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ThinkPad Yoga 11e review: A hidden Chromebook gem

JR Raphael | Aug. 25, 2014
With its exceptional build quality and outstanding (and flexible) display, Lenovo's new Chromebook is a meaningful notch above the rest.

Then there's the display: The ThinkPad Yoga 11e Chromebook has an 11.6-in. screen that'll spoil you for most other Chrome OS products. The reason is that the display uses an IPS LCD panel, which is a significantly higher-quality screen technology than the TN panels built into most Chromebooks today.

The system's 1366 x 768 resolution may not be extraordinary, but the Yoga 11e's screen looks very good, with clear text and rich, realistic colors. It's bright with excellent viewing angles and remains visible even in glary conditions.

The display is much easier on the eyes than any TN panel I've experienced -- even a 1080p TN panel like the one on Samsung's Chromebook 2. Compared to pretty much any Chromebook other than the Pixel, in fact, it looks fantastic. It's a reminder that the quality of a screen depends on more factors than simply its resolution.

The many states of the Yoga 11e Chromebook
Image quality is only the start of what sets the Yoga 11e's screen apart. The display is touch-enabled and tilts back a full 360 degrees, which really opens the device up to some interesting possibilities.

You can push the display back about 300 degrees to use the system as a stand-supported slate.

You can push the Yoga 11e's display back about 300 degrees to use the system as a stand-supported slate, much as you can with the lower-end Lenovo N20p Chromebook that I reviewed last week. You can also take things a step further and push the screen all the way around to form a flat (though somewhat thick) tablet.

Either way, you end up interacting with the device solely by touching its display. The physical keyboard is automatically disabled in those scenarios and a virtual keyboard appears on-screen when you need it.

As I noted when reviewing the N20p Chromebook, Chrome OS isn't entirely optimized for touch -- and you probably wouldn't want a standalone Chrome OS slate at this point -- but having a touch-centric option is a remarkably useful complement to the traditional laptop form.

As with the N20p model, I've found myself frequently using the Yoga 11e Chromebook in its regular laptop mode when I'm working or doing any intensive typing -- then tilting the screen back and moving into a slate-like setup when I'm doing something less input-oriented. Getting the keyboard out of the way and bringing the screen up close feels quite natural, and the tablet-like configuration is especially appealing with more casual tasks like scrolling through websites or watching videos.

You can also take things a step further and push the screen all the way around to form a flat (though somewhat thick) tablet.

 

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