The Bottom Line
Nov 2 2012 - Lenovo's IdeaPad Yoga 13 is a solid Windows 8 based ultrabook laptop with a fantastic keyboard and multitouch display that also has the added benefit of being used as a tablet. Although awkward to hold as a tablet because of its size and the exposed but disabled keyboard, it is a nice capability to have especially when you want to watch a movie or just browse the web. It would have been nice if the power and volume controls were a bit larger and easier to find but was a necessity for use as a tablet. Anyone considering a new Windows 8 ultrabook should seriously consider such a convertible laptop as the multitouch display certainly makes navigating it more convenient.
- Excellent Convertible Screen With Well Designed Hinge
- Good Battery Life
- Superb Keyboard And Trackpad With Windows 8 Gesture Support
- Awkward to Hold In Tablet Mode Due to Exposed Keyboard on the Back
- Small Power And Volume Controls
- Intel Core i5-3317U Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 8GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
- 128GB Solid State Drive
- 13.3" WSXGA+ (1600x900) Multitouch Display With 1.0 Megapixel Webcam
- Intel HD Graphics 4000 Integrated Graphics
- 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- One USB 3.0, One USB 2.0, HDMI, 2-in-1 Card Reader
- 13.1" x 8.9" x .67" @ 3.4 lbs.
- Windows 8, McAfee AV+
Review - Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13
Nov 2 2012 - The Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 was first announced at the beginning of the year at CES and is one of many of a new class of convertible or hybrid laptops coming to the market to take advantage of the Windows 8 operating system and its multitouch interface support. On the outside, it looks very similar in design to the Lenovo IdeaPad U310 ultrabook that was released earlier in the year but there are various differences including the hinge to allow the screen to fold back over and the position of some of the controls. For instance, the power button is a very small and on the front edge of the laptop so it can be accessible in tablet mode. In addition, the volume rocker on the side is oriented to be used in tablet mode but backwards from what one expects when in laptop mode.
Powering the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 is the Intel Core i5-3317U dual core processor. This is a popular low voltage model that is used in many ultrabooks. It provides a good deal of performance that should be more than sufficient for the average user these days. Only those that will be do very demanding work might want to consider a more full powered laptop processor for this like desktop video editing. The base setup comes with 4GB of DDR3 memory that provides a smooth overall experience with Windows 8 but the 8GB configuration is probably preferable as the system does not have easy access for consumer to upgrade the memory after purchase.
Since the IdeaPad Yoga 13 is at heart an ultrabook, the storage uses a new 128GB solid state drive. This provides it with some extremely responsive application and loading times. Starting from a cold boot was an amazingly fast 9.5 seconds while recovering from sleep was less than two. The only downside here is that it does provide a fairly limited amount of space for storing applications, data and media files. If you do need to have additional space, there is a single USB 3.0 port for use with high speed external storage drives. Like many smaller laptops, the system does lack an optical drive but it does still feature an SD compatible card slot.
The big feature of the IdeaPad Yoga is of course the display. The 13.3-inch IPS based display panel features a high 1600x900 native resolution and comes with a tough glass cover for its multitouch interface. On the whole, it offers a nice bright image with wide viewing angles which is great for use in the tablet or stand modes. The bezel is a bit wider than many newer ultrabook specific systems to allow for more space to hold the system when it is in tablet mode. On the whole, the screen exemplifies why it is advantageous to have a touch display with Windows 8 as it makes it easier to navigate the new user interface. The hinge design that allows it to fold back works very well and does an exceptional job of hiding its ability to fold over. It feels very sturdy and should stand up well to frequent use. The graphics themselves rely on the Intel HD Graphics 4000 that are built into the Intel Core i5 processor. This is fine for basic Windows 8 work but it does lack 3D performance for things like PC gaming beyond a casual level. It also doesn't provide a wide range of acceleration of non-3D applications but it does have the advantage of accelerating media encoding when used with Quick Sync compatible applications.
The keyboard on the IdeaPad Yoga 13 is your standard design from Lenovo that is one of the best one the market. Its isolated keyboard design offers an exceptionally smooth and accurate typing experience. It should be noted that when the screen is folded into the stand or tablet modes, the keyboard is automatically disabled. This helps prevent accidental key presses but it does make it awkward to hold in tablet mode as you often end up touching the various keys. The trackpad is a nice size and does use integrated buttons. It was responsive and worked well with the new Windows 8 gestures. Of course, there is also the multitouch screen which worked well for the most part although didn't feel as accurate as the trackpad gestures when it came to things like opening the side application or menus as the trackpad.
The internal battery pack of the IdeaPad Yoga 13 is rated at 3860mAh which puts it in the middle of the pack when it comes to ultrabooks. In my digital video playback tests, the laptop was able to run for five and three quarter hours before going into standby mode. This is much stronger than the IdeaPad U310 with its hybrid hard drive that lasted just three and a half hours and should provide users with plenty of usage. It still falls short of the top items in this size range including the Apple MacBook Pro 13 with Retina that achieves over six hours but also comes with a much higher price tag. The HP Folio 13 with its larger battery is also able to achieve six hours.
Pricing for the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 ranges from roughly $1000 to $1400 depending upon the configuration. This puts it in the premium range for ultrabooks but frankly it deserves to be there based upon its build quality and features. The only similar laptop currently available for purchase is the Dell XPS 12 which is a bit smaller but also slightly more expensive. It compares favorably with many similarly priced ultrabooks such as the ASUS Zenbook Prime UX31A but the Lenovo has the added benefit of better support for Windows 8.