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Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga review: Yoga flexibility melded with ThinkPad muscle

Becky Waring | Feb. 12, 2014
The Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga isn't as slim or sexy as its colorful consumer-oriented sibling, the IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro, nor does it have the Yoga 2 Pro's alluring 3820-by-1200-pixel display. But this hybrid Ultrabook checks all the must-have business feature boxes, as befits its place in the ThinkPad lineup. And it does so in typical Yoga style.

The Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga isn't as slim or sexy as its colorful consumer-oriented sibling, the IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro, nor does it have the Yoga 2 Pro's alluring 3820-by-1200-pixel display. But this hybrid Ultrabook checks all the must-have business feature boxes, as befits its place in the ThinkPad lineup. And it does so in typical Yoga style.

So what does the ThinkPad Yoga have that the "darn close to perfect" Yoga 2 Pro doesn't? Both models have touchscreens with 360-degree hinges, so they can be used in tablet, laptop, stand, and "tent" modes. ThinkPad Yoga adds business-oriented goodies such as a matte Gorilla Glass display, a tough magnesium-alloy case, a port for a desktop docking station, and that classic TrackPoint button in the center of its keyboard.

The ThinkPad Pro also has an innovative "Lift 'n Lock" feature that raises the frame surrounding its backlit keyboard so that it's flush with the keys when the laptop is in tent or tablet mode. This helps prevent damage from dirt and spills. Contrast that with the Yoga 2 Pro, which simply turns it keyboard off when it's flipped around.

Design and display
The Yoga comes in a pedestrian gray case with rounded corners, unlike the sleek tapered design of the Yoga 2 Pro. It's not ugly, but where is it written that business laptops can't have sexy looks or come in a color scheme other than gray or black?

The main attraction of the Yoga line is the backflip hinge, which lives up to its promise. I flew cross-country twice during this review, and the "stand" mode, where the screen is upright with the keyboard flat on the table behind it, proved to be perfect for such cramped quarters. It's much more stable in bumpy airspace than tent mode. I could watch videos or use the touchscreen to surf.

But the ThinkPad Yoga is too hefty — it weighs 3.52 pounds — for extended hand-held tablet use. Stand mode, on the other hand, works fine even in your lap. The Yoga's hinges are great, not too stiff, and they hold the screen securely at any angle in both tent and stand positions.

Despite its clever lift-up keyboard, I just couldn't bring myself to place the machine in stand or tablet modes on the kitchen table or anywhere liquid or crumbs might get into the downward-facing keyboard. Twist-around displays, including Lenovo's own ThinkPad Twist, allow pretty much the same usage modes without the keyboard ever facing down. Sony's VAIO Flip and Dell's XPS 12 Convertible avoid this problem, too. On the other hand, these designs are not as rugged as the hinges on Lenovo's Yoga laptops.

 

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