Very comfortable keyboard. Bright, vivid, full HD, touch-enabled display. Thin and light. Affordable.
- Bottom Line
The Lenovo Yoga 720 holds its own among fierce competition in the midrange convertible laptop market, offering excellent build quality and a solid blend of features and affordability.
The 13-inch Lenovo Yoga 720 (starts at $749.99; $799.99 as tested) is an attractive convertible laptop with some killer features: a supremely comfortable keyboard, a battery that will last all day and then some, and an intriguing sub-$1,000 price tag. And since Lenovo pioneered this category, it has a top-notch pedigree. The Yoga 720 earns an Editors' Choice award, mostly for its feathery weight and balance of features and price, but if you don't plan to carry it around all the time, you'll need to pore over its spec list to determine whether it's a better buy than the also-excellent Dell Inspiron 13 7000 (7378).
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Looks Good, If You Like Silver
Lenovo has been building convertible laptops with head-turning looks for nearly a decade, which is long enough to convince people who think that the only sleek laptop worth buying is a MacBook or MacBook Pro to change their minds. The Yoga 720 follows in the footsteps of the Yoga 700 and the Yoga 710, which offered consistently appealing styling and excellent build quality. From the outside, the Yoga 720 admittedly looks rather plain. That's mainly because it sports a conventional two-hinge design for the lid, unlike the watchband style hinge that spans the full width of the Yoga 920, adding a noticeable bling factor. Still, the single color option—silver—is quite sleek. There's little to mar the clean lines of the exterior, except for an embedded Yoga logo in the corner of the display lid and left and right edges that taper ever so slightly toward the front of the laptop.
Size and weight are also strong suits. Our review unit weighs 2.83 pounds, which is good for a 13-inch convertible, especially if it's going to be a frequent companion on your commute, vacations, or business trips. It's almost the same weight as the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 Series 2-in-1 and the more-expensive HP Spectre x360 13, and it's significantly lighter than our previous top pick for midrange convertibles, the 3.5-pound Inspiron 13 7000. Note, though, that there are lighter, similarly sized convertibles available, including the Toshiba Portege X20W-D.
The chassis is diminutive, at least compared with the 13-inch laptops of yesteryear. The Yoga 720 measures 0.6 by 12.2 by 8.4 inches (HWD), while the MacBook Air (a 13-inch design that was breathtakingly thin when it was introduced nearly 10 years ago) is 0.68 by 12.8 by 8.94 inches. The result is that it's actually possible to comfortably hold the Yoga 720 in your hands in Tablet mode. It's certainly not as comfortable as an actual tablet, like the Microsoft Surface Pro or the Apple iPad Pro, but neither is it as unwieldy as the crop of 15-inch convertibles—including a 15-inch version of the Yoga 720—that manufacturers strangely continue to sell.
Thin Bezel, Bright Screen
Open the lid to reveal a 13.3-inch, 1,920-by-1,080 (full HD) display. As is the norm for this line, the screen features a very thin bezel, which extends less than an inch from the display to the laptop's left, right, and top edges. We found the screen to be plenty bright enough in the fluorescent-lit PC Labs as long as the brightness level was set to 90 or 100 percent. The glossy screen has considerable glare from bright lights, but it features in-plane switching (IPS) technology, which means that you can experience its bright, vivid colors and crisp text from nearly any angle. Lenovo does sell versions of the Yoga 720 with a 4K display, but full HD is arguably the sweet spot. Cramming in more pixels jacks up the price and will likely reduce battery life.
The screen is touch-enabled, responding to finger jabs as well as the optional $60 Lenovo Active Pen 2, which approximates the feeling of writing on paper thanks to a fine-tuned rubber nib. The screen bounces a bit if you tap it or write on it in laptop mode, but that's a common problem for touch-screen laptops. One notable exception is the Yoga 920, which has its watchband hinge that makes the display markedly sturdier. Some convertibles, including the Portege X20W-D, come bundled with pens, but we appreciate that Lenovo doesn't take that approach, since not everyone finds them useful. For conventional cursor control, there's a touchpad that's on the small side, but still tracks well and responds promptly when you dial up the sensitivity setting.
Above the Yoga 720's screen is an HD webcam, which is adequate for video conferencing, but doesn't support Windows Hello face recognition for logging in, unlike the Inspiron 13 7000's Hello-compliant webcam. Below the screen is a fingerprint reader that does work with Hello, along with one of the most comfortable Windows laptop keyboards we've used. These keys offer an even more satisfying typing experience than the one on the Yoga 920, mainly because they feel much sturdier and offer a deeper clicking sound when you press one. It's akin to the difference between closing the driver's door of a brand-new car (which makes a satisfying thud), versus slamming a door on a fragile 1990s-era Buick.
Along the left edge, you'll find two USB-C ports. One of them supports Thunderbolt 3 for speedy connections to newer external hard drives or displays, a feature that's missing on the Inspiron 13 7000. The other USB-C port is for USB 3.0 peripherals, and both can charge the laptop using the included USB-C power adapter. The right edge sports a power button and a conventional USB 3.0 connector. A total of three USB ports is adequate for a 13-inch convertible at this price, and the Thunderbolt 3 support is welcome if you plan to keep your Yoga 720 for more than a year or two.
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The speakers are mounted on the bottom of the chassis toward the front, and are downward-facing. While the Yoga 920's similairly positioned speakers offer suprisingly robust audio, the sound from the Yoga 720 is about what you'd expect from a thin laptop: tinny and a bit anemic, even at higher volumes.
With 8GB of memory and a 256GB SSD for storage, our review unit is well-configured for a convertible priced less than $1,000. Still, prospective buyers who store everything in the cloud can likely make do with the entry-level model, which comes with 4GB of memory and a 128GB SSD. Wireless connectivity options include 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1, and the Yoga 720 comes with a standard one-year warranty.
Lasts All Day, Into the Night
Our test unit comes with an Intel Core i5-7200U CPU running at 2.5GHz. It's a workhorse mobile processor that we've tested a few times before in both convertibles like the ThinkPad Yoga 370 as well as conventional laptops like the Microsoft Surface Laptop. It offers plenty of power for everyday computing tasks, even though it's already out of date now that Intel has released its eighth-generation mobile chips. It helps the Yoga 720 achieve a class-leading score of 3,092 on our comprehensive PCMark 8 benchmark that measures word processing, video conferencing, web browsing, and other common PC activities.
On our specialized multimedia editing tasks, the Yoga 720 performed about in the middle of the pack, taking 2 minutes and 44 seconds to transcode a video in Handbrake and just more than 4 minutes to complete a series of image manipulations in Photoshop. The clear leader on this test is the MacBook Pro, which has a reputation for computing prowess, but also for commanding a price premium.
Anyone buying a convertible laptop in 2017 should expect it to last through a full day of work or travels and then have enough battery life leftover to watch videos in Tablet or Tent mode on the couch or in the hotel room. The Yoga 720 does not disappoint, achieving 12 hours of battery life on our rundown test, but again, the MacBook Pro is the clear winner here, along with the Surface Laptop, each of which lasted for more than 16 hours. The pattern continues when comparing results of our gaming and graphics performance tests, which the MacBook Pro again dominated, although you shouldn't expect to play immersive games on any laptop with an integrated GPU.
It's little surprise that Lenovo makes some compromises to keep the Yoga 720 as comfortable, good-looking, and affordable as it is. If you're willing to forgo cutting-edge features like a 4K display and a Windows Hello-compatible webcam, you can get a convertible notebook that rivals the build quality of much more expensive machines like the HP Spectre x360 13 or the Lenovo Yoga 920, though admittedly not the computing performance of the more conventional MacBook Pro. Plus, the Yoga 720 is much lighter than its direct competitor, the Dell Inspiron 13 7000. That means it's a better choice for road warrior workers who want to have some juice left over for watching videos in a hotel room with hard-to-find power outlets.
As a hardware analyst, Tom tests and reviews laptops, peripherals, and much more at PC Labs in New York City. He previously covered the consumer tech beat as a news reporter for PCMag in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, where he rode in several self-driving cars and witnessed the rise and fall of many startups. Before that, he worked for PCMag's sister site, Computer Shopper, where he occasionally dunked waterproof hard drives in glasses of water. In his spare time, he's written on topics as… More »
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