Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 - Convertible Laptop (Part 1)

4/26/2013 6:00:42 PM

For not mistaken: Lenovo is approaching Windows 8 very seriously. The first generation of Windows 8 devices from this company includes everything, from a laptop-tablet to a classical convertible laptop with a swiveling display, and then comes the Yoga.

This is also unlike any convertible laptop that you can see in the Windows 7 era: the screen can be folded back 360 degrees, turning this Ultrabook into a huge 13-inch tablet. However, because of those special hinges, you can bend it into a Downward Dog, to use Yoga’s terminology (“tent mode” if you feel uncomfortable) or fold the keyboard backward so that the only exposed thing is the screen. It is one of the notable things which were displayed at CES, and it is the most interesting Windows 8 design that we have ever seen up to now. But it would be when we truly use it and how well does it perform as an plain old $1,000 Untrabook? Let’s see.

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13

Look and feel

At the first glance – before you can play with its foldable screen – Yoga 13 looks like a junior version of other Ultrabooks of Lenovo. Like previous models, it is a model which is inspired by books, with subtle scooping along the edges which reminds us of pages of the book. While IdeaPad U300s Ultrabook is made of unibody aluminum, the Yoga 13 is covered by softer materials, including plastic lid and leathery palm rest.

In reality, the final result is not premium, but the whole machine brings good feeling about how it is made – you will not able to recognize any flex in the palm rest, or any other part of the system. Moreover, if the materials seem to be bad, at least we can guarantee you this – the whole system, from the palm rest to the screen, there is no even minor scratch. Over more than a week of testing the Yoga 13 and regularly put it in the backpack with many other things, it still remains its brand new outfit.

Once you manipulate the machine in few minutes, it cannot be neglect how slim it is. We heard about the touch screen would increase the machine’s weight, and we used it as an excuse to explain why Toshiba Satellite U925t and other Windows 8 convertible devices make us feel chunky. And even with the capacity touchscreen on board, yoga’s thickness is just 0.67 inch and its weight is about 3.3 pounds. It seems a lot slimmer than other competitive laptops, and it really is.

The book-shape design

The book-shape design

Interestingly, Lenovo re-designed the power port as an attempt to keep the machine as thin as possible. What we have here, tucked on the right edge, is an exclusive rectangular power port which looks like a USB-stick port at the first glance. (it is yellow on the inside, instead of blue, so you we not mistake it with the 3.0 USB port). We have to consider the proprietary adapter is rather annoying, but it will just be the problem of developers whose duties are enhancing the old Lenovo system. For other people, this slim device deserves a negotiation. Continue with our discovery tour, there are 2 USB ports (one3.0 and 2.0), one HDMI slot, volume rocker, one button for blocking the screen orientation and a 3.5mm earphone jack. There is a SD card reader as well – obviously, Lenovo learnt the lesson after removing it from the last U300s series.

Now comes our favorite part, controlling Yoga to become… Yoga: the rotation hinges are extremely flexible. If we seems to be too excited, that is because we have checked many other convertible Windows 8 devices lately, and clearly, this is the most interesting thing that we can see. It is not only because the screen which plays a fabulous parlor trick, completely folded backward in the tablet mode, but also the awesome sturdy hinges, which are surely secured, but not too tight like the slider on the Toshiba Satellite U925t. The physical keyboard is automatically turned off when you push the screen far enough. You will learn how to deactivate it because you will see the artificial keyboard on the screen, showing that you are officially using the tablet mode.

As we said in the U925t review and Dell XPS 12, you do not want to use a 12 or 13inch and 3.5-pound laptops as a tablet for a long time – they are relatively hard to use. It is useful, however, for Yoga 13 because it is such slim and light. And the act of operating Windows 8 by swiping the edges turns out to be so easy. (In other words, going to Charms Bar on the 13 inch tablet is as easy as on the 10inch laptop).

Nevertheless, there are things that cause blackness when using Yoga 12 in the tablet mode: the keyboard still exposes too much on the back side. Yes it is true that it has already been disabled at that moment, but there still appear awkward feelings when holding the device in landscape mode and feeling your finger pressing those keys. Lenovo is selling a sleeve with $40 which is just able to cover the keyboard when you are using the tablet mode. It is rather useless when you have to purchase this accessory to cover these loose keys, but at least you can use sleeve as a suitable cover – it is large enough for you to fit the whole machine inside.

Yoga’s tent mode

Yoga’s tent mode

However, beside that obvious tablet mode, you can fold the Yoga to other poses. One of that is the “tent mode”, with the fold-back screen and the up side down standing system and the internal hinges. We cannot imagine how useful it is for watching movies rather than using Yoga as a plain old laptop. Notwithstanding, it seems convenient for the performance, especially when you enjoy using fingers to operate things on the screen. If you like, you can fold the keyboard backward and lay it down on the table, with the straight up screen. It serves the similar purpose of the “tent mode”.

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