The Lenovo Yoga Duet 7i is a new competitor to the Microsoft Surface Pro 7. Compared to that one, it offers a bigger screen, has an integrated kickstand as well, and the keyboard cover and stylus are included. Including these accessories, it’s quite a bit cheaper with prices starting at around 1300 Dollars. In this review, you’ll learn if it’s a great Surface alternative or if you should get the original.
Hardware & Performance
Let’s start with the internal hardware and performance. Depending on the version, the Lenovo Yoga Duet 7i features an Intel Core i3, i5, or Core i7 10th-generation processor. These chips belong to the U series. Also, you can choose between 8GB and 16GB of RAM and a 256GB up to 1TB SSD.
I’ve got the one with an Intel Core i5-10210U quad-core processor, 8GB of RAM, and the 256GB SSD. That version costs around 1300 Dollars including the keyboard and pen.
As a comparison: The Surface Pro 7 with similar specifications and including accessories costs around 1700 Dollars. These are the retail prices, discounts are not factored in. And I’m using German prices because the Lenovo is not out in the US yet. Prices vary by market, of course, but the difference should be about the same. The Surface has a bit better processor and an Intel Iris Plus graphics chip – that needs to be said to be fair.
The results of my benchmark tests are a bit disappointing. In the CPU tests from Geekbench 4, Geekbench 5, and Cinebench R15, the results are always below the Surface Pro 7.
In tests that measure the graphics performance, the differences get even bigger. In the Cinebench R15 GPU test it’s even slower than the Lenovo MIIX 520 that I reviewed at the beginning of 2018.
Well, this Core i5 U-series chip is not the fastest, of course. There are almost no differences compared to the 8th-generation one found inside the Lenovo MIIX 520 that you’ve seen in my benchmark comparison. If you want to have more performance, you’ve got to spend at least 1500 Dollars for the Core i7 version.
Real-life performance is good, of course. Especially for office work, but also surfing the web in Chrome and Microsoft Edge is very smooth. I edited photos in Adobe Photoshop and that works fine. But as soon as you’re doing more demanding tasks, the weaker performance compared to the Surface Pro 7 is noticeable.
For my reviews, I always render a 9-minute 4K video in Adobe Premiere Rush. For this test, the Yoga Duet 7i needed twice as long as the Surface. And the iPad Pro was finished after a quarter of the time. And that’s even though the Lenovo is actively cooled. There are fans on the top which clearly can be heard during benchmarks and the video render test. The Surface and iPad are quiet.
You can hear those fans when playing games too. I tried Fortnite among others and that game shows that this is not a gaming tablet. When setting the graphics to low, it’s playable with about 24FPS even when fighting. Sure, that’s terrible for real gamers but fine for occasional gaming. When setting the graphics to medium, it gets just 15FPS on average.
I can’t recommend Windows tablets as a gaming tablet in general because most PC games are not optimized for touchscreens. But sure, you can play older or less demanding titles just fine.
Display & Speakers
I have praise for the screen of the Lenovo Yoga Duet 7i only. We’re getting a 13-inch IPS display that’s noticeably larger than the 12.3-inch screen of the Surface. With 2160 x 1350 pixels, the resolution is high enough so that texts look sharp.
Viewing angles are wide and it’s bright enough. It makes fun to edit photos with it or to watch movies. The screen size is perfect for that.
Far from perfect are the speakers, though. Even though we do get stereo speakers, the sound quality is okay only. It’s usable for YouTube, of course. But current premium tablets from Samsung and Apple offer a much better sound. Well, you shouldn’t get a Windows tablet for Netflix in particular anyways.
An active stylus is included at no extra charge. That’s fantastic because, with most competitors, you’ve got to pay at least 100 Dollars extra.
The pen makes a good first impression. It’s made of metal, you’ve got to replace a battery occasionally, and it’s pressure-sensitive. That means you can draw a thicker line by pressing down harder. It feels comfortable in my hands and has the size of an average pen. It looks very similar to the Surface Pen.
On the side, there are two buttons that you can configure in the settings. On mine, the first one is the eraser and with the second one, I open Microsoft OneNote.
In Windows 10, the pen is very well supported because Microsoft has been releasing similar devices for years now. You can take a screenshot very easily and annotate it. And a great handwriting recognition is built into the on-screen keyboard.
OneNote is the perfect note-taking app for Windows. I wrote a lot with the Lenovo pen in OneNote and that works well. You can use the stylus in Adobe Photoshop as well and I didn’t have any issues there.
Right before this review, I compared the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 and Apple iPad Pro with each other. And compared to these, I noticed that the Lenovo pen does not react as fast as they do. Writing always lags behind the tip a bit. I think that’s because here, we get a 60Hz screen only.
For handwritten notes, I think the Yoga Duet 7i and this Lenovo pen are great. But if you don’t need Windows and you want to draw as precisely as possible, I think the premium devices from Samsung and Apple are a bit better suited.
Design & Built Quality
The Lenovo Yoga Duet 7i feels very well made. On the back, it has an integrated kickstand which is made of metal and can be opened very wide. The tablet feels like a high-end device.
For me, it feels very thin – but in fact, with 9.2mm it’s a bit thicker than the Surface Pro 7. I think the large 13-inch screen makes it seem so thin. Without a keyboard, it weighs 800g and with you’ve got to carry 1.15kg. I like that the screen bezels are quite thin.
It does not have a large USB type A connector. Instead, Lenovo decided to give us three USB type C ports which you also use to charge it. Two of these are USB C 3.1 Gen 1 ports which you can also use to connect external monitors. It has a microSD card slot and a standard headphone jack.
On the bottom, there’s a connector for the keyboard cover, and on the top are the fans. When using it heavily, you’ll hear and feel warm air coming out the right side. The body itself never felt uncomfortably warm during my review. Instead, I thought it’s surprisingly cool. My iPad Pro often is much warmer.
Let’s check out the keyboard cover. That’s included and does not have to be bought separately which is great. Without one, it makes no sense to get a Windows tablet anyways.
The keyboard is connected using a magnetic connector. Folded up, the screen is protected. The back of the cover is made of a fabric that makes a great impression. But the keyboard itself is plastic. It does not feel as high-end as the Alcantara keyboard from Microsoft, but it’s fine.
I’ve been able to type with the keyboard blind and very fast immediately. It’s a normal-size one with extra functions keys. There’s a touchpad below which is not as big as the ones of some laptops these days, but it’s fine. It’s a precision touchpad which supports the multitouch gestures of Windows 10.
A super interesting feature is that Bluetooth and an extra battery are built into the keyboard. That means you can use the keyboard as a Bluetooth keyboard separate from the tablet. For that, you’ll have to turn on Bluetooth, of course.
I think that’s a very useful feature. For instance, you can have the Yoga Duet on a table, either in a cafe, on a train, or airplane, and the keyboard is sitting on your lap. You can put the tablet on a high stand at home, too, while the keyboard sits on the table. That’s more ergonomic.
There is one negative aspect too, however. You can’t use the keyboard at an angle. Instead, it’s always sitting flat on the table. With most other Windows tablets, you usually can angle up the keyboard a bit.
Camera & Windows Hello
On the front and back, we get 5-megapixel cameras each. The picture quality is fine for video chats and to scan in documents or so. But sure, they’re not on the same level as even inexpensive smartphones are. But okay for Skype and Zoom.
The infrared sensor next to the webcam works fantastic. It’s used for facial recognition to unlock the tablet which even works in bad light and is quite fast. If the screen is turned off, you often don’t even have to press the power button to unlock it, you just have to sit in front of the device and it works on its own.
The Lenovo Yoga Duet 7i is running normal Windows 10. I don’t have much to say about it because I’m sure you know Windows already. This tablet behaves just as any Windows PC does. The tablet mode is useful, of course, and other features like handwriting recognition are well implemented.
Lenovo did pre-install a bit of software. With these apps, you can configure the pen and change settings regarding the power or download new drivers. McAfee is pre-installed too, which can be annoying, but you can just uninstall it.
When watching an HD video on YouTube at maximum brightness in a loop, the battery of the Lenovo Yoga Duet 7i lasts 6 hours. And when looping an HD video locally at medium brightness, it lasts 10.5 hours.
Lenovo Yoga Duet 7i Review: Final Verdict
So, is the Lenovo Yoga Duet 7i a tablet that I can recommend? I like that we’re getting a large 13-inch screen, the design looks nice, and the removable keyboard with optional Bluetooth is an excellent idea. And it’s great to see that the keyboard and stylus are included so that you don’t have to buy anything extra.
The performance of this Core i5 is okay only, though. Sure, office work and Photoshop and so on work fine. But in benchmarks and my real-life video render test the Core i5 of the Surface Pro 7 performs quite a bit better.
Yes, the retail pricing of the Microsoft tablet is much higher. But if you factor in discounts, you don’t have to pay that much more.
I think the Yoga Duet 7i can be a great choice when prices are dropping a bit, for Prime Day or Christmas, for example. Compare those prices when you’re looking for a new tablet. When prices are similar, I would get the Surface Pro 7 instead. And, who knows, by the end of the year we might be able to get a Surface Pro 8 too.
Let’s check out some alternatives.
I’ve mentioned the most important competitor a couple of times along the review already. I think the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is fantastic and the performance is a bit better. The screen is smaller and it often is pricier, which is a downside. And you can’t use the keyboard separate from the tablet. The Surface Pen is very similar to the Lenovo one.
If you want to spend much less on a Windows tablet, then check out the Microsoft Surface Go 2 and the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 3i. I’ve reviewed the Surface Go 2 and it’s a great little tablet. And I’m about to review the smaller one from Lenovo.
- High-end design
- Pretty 13-inch screen
- Good stylus
- Keyboard cover with Bluetooth
- 3 USB C ports
- Windows Hello facial recognition
- Bad speakers
- Slower than Surface Pro 7
- Keyboard can’t be angled up
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