Today's ultra-portable premium laptops don't have to cut too many corners to be super thin and super light. The latest generations of processors with low power consumption do not require a lot of cooling, and more efficient hardware and software enables a reasonable battery life, even with physically smaller batteries. The relatively small USB Type-C connector has also allowed manufacturers to slim down laptops without completely compromising connectivity. Apple pioneered this particular laptop style in 2015 with its super-minimalist 12-inch MacBook, and Dell soon ranked its XPS 13 almost equally strong. Other companies have also developed their own products that strive for a similar balance between performance, style, portability and price.
The MacBook has just been killed, but Lenovo's Yoga S940 is now available in India to seduce buyers who don't mind spending a lot of money. It contrasts with the Dell XPS 13 (test) as well as the HP Specter x360 13 (test) and the Acer Swift series. In addition to style and portability, Lenovo also promises intelligent AI functions. Let's see what the Yoga S940 actually does.
Lenovo Yoga S940 design
The Yoga S940 is not noticeable and there is nothing about its exterior that would attract attention. Its body is made of aluminum with a very calm, dark gray, sandblasted texture. What you'll notice most is how thin and compact this laptop is. That means it feels very high quality when you pick it up and turn it over. Although we only weighed 1.2 kg, we never felt that it was flimsy.
You could associate Lenovo's yoga brand with 2-in-1 convertibles, but the Yoga S940 isn't one of them. It doesn't even have a touchscreen, let alone the ability to fold up and use as a tablet. In many parts of the world, the Yoga brand now applies to premium thin-and-light models as well as 2-in-1 models. It is interesting to note that for this reason, in some countries you may come across the same device that is also sold as the IdeaPad S940.
The most important design features of this laptop are only visible when you open the lid. Lenovo used curved glass for the screen, so there are no visible side edges. As with most premium smartphones today, the glass of the screen extends to the edges of the top half of the device. This gives it an interesting look and it is frankly very subtle but also very sophisticated.
A disadvantage of this is that reflections can be problematic, especially under office lights because there is no angle at which the light does not hit part of the curve. You will also leave a fingerprint every time you touch the lid to open or close it.
Despite the narrow edges of the screen, there is enough space for a webcam and infrared sensor hardware thanks to a tiny tab at the top. Due to the size of this laptop, you may have to tilt the screen back a bit so that the camera can see your face when you use Windows Hello authentication to unlock the device.
The keyboard is decent considering the available space. We're never going to be happy with arrow keys pressed in a single row, but that's unfortunately the norm now. We had to adjust our writing posture a little since the bottom row is very close to the edge of the keyboard shelf. There are only two levels of backlight brightness that you can choose from.
The key action is flat and crisp, but we got used to the Yoga S940 and were able to reach our usual typing speed relatively easily. The clickable trackpad is large and well positioned, and we had no problems with it at all.
There are two top-firing speakers on the side of the keyboard and two more on the bottom of the laptop. There are two Thunderbolt 3 Type-C ports on the right side and another USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-C port and a 3.5 mm combo headset jack on the left. Any of the three Type C connectors can be used for charging, but the left one is recommended.
Lenovo Yoga S940 specifications and software
We are very excited about Lenovo's recent initiative to give customers the ability to configure laptops according to their individual needs through the online shop. These efforts started with several ThinkPad models, and now the new Yoga S940 is also available for customization. The starting price is Rs. 1,22,133 (thanks to a voucher code that is applied by default). However, the delivery time is at least two weeks at the time of creation.
The basic configuration of the Lenovo Yoga S940 includes a Core i5-8265U CPU, 8 GB RAM, a 256 GB PCIe SSD and a 14-inch full HD screen. Our test device has a Core i7-8565U processor with 16 GB RAM, a 1 TB PCIe SSD and a Full HD screen as well as an optional Type-C dongle in the box, which brings its price to 15 euros , 1,43,184 after a Rs. 3,000 discount. The delivery time is now up to three weeks.
You can also choose a 4K resolution screen for additional Rs. 11,969, and switch from Windows 10 Home to Pro for Rs. 9,000. We strongly recommend choosing the higher RAM size when configuring your laptop, as it appears to be soldered and cannot be updated. On the other hand, the SSD options are listed as M.2 modules, indicating that upgrades are possible after purchase.
Apart from these components, you get a 52 Wh battery, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.1 and the above webcam plus infrared camera. The optional dongle offers you a USB 3.1 Gen1 type A connection as well as HDMI and VGA video outputs. There appear to be no options to purchase accessories, software, or an extended warranty as part of the customization process.
Lenovo is charging McAfee LiveSafe with a one-year subscription that occasionally causes disruptive pop-ups. There's also the proprietary Lenovo Vantage utility, which lets you apply system updates, including BIOS updates, and customize some hardware settings. You can set the Yoga S940 to lock itself when you are not in front of it (which requires the cameras to be on all the time), enable fast charging or maintain battery life, perform quick hardware diagnostics, and look for security issues.
There are some Vantage features that we haven't seen before. First, you can have the webcam automatically blur your background or apply a stylized filter to it while staying in focus regardless of which chat or photo app you use. We tried this with the standard Windows 10 camera app and found that the edge detection is at best coarse despite the infrared camera.
You also get controls for microphone tuning, including situation detection and echo cancellation. There's even an option to attenuate the sound you type during an audio or video call. There are also a few tools like a blue light filter and the authorization switch per app.
Another great software feature is the Glance app, which we came across for the first time while testing the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme. The infrared camera is used to track eye movement and the mouse pointer and windows can be moved to another monitor. This is said to speed up multitasking when using the Yoga S940 with a second monitor. This is probably a rare use case. We wanted to try this out, but were unable to operate a monitor via HDMI with Lenovo's own Type-C dongle.
If you have both Vantage and Glance enabled and are using the infrared and standard cameras, the white and red LEDs above the screen will always be on, which can be distracting. These tools are interesting, but not all of them seem to be useful – blurring the webcam background may be good for privacy, but the implementation isn't great. In addition, the Vantage software user interface is not very well designed and you may not be able to see how many options are available at first glance.
Lenovo Yoga S940 performance and battery life
The Lenovo Yoga S940 is comfortable to wear and use. The weight of a backpack or a shoulder bag is hardly noticeable, and even the 65 W charger is relatively compact. You can whip it out anywhere to get the job done, which is what appeals to us the most. With occasional office use and some internet surfing, it didn't get too hot to be used on a lap, and it should also fit nicely on an airplane tray table.
The screen is bright and vivid. Videos looked great and even the text was clear and readable. As usual, we had to reduce the standard Windows 10 scaling, but everything else was comfortable. Occasionally we missed a touchscreen a bit. We also didn't think we would benefit much from choosing the 4K resolution option for a panel of this size.
The sound from the speakers is surprisingly loud and rich for such a thin device. There is even some bass in the sound. It doesn't distort at high volumes, but the entire body of the laptop vibrates. It's great for music, but voices aren't always clear enough when watching videos.
The underside of the laptop warmed up with prolonged use and intensive work. The top right side of the keyboard also became uncomfortable when playing games and running heavy benchmarks.
As far as the benchmarks are concerned, the Lenovo Yoga S940 scored 3,871 and 2,751 points in the PCMark 10 standard and extended test runs. The single-core and multi-core test results of the Cinebench R20 were 395 and 1,175, respectively. These are enough numbers for general productivity. The POVRay render benchmark lasted 3 minutes, 38 seconds, but the 3D render benchmark from Blender took 1 hour, 15 minutes and 44 seconds.
3DMark gave us 473 points in the Time Spy Test and 1,079 points in the simpler Fire Strike Test. It is clear that we are not dealing with high-performance hardware here. Therefore, extensive content and game creation work is not the intended use case for this laptop.
Rise of the Tomb Raider crashed when we tried to run its benchmark at 1920×1080 with the high preset. With medium quality, the test was completed with only 6.64 fps. At 1280 x 720, the score rose to just 10.57 fps. It is clear that even moderately old 3D games will have difficulty running on such hardware with such a slim body.
If we only consider general usage and productivity tasks like creating documents and surfing the Internet with dozens of tabs open, the Lenovo Yoga S940 has proven itself. This laptop was always snappy and responsive in our time. Our real file compression test took 4 minutes and 11 seconds, and recoding a video file from H.265 took 1 minute and 53 seconds.
Battery life was good at around seven to eight hours of occasional use, including one hour of video streaming and constant internet surfing. The Battery Eater Pro benchmark ran for 2 hours and 57 minutes, which is pretty impressive. Note that Lenovo sets the Yoga S940's battery life to 15 hours with the Full HD screen option, but only 7.5 hours with a 4K panel.
Lenovo has done a good job with the design of the Yoga S940, even if it isn't as eye-catching as the XPS 13 from Dell or the Specter x360 13 from HP. This device focuses on style and portability in terms of price but bulky devices. Since people who travel a lot and have to work in a confined space agree, every little thing counts in terms of convenience.
The curved-edge display looks great, and the keyboard and trackpad are great for office work. The battery life is good and the speakers were also a pleasant surprise. However, by far our most popular feature is the ability to customize the hardware that Lenovo now offers.
We don't think we really care if the eye tracking features aren't there, but you could find a use for them. Other smart features like noise reduction and background blur may be more useful to more people.
Prices are competitive in the premium ultraportable market with those from Dell and HP. You have to decide whether you want 2-in-1 with a touchscreen or not. If you have the budget for it, this laptop could be an excellent travel companion.
Finally, there is one major limitation that we need to be aware of. Intel has just announced its 10th generation "Ice Lake" core CPUs for ultra-portable laptops. These new chips will increase performance in this particular laptop segment, especially in terms of graphics, and will be available in laptops very soon.
We already know that the Yoga S940 will be refreshed as it was shown on stage at Intel's Computex 2019 keynote as a pioneer for Intel's Athena initiative. If you're spending so much money, you'll likely want to wait for the best, but considering how long it has taken Lenovo to bring this version of the Yoga S940 to India from January to now, there's no telling how long you have left will be waiting for an update that has not even been announced to come to this country.