BARCELONA—Alexa, be a laptop. Lenovo’s new midrange Yoga 730 and Flex 14 laptops, announced at Mobile World Congress, come with Amazon’s voice assistant software built in, making them easy-to-use companions for Alexa-based smart home devices.
Look Alexa, No Phone
When we review voice assistant products (like our top smart speakers), we frequently hear from readers who are frustrated by the apparent need for a smartphone to set them up and manage them—about 15 percent of Americans still don’t have smartphones.
They may not have smartphones, but they usually have PCs. This is one way the US is different from a lot of the rest of the world; we have unusually high PC penetration, and a lower percentage of “mobile-first” users than in many other countries. So the idea of setting up Alexa from your PC shouldn’t be as strange as it apparently is to Amazon. Back at CES in January, HP, Asus, and Acer all joined Lenovo in saying that they will have Alexa-enabled PCs.
Alexa has a web app for setup from a PC, but not a lot of people know that. That’s the power of defaults: Even though there’s already an Alexa web interface, putting it front and center on a laptop will make it more visible and thus more usable for less techie types.
With both Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana preloaded, the new Yoga 730 and Lenovo Flex 14 have far-field microphones that can capture voices from up to 18 feet away, Lenovo told us. Unfortunately, you have to unlock the laptop first before you speak at it.
Pricing and Specs
Otherwise, the Yoga 730 and Flex 14 (which will also be known as the Yoga 530) are handsome midrange laptops, both of pretty standard Lenovo Yoga design. The Flex 14 will cost $599.99, the 13-inch Lenovo Yoga 730 will cost $879.99, and the 15-inch Yoga 730 will cost $899.99. Those are all base model prices, of course, and they can be leveled up in terms of processor, memory, and storage.
The processor and graphics are the general upgrades here from previous models. All three new models have 8th-generation Intel Core i7 processors. The Flex 14 has Nvidia MX130 graphics and the 15-inch Yoga 730 has a GTX1050. The 13-inch Yoga has Intel integrated graphics, which might be to reduce weight—it’s a feather-light 2.46 pounds, as compared with the solid 4.16 pounds of its bigger sibling.
All three laptops have both USB-C and USB-A ports, although beyond that, results are mixed. The Flex 14 also has an HDMI out and a card reader; the 13-inch 730 has two USB-Cs and a USB-A; and the 15-inch has two USB-Cs, one USB-A, and an HDMI out.
The Flex has a 1080p screen, and the Yogas can come equipped with either 1080p or UHD panels. They’re all touch screens.
The laptops all fold back in the typical Yoga style, of course. They all have those great, bouncy Lenovo keyboards with fingerprint readers just below, and they’re all pen compatible.
These laptops will all be available in April. We’ve generally given Lenovo Yoga laptops good reviews, and we’ll have full assessments of these models when they’re available.