An updated Yoga 2 hybrid at a slimmer price (hands-on)

January 5, 2014 4:00 PM PST / Updated: January 5, 2014 4:00 PM PST

The original Lenovo Yoga laptop was a bold take on the still-new Windows 8 hybrid genre when we first saw it in late 2012. We liked that it could play the part of a part-time tablet, without compromising its core laptop functions. The updated version, last year's Yoga 2 Pro , was even better, adding a better-than-HD screen and updated components for just about $1,100.

But that's still MacBook Air territory, which is a tough price range to break into for any Windows laptop or hybrid. Smartly, Lenovo has now announced a new version of the system, the IdeaPad Yoga 2 (minus the "Pro"), which will be less expensive, but just as flexible.

The new Yoga 2, available in 11-inch and 13-inch models, will start at $529 for the smaller screen size, which will weigh 2.9 pounds and be about 0.67 inch thick. 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 weighs 3.5 pounds and is just a hair thicker than the 11-inch model. You lose the 3,200x1,800-pixel-resolution display in the Yoga 2 Pro, but this screen is still full HD, at 1,920x1,080, 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 as a step-up option.

In hands-on use, the new models are definitely not as premium-feeling as the Yoga 2 Pro, which was arguably the single best Windows laptop of 2013. They're thicker, a little more plasticky, and the 360-degree hinges are not as elegantly effortless to manipulate. But, for a much more reasonable price, you get the flexibility of the Yoga design, which makes for an excellent overall touch-screen laptop, a decent tablet experience when you need it, and the undervalued kiosk mode, for displaying the screen which tucking the keyboard tray behind as a kickstand.

Both new Yogas will be available at Best Buy, Future Shop, and from Lenovo, with the 11-inch coming in late January and the 13-inch in February.

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Lenovo Yoga 2 13-inch

Part Number: 59402636
MSRP: $999.00 Low Price: $899.00 See all prices
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.