Lenovo’s ThinkPad Yoga is a powerful Windows 8 computer that successfully straddles the line between laptop and tablet. (Rating: 4 out of 5 stars)
Announced at the IFA convention along with 12 other new Lenovo products, the ThinkPad Yoga is not your conventional tablet; it’s large at 12.5-inches and has a flexible hinge which can you can use in a variety of different positions. Company execs describe it as a “true convertible Ultrabook”.
In the way of specs, the Yoga is useful rather than ground-breaking. The 12.5-inch display can be fitted with a 1366 x 768 or 1920 x 1080 resolution anti-smudge display, up to a fourth-gen Intel Core i7 processor, and connections include USB 3.0 and mini HDMI.
The device will run Windows 8.1 on launch (due out October 18) and will come with up to 1TB of HDD storage (500GB if you choice the SSD option). Road warriors will be pleased to learn they can hot-swap batteries while the device is running. It also supports a digitizer pen. TPM and NFC support is also included.
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Flexible hinge & innovative keyboard
On testing the Ultrabook at IFA , one of the first things I noted was that the ‘lift and lock’ feature which folds the keyboard keys down into the chassis when you fold the keyboard on back of the screen for ‘tablet mode’.
Lenovo staff said this was developed to improve protection and to make it easier to hold, which I found to be true - it was very comfortable to hold or carry.
The hinge is very flexible and allows the ThinkPad Yoga to quickly flit between four modes – laptop, tablet, stand and tent, while the matte rear is understatedly stylish, long-lasting and easy to grip.
The full-sized QWERTY keyboard is conventional and easy to type on, while the embedded trackpad is pretty neat too. Elevated slightly, you can apply pressure in certain areas to select functions rather than use the traditional left and right-click keys at the top of the trackpad. For example, I could scroll the forecast in the Weather app by doing this on the scrollbar.
There are other useful keyboard features, namely the Lenovo red button and the ability to do an instant search on Windows 8 by typing directly on the keys rather than having to navigate to the Search Charm.
There is a fan on the back of the Ultrabook and there are buttons for locking screen rotation and adjusting the volume on the side. The hinge seems sturdy enough although I did notice some play on the plastic base around the hinge.
Average display, but some useful business apps
The ThinkPad Yoga has a pretty responsive touchscreen although the resolution isn’t earth shattering at either 1366 x 768 or 1920 x 1080. At just 3.48lbs, the device is easy to hold in one hand or two, although it’s not overly light when folded down into ‘tablet’ mode.
Running Windows 8.1, the Ultrabook comes pre-loaded with some useful apps, including Norton Security, Zinio and Lenovo SugarSync. Yoga Picks, the innovative software which picks out software based on what mode you’re using, comes pre-bundled on the ThinkPad 2 Pro but doesn’t appear to run on the ThinkPad Yoga at this time (it wasn't running at IFA).
In summary, the ThinkPad Yoga promises high performance, versatility and portability, while the tough, light magnesium alloy chassis makes it ideal for the road. If you don't need a super hi-res display (the Yoga's is quite readable) and willing to pay more for having both a tablet and laptop in one – starting from $949 in November – the ThinkPad Yoga is a good bet.
("Choosing your next tablet, the operational advantage", will be one of the key sessions at the TabletBiz conference & expo in New York on November 13, 2013)