Lenovo Yoga A940: is it a real rival for the Surface Studio?

Lenovo Yoga A940
Easel does it: the Lenovo Yoga A940 folds into easel format

I’ve never been convinced by the Surface Studio – a huge all-in-one PC that folds down into an easel-like format. Lenovo clearly thinks Microsoft is on to something, though, which is why it’s launched the Lenovo Yoga A940 at CES 2019. This brings a couple of fresh ideas to the format but are they enough to make it worth £2,000?

Lenovo Yoga A940: the specs

Before we dive into the detail of what makes this all-in-one a bit different, let’s deal with the raw specs of this device.

Screen27in IPS touchscreen at either 3,840 x 2,160 (Ultra HD) or 2,560 x 1,440 (Quad HD)
ProcessorIntel 8th-generation Core i7
Memory8GB, 16GB or 32GB of DDR4 RAM
Storage128GB, 256GB or 512GB solid-state disk partnered with either a 1TB or 2TB hard disk
GraphicsAMD Radeon RX 560
Ports4 x USB 3, 2 x USB 2, 1 x USB 3.1, 1 x Thunderbolt, 3-in-1 card reader, LAN, headphone jack
Operating systemWindows 10 Home

Overall, it’s a pretty hefty spec. I’d definitely want the Ultra HD screen and 32GB of memory inside this beast, but that spec will likely push the price to £3,000 or beyond. So let’s move on to the things that might help justify such an investment.

Lenovo Yoga A940: the easel design

Lenovo Yoga A940

As you can see from the photo at the top of this article and the one above, the Yoga A940 can be used in two configurations.

There’s the form factor above where it acts like a regular all-in-one computer with wireless keyboard and mouse. And then the screen can be dropped down and angled backwards, acting like a designer’s easel.

The clever bit is how Lenovo has catered for all your peripherals when the A940 is being used in easel mode. The keyboard stows into that cut-out section on the base, while the mouse and bundled stylus have their own home on the pad on the right-hand side.

You’ll also see a smartphone on the pad in the photo above. That’s because that pad doubles as a Qi wireless charger, letting you top up your smartphone while you work.

One final considerate touch. As designers or photographers – two of the target professions for such a device – often work in darkened environments, there’s a strip of LEDs along the base of the screen. These will help illuminate any documents placed underneath the screen or the wireless keyboard. Clever thinking.

Lenovo Yoga A940 : a dial with a difference

Like Microsoft’s Surface Studio, the A940 also comes with a dial. However, Lenovo’s Precision Dial isn’t a circular hunk of metal that you drop on the screen. Instead, it comes in the form of a USB dongle that can be attached to either side of the computer.

The Precision Dial is configured to work with various Adobe apps, Microsoft Office and Windows, and is intended to make it easier to tweak various settings while you’re working in easel mode with the stylus in your other hand. In Adobe Photoshop, for example, you can use the dial to tweak the brightness of an image.

It has to be said that the Lenovo demo didn’t go super-smoothly. The Lenovo rep struggled to get the dial working properly in Adobe Lightroom and our ten minutes of hands-on action with the A940 didn’t yield any better results. However, Lenovo has a couple of months to smooth out the software gremlins, so let’s not be too judgmental at this stage.

The ability to move the dial to either side of the screen appeals greatly to this left-hander, and it’s a far more elegant solution than Microsoft’s drop-on Dial, which simply gets in the way when it’s placed on the screen.

Lenovo Yoga A940: initial verdict

As someone who spends a fair amount of his professional life working in Adobe’s apps, I’m bang on the target market for the Yoga A940. So am I gagging to hand over my £2,000 or so when the device launches in March?

I’ll still need convincing. Make no mistake: the Ultra HD screen is astounding, the device has more than enough power at top spec and this is the best spin on that easel-style form factor that I’ve seen.

But I’m just not sure that easel style of working brings any huge benefits, the kind of productivity boosts that would justify a huge outlay on such a device.

I’m prepared to be won over when the final review unit arrives, though.

Now read this: Which Microsoft Surface should I buy?

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at barry@bigtechquestion.com.

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