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We go hands-on with the gorgeous Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga with OLED display

Thinkpad X1 Yoga
Thinkpad X1 Yoga

Lenovo is kicking off CES with a storm of new products starting tonight with their refreshed ThinkPad line of laptops and accessories. The real highlight, however, has to be their new X1 Yoga. Lenovo is taking cues from their best product lines and mixing and matching where it makes sense — the X1 Yoga is proof of that.

The X1 Yoga is nearly identical to the X1 Carbon (also refreshed), but it differs in some significant ways, including:

  • Available with a touch display (Carbon is now non-touch only)
  • Hinges that let the screen rotate around to become a tablet
  • Active stylus support
  • Optional OLED display

Like the Carbon, the X1 Yoga is configurable through Lenovo's site, letting you pick from the 6th generation of Intel processors from Core i5 to Core i7, different amounts of RAM (up to 16GB) and up to and up to 1TB of PCIe NVMe SSD storage.

You also get a new touch fingerprint reader that is analogous to the one found in the new Surface Type Cover. That change means no more swiping as you can just touch the reader for instant access through Windows Hello.

The best feature, however, may be the optional glossy WQHD OLED display, which is just jaw dropping gorgeous. I like the X1 line for the 14-inch screens, but they have never been amazing looking. They were more functional, that wow-worthy. With the OLED option now available, not only are the colors super saturated with deep blacks and punchy colors, but it cuts 0.2 pounds off of the X1 Yoga's weight due to the lack of a backlight component. That translates into a 2.8lb (1.27 kg) versus 3lb (1.36 kg) difference between the two models.

Nothing is free, however, and OLED does sap the battery a bit bringing estimates down to just 9 hours from the non-OLED variant (that's about 2 hours less). However, with Lenovo's quick charge technology you can add 50% capacity with just 30 minutes of charging, somewhat mitigating the problem. It's worth noting that just a few years ago we would have considered a 9-hour battery life to be extraordinary.

Oh yeah, and the typical power brick with this system now fits in the palm of your hand (with space). It's beyond tiny.

Don't like OLED? No worries as you can still get the X1 Yoga in Full HD and QWHD IPS display variants including with a matte screen.

Perhaps my other favorite feature was the active stylus. Not so much because the X1 Yoga supports it, but rather because you can store – and recharge – the pen within the laptop's chassis. In fact, just 15 seconds of charging gives you 90 minutes of pen usage. Combined with Lenovo's WRITEit software that lets you use pen input anywhere in Windows and the Yoga's ability to transform and you have a very versatile machine.

Finally, you also get that microSD support (awkwardly in the back) and an optional LTE modem, which is always a fantastic feature.

My one disappointment was that the OLED version of the X1 Yoga won't be available until April (it means I have to wait). The traditional IPS display versions go on sale much sooner in January starting at $1449.

Watch our hands-on video and tour to see the Lenovo X1 Yoga in action. Needless to say, I'm very excited about the OLED version and can't wait to get my hands on it.

More hands-on at CES

Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

80 Comments
  • Price is too much
  • Buy DELL Venue 8 PRO. It has nominal price and good specs.
  • Don't you think it would have been better if the ThinkPad X1 Yoga had a usb-c type port? Wouldn't it be a smart move since this type of USB is increasingly common?
  • Agreed. Would've been nice, especially in a $1500 laptop.
  • Yes, with an usb-c/thunderbolt port it should have been perfect. I miss why they didn't add it.
  • TB3 requires a special chip by Intel; it's not built into the standard Skylake SoC. Just the damn connector would've been fine for plugging in phones, flash drives, accessories, etc. Lenovo's OTHER new laptops have it...But this flagship convertible? :( I guess businesses don't need the new port, but I reckon they don't need an OLED screen, either!
  • Windows Central sponsored by Lenovo.
  • Lol. They are just reporting the CES announcements tonight. And an OLED laptop is drool worthy, no matter which site is reporting the info.
  • Fancy them reporting the actual stuff being shown at CES. The horror.
  • Just GTFO man, what's the point in staying here if you doubt their credibility?
  • Hahaha gud one..
  • we love Lenovo sponsored by them... what`s your problem?? :P :P :P
  • So far Windows Central does more for Lenovo Windows devices than they could do for Windows Central. Same with Microsoft :/
  • About friggin time OLED becomes main stream. I wonder if it meets the new 4k codec standards. Will it have wider color gamut?
  • Hardly mainstream! This is a $1500 laptop, and the OLED adds $200 to the cost. It also knocks down the battery life by about 20%, too. So, basically, you can get the same performance, an extra 2 hours of battery life, not have to worry about burn-in (yes, that still happens on OLED panels), and save $200 by going with an IPS screen. OLED doesn't seem worth it. Then again, Lenovo typically uses the worst LCD screens imaginable on their Thinkpad line, so who knows.
  • Definitely should be aware of burn-in. In the X1 Yoga's Power Settings, it literally says,
    It is also recommended to dim the task bar and other areas of the display that do not change frequently to prolong the overall life time of the display.    
  • For the typical lifespan of laptop being three years, I'm wondering, if it's going to be a real issue....
  • AMOLED screens on display phones in carrier stores are typically trashed in about six months. The ThinkPad brand is business-oriented, so I expect someone paying $1500+ for this would be buying it as a primary computing device and using it many hours per day, using just a few applications constantly. Burn in will definitely be an issue. If you are an executive with money to burn and your primary use case is to watch a few movies while on a flight, this is the laptop for you! If you plan to use it for actual work, do not get the AMOLED screen.
  • Beautiful device, my wife need a new laptop because her old one have a bad USB port, this would be a great one for her.
  • They need to change that ThinkPad logo
  • Yeah. Looks outdated
  • That is the point of it, Thinkpad line is the classic business line and it has cult status amongst its buyers.
  • Agree, a cool notebook with an orrible logo
  • Quick Charging? Haven't head of that in a laptop before. Cool.
  • Lenovo has had their own quick charging thing for a while now.
  • A few manufactures have it, but disable it by default (usually in bios) because it hurts the overall lifetime of the battery (ie replace it every 2 years instead of 3)
  • Eh, Lenovo claims
    Lenovo says that they use high current rather than high voltage to increase the battery charge rate, which they claim helps battery longevity.
     
  • Nice device. I may have to get this. Also like the new mobile nations animation.
  • Seems okay. Hopefully no more adware. After that disaster why would anyone buy Lenovo again. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android on my Frost Nexus 6P
  • Their No.1 status in the laptop market says otherwise, Lenovo will be the largest seller in 2016 just like 2015.
  • That looks really nice Daniel, that display!
  • Way too pricy for bullshit specs.
  • They are standard specs for Ultrabooks. Name me another Ultrabook + specs that differ.
  • Gigabyte P37X. 980M with 8 gigs of VRAM. Not exactly an ultrabook but pretty (17.3").
  • Reading comprehension > You
  • Thank you.
  • "Not exactly an ultrabook but pretty (17.3")"
    Yeah, thanks for proving my point. You're completely off topic and comparing a 17-inch gaming rig to a business class Ultrabook. Good job.
  • Plus finger print scanner, active digitizer & PCIe SSD?
  • big high-resolution OLED display is terrible for the battery life
  • For everything
  • Do you know why? I had thought one of the other strengths of OLED compared with backlit LCD, other than being much thinner and being able to produce blacker blacks, was less power consumption. Specifically dynamic power usage, so black pixels don't draw any power (making a dark scheme selection more power efficient than a light one). Did Lenovo just not implement it well? Is the -2 hours assuming using a light scheme? This is the largest OLED screen on a mainstream device. Maybe the first generation OLED at this size still has some efficiency problems? I know there are production challenges making these larger than phone sized. Perhaps there were sacrifices made on power savings to solve those problems? To double-check myself, I just looked at Wikipedia, which seemed to back up my assumptions: Power consumption While an OLED will consume around 40% of the power of an LCD displaying an image that is primarily black, for the majority of images it will consume 60–80% of the power of an LCD. However, an OLED can use more than three times as much power to display an image with a white background, such as a document or web site.[85] This can lead to reduced battery life in mobile devices, when white backgrounds are used.   As such, I'd be curious if selecting dark themes and backgrounds by the user eliminates or even flips the battery life comparisons.  
  • "As such, I'd be curious if selecting dark themes and backgrounds by the user eliminates or even flips the battery life comparisons."
    It will. Lenovo even told us that using black backgrounds and minimizing whites will have an impact, which is why they have tools on board to reduce whites - go greyscale - in things like Office.
  • Thanks for the added info, Daniel!
  • IMO, it's another thing to worry about when using your laptop, just like burn-in (which they mention in the OLED power settings).  I would've preferred blissful ignorance...I had a Galaxy S3 and S4 with AMOLED, then a Moto G 2nd gen and a OnePlus One with LCDs. When I had AMOLED displays, I was always checking if an app had a dark mode or night mode. And, TBH, using dark modes in harsh lighting is difficult and nigh impossible in daylight.
  • Wow, they really seemed to focus on usability with this device! That trick with the keys retracting when you fold it over is very clever and would seem to make holding it much easier. Same with the pen - building in a place to keep it makes a lot of sense.
     
  • I hate the reporting everywhere, it's not the key retracting, the base plate comes forward around the keys and the keys get locked in place. Not a big difference but it's like that on the thinkpad yoga 2015 and I presume it's the same here.
  • I agree. It's literally called "Lift n Lock" by Lenovo. LIFT and Lock. Not "recess" and lock. Not "retract" and lock. :(
  • Battery powered Stylus? Wonder if it's N-Trig. Also, it sounds like an Apple pencil with those it's quick charge times, wonder if it lasts only 12 hours too... Eitherway, like the new Mobile Nations Outro...
  • Wacom afaik, at least older versions are.
  • Really? 6 consecutive Lenovo articles?
  • Really? You don't know what CES is?
  • lol
  • Ugh no thanks. I have three original yogas and a yoga2pro in my household and they're all disappointments for the cost-not to mention my personal yoga2pro having screen, motherboard, and graphics failures, all at once, two weeks after warranty expiration. I think I'll pass on this company. Dell, MSFT and Asus for me from now on.
  • Don't transfer your experiences from non-thinkpad onto the thinkpad line. I had the same experience with the old yogas (original and one of the other ones) but am absolutely in love with the thinkpad yoga (last years edition) apart from the screen (acceptable, not great though).
  • In my mind, you only buy a Lenovo for a thinkpad. I am not a big fan of their personal line-up.
  • ACTIVE PEN. People are going to have a field day with these words! Looks like some flimsy proprietary tehnology. And what does it mean "active pen"? A pen that does sports and exercise? I think that the whole discussion about the passive and active digitizer technolgy is starting all over again. The pen looks similar to the samsung galaxy note stylus. Great for phablets, bad for tablets. But for a good writing experience you really need a decent pen like the Microsoft Pen or a Wacom or Ntrig stylus design.
  • Active pen refers to the type of technology. Lenovo typically uses Wacom for their pen.
  • True. I owned a Lenov X60T. It had Wacom technology, as did most tablets after that. But this is different isn't it? After all why the battery? Suggestive of Ntrig type technology. Wacom doesn't need a battery.
  • Wacom needs batteries... always has. 
  • Incorrect.​ The wacom pen does not need a battery.
  • yoga 12 is wacom EMR -> battery free yoga 14 is wacom ES -> battery needed   Sorry, I thought all wacom's needed batteries
  • Did some digging on the Internets. It seems the Wacom ES technology is quite new, less than a year old on the market. Toshiba with TruPen and now some Lenovo Yoga lines supported them. Seems for 2016 this will also support the X1 tablet and the new Yoga as well. Exciting times on the stylus technology front. Apples proprietary Apple pencil, Microsoft's Ntrig pen, and now the upgraded wacom EMR-> ES pen. Will be an interesting year to compare these technologies and see which provides the best pen on digital paper experience en which OS provides the best and the most practical app suite for their respective operating systems. If microsoft is wise they would take this opportunity with the Redstone project;) I think the pen and its supporting software suite is likely to be a relevant argument for me when it comes to chosing the right tablet device for this year.
  • Nice overview by someone who's used all three: http://forum.tabletpcreview.com/threads/wacom-emr-vs-n-trig-vs-wacom-aes...
  • Very true, a proper size pen would be nice(r) and I actually remember seeing somewhere that you can buy an external wacom pen and it will work on the thinkpad yoga (last year edition). Good compromise if that is true, small one inside the device for travel/quick stuff, big proper pen when you have the time to take it out.
  • Lenovo themselves have a bigger, more proper active pen you can buy. You can easily use both, either, or neither. At least they give you an option to have something around all the time.
  • Jep found it too while digging around reading up on the battery discussion above^^. :D
  • Options, options, nice. Lenovo is good at options.
  • Hands-on wise, how does it compare to the Dell 13, 15?
  • Superfish?
  • Question? Are? Usually? More? Than? One? Word?
  • Never was on the thinkpad line.
  • I would be wondering why it looks so good... except I am watching the video on a 10 year old LCD monitor :(
  • Finally with 16 GB of ram :) Interesting to know which ports they have on it. I remember another Lenovo model only having a small HDMI out port, from where the cable easily dropped (according to Hanselman I think it was). 
  • Och... 1500$ is a lot of money, that's what I paid for my Asus ROG with extra ram and hard drive. Admittedly, this one has a much better proccessor, display and hard drive. I suppose this has it's own niche market like managers, CEOs and people who preffer portability and design and do not intend to use the machine for something beyond work. Still... it's beautiful and I do wish I had one because carrying my 8lb ROG + 2lb AC Adapter from client to client is not fun.
  • LOL.  Today's articles are driven by the CES show. And because of that, we are getting peaks at the most impressive offereings from each manufacturer. (If it were an Automobile show, these would be the Ferraris, Lambos, Jaguars, Corvettes........) Of course everything seems $expensive.  This stuff isn't targeted at the bargain consumer. Neither is the Porsche. Having said that, the Thinkpad brand has enormous respect from the corporate buyer. There is good reason for that too. Most IT folks get pats on the back when they hand a new Thinkpad product to a dude in a suit. It's been that way for a while too. But I admit I wouldn't buy one for my daughter to surf the net and post on FB. :)    She wouldn't have a clue what makes it any better than a purple-flower shod Acer laptop.
  • OLED gets less battery life than LCD counterpart? That is surprising...same resolution?
  • It consumes less power than an LCD when displaying black, it consumes more power than an LCD when displaying white. At least, that's what I've heard. I'm not excited to go back to my AMOLED days, looking for "dark mode" or "night mode" on apps. I like the inflexibility of LCD: my power consumption doesn't depend on what I'm looking at.
  • Seems like an OLED display on a laptop would have major concerns about burn-in, like for the Windows task bar and tray icons, no? After burning in the WP7 ellipsis bar on my Samsung Focus S, I don't think I'd trust an OLED laptop display...
  • Yup. Watch Daniel's video and you can see this text in the Power Options dialog:
    It is also recommended to dim the task bar and other areas of the display that do not change frequently to prolong the overall life time of the display.  
     
  • Hey Daniel could you comment on the active digitizer and if the screen has palm rejection? It would be very helpful to know for people wtho take notes, and a strong viable alternative to the SP4. Thanks!