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Lenovo's dual screen laptop is remarkable

Lenovo's dual screen laptop is remarkable

I admit I was skeptical when I first saw photos of Lenovo's new dual-screen Yoga Book 9i. I've tried foldable and dual-screen apps, and while many are usable, many have serious limitations. But it's the first dual-screen laptop I've ever tried that I can see myself actually buying. And that's because Lenovo has clearly done the necessary software engineering to ensure that it can address some of the... obvious concerns that shoppers might have with a device like this.

The first objection is an obvious one: There's no visible touchpad on the Yoga Book i9. When Lenovo announced the device, which is a laptop-sized spiritual successor to Microsoft's Surface Neo, it jumped out at me at first — essentially two 13.3-inch, 16:10, 2.8K OLED screens Stacked one on top of the other. mid and a detachable keyboard. "How on earth would one navigate it?" I was taken aback by the keynote speaker.

It turns out that there are several methods, and they all seem to work. First, you can touch the screen. Second, you can use the stylus (which rests very comfortably in the sleeve on the back of the device). And third, in Lenovo's software settings, you can drag a virtual touchpad across the screen. This touchpad has haptic buttons, which with their physical feedback feel really similar to real buttons. You can change the size of this touchpad. You can do it here and there. The world is your oyster. Touchpading the screen felt awkward at first, but it's something I imagine you'll get used to.

      You can even fold the device at 90 degrees and use it like a regular 13-inch laptop. This is also a feature of single-screen foldable devices, but the deal with it is that it usually shrinks the screen you're working with (since you're taking a screen that you folded horizontally before Was). were using its length and halving it).

Folding the Yoga Book into clamshell mode obviously cuts your available screen two to one, but the size change doesn't feel nearly as drastic as if you fold, say, Asus's ZenBook 17 Fold in half. You're still looking at a standard-sized 13.3-inch laptop screen with the same aspect ratio as before. (The bottom half, where the keyboard attaches, isn't particularly tight, another frequent problem with foldables.)

Anyway, when you fold the Yoga Book 9i into clamshell mode, the virtual keyboard and touchpad automatically pop up where you expect them. This touchpad is also haptic, and while I generally hate using onscreen keyboards, it's probably the most clicky and comfortable I've ever used. If you do this you can place the physical keyboard right above the virtual keyboard, if you do this the touchpad will stay in place.

These all seem like very workable solutions to the missing touchpad problem. OEMs have struggled with the question of where to put a touchpad on dual-screen laptops since time immemorial, and we've seen a number of front-mounted keyboards and teeny, clunky touchpads in the space. In previous reviews of Asus' dual-screen models, I've suggested that their trackpads were so terrible that Asus would be better served by ditching them all together. Lenovo has made that leap, and frankly, I respect that.

The Yoga Book doesn't use a special edition of Windows 11 (RIP Windows 10X), but with all the various gestures Lenovo has added to optimize interactions for the dual-screen form factor, it looks like it might. Is. Is. There are several ways to move your windows and applications around, and mastering them all takes about four seconds.

is my favorite movie. Touch and hold an app or browser tab, then flick it, and it moves to another screen. There's also a Snap Layout feature optimized for this device, which will help many people find the Yoga Book's form factor more useful than a standard Windows laptop.

Tapping with five fingers on your tab or window causes it to expand to fill both screens, in the aptly named "waterfall mode." I can see it being fun to use, although a large hinge in the middle of your waterfall hinders the aesthetics somewhat. If you're using the laptop in clamshell mode, pulling down on the keyboard with eight fingers brings up a little control panel with weather forecasts, CPU usage and performance statistics, quick access to Outlook, and other applications. (It does get rid of the touchpad that's there, though, so it's a quick-reference thing you might want to leave open—unless you have a mouse plugged in.)

I'm sure Lenovo made a thousand more cool things here. (Lenovo reps were eager to show us more tricks, but our time slot was limited.) I'm also sure I haven't explored every possible situation in which you might use this device, and why buy it? There is no way. Some exploration will be required. Start.

I have a lot of questions specifically about horizontal mode, and whether you can use two screens at once. The answer is yes, you can, but it's a bit awkward. As you can see from the photo above, the screen is tall and thin when placed this way, and the result looks a bit more like a storybook than a work setup. It's something you can do, but it may require some getting used to (and, sometimes, creative resizing).

Another question I hear a lot: Does the yoga book wobble? The answer is yes. If you're tapping the screen and the laptop is perfectly vertical, the top screen wobbles a bit. However, I don't see this as a major problem, as I'll be doing most of my navigation on the non-wobbly bottom screen, which will be closer to me and more comfortable to reach.

And finally: how powerful is that thing, and can you edit video on it? The processor inside is a 13th generation Intel Core i7 U-series chip, and you know it's not terrible. It's designed for thin and light devices, so you won't have an incredible editing experience, but you could probably finish a project on it if you happen to be out somewhere.

It's true, though, that whether or not this device ultimately succeeds will depend on Lenovo's ability to create an excellent software experience. The company wasn't quite as successful there with the ThinkPad X1 Fold, which was quite a mess to use. The Yoga Book 9i feels better, although my testing time was limited. During my brief time with the device, I didn't have any problems navigating the Internet or jumping between tabs; And although there have been reports of blue-screening of the device during other people's testing, I haven't experienced it myself. I'll be more impressed when I get my hands on the final unit.

But my main takeaway is that I think someone may have finally figured out the right way to do a dual-screen device. This is a really neat idea. It managed to combine the portability benefits of a foldable with the fun versatility of a dual screen for as far as I can see. You'll have to be okay with a hinge in the middle of your workbench though - and spend at least $2,000, which is just the starting price.

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