Review: Lenovo's Yoga Slim 7i Carbon is a high-end, portable beauty with one gigantic problem

There are no extraneous functions on this laptop, so can it stand out from the pack?
There are no extraneous functions on this laptop, so can it stand out from the pack? Photo credit: Newshub

The Yoga Slim 7i Carbon from Lenovo is a good-looking, portable laptop with the specifications you'd expect from a decent business and a top level student machine.

The durability and weight of the high-strength carbon fibre casing means even the clumsy among us should feel comfy using this moon white-coloured beauty.

But it's not one of those confused devices that has a touchscreen or a detachable keyboard to turn it into a tablet either, so without gimmicks, can it stand out from the pack?

I've been using the Yoga Slim 7i Carbon for a few weeks now and here are my thoughts.

The good

There is one thing that technology companies have excelled at over the years and that's providing so much packaging waste that when you buy something new,  you need to buy extra recycling bins as well. Thankfully Lenovo has moved past that.

In fact, so slight was the packaging the laptop came in, I feared I'd been sent the wrong thing. Picking it up just added to the worries - it was so light I thought the box was empty.

Thankfully that turned out not to be the case and instead I was presented with the 966g Yoga Slim 7i in all its... glory? Well, that still had to be assessed.

Lenovo laptop
Photo credit: Newshub

In terms of looks, the laptop ticked my boxes early on. I like the white colour - I hope I've moved past my 'smearing chocolate everywhere' days and I keep it clean - and the relatively small bezel around the screen means viewing area is maximised.

And, joy of joys, Windows Hello is available too, so the instantaneous facial recognition login is able to save me precious seconds once again.

I also found the backlit keyboard enabled maximum productivity. Touch typing is one of the best things I ever learned to do at school, but that does mean some keyboards don't agree with me.

Out of the many words typed on the Yoga, the only errors in the documents were my mistakes. I mean who can remember whether it's 'ocurred', 'occured', or 'occurred', right?

I was also impressed at how quickly the laptop sprang back into life after shutting the lid - it's all very well being portable but if it takes too long to log back in when you open it back up, what's the point?

The Intel Iris Xe Graphics G7 card and 16GB RAM meant that I was never less than delighted with the overall speed and look, too.

Once I'd ramped up the brightness a bit I really enjoyed the depth and saturation of the colours on-screen. Woody and Buzz Lightyear certainly didn't look 26-years-old while streaming the wonderful Toy Story (yes, the movie is that old).

And the Harman-branded Dolby Atmos speakers did a pretty good job on audio too. To my ears they sound similar but perhaps a touch less full sounding than those of the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 9310.

But I'm being picky - Ozzy Osbourne still sounded maniacal and loud, so I can't complain.

Finally, if we accept we're operating in a USB-C and Thunderbolt connectivity only world now - farewell USB-A accessories - then the three ports, two of which are Thunderbolt, are more than enough to allow connection to external monitors and charge devices.

Given the lack of bulkier ports is a necessity to deliver the thinness for compact laptops then I can't really complain - but it's something to note if you have a favourite external device that only has an older USB connection.

Lenovo laptop
Photo credit: Newshub

The bad

Like other laptops in this category, the Yoga isn't going to enable you to play the latest and greatest games in your Steam library, unless you lower the settings to their absolute minimum.

My choice of games, which tend to be a few years old now, worked pretty well, however. But, as with virtually every other laptop out there, when the fan kicks in and the heat builds up then your overall enjoyment of the device can be impacted. 

I found the touchpad to be a little quirky at times. Generally, the right and left click functionality was well-defined, but there were a couple of occasions when I reached across the device and strange things happened on screen without me meaning to do so.

I dare say some playing with the settings could have avoided this, but it's not something I've noticed on other laptops.

The webcam also worked as expected but, while the quality of picture and audio was okay in Skype meetings, I had hoped that we might be past 720p front-facing cameras now. It makes any stills you take with it grainy and unsatisfying.

And so to the one thing that had me ready to really push the durability of the Yoga - had I been younger and more impetuous, then the carbon fibre's body to withstand being bounced off a concrete wall would have been tested.

I'm referring to the bloatware - unwanted and unnecessary software - pre-installed on the laptop.

Lenovo, in its wisdom, has decided that Windows 10 isn't enough and it must install its own stuff on top. Not only does this make the taskbar cluttered and therefore next to useless on a 13 inch screen with everything else competing for real estate, it also feels like a bit of a con.

Please, manufacturers, don't do this - especially when these things aren't necessarily the easiest to uninstall if you don't want them.

I simply don't want your software that replicates functions Windows already has, I don't want your choice of anti-virus software that you are undoubtedly getting paid to push and ABOVE EVERYTHING ELSE I don't want you telling me I've got to fork out extra money for my computer to work as well as it should.

And yet that's exactly what I got here.

Lenovo laptop
Photo credit: Newshub

There are legitimate reasons why some additional software may need to be installed - I'm thinking BIOS and driver updates - but don't tell me I need to pay $46.47 per year to optimise the performance of the laptop I've already paid my money for. 

Telling me my laptop could perform better if I pony up extra cash isn't going to make me feel positive about your company. And it's certainly going to have me thinking hard about recommending you to others.

Another example of how misplaced this kind of thing can be was with the battery display. Windows has a built-in battery life indicator, letting you know how long you have until it needs recharged.

Lenovo also added its own. So now I have two. And, after switching Lenovo's to display how long I had left in hours and minutes, I then witnessed a performance that wouldn't have looked out of place in the movie Showgirls.

In the space of a few moments, without me touching the laptop or doing anything on it, the battery went from three hours to just one hour.

It then stayed on 01h09m for ages, went up to 01h12m then to 03h31m then to 04h10m, then to 05h06m then to 01h29m and then to 03h13. You get the picture. It was absurd and utterly useless - and distracted from a pretty strong battery performance that lasted me the whole work day.

If you're going to put something extra on the laptop that I don't want, at least have the decency to have it make some sense, eh? And breathe...

The verdict

Overall I found the Yoga to be a very good laptop with a few minor annoyances - and one gigantic one.

If you're a little less highly strung than I am and you're in the market for a lightweight, powerful laptop that you can throw in your backpack or briefcase and not worry about, then this will do the trick.

And if you're into the slightly retro, almost-but-not-quite white MacBook look of the device, then you're going to want to run and get one quick.

Depending on how much RAM you want and where you do your shopping, it'll set you back somewhere in the ballpark of $2150 to $2400 so, while it's not cheap, it's not that much to pay for something that should last you a good few years.

The Yoga does everything you expect it should, and pretty well at that - I just wish the same thoughtfulness that went into the design and specifications also covered the end-user experience when it comes to the bloatware.

Newshub was supplied a Yoga Slim 7 Carbon with i7 processor and 16GB RAM for this review.