Saturday, March 16, 2013

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13" Review

By Khaled Akbik

First Glance

The good folks at +Lenovo provided me with a 13" Lenovo Yoga to review. Here goes:

The device has a simple, elegant and beautiful minimalist design. It is thin, light and sturdy. It feels durable and premium despite being quite low priced for a device with its features and quality.

Did I mention that it's also a tablet? I guess not, we'll get to that :)

Let's get the numbers out of the way

Dimensions (13"): Unit reviewed
333.4 x 224.8 x 16.9 mm
13.4 x 8.85 x 0.66 inches

Dimensions (11"):
298 x 204 x 15.6 mm
11.7 x 8.0 x 0.61 inches

Processor: NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor
OS: Windows 8 (with touchscreen functionality)
Screen size: the Yoga comes with two screen sizes, 11" and 13" - touchscreen
Screen resolution: 1366x768 with wide viewing angle, 16:9 widescreen
Storage: 64GB (unit reviewed), up to 256GB SSD on retail units
RAM: 2GB DDR3 memory built in (upto 8GB expandable)
Sound: 2 x 1W speakers with Dolby Home Theater v4
Webcam: integrated 720p HD
Speakers: integrated stereo speakers
Graphics: Integrated Intel HD 4000 Graphics

Others: WiFi, Bluetooth, two slots of USB 2.0, HDMI outpot slot  and a 2in1 card reader

13": AED 4,299 ($1,170)
11": AED 2,999 ($815)

Appearance & Build

The device comes with two different colors and two sizes. The two colors available are Silver Grey (the unit reviewed here) and Clementine Orange (which I had the chance to experience as well). Both colors suit the ultrabook well and are pleasant on the eye. The color can only be seen on the outer side of the chassis on the lid and lower bottom. The keyboard and screen bezel are both black.

The device is built from plastic, hard durable plastic. It doesn't feel cheap at all and feels quite solid.
The outer sides (lid and bottom chassis) reflects the color of the device (Silver Grey or Clementine Orange). I had the chance to also experience the Clementine Orange variant and it looks quite funky. I liked it.

The inside is all black. This includes the keyboard and screen bezel, which is entirely made up of glass. This adds to the premium feel and look of the device makes the screen look sexy. This is needed since the Yoga doubles as a tablet once the screen flips over. Wait, what?! Yeah, the screen makes a 360 degree flip to turn the laptop into a tablet. This, being a distinctive feature of the Yoga, is covered next.

The Four Modes

Lenovo has developed and patented special screen hinges that enable the user to flip the screen 360 degrees. This enables the user to use the device in multiple ways, four usable ways to be exact:

The Laptop Mode

The ultrabook could be used as a standard laptop once the screen lid is opened with the standard 90 degree (or more realistic 100 degree angle). No need to dwell on this mode much.

The Stand Mode

The screen's special hinges allow the user to flip the screen at about 270 degrees. Now the keyboard faces downwards, acting like a stand and the user could interact with the Yoga as a tablet. Windows 8 includes a touch keyboard to substitute to the now hidden physical keyboard.

The Tent Mode

Keeping the device at a 270 degree angle, it could be placed in a tent form with the upper edge of the screen and lower edge of the keyboard acting as stands. The physical keyboard is now on the opposite direction of the touchscreen. The user is free to interact with the touchscreen without worrying about the device losing its angle thanks to the sturdy hinges that keep it in place which ever way it is laid at.

The Tablet Mode

The screen and keyboard are in positioned back to back. The, now, tablet could be held like a regular tablet (think iPad) and used as such. At a mere 1.54 kg on the 13", the device is easy to handle and hold. You'd need both hands though as it is quite sizable and still considerably weightier that an iPad or a regular tablet. The screen/tablet has a single button in the lower middle side of the screen (as do all Windows 8 tablets and touchscreen laptops) which acts as a Home button, taking the user back to the default Metro view.

Modes Verdict

Different modes are handy for different situations, which is what Lenovo is looking to address here. I found myself mostly using the standard Laptop Mode when I'm working on something that requires a lot of typing, like this review, as well as, the Stand and Tablet Modes when using the touchscreen for browsing content, social networking, watching videos, etc. These last two modes are also useful when playing touch-friendly games like Brizzle (I'm addicted!).

Yoga's special hinges allow the device to compete with the likes of the Asus Transformer family and the Samsung ATIV Smart PC. Yet the Yoga addresses these devices following problems:
1. The Asus Transformer and Samsung ATIV are both tablets that plug into a keyboard. This is fine, but you'd have to worry about leaving the keyboard behind or carrying it separately with you when you're away from home just in case you need to type an email or something.
2. The Samsung ATIV is considerably bulkier and pricier than the Yoga. It does come with higher specs though.
3. The Asus Transformer is cheaper than the Yoga, but lacks the full fledged OS functionality as it is primarily an Android tablet and not a PC.

The reasons listed above make the Yoga a winner compared to these two primary competitors, especially when taking into consideration how affordable the device is.


Being a laptop/tablet combo has its advantages. Ultimately, the device's battery is that of a laptop's, which secures long duration of battery use. I charged the batteries full, used the Yoga for about 4 hours with various functionality (playing games, blogging, browsing, watching videos), in multiple modes. I also had the device on standby for about 4 days and I still have an hour of usage left as I type this review now.

Issues Faced

Note: Before mentioning the problems I faced I'd like to note that the device I'm reviewing is a test device and could very well be different from those available in the market (which is quite common). The issues below could have very well been addressed in retail units or by certain updates to Windows 8 and/or the device.

The first test unit I received from the good folks at Lenovo was a 11" Clementine Orange variant. I quickly discovered that the touchscreen wasn't working at all. I did some research and discovered that some elements of the hardware conflict with the touchscreen's functionality rendering it inoperable. I believe this is Windows 8/device compatibility issue which I'm sure is addressed in some update. I wouldn't worry too much about this problem.

The Yoga has a handy feature which disables the physical keyboard when the screen is flipped up to a certain angle. This is useful to prevent accidental touching of the physical keys. That said, I did encounter situations when I flipped the screen slightly and the keyboard was automatically disabled with no way to bring it to work again, despite flipping the screen back into standard laptop mode. I had to press the power button to put the laptop sleep and wake it up again for the keyboard to function again. I also couldn't find a button or a function on the keyboard that brings it back to life. There could be another way which I am not aware of though. If this problem is due to my ignorance in using the device then the button or feature should be easily found to turn the keyboard back on again. Otherwise, it's probably a software issue that is easily addressed by a future update.


I loved the Yoga's form and build. It feels sturdy and durable and doesn't feel cheap at all, despite being competitively priced. Windows 8 runs quite smoothly on the device with no lags or issues faced at all. Touchscreen works beautifully well and is very responsive.

If you're looking for a tablet/laptop hybrid to satisfy your everyday laptop use and to consume content on the go at a very affordable price, then this is the right device for you. Yoga's special hinges gives it an edge when compared to the competition and adds a unique factor that is smart, practical and adds flexibility to the way the device is used. I personally preferred using the 11" variation which was lighter and easier to use/hold/handle.

Despite my personal reservations towards Windows 8, at its current price, features and quality, I personally would definitely recommend the Yoga for those looking for such a hybrid.


  1. Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
    thank you :)

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