Lenovo’s IdeaPad Yoga 13 has done its bit to boost Windows 8’s appeal (see p134) – now its sibling, the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11, is ready to work that magic on Windows RT. It arrived too late to take part in this month’s Labs, but with the same ingenious doublejointed design shrunk down to an 11.6in chassis, the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 is the most intriguing Windows RT device we’ve seen so far.
It would be a stretch to describe the full-sized Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 as cute, but it’s an appropriate description for the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11. And even though the novelty has worn off since we first saw its big brother, this little hybrid retains a spark of individuality. With a plain, all-black interior contrasting vividly against the intense shade of matte orange coating its exterior, the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 will be enough to send many people reaching for the credit card.
It’s also available in silver – if this is more to your taste – but whichever colour you choose, this 1.19kg hybrid oozes luxury. Its desirability is matched with sturdy build, and with a chassis that measures only 16mm thick, the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 feels every inch the classy, cutting-edge hybrid.
Different strokes It doesn’t just look different, either. Where other Windows RT devices are mere tablets with clip-on keyboards, the Yoga 11 is an ultraportable laptop that happens to double as a bulked-up tablet. The hybrid design is immensely flexible. Prop up the Yoga 11 in “tent” mode, and the touchscreen can be angled just so. Lay the keyboard facing the desk, and the screen can be tilted back and forth while sturdy-feeling hinges keep the display from flopping backwards. Fold the screen all the way back, and hidden magnets hold it tight against the underside, transforming it into a tablet.
Although the exposed keyboard and touchpad on the rear feel a little odd in this mode, it’s no deal-breaker: they’re both disabled as the keyboard sweeps past 180 degrees, so there’s no danger of accidentally typing or jogging the cursor. When it comes to working in tight spaces – such as the confines of an economy-class plane seat or a cramped train – the Yoga 11’s flexibility comes to the fore. Indeed, although its 1.19kg weight is heavy compared to dedicated tablets, the Yoga 11’s ability to stand up on its own means you’ll rarely need to support its full weight in everyday use.
As a laptop, the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 isn’t far behind the best 11.6in Ultrabooks. The Scrabble-tile keyboard has a spacious layout, and the crisp, light action of the keys makes for comfortable typing. The touchpad works well, and there’s support for twofingered zooming and scrolling and Windows’ edge-swipe gestures.
Familiar specifications The Yoga 11 might boast an unusually flexible chassis, but in terms of the hardware within, there’s little in the way of surprises. With a 64GB SSD alongside the same 1.2GHz Nvidia Tegra T30L processor used in the Microsoft Surface and Asus VivoTab RT TF600T (see Labs, p128, for reviews of both), performance is almost identical.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 took 1,011ms to complete the browser-based SunSpider benchmark, and in the native Windows RT benchmarking app, Speed Test Pro, the Yoga 11 also performed within 2% of its rivals across the range of CPU, GPU and storage tests. It’s significantly larger than other Windows RT devices but Lenovo has put the extra space to good use. The battery kept the Yoga 11 ticking over for an impressive 11hrs 58mins in our video rundown test; almost as good as the Asus VivoTab RT 600T.
Connectivity is good, too, with two USB 2 ports, an SD card reader, a 3.5mm headset jack and an HDMI output. The 1-megapixel webcam captures grainy images, but colours are vivid and there’s enough detail for Skype calls. The final element is the Yoga 11’s 1,366 x 768 display, which works well for most purposes. The backlighting is the only low point: with a maximum brightness of 344cd/m2, the Yoga 11’s display is dimmer than both its Microsoft and Asus rivals. With accurate colour reproduction and a measured contrast ratio of 1,146:1, the image quality is otherwise good, with HD video popping off the glossy screen.
With Windows 8 at the helm, the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 would be a tantalising prospect: after all, it’s a laptop with 12-hour battery life and useful tablet functions. With most Ultrabooks struggling to reach nine hours under the lightest workloads, the prospect of a well-designed 1.19kg hybrid that lasts all day is incredibly attractive. Factor in the presence of Windows RT, however, and the appeal of this hybrid swiftly wanes. Indeed, while the Yoga 11’s design is superb, the limitations of Windows RT, not to mention the paltry selection of apps in the Windows Store, severely hamper its potential. At £500 or thereabouts, we might have to think twice; at £700 – just a little less than fully fledged Ultrabooks – the Yoga 11 is far too expensive. Don’t abandon all hope, however: with Lenovo set to release a Windows 8, Intel-powered Yoga 11S in June, we’d keep that credit card handy.
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