(Pocket-lint) - It's rare we see much of a push for 15-inch laptop form factors these days. With the 12-to-14 inch market being the sweet spot for portability, larger scale laptops are largely all about desktop replacements with greater versatility and other high-end features, such as the 4K resolution display of this Lenovo Yoga 730.
Which, by and large, is what the 15-inch Yoga 730 is all about: maximising on screen by trimming back the bezel more than ever before, while presenting a dazzling array of pixels, plus more ports than you'll find on a smaller and more portable alternative.
Design and connections
- 360-degree hinge build: laptop, tent, stand and tablet modes
- 15-inch model: 1x USB-C (Thunderbolt 3), 2x USB 3.0, 1x HDMI out, 1x 3.5mm jack
- 13in (for reference): 2x USB-C (Thunderbolt 3); 1x USB 3.0, 1x 3.5mm jack
- JBL Speakers and Dolby Atmos headphone compatibility
- Finishes: Iron Grey, Platinum Silver
- 360mm x 249mm x 17.15mm; 1.89kgs
Straight out of the box and the Yoga 730 looks big in its 15-inch form. It's quite heavy, at nearly 2kgs, while its keyboard has three finger widths between its outer keys and the edge of this laptop's overall footprint. If you're looking for portable then, well, you may want to consider a smaller model.
That said, the 730 knows what it is. It's not trying to go for the world's slimmest form factor. It's not aiming at world's lightest either. Instead it's a logical balance of form and function: slim enough to be portable, yet not too thin that space for battery capacity is completely trounced as a result.
Although we've alluded to the 730 in this form as a desktop replacement, it's more than that besides. As its Yoga name suggests, this is a flexible laptop, with a hinge mechanism that can rotate 360-degrees through laptop, 'tablet' (albeit a thick one!), 'tent' and 'stand' positions. In an office space, say if you're presenting to a small group, then the physical screen real-estate might be an absolute must, while those positional features present multiple options to present.
On the ports front the Yoga 730 straddles old and new, with a combination of full-size USB and a single USB-C port. Why there's a whole port space wasted on a bespoke charging port, however, we don't know – it seems like a total waste of space that could have been instead used for an SD card slot (which, by the way, is entirely absent).
Packed within the body are JBL speakers which, when in the correct relative position, are loud and clear. Thing is, as the main ones are on the bottom of the laptop, if you sit the device on any material-covered surface like, say, your lap, then the output can end up being muffled. Sometimes the sound is projected in a way that sounds almost three-dimensional, which is great, but given the mass of space to the side of the keyboard we don't think these speakers are best positioned.
In summary, then, the Yoga 730 is a fairly large machine, but it's within the remit of portable for a 15-inch device. Besides, it's certainly versatile thanks to that hinge mechanism, while its display dominates to (more or less, bezel excluded) match the overall design footprint.
- 15-inch LCD touchscreen with LED backlight
- As reviewed: 3840 x 2560 resolution (4K)
- Left/right bezel is 6.5mm (5.5mm in 13in)
The Yoga 730 is all about its screen, with left/right/top bezel that's less than the 2018 MacBook Air (which we're sat looking at across the room as we type thiss – it's feeling relegated by this Windows beastie). The 15-inch Yoga has 6.5mm bezel to the left and right, while the 13-inch model shaves a further millimetre off that.
There's a bit of a problem, though, and that's with the Yoga's bottom bezel. It's absolutely massive. And there's nothing housed within it, so this large black border just seems a bit pointless – a criticism we've previously asserted with this product line. Having this larger bezel makes the overall product footprint larger than it needs to be, too, which is something that could and should be addressed for the future. It's not an eyesore, it's just the knock-on effect to the product's overall size and mass.
The display itself is often a marvellous thing, however, thanks to a 4K Ultra-HD resolution that looks incredibly sharp. It's really noticeable on things such as black text on white, while having that many pixels on screen permits things like Full HD video editing at pixel-to-pixel scale with a full suite of tools surrounding. It depends what your line of work is, of course, but editors and designers will be content. Netflix 4K looks spankingly good too.
The screen does have a poor choice of coating, however, due to its slightly reflective qualities. We'd rather have a panel a little less gloss and surrender some of the contrast for the sake of it being better designed for use in bright daylight settings.
Keyboard and trackpad
- Integrated fingerprint scanner
The keyboard looks a little lost in the Yoga's 15-inch form, thanks to its considerable surroundings. That's no problem for typing, though, as it's a full-size keyboard just as you'll find in other laptops – and havinng moved from a 13-inch model to this it has felt no different to use.
Thankfully Lenovo hasn't tried to throw in short-travel keys, as the Yoga's offer suitable travel and a nice spongey resistance that makes typing quieter than it is on a lot of other laptops (yes MacBook Air, we're looking at you (as, no doubt, is everyone else)).
The trackpad also feels good in use, with a smooth yet tactile glass surface. Our only qualm is that it's no bigger, especially given the massive footprint available – that's otherwise largely gone to waste.
As an added bonus, the 730 also includes a small fingerprint scanner, for login and payment purposes where applicable, which is positioned off the 'board itself. It's responsive enough, although we prefer the subtler integration of the Apple key (over the power key) in the new MacBook Air.
Performance and battery life
- As reviewed: Intel Core i7-8550 (quad core at 1.8GHz (2.0GHz turbo boost))
- As reviewed: 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD (PCIe)
The 730's spec has been massaged compared to the 720 model from 2017, to now include the latest 8th Gen Intel Core i processors. This review model is loaded with an i7-8550 quad core, clocked at 1.8GHz, making it a powerful machine indeed.
Such power opens up all kinds of use case scenarios. We've been happily emailing and browsing, but more hardcore Photoshop or video editing work won't be a slouch either. And with the option to add discrete graphics (a Nvidia GTX 1050) even some casual gaming with good settings is entirely possible.
With such power does come some limitation to longevity though. We've been getting four and a half hours of use out of the machine, which might not sound like a huge amount – but we're driving a 4K display, including streaming actual 2160p content, which is part of the tradeoff overall.
There's a trickiness in balancing out what a laptop offers. With the 720 predecessor in its 13-inch form delivering double-digit hours of use from a single charge, it'd be easy to find the larger, more powerful follow-up's performance disappointing. But, actually, we feel it's about right: there's lots of power, there's lots of resolution and, that considered, innings per charge seem about as expected for this form factor.
The same goes for sound due to cooling. That processor gets hot at times, which means the hum of fans can kick in under not too much pressure. Sometimes we'd load a few tabs and stream something in one before hearing the fans humming away. Again, it's a compromise: a less powerful processor option (which is available) shouldn't be quite as noisy.
In its 15-inch form the Lenovo Yoga 730 offers a good typing experience, ultra-crisp visuals from its 4K display and plenty of power to churn through tasks.
However, the processor and screen combination limit battery life somewhat, so if you're considering lugging a near-2kg laptop around then don't expect much beyond the four hour mark. That's the tradeoff, though, as all that Intel Core i7 power can be unleashed when this laptop is at the plug, making for a well balanced machine overall.
If you're seeking a 4K machine then the 730 gets a lot right, but we think the screen bottom bezel makes for an oversized footprint, which sees Dell's current XPS competitor a step ahead in design overall.
Dell XPS 15 2-in-1
A slightly smaller footprint and bezels give the Dell an edge over its Lenovo competitor.