Introduction, Design Features
Few product lines are more synonymous with convertible laptops than Lenovo’s Yoga series of 2-in-1s. And keeping up that high standard is an ongoing challenge of balancing what’s already working with what consumers want to see changed or added. Get it right, and each update seems like natural evolution. But get it wrong, and it seems like change for change’s sake—or, perhaps worse, like a stagnant product line.
With the Lenovo Yoga 710 15, we see a little of each.
The Yoga 710 15 is the big, gangly outlier in Lenovo’s various Yoga families. Not long before this machine, we tested a super Yoga 710 11-incher, which we found to be an excellent, value-minded ultraportable that acts as a 2-in-1 spiritual successor to the recently discontinued 11-inch Apple MacBook Airsee our review of the Yoga 710 14-inch.)
On the plus side, the Lenovo Yoga 710 15 we’re looking at here today comes equipped with a 7th-Generation Intel Core (“Kaby Lake”) processor, a fingerprint reader, and discrete graphics, all of which are welcome updates. At this writing, it was the “one step up from the base” model in a four-configuration line of Yoga 710 15-inchers, priced at $949 direct from Lenovo. (The base model was $849 at this writing.) But not including any USB Type-C or USB 3.1 ports, when one of Kaby Lake’s touted improvements is native USB 3.1 support, seems like a missed opportunity. It’s not necessarily a fatal flaw, as most folks don’t yet own devices to leverage these new ports. But it’s not a high point of this PC, either.
Our $949.99 Yoga 710 15 review unit came equipped with a 15.6-inch IPS touch-screen display (the native resolution is full HD, 1,920×1,080), a 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-7200U processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB solid-state drive (SSD). Plus, the integrated Intel HD Graphics 620 on the CPU is backing for an Nvidia GeForce 940MX dedicated graphics chip with 2GB of memory. So for the money, you’re getting a pretty capable general-purpose system. (Lenovo also offered three other versions of this machine with slightly tweaked specs; more on that in a bit.)
A 15-inch 2-in-1, though, is by definition a laptop first, a video-viewer/presentation-giver second, and a tablet a distant third, just by dint of its broad size. Let’s take a look at that first.
As we have come to expect from the various Lenovo Yoga product lines, the Yoga 710 15-inch looks sleek and feels sturdy. Its aluminum body feels nice and solid, and its black matte finish and slim profile makes it feel higher-end than you’d guess from its price tag.
The Yoga 710 15-inch is just 0.71 inch thick and measures 14.1×9.6 inches. Plus, it weighs only 4.4 pounds, making it about as easy to hold in your hands, when swiveled into tablet mode, as you can expect any 15-incher to be. Of course, any 15-inch 2-in-1 is going to feel a little unwieldy when being used as a tablet. But it’s still a nice option to have, as are its usual tent and stand modes.
Starting with the lid closed, you have a shiny Yoga logo near one corner, and a more muted Lenovo logo near the other. The front edge of the system is completely bare, and the rear has little more to see than a pair of exhaust vents and the system’s hinges.
Along the right side of the body, you’ll find a slightly raised power button and a power-status LED, a micro-HDMI port, and two USB 3.0 ports, one of which allows for device charging with the system powered down. On the opposite edge, meanwhile, you have a combination headphone/microphone jack, a four-format (SD, SDHC, SDXC, MMC) card reader, and the port for the power adapter.
This left an awful lot of space that could (and to our mind, should) have been used to make the Yoga 710 15-inch more flexible. There’s plenty of room all around for separate, physical volume controls, for example, which come in handy when watching video in tablet mode. (As it is, they’re implemented paired up with the function keys on the keyboard, on F1 to F4; being on an edge would have been useful for tablet mode.) And Lenovo’s decision to go with a micro-HDMI port will mean needing to travel with a dongle and/or non-standard cable if you will need to output to other displays. But if there’s one thing we expected to see, especially with a PC updated with a Kaby Lake chip, it was a USB 3.1 port.
Popping the lid open, the first thing you’ll be greeted by is the Yoga 710’s 15.6-inch IPS display. While it doesn’t crank up quite as bright as we might have hoped, it’s nonetheless a great-looking, crisp display that offers good touch-screen responsiveness. Its glass goes right to the edges of the lid, with a nice thin bezel shaved down on the sides and with a little more left at the top to accommodate the system’s 720p Webcam. (While we’re on the subject: This Webcam offers the same mediocre video quality and poor low-light performance that you’ll find in most modern laptops’ built-in Webcams.)
The keyboard, meanwhile, is mostly what you would expect, offering comfortable touch typing—at least until you go searching for the right-side Shift button. Where it would normally be located, you’ll instead find the Page Up button, with the Shift button moved to the right of it. While we’re sure that we’d eventually get used to this, it was something of an impediment when touch-typing.
Just below the keyboard is a nicely sized touch pad, with a thin line demarcating the areas, near its bottom, dedicated to left- and right-clicking. And to the right of the touch pad is a fingerprint reader, offering some peace of mind to those concerned about login security.
Finally, on the bottom of the chassis, when it’s oriented in laptop mode, you’ll find the system’s JBL speakers, which offer some pretty decent sound and can easily fill a room when cranked up. Even with the system in tablet mode and the speakers firing into the back of the screen, audio still sounded good enough for those times when you’ve forgotten to bring headphones along.
Connectivity, Components Support
As for network capabilities, the Yoga 710 15-inch offers 802.11ac wireless connectivity and Bluetooth 4.0 support. No Ethernet jack is available for wired connections, though that’s not unusual in a 2-in-1. While this isn’t a big deal, it’s worth noting that this is one of the things that a USB 3.1 port could have come in handy for.
As far as storage and memory go, the system offers a decent dollop of each, though the option of adding a little more might have come in handy. RAM is limited to the 8GB that our review system came equipped with; when we wrote this, Lenovo didn’t offer any Yoga 710 15-inch configurations with more. And the 256GB SSD offered quick boot-ups and peppy performance, but it’s not a huge amount of space. Sure, you can always get a portable storage drive, and maybe a portable DVD drive while you’re at it. But in the process, you’d be sacrificing some of the portability of the system itself.
As we mentioned earlier, you have three other Yoga 710 15-inch configuration options apart from this $949.99 tester we received, but they are using last-gen “Skylake” chips. The variables are in the CPU and graphics solutions that are included, as well as the size of the SSD. (The 8GB of memory and the full-HD IPS screen are constants across all four configurations.) Lenovo’s $849.99 base model is the same as our test unit, apart from using a last-gen “Skylake” Core i5 chip (the Core i5-6200U, the predecessor of the i5-7200U in our Yoga 710 test unit) and relying on that chip’s Intel HD Graphics 520 alone—no dedicated Nvidia graphics.
Next up is our $949 tester, with the Core i5 Kaby Lake chip and Nvidia graphics. The top two units are ordinarily $1,099 and $1,299 (though temporarily discounted at this writing) and packed the same specs but with a Core i7-6500U “Skylake” processor, the Nvidia graphics, and 256GB or 512GB of SSD space.
As far as the software goes, we were pleased to see that it’s pretty much just the Windows 10 operating system (the Home edition, in this case), some system utilities, and a trial version of McAfee Livesafe. So you don’t have to worry about that 256GB SSD being already filled by lots of bloatware.
And finally, the Yoga 710 15-inch is covered by a one-year limited warranty that can be extended, if needed, by purchasing additional coverage on Lenovo’s Web site at the time of purchase. Extending to two years was $59, and three years $79, with occasional discounts on offer at this writing. Check the Lenovo site for the cost of the moment.