Lenovo Yoga 730 (15.6-inch) review: A well-built 2-in-1 convertible, but battery life could be better

Pros

  • Discrete Nvidia graphics
  • Full 360-degree hinge
  • Solid build
  • Bundled Active Pen 2

Cons

  • Poorly thought-out holder for Active Pen 2
  • Moderate battery life
  • Bulky and heavy

The Lenovo Yoga 730 comes in two different sizes — with a 13-inch or a 15.6-inch screen. Both sizes of this laptop have the power user in mind, accepting pen input, featuring discrete graphics and sporting a generally high-level specification — including, of course, the Yoga range’s characteristic 360-degree rotating screen. I took the top-end 15-inch model for a spin. Coming in at £1,499.99 (inc. VAT), this will make a serious dent in the finances. Is it a good buy?

The Lenovo Yoga 730 15-inch is a well-made piece of kit with a very solid aluminium chassis. I usually try to bend laptop lids in my hands, and in this case, while I was able to get some movement, it wasn’t enough to cause concern. You probably won’t require a protective case when you take this laptop on your travels.

On the other hand, it’s a big and heavy system. The 15.6-inch screen demands a chassis measuring 360mm by 249mm by 17.15mm, and it weighs 1.98kg. That’s quite a lot to tote around on a daily basis, and you’ll need a large bag or backpack. It needs a fair bit of desk space too, so it’s not ideal for using on a cramped train or airplane.

The Yoga 730 is designed for flexibility, and as its name suggests, the hinge rotates a full 360 degrees, enabling the now-familiar laptop, tent presentation and tablet modes:

lenovo-yoga-730-15-inchmodes.jpg
Image: Lenovo

Lenovo has not implemented the kind of key lockdown system seen in its premium ThinkPad X1 Yoga. I like the lockdown system as it protects keys when a laptop is held in tablet mode. That matters less with a big, heavy machine like this than it does with a smaller one, as few people will want to hold nearly 2kg of laptop in their hands for long, and it’s more likely that people will work in tablet mode with the 15-inch Yoga 730 sitting on a desk. However, the keys are vulnerable when working in tablet mode with the keyboard resting on your knees.

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The screen is touch responsive in both the available UK configurations, with a Lenovo Active Pen 2 provided in both cases. The pen supports 4,096 pressure levels. Lenovo has struggled in the past to find ways to tether a stylus to its laptops, and here it provides a plastic dongle that occupies a USB 3.0 port. This not only renders the USB port unusable, but it also blocks other ports. There are two USB 3.0 ports, one on each edge, and when one is used for the pen all other ports on the chosen edge are blocked.

lenovo-yoga-730-15-inchactive-pen-docked.jpg

The Yoga 730 comes with Lenovo’s £74.99 (inc. VAT) Active Pen 2, but the laptop attachment uses a USB 3.0 port and blocks other ports on the same side when the pen is inserted.

Image: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

My review sample had a 3,840-by-2,160-pixel IPS touch-screen that was sharp, bright and clear with great viewing angles. The very reflective screen will be an irritant to some, but colours pop nicely and if you’re interested in detailed stylus work you should be happy. The less expensive preconfigured model has a 1,920-by-1,080 touch-screen.

The keyboard is not quite as pleasurable to use as those on the top-end ThinkPad X1s. Keys depress less far and feel slightly less responsive, with very little noise generated while typing. None of this is problematic, though, and I could touch-type at my normal speed.

There’s no TrackPoint here, and consequently no hardware buttons above the trackpad. The two-level backlight can be controlled via the Fn key and spacebar combination.

This is billed as a laptop that prioritises speed as well as physical flexibility. There are discrete graphics in the shape of the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050, supported by either 2GB or 4GB of GDDR5 RAM. There are two processor options, with the top-end model powered by an Intel Core i7-8550U with 16GB of RAM.

Both preconfigured specifications in the UK run Windows 10 Home — and, unlike with other Lenovo laptops, there are no options to tweak the specifications:

  • Intel Core i5-8250U, Windows 10 Home, 15.6-inch 1,920 x 1,080 touch screen, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 (2GB GDDR5), 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, Active Pen 2
    £1,099.99 (inc. VAT)
  • Intel Core i7-8550U, Windows 10 Home, 15.6-inch 3,840 x 2,160 touch screen, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 (4GB GDDR5), 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, Active Pen 2
    £1,499.99 (inc. VAT)

There is a fingerprint reader on the wrist rest, and a decent range of connectors on the left and right edges. The left edge houses the old-fashioned rectangular charge connector, a USB 3.0 port and a 3.5mm headset jack. The right edge houses a second USB 3.0 port, a full size HDMI port and a USB-C connector with Thunderbolt. The on/off switch is here, too. This has an LED frame that glows white when the laptop is on and has 21 percent or more battery power, glows amber when battery is at 20 percent or lower, and blinks white if the laptop is in sleep mode.

lenovo-yoga-730-15-inchamber-power-switch.jpg

The power switch glows amber when the battery charge falls to 20 percent or lower.

Image: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

Lenovo says the Yoga 730’s battery will last for up to 9 hours with the UHD (3,840 x 2,160 pixels), display and up to 11 hours with the FHD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) display. I had the former, and I think this claim is achievable — but only with careful management of screen brightness.

In one working session, with the laptop on its default screen brightness setting, the Yoga 730 depleted 73 percent in three hours. I wasn’t doing much more than writing into a local app, browsing and a bit of music streaming. I recharged, changed to the ‘suggested’ screen brightness and did another session with a similar workload. This time, 76 percent depletion was reached after 7 hours.

The saving grace for those who wish to push the screen hard is rapid charge support. Lenovo says this will deliver up to 2 hours of usage from a 15-minute charge.

With the battery on 73 percent I administered a 15-minute charge and the battery rose to 87 percent — a boost of 14 percent. With my ‘suggested’ brightness setting I was losing 10.5 percent every hour, so I’d expect to get less than two hours of life from a 15-minute charge. You can, of course, drop the screen brightness lower, or rapid charge for longer.

lenovo-yoga-730-15-inchverdict.jpg
Image: Lenovo

Conclusions

The Lenovo Yoga 730 is a powerful laptop. Discrete graphics, a touch-screen, a high resolution display and the bundled Active Pen 2, along with 360-degree hinge, make it tempting for creative types. The relatively short battery life is a let-down, but this can be mitigated by taking the FHD rather than UHD screen option. That will also make this a less expensive purchase.

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