How to pick the perfect Yoga

Lenovo's shape-shifting PC line is getting complicated, but we'll show you how to pick the best model for you.

It's been years since a new computer product line has built a recognizable brand name as fast as Lenovo's Yoga. You'd be hard-pressed to find someone on street who could tell you what "Inspiron" or "Portege" means, but a surprising number of laptop shoppers I've spoken to know that Yoga is shorthand for a laptop that folds into a tablet, with a few stops in between.

Part of the reason comes from the original Yoga's launch, just after the release of Windows 8 in 2012. The sharp-looking hybrid was featured in advertisements from Best Buy and Microsoft as an example of the potential for cool, dual-use, touch-screen PCs. But since then, the Yoga brand has continued to grow, adding new models that run from excellent to merely OK.

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The list below summarizes the major Yoga variants, past, present, and future, including a less-expensive version previewed at CES 2014. Interestingly, even the older models are still available from Lenovo, with the exception of the Windows RT Yoga 11, which can be found from third-party resellers.

For me, the Yoga 2 Pro remains a favorite, thanks to its sharp design and amazing 3,200x1,800-pixel-resolution display, but the hidden keyboard on the ThinkPad Yoga is an engineering feat that also makes it a contender for the top spot.


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Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga
This model has a re-engineered keyboard and chassis setup that pulls the keys flush with 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 included in the ThinkPad Yoga as of now. Read the full review of the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga.


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Lenovo Yoga 2
The new Yoga 2, available in 11-inch and 13-inch models, will start at $529 for the smaller screen size, but the CPU gets knocked down to a quad-core Intel Pentium, and storage is a basic 500GB hard drive. The $999 13-inch Yoga 2 is just a hair thicker than the 11-inch model, but this screen is full-HD, at 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution, and the system includes a backlit keyboard, up to a fourth-gen Intel Core i5 CPU, and a 500GB hard drive, with solid-state drive (SSD) storage available for a bit more. Read our hands-on preview of the Lenovo Yoga 2.


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Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro
The star of the show here is an ultrahigh-res 13.3-inch display, with a native resolution of 3,200x1,800 pixels. That puts the Yoga 2 in similar territory to the Toshiba Kirabook, the MacBook Pro with Retina Display, the Chromebook Pixel, the Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus, and a handful of others, but for as little as $999. Read the full review of the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro.


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Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8
Though aesthetically unique, with a design that features a rounded spine and kickstand, these 8-inch and 10-inch Android tablets have mediocre screens, and their heavily modified operating systems prove less than exciting. Read the full review of the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8.


Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11S
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Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11S
If anything, the 11-inch Yoga feels like a better fit for the unique body design than the 13-inch version did. Shrinking the design down to an 11-inch system creates a product that, in tablet mode, feels a lot closer to an iPad than any of the larger hybrid laptops we've seen. Read the full review of the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11S.


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Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11
This is the Windows RT version of the 11-inch Yoga. Like most RT products, it never had a second-gen version, though it can still be found for sale by third parties. Read the full review of the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11.


Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13
The original 13-inch Yoga felt like a bold experiment at first, but it did something very smart -- it gave you hybrid flexibility without compromising the original laptop shape or functionality. Read the full review of the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13.

Looking for specs and pricing? Compare these Lenovo Yoga hybrid laptop-tablets head-to-head.

About the author

Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of laptops, desktops, and Windows tablets, while also writing about games, gadgets, and other topics. A former radio DJ and member of Mensa, he's written about music and technology for more than 15 years, appearing in publications including Spin, Blender, and Men's Journal.

 

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