Here we are smack dab in the middle of the second round of Windows 8 hybrid devices. Lenovo’s Yoga convertible laptops, with their 360-degree hinges that allow them to double as tablets (with a couple of useful positions in between), continue to be some of the most sensibly designed and versatile hybrids we’ve seen.
Last year, in addition to the original 13-inch Yoga, we looked at two 11.6-inch models, the IdeaPad Yoga 11 and Yoga 11S. The former, while it was the most affordable Yoga, was a Windows RT system, which means that it couldn’t run standard Windows applications. The latter was built around Intel’s Core i5 processor, making it a lot more powerful and capable than its RT sibling.
Today, except for Microsoft’s Surface and Surface 2 tablets, Windows RT has virtually vanished in favor of low-priced tablets and convertibles that run “real” Windows, such as the Asus Transformer Book T100. Lenovo has boarded this bandwagon with the Yoga 2 11 we’re reviewing today—a full-fledged member of the versatile Yoga family that, with a “Bay Trail” Pentium CPU, 4GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive, is just $499 at Best Buy.
Like the first-generation Yoga 11 and 11S, the Yoga 2 11 has 360-degree keyboard hinges that let it flip all the way back from laptop to tablet mode, with inverted-V “tent” and easel-like “stand” modes in between. We’ve discussed these articulating hinges and the modes they enable in several previous Yoga reviews, so we won’t go into detail here except to say the modes, illustrated here, are genuinely handy options to have…
An interesting feature Lenovo added this time around is that, when you place the Yoga in specific modes, the device’s Yoga Picks software suggests apps that benefit from that position. When you flip the system into tent mode, for example, a small notice appears in the upper right corner of the screen telling you that there are apps available conducive to that mode. Clicking the notice brings up a page listing the titles available at the Windows Store.
While we’ve liked the flexibility of Yogas we’ve tested, we haven’t liked the way their keyboards remain exposed, hanging out in the breeze, when we flip the convertibles into tablet mode. When you fold the keyboard back until the bottom of the laptop meets the back of the screen, the keyboard essentially becomes the back of the tablet. Not only do you feel the keys when you hold a Yoga laptop in tablet mode, but the keys themselves (though deactivated) give way beneath your fingers, making the entire arrangement doubly distracting.
Lenovo addressed this issue with its high-end, business-optimized ThinkPad Yoga. As you fold that device into tablet mode, the keys lock into place and the keyboard deck rises until it’s flush with the keys, all but eliminating the awkward sensation caused by the protruding keys giving way beneath your fingers as you hold the tablet.
Alas, the budget-friendly Yoga 2 11 doesn’t include the rising “lift ‘n’ lock” keyboard of the ThinkPad Yoga. Due to a keyboard redesign, however, the protruding keyboard is not quite as pronounced—although that, as you’ll see on the next page, has caused another productivity-related issue. Otherwise, the Yoga 2 11 is well-built and attractive, with a good-looking display. It provides good value for the price.
Read entire review at Computer Shopper.