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Lenovo has a reputation for delivering relatively simple, business-focused laptops, but the Yoga demonstrates that it's also a company willing to experiment. This clever folding hybrid converts from an Ultrabook to a tablet with a flick of the screen, but it's got a neat trick up its sleeve that most other convertibles will admire.
Design and features
In Ultrabook mode, the Yoga's keyboard is just as easy to use as other Lenovo Precision keyboards, with the raised keys making it easy for your fingers to find their intended targets. However, flip the screen backwards behind the base, turning the Yoga into a tablet, and the keys ingeniously lower to become flush with the keyboard face, stopping the user from accidentally striking keys while in tablet mode. It's a very clever solution to a widespread problem, and it makes this one of the most useful hybrids we've seen.
Just because Lenovo has experimented with the sinking key design doesn't mean they've also gone for a stylish laptop; once again we see Lenovo's fondness for plain black laptops. The exterior is entirely plastic, but it's the thick, rugged type that Lenovo favours rather than the thin, flimsy plastic seen on cheaper laptops.
The rotating display is a 12.5-inch touchscreen, and it's also fully HD thanks to the 1920 x 1080 resolution. It delivers a very clear, readable image, with excellent contrast performance but slightly drab colours. Unfortunately the audio solution isn't quite as impressive, with the stereo speakers not helped in the slightest by the Dolby Home Theatre v4 software. Headphones will be a must for serious media lovers.
Connections, performance and battery
At 1.6kg the Yoga is a surprisingly heavy 12.5-inch laptop, yet it's not the fault of extra hardware inside, as there's a relatively mid-range system purring under the hood. Intel's Core i5-4200U CPU runs in conjunction with just 4GB of DDR3 memory, and there's no discrete GPU to be found. As a result all video decoding and game acceleration is handled by Intel's HD Graphics 4400, which is integrated into the CPU. Our review sample also had rather limited long-term storage, with a single 128GB SSD as the sole hard drive.
Despite the relatively modest hardware within the Yoga, Lenovo knows how to get the most out of it. Scoring a very healthy 2394 in our PCMark 8 Home benchmark placed this laptop towards the top end of the pack. Unsurprisingly, gaming performance wasn't in the same league, with the 3DMark Cloud Gate benchmark placing it around the middle of the pack, and at least 20% slower than machines packing NVIDIA's affordable GT 750 GPU. Connection options are a little limited, with just twin USB 3.0 ports and a single mini-HDMI out, while Wi-Fi conforms to the 802.11a/b/g/n standard. So much for 2014 being the year of 802.11ac...