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Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro review: A better-than-HD hybrid for less

Sarah Tew/CNET

The $999 Yoga 2 (available for this price from Best Buy, and through an artificial-feeling "coupon code" direct from Lenovo), is a decent all-around config with an Intel Core i5-4200U CPU, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD. Paying $1,399 will double the RAM to 8GB and the SSD to 256GB, and $1,499 takes it to a Core i7 CPU. Go all the way up to $1,599 and you add the final upgrade, a big 512GB SSD. Going the other way, you can trade down to a Core i3 CPU for $929, but that seems like less power than you'd want to drive the high-res display, for only a small savings.

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro
Video Micro-HDMI
Audio Stereo speakers, combo headphone/microphone jack
Data 1 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0, SD card reader
Networking 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Optical drive None

Our basic Core i5 configuration performed as expected, and was closely matched with other laptops sharing this similar set of components. The real test is how it compared with other, more expensive, laptops that have similarly expansive screen resolutions. In that case, the Yoga 2 was about even to slightly slower, especially compared with the current 13-inch MacBook Pro. In our Photoshop test, the higher screen resolution may have affected performance, as the lower-res 1,600x900 original Yoga did better in that single-app test.

But a current fourth-generation Intel Core i5 CPU is more than powerful enough for everyday computing, even multitasking, and we experienced no slowdown or stuttering when using the system anecdotally. For just the base set of components, we'd expect to pay $800 or so, but keep in mind that with the Yoga 2, you also get an excellent design and build, the flexible hybrid features, and the 3,200x1,800-pixel-resolution display.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Battery life surpasses the original Yoga, partially because this system has a current-gen Intel Haswell processor, which makes great strides in battery life over the previous generation. Our other higher-res laptops have similar CPUs, so they also can be counted on to run for a long time. The 13-inch MacBook is still the undisputed champion among this group, and the excellent Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus also ran longer, but the 7 hours and 10 minutes the Yoga 2 ran in our video playback battery drain test is still a very impressive time.

Interestingly, the Yoga line is undergoing a split of sorts, with some features being added to the consumer IdeaPad version, and completely different features showing up in the new business-oriented ThinkPad Yoga. In this case, the IdeaPad Yoga 2 gets the ultrahigh-res screen, but the ThinkPad Yoga gets a clever new keyboard mechanism that hides the keyboard when the system is folded flat in tablet mode.

The presence of the keyboard and touch pad under your fingers, even though they are deactivated, when holding the Yoga 2 as a tablet remains a design oddity, and the one thing many people disliked about the original Yoga. Perhaps if we all ask very nicely, we can get a future Yoga that combines the 3,200x1,800-pixel display and sleek design of the Yoga 2 with the brilliant hidden keyboard of the ThinkPad Yoga.

But if you think of the Yoga 2 as primarily a laptop that can be called on to flip and fold into new shapes to serve specific purposes, it's one of the best all-around ultrabook-style systems available, and one that adds new high-end features at a price that makes it almost irresistible.

QuickTime and iTunes multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

HandBrake multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Find more shopping tips in our laptop buying guide.

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro
Windows 8.1 (64.bit); 1.6GHZ Intel Core i5-4200U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 1,792MB (shared) Intel HD 4400 Graphics; 128GB Samsung SSD

Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus
Windows 8 (64-bit); 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-4200U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 1,749MB (shared) Intel HD Graphics 4400: 128GB SSD

Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (October 2013)
OSX 10.9 Mavericks; 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-4258U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 1GB Intel Iris Graphics; 256GB Apple SSD

Toshiba Kirabook
Windows 8 (64-bit); 2GHz Intel Core i7-3667U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 32MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 256GB Toshiba SSD

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13
Windows 8 (64-bit); 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 32MB (shared) Intel HD 4000 Graphics; 128GB Samsung SSD

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