Alexa already dominates a ton of living rooms and kitchens thanks to Amazon’s huge line of Echo smart speakers. But there’s still one major category of devices Alexa has yet to conquer: PCs. However, at CES 2018, Amazon announced that Alexa would be making its way onto computers too. That brings us to now, at MWC 2018, where Lenovo is showing off its line of new Yoga 730 2-in-1s, which are going to be one of the first systems sporting Alexa’s new PC integration.
The Yoga 730 is the follow-up to last year’s Yoga 720, which was our favorite laptop under $1000, and will come in 13, 14 and 15-inch flavors. (Though for us in the US, the 14-inch Yoga 730 will actually be called the Flex 14.)
For 2018, the Yoga 730's specs aren’t changing much. You’ll still get to choose from a range of 8th-gen Intel CPUs, up to 16GB of RAM and sizable 1TB SSDs, depending on the model. And aside from the new Alexa app, Lenovo says it has trimmed down the bodies off all three systems, resulting in generally sharper, and more edgy feeling designs.
Size wise, the 15-inch 730's weight has dropped to just 4 pounds (13-percent less than before), while the Flex 14 is now 11-percent thinner at 17.6mm. Even the bezels around the screen have slimmed down a bit, though its hard to tell unless you’re looking at both old and new models at the same time.
Other differences between various sizes of the Yoga 730 include USB-C charging on the smaller 13-inch 730, while the larger two still rely on proprietary Lenovo power bricks. But what the Flex 14 and 15-inch 730 lack in charging flexibility, they make up for in connectivity, with both larger models sporting HDMI and extra USB Type-A ports. The Flex 14 and 15-inch 730 can also be equipped with optional GPUs, with the 14 offering up to a Nvidia MX 130, and the 15-inch Yoga 730 a GTX 1050. Strangely, the Flex 14 is the only one of the bunch with a built-in SD card slot.
As for the new Alexa app, Lenovo is taking advantage of the far-field mics that debuted on last year’s model for use with Cortana to ensure Alexa can understand you clearly too—even from across the room. However, at least initially, Alexa on PC will have a few limitations that its speaker-based counterparts don’t suffer from.
At launch, due to some legal issues around music streaming, Alexa won’t be able to play music from services like Spotify and others, and you may not be able to control some smart home gadgets using Alexa on PC either. That sounds like a big issue for some, but Lenovo says its working with Amazon to bring full Alexa functionality down the road.
While it might seem that Alexa would be at odds with Cortana, which is already built-in to every version of Windows 10, that may not necessarily be the case. Late last year, Microsoft and Amazon decided to working together to integrate Cortana with Alexa and vice versa. The idea of the two megacorps collaborating on AI and digital assistants still sounds a little strange, but if it leads to better voice control for PC users, that’s probably a good thing.
All three versions of the Yoga 730 will be available in April, with the Flex 14 being the cheapest featuring a starting price of $600, while the 13 and 15-inch models starting slightly higher at $880 and $900, respectively.