With the advent of tablet with the physical keyboard and processing power of a normal laptop.and its touch-optimised , laptop manufacturers have had to quickly rethink how a machine allows you to interact with it. Various hybrids have sprung up, splicing the touchscreen interaction of a
Lenovo's turned to bendy gym bunnies for inspiration with the IdeaPad Yoga 13. It looks like a standard laptop, but the 13-inch screen folds back on itself, allowing you to use it as a tablet.
My review model came with an Intel Core i5 processor and 4GB of RAM. It's on sale now from PC World for £1,000. Annoyingly, the model on sale packs a higher-end Core i7 processor. You can expect a slightly improved performance to my review model, but I doubt the difference would be immense.
Should I buy the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13?
At £1,000 the Yoga 13 isn't cheap -- it's the same price as, with its fancy rotating screen. Sadly though, it doesn't do much to demand your money over Dell's offering. While its flipping mechanic is simpler, it requires more space, making Lenovo's machine a more awkward travel companion.
The Yoga also has a slightly bigger screen, but with a lower resolution. It's bright and bold, but so is Dell's. If you want to enjoy Full HD video, the XPS 12 is the way to go.
Both models pack identical internal specs, but Dell's tinkering has resulted in the XPS 12 posting much better scores on my benchmark tests.
Although the Yoga has plenty of power for most tasks and the screen looks good, it doesn't match up to its equally priced rival. If you particularly want a Windows 8 convertible device, the XPS 12 is a better option. Bear in mind, however, you can get better performance from a normal laptop for a much lower price -- if you're willing to sacrifice the touchscreen.
Design and build quality
Folding the Yoga 13 into its tablet incarnation is very simple -- there are no sliding catches to use, you just keep pushing -- but it does require some space. If you're on a cramped Easyjet flight and fancy watching a film after you've finished your work, you might find yourself apologising for elbowing your neighbour in their face.
The Dell XPS 12, by comparison, has a flipping screen held within a frame -- it perhaps isn't the most elegant solution, but it doesn't require any extra room to perform the manoeuvre.
Folding it back on itself means the keyboard is on the underside. This feels pretty weird to hold -- I definitely prefer Dell's flipping method for this reason -- but at least the keys are automatically disabled, so you don't inadvertently type strings of letters. You can also prop it up like a tent for watching video or showing a presentation in a meeting.
At 333mm wide and 224mm deep it's pretty much the size you'd expect a 13-inch machine to be. It's 16.9mm thick too and weighs 1.54kg. For a laptop, that would be rather portable -- you certainly wouldn't struggle to get it into a bag. It's pretty chunky for a tablet though, so don't expect to be holding it up in one hand to swipe around, as you would an iPad.
The screen is fully touch-enabled for Windows 8. You can navigate around the big, colourful tiles of the Metro homescreen using your fingers, switching to the physical keyboard when you need to get some proper typing done. Windows 8 provides an on-screen keyboard when you're in tablet mode, but touchscreen typing (in general, not just here) is frustrating and only comfortable for a couple of sentences at most.
Build quality is generally fairly high. The double hinge feels sturdy and is stiff enough to resist being pushed back when you're using the touchscreen in laptop mode. The casing is firm and there's very little flex or creaking in either the lid, wrist rest or keyboard tray. It's definitely burly enough to put up with at least a few knocks and bumps inside your rucksack.
Looks-wise, it's nothing to write home about. Outwardly, it's very minimalist, with only the small Lenovo logo breaking up the barren lid. It's coated in a rubberised material that I found picked up dirt and grease rather too easily. It's also susceptible to scratches -- I found the coating could be scratched off when it was accidentally scraped against the edge of a desk. You'll need to make a conscious effort to look after it if you want it to keep looking smart enough for important meetings.
An annoying point is that there's no depression or lip on the front edge to help you open it, making it unnecessarily difficult to open. As the hinge has been stiffened, you'll need to push down on the base -- none of that Apple-esque single finger opening for you. I found I had to jam a fingernail in it in order to prise it apart. If you're in a hurry to fire off a quick email this could prove really irritating.
Around the edges you'll find one USB 2.0 port, one USB 3.0 port, HDMI out, a 3.5mm headphone jack and a volume rocker. There's also a full-sized SD card slot for quickly dumping images from your digital camera. Helpfully, there are buttons to turn off the display's auto-rotate function and one for an 'assisted startup' mode, letting you easily restore the machine if something goes wrong.
There's a 128GB SSD drive shoved inside, which is capacious enough for most of your everyday things. If you're a massive media downloader you might find yourself running out of space though. Lenovo promises there'll be a 256GB option as well, although whether shops will be stocking that model is unknown at this point.
Keyboard and trackpad
Stretched across the base of the Yoga is a full-size keyboard. It uses rounded, isolated keys that are very reminiscent -- if not identical -- to the keys I've seen on other Lenovo laptops. That's not necessarily a bad thing though. They're not the most aesthetically appealing keys I've seen, but they're comfortable enough to type on for longer periods.