Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (4th Gen) review: Thinner, lighter and still the best 2-in-1 for business
The 2018 edition of Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Yoga earned the title of "best two-in-one for business" from CNET last year. For 2019, Lenovo slimmed the machine's profile by a few millimeters and reduced its weight by a few ounces and outfitted it with a new CNC aluminum chassis, slimmer bezels and Intel's updated eighth-gen processors and a couple of cool privacy options. It's still our favorite premium business two-in-one.
That said, while battery life has improved for some configurations, it's noticeably short if you opt for the 14-inch 4K UHD-resolution display with Dolby Vision HDR400. It's a beautiful display, but probably not worth the power penalty for most users, and Lenovo thankfully offers three other options including a low-power 380-nit full-HD display that should deliver much better battery life.
And options are the name of the game here. The base price is around $1,200, but the X1 Yoga can be configured to more than $2,500. However, unless your needs are specific, you're better off going with a preconfigured model like my review sample. It was loaded with all the high-end components offered and didn't break the $1,900 mark.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 4
|14-inch 1,920x1,080 touch display
|14-inch 3,840x2,160 HDR touch display
|1.6GHz Intel Core i5-8265U
|1.9GHz Intel Core i7-8665U with vPro
|8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz
|16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz
|128MB dedicated Intel HD Graphics 620
|128MB dedicated Intel UHD Graphics 620
|256GB PCIe NVMe Opal 2.0 SSD
|1TB PCIe NVMe Opal 2.0 SSD
|Intel 9560 802.11AC vPro (2 x 2), Bluetooth 5.0
|Intel 9560 802.11AC vPro (2 x 2), Bluetooth 5.0
|Windows 10 Home (64-bit)
|Windows 10 Pro (64-bit)
The X1 Yoga is essentially the business version of Lenovo's premium Yoga C940. With dual 360-degree hinges and the included active pen, it's not only great as a laptop, but also for giving presentations, marking up documents or collaborating on projects without someone having to awkwardly hover over you.
If privacy is a concern, you can shut down the mics entirely, and built into the thin display is a webcam fitted with a physical shutter that slides to block the camera. Lenovo offers two newer privacy features on this model as well: PrivacyGuard and PrivacyAlert. The former makes it difficult for people to the sides of your display to see what you're looking at it from head on. The latter will actually pop up a notification on your screen if someone is shoulder surfing while you're working. PrivacyGuard is unfortunately only available on one of the four display options and PrivacyAlert requires an optional IR camera in the laptop.
A fingerprint reader comes standard and it stores and processes your print on its own system-on-a-chip (SoC) for better protection of your system and print from hacks or malware. Other security features include self-encrypting SSDs and Intel vPro processors, discrete TPM 2.0 and FIDO authentication.
Regardless of the configuration, you get the same durable build quality that Lenovo says meets 12 military-grade requirements and goes through more than 200 quality checks. You also get the same great keyboard. It's spill-resistant and has a two-level backlight. It's without a doubt one of the most comfortable keyboards you'll find on a laptop this thin and you likely won't have to adjust to using it.
With a vestige of past ThinkPads, you'll still find Lenovo's TrackPoint in between the G, H and B keys, and the left, right and scroll mouse buttons below the space bar. Although many will likely end up using its reliable Windows Precision Touchpad, I find the TrackPoint comes in handy in cramped plane, train or bus seats.
The X1 Yoga has two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports, two USB 3.1 (gen 1) ports and a full-size HDMI 1.4 output. Sitting directly next to one of the USB-C ports is a connector for Ethernet using an included dongle, but also an optional side mechanical dock. There's a combo headphone/mic jack, too.
Also tucked into the body's right side at the front is Lenovo's ThinkPad Pro Pen with 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity. It charges in its garage, getting up to 100 minutes of battery life with just 15 seconds of charging. It's a nice, responsive little pen and its seamless storage in the body makes you wonder why other pen-enabled laptops and tablets can't have something similar.
Fast performance, faster charging
Performance on my X1 Yoga was excellent, which isn't much of a surprise given its maxed-out configuration: 1.9GHz Intel Core i7-8665U vPro processor, 16GB of 2,133MHz RAM and a 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD. For day-to-day office chores like email and word processing, though, you'll be fine with the entry-level config running a 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-8265U. If your days usually have you handling more intensive tasks -- such as working in large databases or spreadsheets or creating multimedia presentations -- or you just want more headroom for the future, go ahead and get the i7.
Battery life, though, is a bit disappointing. Lenovo claims up to 18 hours, but that's not for the more powerful configuration I tested with the UHD-resolution display which ran for 6 hours, 7 minutes in our streaming video test. With power and screen brightness adjustments, you can get more work time out of it, but basically, if you want the best battery life, skip the 4K HDR display. The thing that saves it, though, is that the USB-C port can charge the laptop to 80 percent in only an hour -- perfect for recharging on those airport layovers -- or you can run the X1 Yoga off an external battery pack.
Like the Gen 3 model, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga is the slim, light two-in-one you won't mind getting from your IT department. While it would be nice if PrivacyGuard and PrivacyAlert were standard features, it's at least good to have the options. It being slightly thinner and lighter only makes this flexible, durable convertible more appealing.