Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 2 (2017) Review: Nearly Perfect With OLED

ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 2 Design, Features And Build Quality

Lenovo's Yoga series of laptops seemingly started the flippable, invertable series of clam shell designs back in 2012 at CES. It's not that a 360-degree hinge may not have been developed previously, but in terms of market traction and adoption (and if our memory serves us correctly) Lenovo broke through with the first real hit and then others followed. The ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 2, like its predecessor, takes a page from Lenovo's standard Yoga playbook and marries it with the company's popular X1 Carbon design signature, for what could arguably be thought of as the best of both worlds. 

Lenovo X1 Yoga OLED Gen2 Open Flat

Oh Lenovo, You Had Me At OLED

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga OLED Display

To fully appreciate the new ThinkPad X1 Yoga's 14-inch OLED display, which is identical to the first gen X1 Yoga, you just have to see it in person. Though we take crispy shots here at HotHardware, the camera just doesn't reproduce an OLED display's fantastic contrast, saturation and solid brightness levels (300nits but it seems even north of that spec). Versus the average IPS display, its color reproduction and viewing angles are on another level all together. Everything just pops, blacks are much deeper and once you see a laptop OLED display, you're going to want it everywhere, on every device you own. Fast action sequences in movie-watching and gaming are also met with lightning-fast response times. In short, this 14-inch touch panel does it all and is total eye candy. It's a $250 up-charge, but totally worth it. 

Lenovo X1 Yoga OLED Gen2 Hinge

Though Lenovo hasn't changed the hinge much with the new ThinkPad X1 Yoga, there seems to be a generally firmer feel throughout its range of motion, in part due to the improved and associated keyboard retraction mechanism, that also cleans up the look and feel of the typing deck. Unfortunately, nothing has changed with respect to the X1 Yoga's SDCard reader and SIM slot bay, which is located on the back edge of the machine and is tough to access, unless the laptop is in a completely closed position (seen above here and exposed in Tent Yoga mode). Don't get us wrong, it's better than no card reader at all, but if we could just get these slots on a side edge, life would be grand.
Lenovo X1 Yoga OLED Gen2 Left Edge

Port options have also been improved with a pair of USB Type-C Thunderbolt 3 ports, three USB 3 ports, a full-sized HDMI port and yes, that's an honest-to-goodness mini Ethernet dongle port. We appreciate Intel's vision of a "world without wires" but until we all have straight-up Gigabit WiFi and Internet everywhere, options are a road warrior's best friend, and the second gen ThinkPad X1 Yoga has plenty of them. One notable feature that has been removed, however, is the volume rocker on the left side edge that existed on the first generation machine. We can't say we miss it really, since there are dedicated keys on the function row of the keyboard, which is still pretty damn spectacular.

Lenovo X1 Yoga OLED keybaord

Say hello to the new X1 Yoga's flatter, more matte-finished hybrid carbon fiber covering, which does a much better job of resisting fingerprints and general muck accumulation, versus the previous generation machine that, like so many notebooks today, just looks nasty after extended use. If you don't have the micro-fiber cloth at the ready and you're a little OCD, this new finish will bring a smile to your face. The Gen 2 ThinkPad X1 Yoga doesn't completely eliminate this issue by any stretch, but it's indeed much improved. 

Lenovo X1 Yoga OLED Gen2 Stylus Pen

We still have two bottom firing 2 Watts-per-channel stereo speakers on this latest iteration of the machine and audio fidelity is frankly just OK. When you consider the size of the drivers (pictured above), you really can't expect much. With Dolby Stereo settings on and set to the Music setting (details on the following page), you get a bit more midrange and just a touch of low end, but low-end response is almost not existent in this machine. Our hunch is most folks aren't looking for any great shakes acoustically from a 3 pound ultrabook, and you're better off with a set of buds or streaming over Bluetooth, but it's worth a mention. In short, the ThinkPad X1 Yoga's audio is respectably loud but, as you'd expect, thin.

What does, however, add a full-featured effect to the machine is the ThinkPad Pen Pro that holsters on the right edge of the machine and charges in a jiffy. It's nice that Lenovo not only built a place into the machine to charge the device, but also house and store it. It's a much more convenient means to keep track of a tiny peripheral like this that can easily be lost. Hey Microsoft, take note (pun intended). Also, a 15 second charge allows the pen to function for up to 100 minutes. So the fact that you actually need to charge it at all is pretty much a non-issue, unless you're so impatient you can't wait another 15 seconds, in which case you might need to seek help. 

We'll look a bit more at ThinkPad Pen Pro functionality and a whole host of experiential stuff, next...

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