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Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Lenovo Takes on the Surface Studio with the Yoga A940 All-In-One

All-in-ones tend to come in two flavors: a budget machine for novice users or an all-out monster with style and flexibility. Lenovo has taken the latter option with its new Yoga A940, a top-of-the-line machine meant for artists and creators.

Announced at CES, the 27-inch machine includes a 4K touchscreen and a double-hinged display stand, which can move from a 90-degree vertical to a drawing-friendly 25-degree angle with a smooth sweep. The internal components, featuring Intel Core 8th-gen processors and up to 32GB of memory, plus a Radeon RX 560 GPU, are housed in a beefy base. But it’s the stuff around the guts that’s interesting. The top of the main assembly is a shelf for the included wireless keyboard when you’re ready to go full touch, and the smaller area on the side can recharge your Qi-enabled smartphone. Five Dolby Atmos speakers hide inside as well.

Take a look ’round the back and you’ll find four USB 3.0 ports, HDMI-in (for using the display with another machine), and Ethernet if you need something faster than Wi-Fi. On the side, accessible without reaching is another USB 3.0, USB-C, a headphone jack, and an SD card reader, handy for pro photographers who don’t often need MicroSD. Other nice touches include a work light on the bottom edge of the screen and a manual shutter over the webcam.

But it’s the included “Smart Dial” that will make artists do a double take. This gadget is analogous to Microsoft’s Surface Dial but comes with the package for free. It also displays some surprising ergonomic thought, docking into a dedicated USB port on either the right or left side for easy use in folded-down mode. (Southpaws thank you, Lenovo, for ambidextrous design.) Lenovo’s management software can assign different scrolling tools for different applications, like Adobe’s Creative Cloud, with a color-coded LED ring to let the user know which mode it’s in without checking the app.

All of this, plus a powered stylus, keyboard and mouse, and the usual array of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a three-month trial of Creative Cloud come in at $2350 when the Yoga A940 launches in March. The base specs, with 8GB of memory and a 128GB SSD or 1TB hard drive, are a bit disappointing…but this all-in-one has one more trick up its sleeve. The panel beneath the keyboard shelf can be removed, granting the user access to the memory and storage slots. Laptop-grade DDR4 RAM and SSDs can be replaced without further disassembly, keeping the warranty intact.

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