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.)
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|
|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.
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.
In its stand mode, you again eliminate the keyboard and put the screen forward, which is great if you're using it for watching videos or just listening to music. The speakers are particularly good, too: loud without getting tinny.
As a tablet, well, it's not a great replacement for a standalone tablet, but it is nice to have the option. For example, depending on how cramped the bus I commute on gets, I can use the keyboard or switch to tablet mode to continue working (or watch a movie or play a game) and I only need to carry the one device.
Connections, performance, and battery
Given its price, probably the most disappointing thing about the design of the Yoga is the available ports and connections. There are just two USB ports; Micro-HDMI is the only onboard option for connecting to an external display; and an Ethernet connection will require a dongle sold separately.
|Lenovo Yoga 2 13|
|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|
Also, its Wi-Fi is the older 802.11n instead of the newer, faster 802.11ac. It might not be of great importance to have 802.11ac now, but for a $900 laptop it would be nice to have some future-proofing.
Joining the USB 3.0 and Micro-HDMI ports on the right side are the power button, a volume rocker, and screen rotation lock making it easier to use in tablet mode.
Configuration options are limited to increasing the amount of memory and changing from a 500GB 5400rpm hybrid drive with a 16GB SSD to a 256GB SSD alone. We tested the base configuration with a 1.6GHz Intel Core i5 4200U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, 4GB of memory, and the 500GB SSHD.
It's not a gaming system or a high-performance workstation, but for general use it's excellent. I had no problems editing pictures or slicing up some HD video clips and I didn't experience any hiccups while playing some undemanding casual games with the touchscreen.
Lenovo says you can get up to eight hours of battery life from the Yoga 2 13 and we came close to that getting 7 hours and 15 minutes on our video playback battery rundown test. With some power management, you might get to 8 hours of basic wireless Web use. Normal usage will probably land you between 6 or 7 hours of continuous use.
The Lenovo Yoga 2 13, while not as nice as the Pro version, is still an excellent hybrid laptop. Some might still find it a bit clunky to use as a tablet regularly -- and it is. But the flexibility to use it in that position as well as all the others, without sacrificing the feel of a regular clamshell, is great.
Lenovo Yoga 2 (13-inch)
Windows 8.1 (64-bit); 1.6GHz; Intel Core i5-4200; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1600MHz, 1792MB (shared) Intel HD Graphics 4400; 500GB SSHD
Lenovo Yoga 2 (11-inch)
Windows 8.1 (64.bit); 2.16GHZ Intel Pentium N3520 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1333MHz;32MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics; 500GB HDD
Dell XPS 11
Windows 8.1 (64-bit); 1.5GHz Intel Core i5-4210Y; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1600MHz; 1792MB (sharedl) Intel HD Graphics 4200; 128GB SSD
Microsoft Surface Pro 3
Windows 8.1 (64.bit); 1.9GHZ Intel Core i5-4300U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1600MHz; 1792MB (shared) Intel HD 4400 Graphics; 256GB SSD
HP Pavilion 11 x360
Windows 8.1 (64.bit); 2.16GHZ Intel Pentium N3520 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1333MHz;32MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics; 500GB HDD