- Spacious keyboard
- Excellent display
- Good performance
- Minimal end user upgrade options
- Some fan whine
The ThinkPad Yoga 15 is the largest Yoga yet, including a 15.6-inch display and weighing more than 5 pounds. The bulk makes it cumbersome to use in tablet mode although it’s nice to have the versatility.
The Yoga 15 is comparable to other 15.6″ ThinkPads like the E550 and T550 in specifications and features and becomes a viable alternative if you’re interested in tablet functionality.
Build and Design
The Yoga 15 has an all-black exterior that is easily at home in a business environment. The chassis on the whole feels quite solid probably because everything is packed tightly together – the Yoga 15 is only 0.8″ thin, slightly slimmer than the average 15.6″ notebook. We found no construction irregularities. The back of the lid is aluminum for added protection, but the rest of the chassis is plastic. The ThinkPad Yoga series is a step up in quality from the consumer IdeaPad Yoga series.
On the Yoga 15, only its hinges distinguish it from a traditional ThinkPad. You may notice the difference if looking at it side by side with a regular ThinkPad. These special hinges allow the Yoga 15’s display to fold over backwards 360 degrees, turning it into a tablet. The Yoga 15 is no doubt cumbersome to use in tablet mode as it weighs approximately 5 pounds and is just as large as a normal 15.6″ notebook. The Yoga 15 can also transform into “stand” and “tent” modes though the staff at NotebookReview didn’t find them to be as useful on a notebook this size.
Upgrading the Yoga 15 is not for the faint of heart – removing the entire bottom of the chassis is no easy task as there are numerous screws. Clearly the Yoga 15 was not designed to be user upgradeable, so you’ll want to plan ahead and get the configuration you want from the factory. The battery is also sealed within the chassis, so hopefully its battery life is enough for you – we’ll talk about that in a bit.
Input and Output Ports
The Yoga 15 has a total of three USB ports, HDMI, and an SD card reader. There are more ports on Lenovo’s regular 15.6-inch ThinkPads, the E550 and T550 but the Yoga 15’s selection should be enough for most users. The Yoga 15 is compatible with the Lenovo OneLink docking station products which includes a wealth of ports like DisplayPort and Ethernet if you want to transform this Yoga into a desktop replacement.
On the left side of the notebook you’ll find a cable lock slot, power jack, a USB 3.0 port, SIM card reader, headphone/mic jack, and a full-size SD card reader. On the right side of the Yoga 15 is the on/off button, volume up/down button, screen rotation button, USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports, and full-size HDMI.
Screen and Speakers
The Yoga 15’s 15.6-inch display is an IPS-type panel that provides almost limitless viewing angles and helps provide better image quality. We found the colors look saturated enough while watching Finding Nemo. The brightness is good in just about every situation, bright enough in fact that we kept the screen set at about 70% brightness indoors.
The Dragontrail glass surface is slick and easy to touch but you’ll notice it creates a lot of glare under bright lights or direct sunlight. We imagine photographers and most users will be quite happy with the image quality especially compared to most consumer notebooks that feature TN-type display panels.
The speakers are surprisingly good for a notebook. The sound comes from two slots above the keyboard which is fine in notebook mode but muffles the sound if you’re using this notebook hooked up to a monitor and have the lid closed. There’s a noticeable amount of bass though not too much, which is not something we can say about most notebooks.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The Yoga 15’s keyboard is one of our favorite parts of the notebook. The ThinkPad legend is still alive: it has engaging feedback and a quality feel. There’s a dedicated number pad as well, which should come in handy for spreadsheets and data entry work. There are handy shortcut keys on top of the number pad for launching the calculator, locking the notebook, opening a web browser and Windows file explorer. The keyboard is backlit and very visible in dark rooms. There’s enough spacing between the keys to prevent typos. NotebookReview noticed that the left Shift key had issues registering depending on where we pressed it, on the left or right edge of the key, though we can’t imagine this being normal in production models.
The plastic cutout surrounding the keyboard keys automatically rises up to sit level with the top of the keyboard keys when the display is folded backwards. This makes the notebook easier to hold in tablet mode since there are no longer exposed keys, but it still doesn’t feel as natural as a flat surface. In order to get a completely flat surface under your fingertips, you’ll have to look at a convertible notebook with a twist-and-fold design or a detachable model where the display can separate from the base.
The touchpad — or in this case a Clickpad with integrated buttons — on the Yoga 15 is a pleasure to use. The clicks are solid enough so you won’t be making accidental presses. It was plenty accurate in our testing and had no learning curve compared to other “buttonless” touchpads we’ve used.
The pointing stick has the classic ThinkPad feel and has its own set of dedicated buttons above the Clickpad. The ThinkPad Yoga series are the only convertible notebooks we’ve tested with features a pointing stick. Of course you can always just touch the display instead of using the Clickpad or mouse.