Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga

This Yoga master pulls off a very surprising move, solving one of the main issues with hybrid Ultrabook/Tablets.


8.3
CNET Rating

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Lenovo has a reputation for delivering relatively simple, business-focused laptops, but the Yoga demonstrates that it's also a company willing to experiment. This clever folding hybrid converts from an Ultrabook to a tablet with a flick of the screen, but it's got a neat trick up its sleeve that most other convertibles will admire.

Design and features

In Ultrabook mode, the Yoga's keyboard is just as easy to use as other Lenovo Precision keyboards, with the raised keys making it easy for your fingers to find their intended targets. However, flip the screen backwards behind the base, turning the Yoga into a tablet, and the keys ingeniously lower to become flush with the keyboard face, stopping the user from accidentally striking keys while in tablet mode. It's a very clever solution to a widespread problem, and it makes this one of the most useful hybrids we've seen.

Just because Lenovo has experimented with the sinking key design doesn't mean they've also gone for a stylish laptop; once again we see Lenovo's fondness for plain black laptops. The exterior is entirely plastic, but it's the thick, rugged type that Lenovo favours rather than the thin, flimsy plastic seen on cheaper laptops.

The rotating display is a 12.5-inch touchscreen, and it's also fully HD thanks to the 1920 x 1080 resolution. It delivers a very clear, readable image, with excellent contrast performance but slightly drab colours. Unfortunately the audio solution isn't quite as impressive, with the stereo speakers not helped in the slightest by the Dolby Home Theatre v4 software. Headphones will be a must for serious media lovers.

Connections, performance and battery

At 1.6kg the Yoga is a surprisingly heavy 12.5-inch laptop, yet it's not the fault of extra hardware inside, as there's a relatively mid-range system purring under the hood. Intel's Core i5-4200U CPU runs in conjunction with just 4GB of DDR3 memory, and there's no discrete GPU to be found. As a result all video decoding and game acceleration is handled by Intel's HD Graphics 4400, which is integrated into the CPU. Our review sample also had rather limited long-term storage, with a single 128GB SSD as the sole hard drive.

Despite the relatively modest hardware within the Yoga, Lenovo knows how to get the most out of it. Scoring a very healthy 2394 in our PCMark 8 Home benchmark placed this laptop towards the top end of the pack. Unsurprisingly, gaming performance wasn't in the same league, with the 3DMark Cloud Gate benchmark placing it around the middle of the pack, and at least 20% slower than machines packing NVIDIA's affordable GT 750 GPU. Connection options are a little limited, with just twin USB 3.0 ports and a single mini-HDMI out, while Wi-Fi conforms to the 802.11a/b/g/n standard. So much for 2014 being the year of 802.11ac...

Given the slim hardware power requirements and relatively heavy weight of the Yoga, the battery benchmark result of 243 minutes in PowerMark wasn't quite as good as anticipated. Bear in mind that this is a worst-case scenario benchmark, so average use should see around eight hours of battery life before needing to find a power outlet.

PCMark 8 Home Accelerated Test

  • 2394
  • Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga
  • 1889
  • ASUS Vivobook S551LB
  • 1602
  • Dell XPS 11
  • 2231
  • Gigabyte U24Ti5
  • 2215
  • HP Spectre 13
  • 2625
  • Lenovo ThinkPad T440s
  • CRASHED
  • Lenovo ThinkPad E540
  • 1727
  • Sony VAIO Multi-flip Fit 13
  • 1690
  • Sony VAIO Pro 11
  • 1844
  • Toshiba Satellite U50D

(Longer bar equals better performance)


3DMARK 2013 Edition - Cloud Gate

  • 4667
  • Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga
  • 5101
  • ASUS Vivobook S551LB
  • 2165
  • Dell XPS 11
  • 4590
  • Gigabyte U24Ti5
  • 4030
  • HP Spectre 13
  • 4643
  • Lenovo ThinkPad T440s
  • 5597
  • Lenovo ThinkPad E540
  • 3847
  • Sony VAIO Multi-flip Fit 13
  • 2080
  • Sony VAIO Pro 11
  • 2432
  • Toshiba Satellite U50D

(Longer bar equals better performance)


PowerMark - Battery Life (minutes)

  • 243
  • Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga
  • 270
  • ASUS Vivobook S551LB
  • 289
  • Dell XPS 11
  • 198
  • Gigabyte U24Ti5
  • 276
  • HP Spectre 13
  • 253
  • Lenovo ThinkPad T440s
  • 257
  • Lenovo ThinkPad E540
  • 229
  • Sony VAIO Multi-flip Fit 13
  • 231
  • Sony VAIO Pro 11
  • 261
  • Toshiba Satellite U50D

(Longer bar equals better performance)


Conclusion

As far as Hybrids go, the Yoga solves one of the main issues faced by those using folding screens thanks to its clever keyboard design. Best of all, this doesn't compromise the excellent feel offered by Lenovo keyboards. It's a little bit pricey given the hardware specs, but the crisp HD screen goes a long way to justifying this. It might not be the prettiest hybrid around, but the ThinkPad Yoga is one of the most usable.



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SamW1 posted a comment   
Australia

I have this laptop and despite a few minor quirks (mostly software) I absolutely love it! Here's a list of a few things that were not mentioned in the review that people could find helpful.

Heads up to designers and uni students, there is an option for a pressure sensitive Wacom pen enabled screen which works an absolute treat in any of the 4 modes that Lenovo seem adamant to promote!

While 802.11n is standard, and upgrade to 802.11ac is only $10 on the Lenovo website.

Unfortunately in this machine the RAM is not upgradeable once purchased (soldered on), but there is a 8GB model available.

In addition to the various sized SSD drivers, this laptop also has the option of a 500GB HDD, with a 16GB flash cache (to keep it in the ultrabook race). Most other ultrabooks do not offer that!

Hope that helps someone!




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User Reviews / Comments  Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga

  • SamW1

    SamW1

    "I have this laptop and despite a few minor quirks (mostly software) I absolutely love it! Here's a list of a few things that were not mentioned in the review that people could find helpful.
    <..."

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