Hands-on with Lenovo's ThinkPad Yoga
If there's one thing that bothered people about the popular Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga hybrid, it was how the keyboard and touch pad remained exposed to the elements, even when the system was folded into tablet mode.
For the uninitiated, the Yoga (and the just-announced Yoga 2), looks like an ordinary ultrabook-thin clamshell laptop, but its lid and display fold back a full 360 degrees to form either a thick tablet, or a stand/kiosk device when only folded halfway back. While the Yoga's keyboard is deactivated, it's still pointing out from the back of the tablet mode, which is suboptimal, to say the least.
Lenovo has a new take on the Yoga that should make a lot of people very happy. This new ThinkPad-branded model has a seriously engineered keyboard and chassis that pulls the keys into the body as you fold it over backward into the tablet mode. It's exactly what we've been waiting for in a Yoga, although it's a shame that this new feature is only in the ThinkPad Yoga right now, not the more consumer-targeted IdeaPad Yoga and Yoga 2.
To dive a little deeper, the keyboard itself doesn't actually retract. It's more that the slightly sunken keyboard tray rises up to be flush with the keys, while a secondary locking mechanism prevents the keys from being depressed while in tablet mode. Lenovo calls it a lift-and-lock system. Impressively, it doesn't feel much thicker than the standard Yoga (although the screen is 12.5 inches, rather than 13 inches), and the keyboard is even backlit.
New fourth-gen Intel Core i-series processors will be offered, along with NFC, up to 1TB of HDD storage, support for ThinkPad docks, and the classic ThinkPad red pointing stick.
In our brief hands-on time with the ThinkPad Yoga, while it's made of tough, light magnesium alloy, it didn't feel as slick and coffee shop ready as the IdeaPad version (and it lacks the extremely high-res screen of the Yoga 2), but the hidden keyboard think is so fascinating, you'll find yourself folding the lid back and forth over and over again just to watch it in action.
The Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga should be available in November, starting at $949.