Computer

Look Out, Surface Studio: Hands On With Lenovo's Yoga A940 AIO

Lenovo’s A940 is like no other all-in-one the company—or anyone else—has produced. With a host of nifty conveniences to please creative pros, this is one of the most buzzworthy AIOs of this or any CES.
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Look Out, Surface Studio: Hands On With Lenovo's Yoga A940 AIO

Professional graphic designers working in Windows, assuming they don’t want to ply their trade on a laptop, are more or less relegated to tower desktops to gain the kind of raw-processing power and big-display flexibility they need for programs like Photoshop and Premiere. If they seek a space-saving solution that incorporates advanced onscreen pen input, though, the field until now has narrowed a whole lot more: to Microsoft’s Surface Studio line. That changes at CES 2019, with the introduction of Lenovo’s Yoga A940, a creator-friendly all-in-one PC that starts at a much lower price for its base model ($ 2,349) than the Studio’s does, and does some things the Studio AIOs can’t.

  • A Face-On Look

    The Yoga A940 does its own form of Yoga-flexing. The 27-inch panel (which comes in 1440p or 4K varieties, both with Dolby Vision HDR support) can stand upright like any conventional AIO does, as you see here, but it also lowers, bottom-first, to a shallow angle for drafting work, sketching, and editing media using Lenovo’s included active pen. The dial you see protruding from the left side (much more on that in a moment) is not part of the hinge but a special control, the Precision Dial, that lets you scroll selections, menus, data, and more with a wrist twist.
  • The Rear View: Clean and Clear

    Here, you can see the hinge mechanism and another view of the Dial. The back of the Yoga A940 is clean and tidy enough that you wouldn’t mind this end facing out into an open work space or other high-visibility spot in an appearances-conscious office.
  • The Speaker Grille

    This grille extends across the front face of the base portion, covering the speaker bank. The base behind it contains the whole of the core components for the system. The system is built on 8th Generation Core processors up to the Core i7-8700—that’s full desktop ones, not U-series mobile ones like in the Surface Studios—and AMD Radeon RX 560 graphics, a decent, if not gamer-grade, dedicated GPU. The memory can be configured up to 32GB (in steps of 8GB or 16GB), and the storage from a 128GB to a 512GB PCI Express SSD and a 1TB or 2TB hard drive.
  • The Rear Connectivity: Trim and Generous

    The port mixture isn’t bad; back here are four USB 3 Type-A ports, an HDMI port, and an Ethernet jack.
  • The Side Connections

    This side is home to two more USBs ports (a Type-A and a Type-C), as well as a multiformat flash card reader and a dual-mode audio jack. The power button is at far right.
  • Light Switch: Shine on Your Desk

    This button along the display’s right edge is a toggle for a set of LEDs that runs across the bottom edge of the screen portion of the AIO.
  • The Lower Edge Illumination

    This is the edge light that the above button activates; the light can be set to one of three brightness levels. The idea behind it: If you’re operating the Yoga A940 in a dark room, sketching and drafting, you may well have papers or other references such as blueprints on the desk in front of the screen. This light bar will illuminate them without requiring a glare-inducing overhead light source such as a desk lamp.
  • A Look at the Dial

    The Precision Dial isn’t an exact analogue to Microsoft’s Surface Dial (the latter of which can be placed right on the screen for context-sensitive functions), but it has its own charms. Turning it can tweak brush tip sizes, roll through menu selections or data, and more, depending on the program. It supports applications such as Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, and Illustrator, as well as Microsoft Office suite staples.
  • Operating Two-Handed

    Here our tester is rotating the dial with his left hand while he sketches with the stylus in his right. But this Dial doesn’t discriminate…
  • Turning the Dial

    The LED ring around the perimeter of the Dial corresponds to the open program it’s active for; the application icon in the taskbar will clue you in, by its hue, to the matching app.
  • The Dial Detaches, Too

    You can pull out the Precision Dial from the side of the A940. It’s held in place by a standard USB connector.
  • The Magnetic Cover

    On the opposite side of the screen is an identical receptacle, so you can mount the Dial on the other side if you prefer. In this case, that would let you sketch left-handed. The magnetic cap you see can cover the USB port you’re not using at the moment, for a cleaner aesthetic look.
  • Keyboard Storage

    Speaking of clean, the base of the Yoga A940 is sized perfectly for this bundled Lenovo keyboard. The board can rest here when you recline the screen, tucking under and out of the way, off your desk.
  • Storage Tray

    This portion of the base, to the right of the keyboard-stashing area, is for your mouse, stylus, or smartphone. The area supports Qi wireless charging, so you can plunk a compatible smartphone here for re-juicing. The stylus, alas, doesn’t support wireless charging itself, but there is a niche in this tray to keep it from rolling away.
  • Range of Motion

    You can’t move the AIO’s screen quite to parallel with the desk (25 degrees is the shallowest angle), but the tension hinge lets you angle it however you feel comfortable for pen work.
  • Precision Penmanship

    Palm rejection worked well in our brief trial with the A940. You can rest your hand on the panel when using the stylus, with no cursor skipping or unwarranted input.
  • On the Whole? Look Out, Surface Studio

    With a lower starting price than the Studio machines and full-desktop components, the Yoga A940 should be an intriguing alternative to Microsoft’s AIO for creators. The ability to open the base portion for service and upgrades is another distinction. We’re hoping to get this AIO in-house at PC Labs for testing and sketching when it debuts in March. We’ll keep you posted.

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