October 2, 2023

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Lenovo Yoga Book 9i hands-on: The future of the dual screen

I’ll admit I was skeptical when I first saw photos of the new dual-screen Lenovo Yoga Book 9i. I’ve experimented with foldables and dual screens in abundance, and while many are usable, many also have serious limitations. But this is the first dual screen laptop I’ve ever tried so I can see myself actually buying it. That’s because Lenovo has engineered the necessary software to make sure it can address many of the fairly obvious concerns shoppers might have with such a device.

This butterfly flaps its wings when you open and close your laptop, by the way.
Photo by Vjeran Pavic/The Verge

The first objection is obvious: There’s no visible touchpad on the Yoga Book i9. That’s what first jumped out at me when Lenovo announced the device, a spiritual, laptop-sized successor to the Microsoft Surface Neo — essentially two 13.3-inch, 16:10, 2.8K OLED screens stacked on top of each other with a hinge in the center and a detachable keyboard. “How on earth would one navigate this? ‘ I asked as I watched the keynote address.

It turns out that there are a bunch of methods, and they all seem to work. First, you can touch the screen. Second, you can use the stylus (which lives very firmly in a sleeve on the back of the device). And thirdly, in the Lenovo software settings, you can drag a virtual touchpad directly onto the screen. This touchpad has tactile buttons which, through their physical feedback, Actually feel decently like real buttons. You can change the size of this touchpad. You can move it. The world is your oyster. It felt strange at first that the touchpad would be on the screen, but it’s something I imagine you’ll get used to.

The pen on the back of the Lenovo Yoga Book 9i kickstand.

This is where the pen is.
Photo by Vjeran Pavic/The Verge

You can too Fold this device at an angle of 90 degrees and use it like a regular 13-inch laptop. This is an advantage for single-screen foldable devices as well, but the deal with those is that they make the screen you’re working with a lot smaller (since you take a screen you were using before horizontally and split it in half lengthwise).

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Folding the Yoga Book into a clamshell position obviously reduces your available screen from two screens to one, but the resizing doesn’t feel as drastic as when you fold, say, Asus’s Zenbook 17 Fold in half. You’re still looking at a single, standard-sized 13.3-inch laptop screen with the same aspect ratio as before. (The lower half, where the keyboard attaches, also isn’t particularly tight, which is another recurring problem with foldable devices.)

In any case, when you fold the Yoga Book 9i into clamshell mode, a virtual keyboard and touchpad automatically appear where you’d expect them to. This touchpad is also tactile, and while I generally hate using on-screen keyboards, this one is probably the most clicky and comfortable I’ve ever used. You can also place the physical keyboard directly above the virtual one, with the touchpad remaining in the same place if you do so.

These all seem to be very practical solutions to the missing touchpad issue. OEMs have grappled with the question of where to place touchpads on dual-screen laptops since time immemorial, and we’ve seen a number of front-mounted keyboards and shoddy little touchpads in space. In previous reviews of Asus’ dual-screen models, I’ve suggested that their trackpads were so awful that Asus would be better served for giving it up all together. Lenovo took that leap, and frankly, I respect it.

The Lenovo Yoga Book 9i folds into laptop mode with the keyboard attached.

This is the touchpad, just below the keyboard.
Photo by Vjeran Pavic/The Verge

The Yoga Book doesn’t use a proprietary version of Windows 11 (RIP Windows 10x), but with all the different gestures Lenovo added to improve interactions for the dual-screen form factor, it feels like it is. There are many ways to move your windows and apps around, and it takes about four seconds to master.

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My favorite is flick. Tap and hold on any app or browser tab, slide it, and it goes to the other screen. There’s also a custom snap layout feature for this device, which will likely be more useful to many people in the Yoga Book form factor than it is in standard Windows laptops.

A five-finger tap on a tab or window also expands it to fill both screens, in a mode called “Waterfall Mode”. I can see this being fun to use, although having a giant joint in the middle of your chute gets in the way of the aesthetic somewhat. If you’re using the laptop in clamshell mode, swiping down on the keyboard with eight fingers pulls up a small control panel with quick access to weather forecasts, CPU usage, performance stats, Outlook, and other apps. (This, though, does get rid of the touchpad on the bottom, so it’s more of a quick reference than something you’ll want to leave open—unless you have a mouse plugged in.)

Lenovo Yoga Book 9i in landscape mode with keyboard attached.

This is what it looks like when you put it sideways – a bit like a book.
Photo by Monica Chen/The Verge

I’m sure there are a thousand great things Lenovo has built here. (Lenovo reps were eager to show us more tricks, but our time was limited.) I’m also sure that I haven’t counted every possible location where you can use this device, and that purchasing this will require some exploration in the beginning.

I specifically get a lot of questions about landscape mode, and whether you can use the two screens side by side. The answer is yes, you can, but it’s a little weird. As you can see from the image above, the screens are long and thin when placed this way, and the result looks more like a storybook than a working setup. It’s something you are could It does, but it may take some getting used to (and sometimes, creative sizing).

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Another question you hear often: Does yoga book swings? The answer is yes. If you’re tapping the screen and the laptop is fully vertical, the top screen wobbles a bit. However, I don’t see this being much of a problem, since I imagine I’d like to do most of my navigation on the non-wobbly bottom screen, which would be closer to me and more comfortable to reach.

And finally: how powerful is this thing, and can you edit video on it? The processor inside is a 13th generation Intel Core i7 U series chip, and you know what, it’s not terrible. It’s designed for thin and light devices, so you won’t have a great editing experience, but you can probably complete a project in it if you’re out and about.

It’s true, however, that this hardware’s ultimate success will depend on Lenovo’s ability to create an excellent software experience. The company didn’t quite make it there with the ThinkPad X1 Fold, which was somewhat finicky to use. The Yoga Book 9i feels better, though my testing time was limited. I had no problems navigating the Internet or jumping through tabs during my short time with the device; Although there reports Blue Checker While other people have tested it, I haven’t tested it myself. I’ll get a lot of impressions when I get my hands on the final unit.

But my main impression is that I think someone finally figured out the right way to make a dual screen device. This is really an outstanding idea. It manages to combine the portability benefits of foldable devices with the fun versatility of dual screens without too many downsides that I can see. Although you need to be okay with the hinge in the middle of your workspace – And the With a cough up at least $2,000, which is just the starting price.