Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga evaluate: an excellent (if barely heavy) Ultrabook for enterprise customers

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga review: a good (if slightly heavy) Ultrabook for business users

It is fairly clear that Lenovo made a little bit of a mistake with its unique Yoga laptop computer. Do not get us mistaken, we appreciated — no, liked — it, however we might by no means recover from how awkward it was to make use of in pill mode: Each time you folded the display over, you had your fingers pressed towards the unfastened keys on the again. It was sufficient of an oversight that even different corporations took word: first Sony with its Flip line and now Toshiba with its 5-in-1 convertible that has a reversible keyboard.

Lenovo additionally appears to have discovered its lesson: The brand new ThinkPad Yoga has a “Raise ‘n’ Lock” keyboard that flattens out as you flip the display again into pill mode, making uncovered buttons a factor of the previous (principally, anyway). It additionally permits for pen enter — one thing you continue to will not discover on the buyer model. Even then, the ThinkPad Yoga introduces some commerce-offs of its personal: It is thicker and heavier than the brand new Yoga 2 Professional, which does not have a self-flattening keyboard, and it makes do with a not-fairly-as-sharp display. These compromises apart, might this be the Yoga you’ve got been ready for?

seventy nine
Lenovo

ThinkPad Yoga

Execs

  • Nicely-constructed, versatile design
  • Low-glare display provides good viewing angles
  • Snug keyboard and trackpad
  • One of many few Ultrabooks to help pen enter
  • Quick boot-up time, good all-round efficiency 

Cons

  • Comparatively cumbersome
  • Self-flattening keyboard appears much less helpful on a machine that is this cumbersome to make use of in pill mode 
  • Base mannequin has a reasonably low-res display
  • Battery life is on the brief aspect

Abstract

The ThinkPad Yoga’s self-flattening keyboard is a neat concept, however it will make extra sense on a smaller machine. All informed, you possibly can simply discover Ultrabooks that provide sharper screens, longer battery life and comparable efficiency — typically for about the identical worth. If pen enter is necessary, although, the ThinkPad Yoga is by far your only option, and it occurs to be a strong performer in its personal proper.

Appear and feel

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga review: a good (if slightly heavy) Ultrabook for business users

It is precisely what it seems like, people: It is a ThinkPad that appears like a Yoga, and a Yoga that appears like a ThinkPad. Acquired it? Good. This is a fast tour. In contrast to ThinkPads of yore, which had a smooth, rubbery end, the ThinkPad Yoga sports activities a clean magnesium lid, although sure key particulars (the purple TrackPoint, the glowing ThinkPad emblem) have carried over. Additionally like older ThinkPads, it is pretty boxy, with blunt edges and straight strains (although Lenovo did sneak in some rounded corners). All informed, it is a blockier form than you will discover on Lenovo’s shopper laptops, lots of which have been chiseled to resemble a bodily e-book.

We already hinted at this, however the factor that makes the ThinkPad Yoga so particular — that Carry ‘n’ Lock keyboard — can also be the factor that makes it so heavy. At three.fifty two kilos and zero.seventy six inch thick, it is noticeably heavier than the brand new Yoga 2 Professional, which is available in at three.06 kilos/zero.sixty one inch. It is even bulkier than the final-gen Yoga thirteen, which weighed in at three.three kilos and measured zero.sixty seven inch thick.

Even with out that newfangled keyboard, the Yoga had a sturdy hinge. Which is sensible, given how a lot bending the factor was supposed to face up to. With the ThinkPad model, that hinge grew even greater, because it has to help not simply the folding display, but in addition a collection of mechanisms that assist raise the platform between the keys, after which lock the buttons in place. Although the impression on the load and thickness won’t be such a very good factor, a much bigger hinge a minimum of means the machine handles properly. As on the opposite Yogas, the display right here folds again in a single fluid movement, with out ever feeling too loosey-goosey. Although the hinge by no means feels inflexible, per se, you’ll encounter what we might name a velocity bump — a bit little bit of resistance to remind you that you’ve got formally entered pill mode.

And what of that novelty keyboard? As promised, the Carry ‘n’ Lock system clamps the buttons into place, which means you’ll be able to’t depress them when the machine is in pill mode. That is to not say you possibly can’t nonetheless really feel the person buttons: They’re undoubtedly there, and it is easy to inform one from the opposite simply by operating your palms over the again of the pill. Even so, it is undoubtedly a much less awkward setup than on the unique Yoga, the place you’ll be able to really feel the unfastened buttons on the again. However is it a extra elegant answer than what Sony is providing with the Flip collection? Or what Toshiba has deliberate for its 5-in-1 convertible? It is exhausting to say, notably as regards to the Toshiba, which is not even out but. Nevertheless it’s a query value asking as you contemplate shopping for the ThinkPad Yoga, a machine that is heavier (and no much less compromised) than most.

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga review: a good (if slightly heavy) Ultrabook for business users

If nothing else, it does appear to us that the self-flattening keyboard can be at residence on a smaller, maybe eleven-inch Yoga. Even underneath the most effective of circumstances, an almost thirteen-inch pill can be a bit unwieldy, however this one is particularly cumbersome, simply given how heavy it’s. All of which creates one thing of a catch-22: It is heavy due to that Raise ‘n’ Lock keyboard, however resulting from that heft, we’re much less possible to make use of the ThinkPad Yoga as a standalone pill.

Thankfully, there are different poses so that you can select from, together with common laptop computer mode, “Stand” mode (display dealing with away with the keyboard tucked underneath) and “Tent” mode, with the laptop computer standing in an upside-down “V” form. We have all the time been a fan of Stand mode for watching films in cramped coach seats, however Tent is nicely-fitted to shows and movies as properly. Apparently, although Lenovo added a rubber bumper to the Yoga 2 Professional, there isn’t any such gasketing right here. That leaves the ThinkPad Yoga’s edges uncovered whenever you stand it on its head in Tent mode, however thus far, no less than, we’ve not noticed any injury on our evaluation unit.

Ending up our tour, the ThinkPad Yoga does not convey many surprises in the best way of ports. For an influence adapter, you’ve got obtained the identical OneLink connector discovered on all new ThinkPads, which has an analogous form to a standard USB port. Talking of the type, this factor has two USB three.zero ports — one on all sides — together with a mini-HDMI socket, headphone jack, SD reader, lock slot and a quantity rocker/display-orientation button to make use of in pill mode. There’s additionally a slot for the lively pen, situated on the proper aspect, towards the entrance the place the palm relaxation is.

Keyboard and trackpad

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga review: a good (if slightly heavy) Ultrabook for business users

Lenovo might have messed with the X1 Carbon’s keyboard, including an adaptive panel with controls that change relying on the app you are utilizing, however within the case of the ThinkPad Yoga, the corporate’s design group did not take any possibilities. This is identical spill-resistant, island-type format we have seen on the previous few generations of ThinkPads, with six rows of U-formed “Smile” keys and a big, buttonless trackpad sitting beneath. Lining the highest, you will see a row of perform keys that serve primarily as multimedia controls (learn: You will want to carry down the Fn button to make use of it for one thing else). All through, the buttons are generously sized, with solely a handful of keys (the arrows, PrtSc) that seem shrunken-down. Like different ThinkPads, too, there’s a great deal of journey right here and the buttons are backed up by a sturdy panel that does not bend or flex as you are pecking away. And we might anticipate nothing much less, actually: Given how thick this machine is, comparatively talking, there’d be no excuse not to have dense, comfortable keys.

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga review: a good (if slightly heavy) Ultrabook for business users

We’ll admit: We have been initially skeptical when Lenovo stated it was shifting towards buttonless trackpads for its ThinkPad line. In any case, there’s one thing so inherently tactile concerning the ThinkPad expertise: these pillowy keys; the rubber TrackPoint that different corporations have tried (and failed) to mimic. Really, although, the glass touchpad right here is straightforward to make use of, and Lenovo has refined it in order that the training curve is even smaller than it was final yr. Once we examined the ThinkPad Helix, for instance, we initially encountered a lifeless zone in the midst of the touchpad — a no man’s land between the common left/proper click on buttons and the 2 buttons up prime, that are meant for use with the TrackPoint. Now, although, Lenovo has painted skinny pink strains the place the 2 higher contact zones are, in order that you do not even need to really feel your means round; you will know from the start the place your finger is meant to go.

As earlier than, there’s additionally a row of raised dots proper under the TrackPoint, indicating the scroll zone. Past that, the touchpad can also be straightforward to press, and it makes a low-pitched sound — not in contrast to the keyboard itself, which additionally makes minimal noise. Gestures work nicely, too, a lot so to pinch to zoom very slowly, permitting the font to scale up and down in small increments (as a result of no one likes going straight from 10-level lettering to seventy two-level).

Show and sound

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga review: a good (if slightly heavy) Ultrabook for business users

In contrast to the Yoga 2 Professional, which comes commonplace with a three,200 x 1,800 display, the ThinkPad Yoga begins with a 1,366 x 768 Gorilla Glass panel, although you possibly can improve to a 1,920 x 1,080 show for an additional 250 bucks. (Our assessment unit had the 1080p display.) Setting the decision apart, what we like most is the matte, anti-glare end, which makes it straightforward to view the display from any angle, whether or not it’s from off to the aspect, with the lid dipped ahead or with the machine mendacity face-up in pill mode. As an added bonus, the display additionally seems to be coated in some type of end that makes it really feel barely much less slick, so that there is simply the littlest little bit of resistance as you swipe your finger throughout it (that is an excellent factor, in case you could not inform).

That textured end additionally appears to help with pen enter, making a extra paper-like canvas on which to take notes and draw mustaches on individuals. Even with out that matte display, although, pen enter would nonetheless be fairly good, because of the Wacom lively digitizer inside. As you may anticipate, pen enter is strain-delicate, so your markings will run the gamut from high-quality strains to thick smudges, relying on how arduous you press (and what writing implement you select). That might be the case with any lively digitizer, actually, although Wacom’s are typically notably delicate to variations in strain. The one used right here additionally picks up on even the faintest swipes, so we by no means needed to press more durable than we might with a traditional fountain pen. And, in case you wanted a reminder, most competing convertibles do not help strain-delicate pen enter in any respect, so if that is a key spec for you, nicely, this is excellent information certainly: Your solely choice occurs to be an excellent one.

Sadly, with as a lot care as Lenovo put into the show and writing expertise, the speaker setup looks like an afterthought. Like, much more so than on different Ultrabooks. The quantity is loud, thankfully, however at virtually any sound degree, the audio is hole. Distorted. It’s going to do in a pinch, however when you’re utilizing this on the street, you will be glad to have entry to a set of Bluetooth audio system when you get again house (that is assuming you do not have room in your street warrior bag for a Mini Jambox or some such).

Efficiency and battery life PCMark7 3DMark06 3DMark11 ATTO (prime disk speeds) Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga (1.6GHz Intel Core i5-4200U, Intel HD 4400) four,782 6,005

E1,690 / P910 / X284

555 MB/s (reads); 139 MB/s (writes) Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 Professional (1.6GHz Core i5-4200U, Intel HD 4400) four,676 5,688

E1,713 / P914 / X281

546 MB/s (reads); 139 MB/s (writes) Samsung ATIV E-book 9 Lite (1.4GHz “quad-core” processor, AMD Radeon HD 8250) 2,060 2,814

E749 / P530

550 MB/s (reads); 139 MB/s (writes) Lenovo IdeaPad U430 Contact (1.6GHz Core i5-4200U, Intel HD 4400) three,845 four,499

E1,448 / P742

113 MB/s (reads); one hundred ten MB/s (writes) Samsung ATIV Guide 9 Plus (1.6GHz Core i5-4200U, Intel HD 4400) four,973 5,611

E1,675 / P867 / X277

547 MB/s (reads); 508 MB/s (writes) Acer Aspire S7-392 (1.6GHz Intel Core i5-4200U, Intel HD 4400) 5,108 5,158

E1,724 / P952 / X298

975 MB/s (reads); 1.1GB/s (writes) Sony VAIO Professional thirteen (1.6GHz Intel Core i5-4200U, Intel HD 4400) four,502 four,413

E1,177 / P636 / X203

1.04 GB/s (reads); 479 MB/s (writes) Sony VAIO Duo thirteen (1.6GHz Core i5-4200U, Intel HD 4400) four,440 6,047

E1,853 / P975 / X297

546 MB/s (reads); 139 MB/s (writes) Sony VAIO Professional eleven (1.8GHz Core i7-4500U, Intel HD 4400) four,634 N/A

E1,067 / P600 / X183

558 MB/s (reads); 255 MB/s (writes)

The unit we examined has principally the identical specs as each different Ultrabook we have reviewed lately — specifically, a 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-4200U CPU, built-in Intel HD 4400 graphics, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB strong-state drive. Even the SSD seems to be the identical Samsung-made one utilized in different ultraportable laptops, which signifies that along with each different benchmark we ran, the learn and write speeds are principally similar. On this case, meaning 555 MB/s reads and 139 MB/s writes, each of that are regular for SSDs that do not use the PCI Categorical commonplace.

In actual-world use, the one space the place the ThinkPad Yoga appears quicker than different Haswell machines is in its boot-up time: The machine takes simply seven seconds to get to the login display, which is even faster than we’re used to. In any other case, the machine multitasks and launches apps with the perfect of them, with a robust 802.11ac WiFi connection that carried out reliably on numerous networks (even my house router, which may be kind of poky typically). That is all properly and good, however it’s value noting that the Yoga 2 Professional provides the identical specs for a decrease beginning worth of $999 (versus $1,299 for the ThinkPad Yoga with the identical processor and upgraded display). In order you are purchasing round, think about which you could get equal efficiency at a lower cost, even inside Lenovo’s personal lineup. Simply be ready to surrender the strain-delicate pen enter in case you determine to go that route.

Battery life

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 7:32 MacBook Air (thirteen-inch, 2013) 12:fifty one MacBook Professional with Retina show (thirteen-inch, 2013) eleven:18 Sony VAIO Duo thirteen 9:forty Samsung ATIV Guide 9 Plus eight:forty four Sony VAIO Professional thirteen eight:24 Lenovo IdeaPad U430 Contact 7:fifty three Acer Aspire S7-392 7:33 Acer Iconia W700 7:thirteen Sony VAIO Professional eleven 6:forty one Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 Professional 6:32 Microsoft Floor Professional 2 6:27 Dell XPS 14 6:18 MacBook Professional with Retina show (thirteen-inch, 2012) 6:07 Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga thirteen 5:32 Dell XPS 12 (2012) 5:30 Toshiba Kirabook 5:12 Lenovo ThinkPad Helix 5:07 (pill solely)/7:24 (with dock) Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 5:07 Samsung ATIV Guide 7 5:02 ASUS Transformer E-book 5:01 (pill solely) Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Contact 5:00 MSI Slidebook S20 four:34 Samsung ATIV Ebook 9 Lite four:33 Acer Aspire S7-391 four:18 ASUS TAICHI 21 three:fifty four Microsoft Floor Professional three:forty six

Lenovo claims as much as eight hours on the ThinkPad Yoga, which is fairly spot-on: Our evaluate unit lasted by way of seven hours and 32 minutes of steady video playback with WiFi on and the display fastened at sixty five % brightness. Although it pains us to say it, that is truly pretty brief battery life, at the very least in comparison with different modern-day Ultrabooks. To be truthful, it outlasts the skinnier Yoga 2 Professional by about an hour, however even then, its endurance is not any higher than the Acer Aspire S7’s — and that man’s thinner than all of them. Contemplating some Haswell laptops are able to lasting 9 or 10 hours, we anticipated a bit of extra right here, particularly because the ThinkPad Yoga is heftier than most different machines in its class.

Software program and guarantee

As all the time with the ThinkPad line, you will discover little or no third-get together software program pre-put in, although Lenovo does are likely to throw in a bunch of its personal packages. These embrace Stay Tiles for Lenovo Settings and Help, in addition to one for QuickCast, an app that allows you to share information between two ThinkPads. To ensure that that to work, although, each machines should have the app open, and be related over the identical WiFi connection, so it is primarily helpful in workplaces the place the IT guys have issued ThinkPads throughout. In the meantime, Lenovo Attain is the corporate’s personal cloud service. For that, by the best way, you do not essentially want a ThinkPad: you need to use it on computer systems, tablets and telephones, none of which essentially needs to be made by Lenovo.

As for these third-get together apps, the choice is, once more, fairly small. On board, we’ve got Skitch Contact, Evernote Contact, AccuWeather.com, Kindle, Zinio’s journal retailer, eBay and the streaming service rara.com. And that is it — could possibly be a lot worse. As for guarantee protection, you are taking a look at a one-yr plan, extendable to as much as 5 years.

Configuration choices and the competitors

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga review: a good (if slightly heavy) Ultrabook for business users

The ThinkPad Yoga begins at $999 with a Core i3 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. From there, you’ll be able to add a Core i5 or i7 processor, as much as 256GB of storage ($one hundred fifty) and, in fact, that 1080p display for an additional $250.

As we have already hinted, the ThinkPad Yoga has some competitors from inside Lenovo’s personal lineup. On the off-probability you discover the entire convertible factor overrated, the newly refreshed X1 Carbon gives a better-res 2,560 x 1,440 display choice, and weighs a lot much less (round three kilos with a touchscreen). That stated, for $1,299 and up, you are giving up that versatile, form-shifting design, and will not get the lively digitizer, both.

It is a comparable story with the Yoga 2 Professional, Lenovo’s flagship shopper Ultrabook. It begins at $1,199 (presently on sale for $999) with a three,200 x 1,800 display and the identical Core i5 processor utilized in our ThinkPad Yoga check machine. All advised, then, it has a sharper display with a thinner, lighter design and comparable efficiency (minus about an hour of battery life). Nonetheless, the shortage of pen enter is more likely to postpone some would-be consumers.

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga review: a good (if slightly heavy) Ultrabook for business users

No matter you do, we advise you avoid the ThinkPad Helix, if solely as a result of it is nonetheless operating 2012-period Ivy Bridge processors. It is a disgrace, as a result of in each different respect, that is the ThinkPad Yoga’s closest corollary: It has a 12-inch display that detaches from the keyboard dock, and might be inserted with the display both dealing with the keyboard or dealing with outward. Oh, and it helps pen enter too, for a change.

In any other case, we’re left with a mishmash of laptops that fall into one in every of two classes: enterprise Ultrabooks that do not bend and contort the best way the Yoga does, and shopper fashions meant for a completely totally different viewers. On the enterprise aspect, you may need to take a look at the Dell Latitude 7000 collection, out there in 12- and 14-inch display sizes, whereas HP, in the meantime, simply introduced the 14-inch EliteBook Folio 1040 G1. That machine does not help pen enter. None of those do, truly. In case you have been questioning.

As for shopper fashions, our reigning favorites are the Samsung ATIV 9 Plus, the Acer Aspire S7, the Sony VAIO Professional thirteen and the Dell XPS 12. Of the bunch, by the way, solely the XPS 12 has a convertible design (in equity, it does most of the similar issues because the Yoga collection, simply not pen enter). Sony additionally has the convertible Flip collection — and consider it or not, these do help pen enter — although we might stick with the smaller sizes, if attainable (learn: the eleven- and thirteen-inch fashions).

Wrap-up

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga review: a good (if slightly heavy) Ultrabook for business users

The ThinkPad Yoga’s self-flattening keyboard is a neat concept. We might simply somewhat see it on a machine that was smaller and lighter. As is, the so-referred to as Raise ‘n’ Lock system comes with an enormous catch-22: It makes the whole laptop computer thicker and heavier, and subsequently extra cumbersome to make use of in pill mode. Which… kind of defeats the aim of getting a laptop computer that is extra snug to carry as a standalone slate.

Within the meantime, although, we’re nonetheless inclined to advocate the ThinkPad Yoga, if solely as a result of this is among the solely Ultrabooks we all know of (enterprise or in any other case) that permits for pen enter. And what a pleasant expertise it’s, too: The Wacom digitizer permits for nuanced strain sensitivity, whereas the show’s matte end makes for some vast viewing angles. The display is extra nice to the touch as properly, because of that barely textured coating.

All informed, you possibly can simply discover Ultrabooks that provide sharper screens, longer battery life and comparable efficiency — typically for about the identical worth. If pen enter is essential, although, the ThinkPad Yoga is by far the best choice, and fortunate for you, it additionally occurs to be a strong performer in its personal proper.