Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Lenovo's Ideapad Yoga 11 Review: Part 1

A hybrid laptop isn't something new. Many years back, HP and IBM already supplied laptops with rotatable screen so as to make the annotation easier. However, that was pretty much about it. Windows 7 is not specifically designed for touch/stylus use, so the use is very limited. With the advent of tablet era, Lenovo has come up with something really cool, yet not forgetting the traditional laptop form factor. It's the latest Ideapad Yoga series. 

Ideapad Yoga comes in two sizes, 11.6 inch and 13 inch. Besides the apparent size difference, the most major one would be the operating system. The latest generation of Windows has two versions. Yoga 11 is running Windows RT while Yoga 13 is Windows 8. Windows RT looks very similar to Windows 8, but it's notably different. The difference one would probably be most concerned is that Windows RT isn't compatible with desktop programs like Windows 8 does. Therefore, only Windows Store apps could be installed on the system. In other words, it works just like Android/iOS tablets.

In this review, I will share my thoughts and experiences with Lenovo's Yoga 11 and it will be two parts: part 1 will be most about the design of the gear and part 2 is how this performs in daily use.

To be honest, I have never really used a Lenovo product before, neither I have used Windows RT/8 on a daily basis. So in this review, I may have some fresh findings compared to those who are more used to this. Okay, now let's take a look at what Lenovo has got us.


The exterior of Yoga 11 is a sleek metallic cover. It comes with two colors, grey and bright orange. This review unit is in orange color which I like very much. Obviously it's targeting at the younger generation market.


It is 15.6mm thick, about the same as Apple Magic Mouse. It's not ultra-thin, but reasonably slim. The weight is 1.27kg. It's relatively light compared to other laptops, but definitely heavier than most tablets. 



On the right side, there are one USB 2.0 port, a SD/MMC card slot and power port. There is another button at the other end, which controls the on/off of the screen auto-rotation when in tablet mode. 



On the left side, it's headphone jack, another USB 2.0 port and HDMI port. At the other end, there is a volume +/- key. 


The power button is rather unnoticeable and it's hiding in the front. I guess this is designed for the tablet mode, which later we'll see.


The 'chiclet' keyboard and below the screen there is a Windows button, which is used like a home button on iPhone/iPad - return you to the home screen.


This is how Yoga 11 looks like at its normal laptop position. The screen is glossy, bright and sharp as well. However, it's very prone to fingerprint. The keyboard is well spaced out except that the Enter key is extremely small and pushed at the edge. It may take some time to get used to that. The touchpad feels good so far. 


The screen could be pushed back further until it's flat. Along the way, the shaft resistance is moderate and the screen could stay firmly at any angle.


Not over yet. The screen could flip over and stand. It's called stand mode. 


It can also stand upside down. The tent mode.


Finally, the tablet mode. It works just like a Windows RT tablet. One thing weird to me is that, when I hold it in this mode, my fingers press the keyboard at the back. It won't trigger anything thought, just it feels like that I can't hold the tablet properly. 

Lenovo calls the Yoga series 'convertibles'. It clearly is. It has both worlds. You can use it just like any other traditional laptops when you are working on something serious. If you wanna sit back and watch a movie, either stand or tent mode would work. In short, you could find quite some fun if it's your first time using a convertible like me. That's quite a different experience compared to using a Android/iOS tablet.

That's all about the design part. Next post I will be talking about how it performs in day-to-day use. So, please stay tuned!


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