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Lenovo Yoga 720 (13-inch) review: A mainstream 2-in-1 worth flipping for

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Looking at the 13.3-inch Lenovo Yoga 720, I can't understand why you would consider an Apple MacBook Air. I mean, if you're a Mac user and averse to Windows, I understand that. But otherwise, everything about the Yoga 720 makes the Air look antiquated. 

lenovo-yoga-720-13.jpg
7.9

Lenovo Yoga 720 (13-inch)

The Good

The 13.3-inch Lenovo Yoga 720 2-in-1 has a sturdy, but slim metal chassis that weights 2.9 pounds. The full-HD display supports active pen input. It has a comfortable, brightly backlit keyboard with no unusually small keys and a smooth, responsive Windows Precision touchpad. One of its two USB type-C ports supports Thunderbolt 3.

The Bad

Battery life is good, but behind similarly configured ultraportable laptops. USB type-C adapters are needed for Ethernet or HDMI output and there's no SD card slot.

The Bottom Line

The 13.3-inch Lenovo Yoga 720 is a slim, lightweight 2-in-1 with a premium look and feel, but without the big price tag.

They look and weigh about the same: Slim and silver with a weight around 3 pounds (1.3 kg). But open up the lid on the 720 and you're greeted with a full-HD IPS touchscreen with edge-to-edge glass and a minimal bezel. And, being a 2-in-1, that screen rotates around to the back of the keyboard letting you use it as a tablet. Plus, it's pen-enabled, so you can also draw and write on the screen. Inside you get better specs than the entry-level Air, too, and the Yoga starts more than $100 less. And even if you don't care about Apple, the Yoga 720 is a good bargain against its 2-in-1 Windows competition, too.  

There is, however, a difference between a laptop that's a good value and one that's cheap; the Yoga 720 is the former. Starting at around $800 (it starts at £800 in the UK and AU$1,700 in Australia), the base configuration isn't far off from what you'd get from other PC makers selling Yoga-like computers. However, there are little things like using a fast solid-state drive instead of a slow-spinning hard drive or supporting Thunderbolt 3 that make it a better deal. 

Lenovo Yoga 720

Price as reviewed $799
Display size/resolution 13-inch 1,920x1,080 IPS touch
PC CPU 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-7200U
PC Memory 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz
Graphics 128MB dedicated Intel HD Graphics 620
Storage 256GB PCIe SSD
Networking 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.1
Operating system Windows 10 Home (64-bit)

Premium on the outside

In the past year, there have been more and more convertible laptops with skinny screen bezels -- the frame that goes around the display. Combined with their edge-to-edge glass, not only does it look good since the screen takes up nearly the entire lid, but it lets you have a larger screen in a smaller body. However, this trend has forced designers to relocate integrated webcams to below the screen, which results in an unfortunate up-the-nose shot. That, thankfully, is not the case here.  

The display has good color performance, but not good enough to recommend for critical photo and video editing (not that you can really do those things well with this system's components). It gets adequately bright for outdoor use, though with the glossy coating you might still struggle. One nice extra, though: The display also supports Lenovo's optional Active Pen if writing or drawing on the screen is a necessity for you. 

The hefty hinges on the screen help keep the Yoga in just about any position you could want it in. They're stiff enough that it will require two hands to open it, but not so much that you'll have problems adjusting it. 

Lenovo Yoga 720 (13-inch, 2017)

The 720's display color is good enough for enjoying media, but maybe not creating it. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

The keyboard might not feel as firm as one of the company's professional ThinkPad models, but the keys still have a fair amount of travel to make typing comfortable and they are well spaced, clearly labeled and brightly back lit. Also, Lenovo made the Shift key larger than its predecessor's resulting in fewer errors when typing (at least for me).

Lenovo used a Windows Precision touchpad that works really well and I didn't experience any cursor jumpiness. The precision pad means you get full multitouch gesture support for three- and four-finger gestures for quickly switching between applications, activating Cortana (Microsoft's digital assistant) or hiding all open windows.  

Like many ultraportables, the Yoga 720 isn't loaded down with ports. If having built-in Ethernet, an SD card reader and an HDMI port are necessities for you, you'll have to look elsewhere. Instead, you'll get one USB 3.0 port (type-A), two USB 3.1 ports (type-C) and a headphone/mic jack. One of the two type-C ports is used for charging and supports Thunderbolt 3, so with a dock or adapters you'll be able add video outputs, an Ethernet jack and more. 

Lenovo Yoga 720 (13-inch, 2017)

Get your dongles ready. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Mainstream on the inside

The 13.3-inch Yoga 720 (it's also available in a 15.6-inch size) was the base configuration with a 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-7200U, 8GB of memory, integrated Intel HD 620 graphics and a 256GB PCIe SSD for storage. You can get the system with more memory and storage and, if you're willing to pay upward of $1,600, you can get it with a Core i7-7500U, 16GB of memory, 1TB PCIe SSD and a UHD-resolution display. 

The base configuration is enough for day-to-day tasks, though depending on how much you push it, you will end up with some fan noise. Want to listen to music while you answer some email and post to Facebook? This will have you covered. Playing the latest first-person shooter on ultra settings and editing high-resolution video is not in the cards. That said, I spent some time doodling on the screen with a Wacom Bamboo Ink stylus with little discernible lag, so if you're looking for a 2-in-1 that can smoothly handle pen input, this might be just enough for you. 

Lenovo Yoga 720 (13-inch, 2017)

The 720 makes for a comfortably large tablet. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

As for battery life, it underperformed compared to similarly configured systems we've tested with our video streaming battery drain test. It did run for 8 hours and 46 minutes, which certainly isn't bad, but under normal use you're looking at about 6 to 7 hours of use before you start worrying about finding an outlet. Again, all things considered, it's not bad just not amazing.  

More than a clamshell, but not more clams

Overall, the 13.3-inch Lenovo Yoga 720 has a premium look and feel, but without the big price tag and is a pretty nice little 2-in-1 for students or the home office where some added flexibility comes in handy and a nice design is appreciated. 

Multimedia Multitasking test 3.0

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 720 1394LG Gram (13-inch, 2017) 570Asus Pro B9440U 485Microsoft Surface Laptop 1114
Notes: Shorter bars indicate better performance (in seconds)


Geekbench 3 (Multi-Core)

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 720 6453LG Gram (13-inch, 2017) 6647Asus Pro B9440U 7217Microsoft Surface Laptop 7193
Notes: Longer bars indicate better performance


Streaming video playback battery drain test

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 720 526LG Gram (13-inch, 2017) 690Asus Pro B9440U 497Microsoft Surface Laptop 621
Notes: Longer bars indicate better performance (in minutes)



System Configurations

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 720 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-7200U; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 128MB dedicated Intel HD Graphics 620; 256GB SSD
LG Gram (13-inch, 2017) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-7200U; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 128MB dedicated Intel HD Graphics 620; 256GB SSD
Asus Pro B9440U Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit); 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-7200U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,866MHz; 128MB dedicated Intel HD Graphics 620; 512GB SSD
Microsoft Surface Laptop Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit) 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-7200U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1866MHz; 128MB dedicated Intel HD Graphics 620; 256GB SSD
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7.9

Lenovo Yoga 720 (13-inch)

Score Breakdown

Design 9Features 8Performance 7Battery 7