Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Review Roundup: Is The OLED Display Enough To Make You Want It?


A lot of people have been fantasizing about OLED-display implementations on devices other their smartphones and tablets. Some manufacturers have responded to the call and outfitted their premiere TV models with OLED displays, which turned out great, but the price difference compared with that of the LCDs became an issue.

Will it be the same story now that OLED displays have made their way into hybrids and laptops?

Lenovo is one of the first manufacturers to give the world a glimpse of OLED displays on laptops. During CES 2016 held last January 2016, Lenovo unveiled the ThinkPad X1 Yoga OLED version, which raised a lot of interest. Even though it took a while, the company has now shipped the first batches of its OLED-outfitted laptop. Several reviewers got their hands on one and gave their thoughts regarding Lenovo's 2-in-1 creation.

Aesthetics, Design And Dimensions

The 2.8-pound Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga OLED version at 0.67 inches is slightly thicker than its 0.66-inch LCD brother, while the other dimensions remain exactly the same. Lenovo used carbon fiber and magnesium alloy for the chassis and gave the case a black matte finish.

"It's (sic) understated aesthetic befits its purpose," writes Devindra Hardawar of Engadget. "That doesn't mean it's ugly, it just resembles very traditional PC laptops, much like its sibling the X1 Tablet."

"The overall best Yoga design the company produced was the ThinkPad Yoga," says Dan Ackerman of CNET. "This variant, part of the buttoned-down ThinkPad line of business computers, kept the best parts of the transforming Yoga experience, but also added a clever keyboard trick."

The keyboard trick, as Ackerman detailed, is the rising outer edge of the keyboard that flushes the keys when the laptop gets transformed into a tablet. This creates the illusion that the keyboards retract. The best part about it is that stray strokes, while in tablet mode, are prevented.

"The 360-degree design has made it adaptable for everything from marathon writing and data entry to touch-based gaming (hello Hearthstone!), video conference calls and media consumption," claims Jason Evangelho, a Forbes contributor. "I've done it all with ease."

Hardware And Performance

Consumers will get midrange to high-end hardware specs with the ThinkPad X1 Yoga. The most basic package will involve an Intel Core i5-6200U that is coupled with 8 GB of DD3 RAM and 128 GB SSD storage, while the highest configuration will use an Intel Core i7-6600U, 16 GB of RAM and a 1 TB SSD.

"Performance is excellent," says SlashGear's Brittany Roston, noting that she reviewed an i5 model. "The X1 Yoga performed smooth as butter with 100 percent consistency; there were no hiccups, no stutters or sluggishness. Everything was very snappy."

The ThinkPad X1 Yoga unit that Roston reviewed had a Geekbench single-core score of 3211 and 6514 for the multi-core.

"While the ThinkPad X1 Yoga does rock a Samsung M.2 SSD, I was somewhat disappointed in the speeds I registered," Evangelho complains after getting 534 MB/s and 300 MB/s as the X1 Yoga's sequential read and write speeds. Tests were done using CrystalDiskMark.

The new 2-in-1 laptop comes with an optional Stylus pen that is housed within the device's chassis. The red trackpoint center button that has been a constant for the ThinkPad series remains on this model.

Battery Life

"Going OLED decreased battery life between 10 to 25 percent, depending on load," Digital Trends' Matt Smith concludes after subjecting both the ThinkPad X1 Yoga's OLED and IPS LCD versions to the same tests. "Remember, there's no backlight with OLED. Instead, each individual pixel is lit, as needed. When all the pixels are lit, they're downing a lot of juice."

CNET's battery drain test showed that the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga comes in at only second to the 13-inch Apple Macbook Pro. It beat the HP Spectre, Alienware 13's OLED iteration and Dell XPS 13 Gold Edition, which got the third, fourth and fifth place, respectively.

The OLED Display

Tests show that OLED displays have much higher contrast ratios compared with LCD displays. Without getting into much detail, know that a high contrast ratio gets rid of the "washed out" layer that is common with other displays. Without the "washed out" layer, everything will be more vivid and precise — blacks will be darker and whites will be brighter.

"Watching videos and perusing photos is a revelatory experience," says Hardawar. "With a resolution of 2,560 by 1,440 (1440p/2K), the X1 Yoga's OLED screen is significantly sharper than a 1080p display, though it's not quite 4K."

"Still, colors were clear and exceptionally bright, and more importantly, black parts of the screen were so dark, they blended perfectly in with the black bezel around the screen," comments Ackerman after saying that the ThinkPad X1 Yoga is not as great as the recent releases for OLED TVs, which can go for as much as $4,000.

Price And Verdict

At the moment of this writing, Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga prices start at $1,161.75 for the most basic IPS LCD version. Adding the optional OLED screen raises the price to $1,401.75.

"ThinkPad X1 Yoga is a fine example of why we'd want [OLED] in all of our devices," writes Engadget's Hardawar. "[OLED] is a transformative display technology."

"The average person, who's looking at a $600 laptop, doesn't need to think about OLED just yet," says Slash Gear's Smith. "If you're already considering a premium system, though, we think OLED is worthwhile — despite the premium. Your laptop's display is one of the few components you'll rely on every moment you use it. It can't be replaced, and it doesn't rapidly go out of date."

"ThinkPad Yoga is all substance, from the rugged design to the high-end components to the fantastic keyboard," concludes CNet's Ackerman. "[The OLED display] is more expensive than non-OLED laptops or hybrids with similar specs, but I'm going to have a very hard time going back to a standard LCD screen."

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