There is an old saying that change is the only constant in the universe. Physicists might disagree, but from where I sit, it’s certainly true in the PC industry.
The modern PC era isn’t particularly old. It depends on how you count, but for desktops, it’s about 35 years old and for laptops, about 25 years. In that time, we’ve seen desktops evolve from large beige boxes to thin, modern, All-in-one designs that were unimaginable 35 years ago, and laptops that are thinner, lighter and more flexible than anything dreamed of in 1990.
The YOGA 900 and the YOGA Home 900 are two very interesting examples of how modern PCs have evolved past traditional designs for laptops and desktops and have (successfully, I think) brought new types of functionality that’s better suited to the way modern users interact with their computers.
The YOGA laptop concept actually started for Lenovo back in 2005 with a concept that was entered into the annual Red Dot design award competition, where it won a “Best of the best” award but was premature for production. Four years later, Lenovo announced a second iteration of the concept as the Pocket Yoga – and users loved it. But it was not until CES 2012 that the YOGA was released into the wild. The tech press lauded the YOGA with multiple “Best of Show” awards, and a new type of laptop PC was born.
Much has been written about the overall design and utility of a laptop with a 360 degree hinge, but I’m going to focus on the under-the-covers engineering improvements that it has taken to evolve the product even further.
A redesigned watchband hinge with over 800 parts allows the YOGA 900 to be very thin at 14.9mm, gives better stability at all positions for a better touch and multi-mode experience and is easier to open and close in the last few degrees of travel. A newly designed fan, 32% larger, but with 66% less density in the structure, along with specially designed dust-resistant cooling vents keeps the system cool and quiet. Finally, the battery has 50% greater power density without significantly impacting the thinness.
The YOGA Home 900 changes the desktop in a related, but different way. It’s a radical departure from the desktop PC of 35 years ago. If anything, it now bears a closer resemblance to a tablet, albeit a very large one.
That resemblance, both in form and function, is the thing I find compelling and interesting about the YOGA Home. It’s a 27” touchscreen, Windows 10, Core i7 PC with 3 hours of battery life that looks and acts like a giant tablet, but with the power of a desktop. Portable, flexible, powerful and for me, a lot of fun.
The YOGA Home 900 concept began life as the Horizon in 2013 as the “first table PC for the home.” A 2014 model iterated the concept further, leading up to the new YOGA Home 900 for 2015. The improvements hone in on improving usability and the overall user experience, like new photo and video editing options, Windows app enablement in the (lay-flat mode) new Aura 3.0 interface, a ton of new games (Scrabble and Risk, for example), and new children’s education applications.
They’re both still PCs and function fully as such, but in form and function, I think they are a far cry from what a PC engineer from 1980 would have thought possible. While some believe in the PC’s extinction, I see its evolution. (That’s why I love the PC industry….)
Note: Battery life (and recharge times) may vary based on factors including system settings and usage.
Kevin Beck is a PC competitive analyst at Lenovo, based in Raleigh, US.