Out of Lenovo’s CES 2023 laptop and desktop lineupthe standout product for me is, without question, the Yoga Book 9i.
It’s by no means the first attempt at a multi-screen laptop. The Asus Zenbook Pro 14 received solid praise from us late last year, and devices like Lenovo’s own ThinkPad X1 Fold have taken the concept and attempted to accomplish something similar with a single, folding screen.
But, at least so far, none of these attempts have really created what I, and many productivity enthusiasts like me, have been fantasizing about forever: a true dual-screen computing experience you can take on the road. Can the Yoga Book 9i change all that? Let’s take a look…
The real benefit of having a dual-screen setup is how often it saves you from having to swap between windows to get work done. We’ve all experienced the pain of having to slog through major projects on tiny laptop displays, endlessly switching between spreadsheets full of stats, emailed suggestions from colleagues, media assets, and so on. The whole process slows you to a crawl and makes you want to pitch that compact little PC out a window.
Attempts like the Zenbook Pro 14, or the 15-inch model seen above, can get us partway there by squeezing smaller secondary displays into their, let’s be honest, somewhat hefty form factors. This approach helps with things like the video editing timelines Asus is fond of using in example photos, but it’s not practical for something like the aforementioned spreadsheets and emails.
Smaller secondary displays that sometimes take the place of a laptop’s touchpad suffer from similar issues.
What about just having one giant foldable screen then? That’s what several laptop makers, Lenovo included, attempted with models like the aforementioned ThinkPad X1 Fold or Asus’ Zenbook 17 Foldseen above.
At first glance, both devices seem straight out of the future. But, just like those transparent displays sci-fi movies seem so obsessed with, you have to wonder… is this actually practical?
The answer has been no for the majority of users. None of these models has really gained widespread traction, and while they’re certainly novel, they don’t scratch the same itch that a desktop setup with two similarly sized displays can.
I’ve expounded on the wonders of multi-monitor setups for getting stuff done at length, so I won’t belabor the point here. But, I will say, it’s taken too long for laptop makers to do the obvious thing and create a practical clamshell laptop with two discrete screens.
The only products that have come close are secondary and tertiary monitor add-ons for normal laptops. While add-on screens like these might be practical for the truly dedicated road warrior, the majority of us would likely be blushing at the coffee shop, wondering how much of a doofus we look like while the Transformers sound effect plays in our head through the lengthy setup process they require.
This is what makes the new Yoga Book 9i so unique: it doesn’t require any absurd setups, and it doesn’t need any unusually shaped, tiny screens that apps may or may not play well with. It’s basically just two average-sized laptop displays, on a hinge, with all the necessary hardware needed to run them squeezed into a slim outer shell.
Of course, even this form factor, which seems like the most objectively usable way to take a dual-screen setup on the go, still requires some adjustment. The detachable Bluetooth keyboard will require you to lug along an extra accessory, and you’ll still be limited to using the dual touchscreens or the optional Lenovo stylus for input, unless you also bring a mouse.
Luckily, even if you forget everything else, you can still opt for an onscreen keyboard or virtual touchpad, although either will eat into the dual-screen real estate that makes this device so special.
As always, it’ll be up to the consumers once the Yoga Book 9i comes out in June to decide if the company has finally answered the dual-screen laptop question correctly. It’ll also depend on whether they think the specs, which you can find below, are worth the $2,100 asking price. If the reality of the Yoga Book 9i finally lives up to the massive potential of a truly useful dual-screen laptop, it might just be a bargain.
Lenovo Yoga Book 9i specifications
|Processor(s)||13th-generation Intel Core i7-U15|
|OS||Windows 11 Home, Pro|
|Graphics||Intel Iris Xe|
|Display||dual 13.3-inch 2.8K, 400 nits, OLED touch screens, DCI-P3 100%, 60Hz, 16:10 4-side narrow bezel (91% AAR), HDR, PureSight, Dolby Vision|
|Audio||2 x 2W, 2x 1W Bowers & Wilkins speakers, Dolby Atmos|
|Camera||FHD IR+RGB (5M USB) webcam with privacy shutter|
|Battery life||Mobile Mark 2018: up to 7.3 hours • video playback: up to 10 hours (dual screen on 150 nits), up to 14 hours (single screen)|
|Dimensions||11.78 x 8.03 x 0.63 inches (299.1 x 203.9 x 15.95mm)|
|Ports||3 x USB-C (full function, Thunderbolt 4)|
|Wireless||Bluetooth 5.2, Wi-Fi 6E|
|Software||Windows Hello, Cortana, Lenovo Vantage, Microsoft Office 365, Amazon Alexa|