Lenovo Yoga 2 13 review: Yoga's winning hybrid design, now available for less

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
  • Overall: 8.0
  • Design: 9.0
  • Features: 7.0
  • Performance: 8.0
  • Battery life: 8.0
  • Service and support: 7.0
Review Date:

The Good The Lenovo Yoga 2 13 is an excellent ultrabook combined with the flexibility of fully rotating hinges giving you the feel of a regular well-constructed laptop as well as other positions to take advantage of Window 8.1 and the 1080p touchscreen.

The Bad Few ports and connections and its 802.11n Wi-Fi means you're not getting the latest and greatest. Somewhat heavy to use as a hand-held tablet.

The Bottom Line If you can't quite afford the Yoga 2 Pro but still want a full-time laptop and a part-time tablet, the 13-inch Lenovo Yoga 2 is an excellent choice.

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Lenovo's Yoga remains one of the best computer designs to result from the release of Windows 8.

With its 360-degree flip-and-fold body, you get the look and feel of a regular thin-and-light laptop, but with the added flexibility to use it as a tablet just by folding the screen back. You can also tent it, which is nice for playing games, or use the keyboard as a stand, so the screen is better positioned for watching movies or having video chats.

Compared to the first Yoga 13, the Yoga 2's touchscreen resolution is higher at 1,920x1,080 pixels and it has a fourth-gen Intel processor, with the latter giving it better battery life than its predecessor. However, the size and weight and overall design are about the same. So if that was a turn-off for you the first time around, it's probably still going to be.

Plus, the price difference between the regular Yoga 2 13-inch and Yoga 2 Pro at the time of this review was about $200 (£300). That's no small amount, but the extra money gets you quite a bit more computer including twice the amount of RAM (8GB total), a 256GB SSD, a QHD 3,200x1,800-resolution screen, and a slimmer, lighter metal chassis.

If you don't care about the higher-resolution screen or chassis, the Yoga 2 is available with 8GB of memory and a 256GB, but then it's only slightly less than the Pro. Also, the Yoga has picked up some nice competition since the first one launched, so depending on your budget and needs, one of them might be a better fit.

Regardless of which way you go, though, the Yoga 2 is an excellent hybrid for the money at $900 or £700. (The Yoga 2 is listed as coming soon on Lenovo's Australia site, but with no mention of how much it will cost.)

lenovo-yoga-2-13-inch-product-photos08.jpg
Sarah Tew/CNET

Design and features

Available in black and orange versions, the Yoga 2 13 measures 13 inches wide by 8.7 inches deep by 0.7 inch thick (33 by 22.1 by 1.7 cm) and weighs in at 3.7 pounds (1.7 kg). The size and weight is perfectly manageable for commuting or carrying around campus. The body is plastic, but has a pleasant, slightly suede feel to it.

Lenovo Yoga 2 (13-inch) Lenovo Yoga 2 (11-inch) Microsoft Surface Pro 3
Price as reviewed $900 (£700) $450 (£470) $1300 (£1,109)
Display size/resolution 13-inch 1,920 x 1,080 touchscreen 11.6-inch 1,366 x 768 touchscreen 12-inch, 2,160 x 1,440 touchscreen
PC CPU 1.6GHz Intel Core i5 4200U 2.16GHz Intel Pentium N3520 1.9GHz Intel Core i5 4300U
PC Memory 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1600MHz 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1333 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1600MHz
Graphics 1792MB (shared) Intel HD Graphics 4400 32MB Intel HD Graphics 1792MB (shared) Intel HD Graphics 4400
Storage 500GB 5,400rpm +16GB SSHD 500GB 5,400rpm HD 256GB SSD
Optical drive None None None
Networking 802.11b/g/n wireless, Bluetooth 4.0 802.11b/g/n wireless, Bluetooth 4.0 802.11a/c wireless, Bluetooth 4.0
Operating system Windows 8.1 (64-bit) Windows 8.1 (64-bit) Windows 8.1 (64-bit)

However, while I wouldn't consider the Yoga 2 thick or heavy, it's maybe not thin or light enough for regular use as a hand-held tablet.

On your lap or a table, it's fine, though the keyboard doesn't retract into the body like it does on the ThinkPad version of the Yoga. The keys are exposed when you flip the screen over, so you can certainly feel them if you're resting it on an arm or gripping it in your hand.

When the screen is opened beyond 190 degrees, the keyboard and touchpad automatically lock to avoid accidental key presses or cursor movements. But, again, since there's nothing to protect the keys, you'll want to be careful about what you're setting it down on.

lenovo-yoga-2-13-inch-product-photos06.jpg
Sarah Tew/CNET

The keyboard is good, but not great. There is a fair amount of travel given the relatively shallow deck, but the action feels soft and hard typists might not like the flex toward the center. A bigger immediate issue for me was the shrunken shift key on the right side. It's something you adjust to over time, but so frustrating at first.

Also, the keyboard is backlit, but it only has one brightness level. And, unlike other laptops I've tested, it's either on or off and you're responsible for flipping the switch. There is no sensor to dim it if it's not needed or when the keyboard is not in use.

The touchpad is on the small side. It's big enough to take advantage of the multifinger gesture support, but I found myself frequently landing on the edges, which either activates the Charm bar or slides through other open windows.

Definitely a highlight is the full-HD IPS touchscreen. The increased resolution is appreciated (the original Yoga 13 had a 1,600x900-pixel resolution) and doesn't make text too small to read on the 13.3-inch screen. The viewing angles are excellent as well -- pretty important given the design.

Again, the benefit to the 360-degree hinge is the positioning flexibility. Used in its tent position, I was able to get the keyboard out of the way and play some touchscreen games with my kids and have the screen stay put.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Resolution 1920 x 1080 ( Full HD )
  • Installed Size 4.0 GB
  • Color black
  • Weight 3.7 lbs
  • Graphics Processor Intel HD Graphics 4400
  • CPU Intel Core i5 (4th Gen) 4200U / 1.6 GHz
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