 Hello for almost instant logins.

If you’re trying to identify a X1 Yoga Gen1 vs a X1 Yoga Gen2 (beyond checking the side for USB-C!) it’s easy to see via the keyboard. For one, the PrtSc (print screen) button is different:

X1 Yoga Gen 1 PrtSc

X1 Yoga Gen 2 PrtSc

Or, you can look at the F12 button, the newer Yoga has a star:

X1 Yoga Gen 1 F12

X1 Yoga Gen 2 F12

Let’s have a look at the sides of the laptop:

Left Side: USB-C in, USB-C out, USB 3, USB 3 with power out (can charge a phone without powering on laptop)

 

Right Side: Stylus, Power, 3.5mm Headphone Jack, Ethernet adapter port, USB 3, Full Size HDMI

Back – Hinges, Protected Slot for SD and SIM

As you may have noticed, the old rectangle power cable port has gone, replaced by USB-C. This is the new industry standard, and it’s good to see Lenovo be a part of that. USB-C charges quickly, and if you have a phone with the same port, can be used to charge that too. The rapid charge claims to get to 80% charge in 60 minutes which I’m very happy with, and experienced similar charge times in real life.

Also there’s no full size network port – the laptop would have to be thicker because of this, so I can live with a dongle on that. Most of the time the laptop is being used portable on Wifi, or at a workstation and using a dock, so this isn’t a dealbreaker.

Speaking of docks, that’s what the USB-C out port is for. My experience so far with those docks has been much better than the older USB 3 models which seemed to lock up occasionally, and there’s the added bonus of running power and data over 1 cable!

I haven’t picked on this year’s X1 Yoga because there’s really that little to pick at. The 7th Gen CPU only supports Windows 10, so you can’t use Windows 8.1 or 7, but that’s an Intel CPU/Microsoft limitation across all laptops and desktops now. Beyond that, I really like this laptop – even more than last year’s. At my work, this is our standard laptop purchase now, which is why I’ve been able to review it, tied into a Windows 10 rollout (It wasn’t given to me by Lenovo).

I can honestly say that I believe this is the right time to upgrade if you’re thinking about it. This laptop will last many years, incorporates all the new features and connections that I think are worth considering, and doesn’t leave anything behind. You won’t be disappointed with this laptop!

Lenovo Yoga 910 Review

Just over a year ago, I received the Lenovo Yoga 900 laptop to review. Since then, an unfortunate accident occurred when I closed the laptop onto the end of a USB cable, creating a horrible crunching sound and cracking the screen.

Lenovo Australia have come to the rescue and provided me a newer Yoga 910 to review instead! How does it compare to the Yoga 900?

 

The new boxed Lenovo Yoga 910

For starters, here’s the specs with the red options matching what my laptop has:

Processor
• 7th Gen Intel® Core™ i5-7200U Processor (3 MB Cache, 2.5 GHz, 3.1 GHz max)
• 7th Gen Intel Core i7-7500U Processor (4 MB Cache, 2.7 GHz, 3.5 GHz max)

Operating system Windows 10 Home 64-bit Display
13.9″ FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS
• 13.9″ UHD (3840 x 2160) IPS

Graphics
Intel HD Graphics 620 in processor

Memory
8 / 16 GB DDR4 2133MHz

Webcam
Integrated 720p HD Camera

Storage Solid State Drive (SSD), via PCIe NVME:
256GB / 512 GB / 1TB

Dimensions (W x D x H)
323 x 224.5 x 14.3 mm

Weight
Starting at 1.38 kg

Case colour
• Champagne Gold
• Gunmetal Grey
• Platinum Silver

Case material
Aluminium

Battery life
• FHD model: 15.5 hours

Keyboard
Full-size keyboard, backlight, 6-row, multimedia Fn keys

Touchpad
One-piece multi-touch touchpad

Fingerprint reader
Yes, Hello support

Audio
HD audio, 2 x JBL® stereo speaker with Dolby® Audio Premium certification dual array microphone combo audio/microphone jack

Wireless LAN
11ac, 2×2, Wi-Fi + Bluetooth® 4.1

Ports
• 2 x USB 3.0 (1 x Type-C with video-out, 1 x Type-A)
• 1 x USB 2.0 (support DC-in function)
• Combo audio/microphone jack

Specs on the box

The Yoga 910 is another high end consumer laptop, following in the steps of laptops such as the Yoga 900S, 900, 3 Pro and 2 Pro. It feels very solid, and is slightly heavier than the Yoga 900, probably due to the aluminium chassis. Eric Xu did a great writeup comparing the two which is worth reading if you’re deciding which one to get.

Lenovo Yoga 910 Ready to go

While looking incredibly sleek and professional (especially in this gunmetal grey version, which to me is just black), it is a fingerprint magnet. That’s the price you pay to look this nice it seems. Another point that stands out is the bezel around the screen – very thin on all edges apart fro the bottom. At first this looks a little strange, but I quickly got used to it.

I’m happy with the 1920 x 1080 screen resolution this particular laptop has, and the screen quality itself was high with great viewing angles – so don’t feel that you have to go for the 4K res option unless you really want it.

The watch hinges are back again, and they seem even sturdier than previous models. They allow the laptop to bend all the way around (as all Yogas do), and I didn’t experience any screen wobble at all when typing.

Lenovo Yoga 910 Keyboard and Trackpad

The keyboard buttons are nicely laid out, with full size arrow keys. Home and End require the Fn button, but they’re easy to reach. The trackpad itself is quite large, with the single clicky style rather than being a solid no-click style that’s found on most of the X1 series, such as the X1 Yoga. The backlit keys also work well to see in the dark, and the addition of the fingerprint reader combined with Windows Hello allows for a very quick and effortless login.

Test

Lenovo Yoga 910 Right Side

Lenovo Yoga 910 Left Side

As you can see in the above side shots, there’s very few ports. Power is provided by the new standard USB-C which was also on the X1 Tablet, and will probably be standard on all laptops eventually. Beyond that, there’s one USB-C out and one USB 3.0 port. Of course a USB hub will give you more ports if you need it, or you can look into a USB-C dock that will provide a bunch of connection types. Yes, we still call them ‘docks’ even though we don’t dock them anymore.

The battery life is impressive – 15.5 hours. It’s hard to test and keep track of that time to see how accurate it is. Windows 10 thinks there’s still over 10 hours left on 50% remaining, and I’ve been using it sporadically in the last few days next to me.

Performance wise, there is nothing lacking in what you’d expect from this laptop. High end gaming or running several virtual machines isn’t what this laptop (nor most laptops) can do, but it’ll serve most purposes for years.

The Yoga 910 contains some small benefits and improvements over the Yoga 900 – price being equal, the 910 is the laptop to pick. There’s no reason to upgrade from a 900 to a 910 though, and anything older is a decision you’ll need to make for yourself. If you have a laptop that works for you and isn’t slow, then stick with what you have.

JB Hifi’s display on the flagship Dell, HP and Lenovo consumer laptops

If you’re looking to compare similar laptops, Dell and HP have their own offerings. Dell has the XPS 13 while HP has the Spectre x360. As I haven’t used either, I can’t comment on which I think is better, so check them out for yourself.

For myself, the Yoga 910 will be my new main laptop for personal use. It’s powerful, sleek and really nice to use. I can’t really fault anything about it – maybe more USB ports would be nice but I’m generally only going to use one for a USB memory stick occasionally, so that doesn’t bother me.  While on a recent cruise, the laptop was used in tent mode to watch some movies – the long battery life meant I didn’t need to worry about having it plugged in while watching. Warning: If you do go on a cruise, watch out for those towel animals. They get up to a lot of mischief!

Win a Lenovo ThinkPad E560 – AU/NZ Only

Several weeks ago, I compared the Lenovo ThinkPad E560 vs HP ProBook 450 G3 where both laptops came out pretty evenly well, with a few pros and cons depending on your preferences.

I’ve decided (with Lenovo’s blessing) that the Lenovo ThinkPad E560 should be given away as a prize to an Australian or New Zealand resident!

Sorry to other countries, but I’m personally paying for shipping on this and don’t know how much postage would cost to all corners of the globe, plus the power pack has the Australian/New Zealand connector on it :)

The laptop you might win!

I’ve personally reset the PC and put it back in it’s box, ready to be shipped at the end of the month.

Here’s the specs on this particular laptop (taken from Lenovo AU’s E560 site and only relevant specs left in):

DESCRIPTION THINKPAD E560 LAPTOP
Processor
  • 6th Gen Intel Core i5-6200U Processor (3M Cache, 2.3 GHz), Turbo Boost 2.0 (2.8 GHz)
Operating System
  • Windows 10 Home 64-bit
Display
  • 15.6″ HD (1366 x 768) Anti-Glare, 220 nits
Ports
  • 3 x USB 3.0
  • 4-in-1 card reader (MMC, SD, SDHC, SDXC)
  • Lenovo OneLink Docking Port
  • VGA
  • HDMI
  • Combo audio/microphone jack
  • Ethernet (RJ45)
  • Security keyhole
Graphics
  • Intel HD Graphics or Intel HD Graphics 520
  • AMD Radeon™ R7 M370 2GB GDDR5
Memory
  • 8GB, PC3-12800 1600MHz DDR3L
Webcam
  • 720p HD Intel® RealSense™ 3D Camera
Storage 3
  • 1TB 5400 RPM HDD
Optical Drive (optional)
  • DVD Burner, fixed, not removable, tray-in
Dimensions (W x D x H)
  • 377 x 255 x 23.8~27.1 mm
Weight
  • Starting from 2.3kg
Case colour
  • Graphite Black
Battery
  • 6-cell Li-Ion battery – 75+ (48Wh) internal battery
Battery life
  • Up to 9 hours
Keyboard
  • 6-row, spill-resistant, multimedia Fn keys
UltraNav™
  • TrackPoint® pointing device and multi-touch with 3+2 buttons click pad
Audio support
  • HD Audio, Dolby® Advanced Audio™ v2 certified / stereo speakers, dual array microphone, combo audio/mic jack
Ethernet
  • Gigabit Ethernet
Wireless LAN
  • Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3165 (1×1 WiFi, 802.11ac) with Bluetooth 4.2
Warranty Expires
  • 2017-03-29

 

How do you win this laptop? Do one or more of the below actions to enter! (a like on my Facebook page would be nice, but isn’t mandatory. It’s a feed of the posts I publish here)

Win a Lenovo ThinkPad E560 Laptop!

Note: if you’re having problems with entering, try turn off your adblocker for a moment.

Lenovo X1 Tablet Review

A few months back, I reviewed the Lenovo X1 Yoga which was my pick of the latest X1 series of laptops (and still is). That doesn’t discount the other Lenovo offerings though, as they may be better suited to other people’s requirements more than mine.

One of those options worth looking at is the Lenovo X1 Tablet. At the time of writing, the Australian store is completely sold out of them, so they must be doing well :) Somehow I was still lucky enough to be sent one from Lenovo, and I’m glad they did.

20160926_171954Lenovo X1 Tablet Side On

The X1 Tablet is Lenovo’s take on the Microsoft Surface. A lot of ideas are borrowed, and then improvements on top. Let’s look at the specs first, then the form factor.

CPU

This has a Core m CPU – the 3 options are:

Intel Core m3-6Y30 Processor ( 900MHz 1866MHz 4MB)
Intel Core m5-6Y54 Processor ( 1.10GHz 1866MHz 4MB)
Intel Core m7-6Y75 Processor ( 1.20GHz 1866MHz 4MB)

The new mobile fanless CPUs are a lot better than they were a few years ago. Even the Apple Macbook uses them, and those CPU speeds are a base speed, not the turbo speed they’re capable of pushing to. Which one should you pick? Tough choice as the cost differences aren’t small, but apply the same logic you would as the ‘i series’ between i3, i5 and i7. Apart from a fanless design, you get a lot more bang for your buck battery wise.

Display and Screen

Just the one option here:

12.0″FHD+ IPS LED 2160×1440

20160928_15432812″ Screen

It’s a very high res which will more than meet your requirements for a 12 inch screen.The screen only comes in touch enabled, but you also get a nice pen to use. It’s similar to the Surface 3/4 pen, uses a AAA battery that can be replaced, and is nicer than the smaller pen that comes with the X1 Yoga:

20160927_085552-customBack: X1 Tablet Pen. Front: X1 Yoga Pen.

The Yoga X1 pen is smaller so it can discreetly fit into the laptop, while the X1 Tablet pen sits in an optional loop on the side of the laptop:

20160926_171934-custom

If you don’t like the loop, you don’t have to use it as it’s interchangable with a blank plate in the keyboard, which is a nice touch.

Memory and Hard Drives

The memory options are:

  • 4.0GB LPDDR3-1866 LPDDR3 1866MHz
  • 8.0GB LPDDR3-1866 LPDDR3 1866MHz
  • 16.0GB LPDDR3-1866 LPDDR3 1866MHz

If you’re doing anything beyond basic web browsing and Word/Excel type work, or like to have a lot of things open go the 8gb. 16gb should only be needed if you’re doing high end work.

Same with the hard drives. The default options are:

  • 128GB SSD SATA III
  • 256GB SSD SATA III

You can go all the way up to 1TB too.

If you don’t need a lot of local storage, you might be fine with the 128GB. You can always use an external hard drive or USB stick (USB 3.0 is very fast for read/write), but if you want to keep a lot locally on the device, go the 256GB.

Size and Weight

The tablet part by itself is 767g which is a lot lighter than any ‘i series’ laptop. The keyboard brings it up to 1.07kg which is still incredibly light. In comparison, the very light and thin X1 Carbon 4th Gen weighs in at 1.21kg.

Being a 12″ hybrid laptop the dimensions are quite small:

  • Tablet :
  • (mm) : 291.5 x 209.5 x 8.45
  • (inches) : 11.47″ x 8.25″ x 0.33″
  • Tablet + Keyboard
  • (mm) : 291.5 x 209.5 x 13
  • (inches) : 11.47″ x 8.25″ x 0.51″

20160929_094234-customX1 Tablet on a X1 Carbon Gen 1 on a ThinkPad P50

Battery

You’ll get a 2 cell Li-Polymer battery, which gives 10 hours of battery in tablet mode, and 5 hours in ‘productivity’ mode, which means the keyboard is attached. If that’s not enough battery life for you, then you’d better have a look at the Productivity Module!

 

Productivity Module  – 5 Hours Battery Life, HDMI™, OneLink+ and Full-size USB

Presenter Module – A Pico Projector Capable of 60″ Display from 2 Meters, Full-size HDMI™ (in/out)

Sadly these aren’t available in Australia (yet or at all?) but they both sound very cool. The productivity module adds another 5 hours of battery and a few extra connectors (including a OneLink+ dock connector which isn’t available otherwise). The projector also looks great, check out this clip from The Verge showing off the modules (I believe the 3D RealSense Camera has been abandoned):

Other Bits and Pieces

There is an optional sim slot for those people who want to be mobile and have internet access, which is discreetly hidden behind the stand. The keyboard is one of the standout parts of the X1 Tablet, where it’s as close as possible to the nice ThinkPad keyboard experience while being a thin and light addition. The keyboard attaches via magnets and pins, again similar to the Microsoft Surface. There’s also a fingerprint reader which can be used for Windows Hello, and an inbuilt camera/microphone.

20160926_172009-customBack of the X1 Tablet

20160926_172039-customSide on

20160926_172204-customX1 Tablet display on top of the ThinkPad P50

20160929_094151-custom-customX1 Tablet Keyboard

Thoughts

I was first put off by the ‘m series’ CPU, but after using it and doing a bit of research, it’s a LOT better than I expected. It didn’t feel like I was using a slower chip at all. The form factor is quite nice, 12″ is a good portable size and the kickstand is very sturdy and secure, and lets you adjust smoothly to whichever angle you like (it doesn’t click in certain angles only). The keyboard has a design that lets you raise it from being flat which gets even closer to a chunky keyboard feel, and is even backlit. The Trackpad is of high quality as per usual in the ThinkPad series.

This is a really good ‘take into meetings’ device for note taking, and if you had the projector module it could add a lot of value for small presentations. It is powerful and useful enough to be your device that does ‘all the things’ too without feeling like you’re using a tablet with a keyboard addon (looking at you, iPad). A lot of people like the 12″ screen form factor with the tablet hybrid mode, and this is the best style of it I’ve seen so far (I was never a fan of the old Thinkpad Helix).

If you don’t need as much CPU grunt, and want a highly portable device that covers a lot of different situations, I’d definitely recommend this laptop/tablet/hybrid.

Lenovo Thinkpad E560 vs HP ProBook 450 G3

 

After looking for a budget but decent business laptop in Australia, I came across these two devices and thought it’d be worthwhile to compare.

The Lenovo ThinkPad E series is Lenovo’s entry level laptop type for business. If you don’t need super thin and super tough, but still want something that is customisable to your needs, these are great as entry level devices. The E560 is the latest 15.6″ model in the E series with an Intel CPU.

On the other hand, the HP ProBook 450 G3 is part of HP’s ProBook series, which is their version of the budget business laptops. I couldn’t work out what the G3 stood for after some research, if you know please share! :) The 450 G3 is also a 15.6″ laptop, customisable to the specifications you choose.

20160815_173054 (Custom)Back to Back – E560 & 450 G3

After getting my hands on both laptops, there were a lot of similarities. I’ll run through some comparisons below. Specs have been sourced from the Lenovo and HP websites.

20160815_173019 (Custom)Side by Side – E560 & 450 G3

Weight and Dimensions

E560
37.7cm x 25.5cm x 2.38~2.71cm
Starting at 2.30 kg

450 G3
37.8 x 26.43 x 2.38 to 2.48 cm (front to rear) (non-touch);
37.8 x 26.46 x 2.55 to 2.65 cm (front to rear) (touch)
Starting at 2.07kg

The HP is a bit lighter to start with, but without a scale and comparing the two build I had, they felt very similar. The HP seemed to have more weight at the back while the Lenovo was more centered. Alternatively, the Lenovo is slightly smaller in length and width, but height varies from shorter to taller depending on the E560 config. To me, all of these aren’t deciding factors between the two.

Winner – Too close to call

CPU

The processor options between the two are identical for the Skylake 6th generation ‘i series’ of Intel CPUs. i3, i5 and i7 are all choosable with the same variant on both models. The HP also has a Pentium processor option, but this is very low end and I personally wouldn’t consider this.

Winner – Both

RAM

Again, both laptops can go up to 16GB of DDR RAM. Interestingly, the Lenovo is DDR3 1600Mhz while the HP is DDR4 2133Mhz. This might sound major, but the performance difference between the two is negligible when benchmarked. Not a deciding factor between the two here, even though it’s nicer to have a newer technology :)

Winner – HP slightly

Storage

450 G3

  • 500 GB SATA (7200 rpm)
  • 500 GB up to 2 TB SATA (5400 rpm)
  • 128 GB up to 256 GB M.2 SATA TLC SSD
  • 500 GB SATA SSHD (5400 rpm)

E560

  • 500GB 7200 RPM HDD
  • 500GB 5400rpm Solid State Hybrid Drive (SSHD) with 8GB NAND flash memory
  • 1TB 5400 RPM HDD
  • 192GB SSD (although I could find a 256GB SSD option)

Yet again, we’re seeing similar options. I wouldn’t go past SSD, but you do pay a small premium for that. For an entry level business laptop 128GB is probably enough too, but the 256GB is a nice bit of extra room. The HP has the newer M.2 SATA style SSD, but again there is very little difference in that versus the SATA SSD contained in the Lenovo.

Winner – HP slightly

Display

450 G3

  • 15.6″ diagonal HD anti-glare flat LED-backlit (1366 x 768)
  • 15.6″ diagonal full HD anti-glare slim LED-backlit (1920 x 1080)
  • 15.6″ diagonal HD flat LED-backlit touch screen (1366 x 768)

E560

  • 15.6″ HD (1366 x 768) Anti-Glare, 220 nits
  • 15.6″ FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS, Anti-Glare, 250 nits

 

20160815_172738 (Custom)450 G3 & E560 displays

I couldn’t visibly tell a difference in quality between the two. The HP is the only one with a touch option, but you’ll pay for that benefit. If you need touch, then the 450 G3 is the only choice. Otherwise, I’d recommend either with a 1920 x 1080 resolution

Winner: Both, (HP if you need touchscreen)

Graphics

450 G3

  • Onboard Intel HD
  • AMD Radeon™ R7 M340 (1 or 2 GB DDR3 dedicated, switchable)

E560

  • Onboard Intel HD
  • AMD Radeon™ R7 M370 2 GB GDDR5

 

As the Intel HD graphics is part of the CPU, those are again identical between the two models. If you need more grunt though, the E560 has the clear advantage of a better discreet graphics card. Many businesses may not care about this, but if you’re doing modeling or other GPU intensive tasks, this could matter

Winner: Both, (Lenovo if you need a dedicated GPU)

Ports

450 G3

  • 2 USB 3.0
  • 2 USB 2.0
  • 1 HDMI
  • 1 headphone/microphone combo
  • 1 AC power
  • 1 RJ-45
  • 1 VGA
  • 1 multi-format digital media reader

E560

  • 3 x USB 3.0
  • 4-in-1 card reader (MMC, SD, SDHC, SDXC)
  • Lenovo OneLink Docking Port
  • VGA
  • HDMI
  • Combo audio/microphone jack
  • Ethernet (RJ45)
  • Security keyhole

20160815_172940 (Custom)20160815_172925 (Custom)20160815_172909 (Custom)E560 on top of the 450 G3

Having lots of useful ports is important. The Lenovo has an extra USB 3 port at the cost of two USB 2.0 ports. Personally I’d rather the 3 x USB 3.0 but if you need a wired keyboard and mouse, then those would be better used on the HP’s two USB 2.0 ports, leaving two USB 3.0 free. The Lenovo having the Onelink Docking Port is good if you want a dock, otherwise on the HP you’d have to use one of the USB 3.0 ports for this.

Winner: Too close to call

Camera

450 G3

  • 720p HD webcam

E560

  • Integrated 720p HD Camera, with Dual MIC
  • 720p HD Intel® RealSense™ 3D Camera

The quality of the two cameras are the same, but the Lenovo has an optional Intel RealSense 3D Camera. The model I had was set up this way, which gives you Windows Hello sign in – look at the camera for a second and you’re logged in without touching the laptop. This is one of those features that you won’t be bothered about until you have it, then you’ll be annoyed when you use another computer missing the feature!

Winner: Lenovo (if you want to pay extra for RealSense)

Keyboard and Trackpad

 

20160815_172837 (Custom)HP ProBook 450 G3 Keyboard and Trackpad

20160815_172844 (Custom)Lenovo ThinkPad E560 Keyboard and Trackpad

These are more of a personal preference, but to me the Lenovo keyboard and trackpad were a lot nicer than the HP’s. The trackpad itself feels of higher quality, as do the keys. The HP does have an optional backlit keyboard though, so if you’re doing a lot of typing in the dark, that may trump the quality and feel of the Lenovo. The lenovo also has a pointing stick, and full arrow keys which you can see in the photos above.

Winner: Lenovo

Wrap up

There were some other features I didn’t mention, such as both having a DVD drive – but this doesn’t help you choose between the two. The Lenovo is most customisable online where each option was a tickable addon, clearly showing the cost when purchasing. HP seemed to be more clunky, where I could only find a single model for sale that couldn’t be customised. Speaking to them online or contacting them may be a way to get the particular features you want.

Due to this, I couldn’t spec both up the way I’d want and give a price comparison. Here’s the optional specifications I’d pick which both models support, which should be best bang for buck:

Processor : Intel Core i5-6200U Processor (3MB Cache, up to 2.80GHz)
Operating System : Windows 10 Professional 64
Hard Drive : 256 GB Solid State Drive, SATA3 OPAL2.0 – Capable
Display : 15.6 FHD (1920×1080) IPS Non-Touch
Memory : 8GB PC3-12800 1600MHz DDR3L (1 DIMM)
Graphics : Intel HD Onboard

Of course, the dedicated AMD GPU would be nice, and depending on price I’d add one on too.

If you haven’t guessed by now, there’s no clear winner. I’d be choosing on price primarily, and if it happened to be the same, the above information will hopefully help you pick one over the other, depending which little extras you want. Both are solid laptops, and with the right specifications neither would be a regrettable purchase.

 

I was also asked this on Twitter about the comparison of the two laptops:

 

 

My answer on this is the same, both would be a great fit and I’d choose on price. The laptop can be connected to your TV via HDMI, and a remote connected via USB dongle to control something like Kodi.

If you have any questions or comments, please write below!

Lenovo X1 Yoga Review

Lenovo has recently released the 2016 lineup of ThinkPad X series laptops. Previously this was only the X1 Carbon, which was a highly regarded laptop. I have a feeling that success has lead to extending the range for 2016 to:

Lenovo X1 Carbon (Gen4)
Lenovo X1 Tablet
Lenovo X260
Lenovo X1 Yoga

A wide variety of laptops to meet different needs. My pick of the crop is the Lenovo X1 Yoga, and here’s why:

output_1aJEi4Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga

Specs
I always like to look at the hardware specs of the device first, so here’s the table of options:

DESCRIPTION THINKPAD X1 YOGA CONVERTIBLE ULTRABOOK
Processor
  • Intel® Core™ i5-6200U Processor (3M Cache, 2.3GHz), Turbo Boost 2.0 (2.8GHz)
  • Intel Core i5-6300U Processor (3M Cache, 2.4GHz), Turbo Boost 2.0 (3.0GHz)
  • Intel Core i7-6500U Processor (4M Cache, 2.5GHz), Turbo Boost 2.0 (3.1GHz)
  • Intel Core i7-6600U Processor (4M Cache, 2.6GHz), Turbo Boost 2.0 (3.4GHz)
Operating system
  • Windows 10 Home 64-bit
  • Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
  • Windows 7 Professional 64-bit preinstalled through downgrade rights in Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
Display
  • 14″ FHD (1920×1080), 300 nits, 16:9 aspect ratio, IPS, 10-point Multi-Touch
  • 14” WQHD (2560×1440), 300 nits, 16:9 aspect ratio, IPS, 10-point Multi-Touch
Hinge / mode
  • Yoga hinge, 360 degree / Laptop, tent, stand and tablet
Stylus Pen
  • ThinkPad Pen Pro, active pen for multi-touch display, docks inside laptop and auto recharges.
Graphics
  • Intel HD Graphics 520 in processor only, supports external digital monitor via HDMI, Mini DisplayPort; supports dual independent display Max resolution: 3840×2160 (Mini DisplayPort)@60Hz 4096×2160 (HDMI)@24Hz
Onelink+ Adaptor (optional)
  • HDMI to VGA Adaptor
  • Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adaptor
Memory
  • Up to 8GB / up to 16GB for i7-6600U model, LPDDR3 1866MHz, non-parity, 1 x 204-pin SO-DIMM socket, max 16GB
Webcam
  • HD720p resolution, fixed focus
Storage1
  • 128GB / 192GB / 512GB SSD, SATA3
  • 256GB SSD, SATA3 Opal 2.0 Capable
  • 512GB SSD PCIe NVMe
Optical drive
  • None
Dimensions (W x D x H)
  • 333 x 229 x 16.8 mm
Weight
  • Starting at 1.36 kg
Case material
  • Display cover: Carbon-Fibre Reinforced Plastic + Glass-Fibre Reinforced Plastic; Bottom: Magnesium/Aluminum
Case colour
  • Midnight Black
Battery
  • 4-cell Li-Polymer battery (52Wh)
Battery life2
  • Up to 11 hours3
AC adaptor
  • 65W AC adapter
Keyboard
  • 6-row, LED backlit, spill-resistant, multimedia Fn keys
UltraNav™
  • TrackPoint® pointing device and multi-touch with 3+2 buttons click pad
ThinkLight ™
  • None
Fingerprint reader
  • Integrated touch style fingerprint reader
Audio support
  • HD Audio, Realtek® ALC3232 codec / stereo speakers, 1 watt x 2 / dual array microphone, combo audio/microphone jack
Security chip
  • Trusted Platform Module (Software TPM & Hardware dTPM enabled)
Manageability
  • Intel vPro technology
Ethernet
  • None
Wireless LAN
  • Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260, 2×2, Wi-Fi + Bluetooth® 4.1, no vPro
Wireless WAN (optional)
  • Huawei ME906S (4G LTE/WCDMA/HSPA/GSM/GPRS/EDGE/GNSS), M.2 Card
SIM card
  • None
NFC
  • None
Ports
  • 3 x USB 3.0 (1 x Always On)
  • Mini DisplayPort™
  • HDMI
  • Onelink+ connector
  • MicroSD, supports UHS-I SD card
  • Combo audio/microphone jack
  • Security keyhole
  • Optional Card Reader

This is all pretty standard with good options these days, nothing underpowered or missing in my opinion. Here’s some interesting points:

Stylus Pen

This is a very nice to have, a discreet stylus hidden in the chassis of the Yoga X1. It’s a bit larger than the one I found in the Yoga 260, but still much smaller than a Surface Pro 4 pen. It also charges while docked, and won’t go flat in a year like the Surface Pen :) For more details on the pen, check out this YouTube review

penX1 Yoga Pen

Battery
We’re really getting into good devices with a working day’s battery life. This device was left on a desk for two weeks with frequent but short usage, but always in at least standby mode and still had half it’s battery left. Nothing unique to this particular laptop, but it’s a compelling consideration to upgrade if you’ve got something that hasn’t got an Intel 6th Gen CPU in it.

Storage
We’re now seeing more devices having hte PCIe NVMe SSD option – a lot faster than SATA3. For an idea on the difference, read this review. For most people you won’t ‘need’ a faster SSD, but if you’re doing work with lots of local IO, it’s going to be a worthwhile upgrade.

Weight
1.36kg – that’s 0.05kg heavier than the X1 Carbon Gen3, but  0.18kg heavier than the 1.18 kg X1 Carbon Gen4. Keep in mind, the X1 Carbon Gen4 doesn’t have touchscreen, and as a comparison the Apple MacBook Air 2015 13″ weighs 1.35 kg, so these are all really light laptops. Lenovo have managed to design enough toughness into the hinges for the full flipped Yoga experience, which previously was really clunky.

It’s a lot less chunky too than older X1 Carbons, here’s a comparison with the X1 Carbon Gen1 where there’s quite a bit of height difference (the Carbon is designed to appear thinner, but is perfectly flat on the table):

20160404_165953Left to right: X1 Yoga, X1 Carbon Gen1

Ports
On the left side, we have power, OneLink+ dock connection (which will only take a OneLink+ dock connector, not the older OneLink), Mini DisplayPort and USB 3.0:

20160404_165814X1 Yoga Left Side

Right side has stylus pen, power, volume up/down, 3.5mm audio jack, 2x USB 3.0 and full size HDMI:

20160404_165847X1 Yoga Right Side

The back has the fan out slot, and a panel that hides a MicroSD and SIM card slot:

20160404_165910X1 Yoga Back

Keyboard
It’s very similar to the X1 Carbon keyboards in layout and feel, but also the keys will retract when folded into Yoga mode to protect them against wear. You can see the little rubber mounts pop out in the top corners too, which will touch the table when this is face down:

20160404_172241Keyboard in Yoga Mode

20160404_165612Laptop Mode

Hardware aside, why do I think this is the best in the X series now? This is around my personal tastes, but everyone has their own requirements. Here’s the standout reasons for me:

X1 Yoga vs X1 Carbon 4th Gen – Carbon is lighter and thinner, but doesn’t fully flip around. There’s also no touchscreen option anymore!

X1 Yoga vs X1 Tablet – Tablet has some awesome additions like a projector, but personally I don’t like the more flimsy style of keyboard (similar to Surface 4, but a bit better). Tablet mode is cool, but the X1 Yoga flipping around is light and thin enough already without taking away the proper laptop experience. Just wish I could have a projector in it! On top of that, the tablet is using the m7 series of Intel CPU which isn’t going to be as powerful as the i series.

X1 Yoga vs X260 – Has 25 hours battery life!! But, Smaller 12.5″ again with no touchscreen, or ability to Yoga. Weighs the same despite this. It is hard to get past the 25 hour battery life, but only needed if you’re not near a power point for a very long time.

The X1 Yoga will also soon have an OLED option for the screen – that should be a big jump in screen quality. As I haven’t seen this yet I’ll refrain from making further statements around it, but expect to be impressed.

For a high end laptop, the X1 Yoga is an all rounder that I’d strongly recommend anyone to consider. It’s definitely one of the best all rounder business grade machine available.

If you have any questions or comments please post below!

Lenovo Yoga Home 500


Lenovo has been on fire with their Yoga range in the last few months for home and business laptops (with my top picks being the Yoga 900 and the Thinkpad Yoga X1). Yoga being ‘on fire’ That makes me think of this:

Not to digress any further, the latest product I’ve been sent in the Yoga range (Thanks Lenovo!), is the Yoga Home 500.

When I first heard about it, all I knew was that it was an all-in-one PC. That didn’t sound too exciting – A screen and desktop box in a single unit, a form factor that had been around for many years, but I’d never actually had one to check out. What arrived was much more than what my expectations were.

Firstly yes, the Yoga Home 500 is an all-in-one PC. But it’s also a tablet. And a gaming box. And a family device hub for photos and videos.

I’ll start with the PC side of things. We have a 21.5″ screen, with a computer build into the chassis. Here’s the specs, I’ve underlined the ones I have in this model which seem to be the best possible :)

 

Lenovo Yoga Home 500Tech Specs

DESCRIPTION LENOVO™ YOGA™ HOME 500
Processor
  • 5th Generation Intel® Core™ i5-5200U Processor
  • 5th Generation Intel® Core™ i3-5010U Processor
  • 5th Generation Intel® Core™ i3-5005U Processor
  • Intel® Pentium® Dual-Core Processor
Operating System
Windows 10 Home
Graphics
  • Intel® Broadwell Integrated Graphics
  • Up to NVIDIA® GeForce® 920A Discrete
  • Graphics 1 GB DDR3-VRAM (gDDR3)
Memory
Up to 8 GB (4 GB / 8 GB) DDR3 – 1600 MHz
Webcam
  • 1080p with Dual-array Microphone
  • 1080p Light Sensor
Storage
  • Up to 500 GB / 1 TB HDD
  • Up to 500 GB / 1 TB SSHD
Audio
Integrated 2 x 2.8 W Speakers
Battery
Up to 3 Hours with 4-cell 48 WHr Battery
Display
21.5″ FHD, 10-point Multitouch, LED Panel
Dimensions (W x D x H)
  • (mm) : 526.4 x 39.5 x 318.6
  • (inches) : 20.72″ x 1.55″ x 12.54″
Weight
Starting at 10.1 lbs (4.6 kg)
WLAN
WiFi 802.11 a/c or b/g/n, Bluetooth® 4.0, Near Field Communication (NFC)
Ports
  • 3 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x Headphone / Microphone
  • 1 x Power DC-in
  • 1 x HDMI-in
  • 6-in-1 Multi Card Reader

Some notes on the specs and hardware – There are two RAM slots, but with 8GB it was a single stick, meaning this can easily be upgraded to 16GB, assuming the RAM isn’t soldered in – I can’t find any videos or photos of the insides of this, and there’s no screws to be seen so most likely comes apart like an Apple iMac using a plunger.

The hard drive appears to be a hybrid with 8GB SSD cache, and close to 1TB for the rest. This gives a bit of a better performance than your standard platter HDD, but not as good as an SSD. I found it fairly snappy overall despite this.

The screen seems of high quality, touch response was great. The dedicated NVIDIA Geforce 920A graphics card is a nice touch too, especially for being able to at least game with lower settings.

20160331_173027Yoga Home 500 Front

So yes, it seems to function quite fine as an all-in-one PC, and does everything you’d expect from a Windows 10 box. On the right hand side of the chassis is the power and volume up/down buttons:

20160331_173043Right Hand Side

… and on the left hand side is a Multi-Card Reader, Audio 3.5mm Jack, Three USB 3.0 ports, a HDMI in (so you can just use this as a monitor) and power in, using the standard rectangle plug that most (but not all) Lenovo products have these days:

20160331_173058Left Hand Side

As you can see from those photos, there’s a cool kickstand that holds the monitor up. This is fully adjustable (as in, you can set it to any position in it’s range, rather than just having a few locked options) and goes all the way down to tablet mode:

Tablet mode – this is where things start to get interesting. It’s a giant tablet, that has a 3 hour battery. Lenovo provides software called Aura along with a bunch of apps and games, and an app store for free. From what I can tell, the idea of this is to have a device in the middle of the table that a family or group of friends can sit around and have fun with. 4 player touch games, along with using the paddles and joysticks that come free with the Yoga Home 500, or going through photos and videos is where this device shows it’s strengths. I can see this being really useful for coming back from a holiday and showing photos off, flicking through and telling a story about what happened.

I thought I’d do a quick video on this, where it shows objects in Aura can be flicked across the screen, and orientated whichever way you like:

 

The games that come with this are actually quite decent, rather than being crappy low end games. Here you can see an asteroid type game that can take up to 4 players, using touch, joysticks or even bring your own controllers:

20160315_212052

The app store seems to have a variety of different games, and yes there’s Air Hockey!

Other items that come with the Yoga Home 500 are a keyboard and mouse (both paired already to the device, no little bluetooth dongle required):

20160315_210023Stylish mouse with touch sensitive scrollwheel

20160315_210550Thin keyboard

There’s also the paddles and joysticks for playing games:

20160315_210817Joystick has plunger, paddles have 4 touchpads

And of course, because you’ll be putting your grubby mitts all over this thing, there’s a screen cleaner:

20160315_205910Official Lenovo Screen Cleaner

All together this is a pretty cool piece of kit. The 3 hours battery life means you can take this wherever you like in the house and play on it, but you’ve also got a giant screen and a lot of power under the hood for a particularly large portable device.

The Lenovo Yoga Home 500 is an all-rounder device, but does all those things quite well, rather than falling into the trap of doing all things averagely. It’s easy to use, has a multitude of use cases and due to it’s small footprint, it isn’t hard to find it a home somewhere around the house.

Any comments or questions about this, please respond below!