Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga review

The 13-inch IdeaPad Yoga mixes the usability of a laptop with tablet swagger

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The Yoga is aesthetically pleasing, with matte silver trim, and the familiar rubberized coating so many Lenovo laptops have. Size-wise, it's just a little thicker than a MacBook Air's thinnest point. The Ultrabook weighs in at 3.4 pounds, making it about a half-pound heavier than the 13-inch version of the MacBook Air.

Above and beyond the hardware itself, one other innovation bears mentioning: Lenovo's new Motion Control software allows you to input commands Kinect-style into the system via hand gestures the webcam picks up.

Aside from the magic of the dual hinge, the 13-inch Yoga's most outstanding attribute is its remarkable 1600 x 900 IPS display. This screen is everything a laptop screen should be: crisp and bright with accurate color reproduction, and a high-enough resolution that you can't quite make out all the text on the screen from a distance of a couple of feet.

Other key specs in the model we tested include:

  • CPU: 1.70GHz dual-core Core i5-3317U (you can upgrade to a 1.9GHz Core i7-3517U)
  • RAM: 4GB DDR3 (upgradable to 8GB)
  • Storage: 128GB SSD (upgrade to 256GB coming soon)
  • Ports: 1 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.0, 1 combo jack, 1 HDMI, 1 SD/MMC reader
  • Webcam: 1.0MP 720P front camera
  • Weight: 3.4 pounds (about 0.5 pounds more than a 13-inch MacBook Air

The system comes loaded with Windows 8 by default, but you can also upgrade to Windows 8 Plus.

At press time, the above configuration cost USD $1,000/GBP £999. With the Core i5 CPU and 8GB of RAM, it costs $1,099, and with the Core i7 configuration and 8GB of RAM, you're looking at $1,299 (we only have the UK price for the base configuration at present).

It's worth noting that the key difference between this 13-inch version and the 11-inch model is that the smaller Yoga (which has not yet been released) is more of a tablet experience versus a full on computing experience. It packs a Tegra 3 processor, 2GB of system memory, 32/64GB storage, and runs Windows RT.

Upgrade options for the Yoga 13 are the CPU, which can be upgraded to a 1.90GHz Core i7-3517 (or downgraded to a Core i3-321); memory (4GB to 8GB), and the SSD (128GB to 256GB in the near future).

Top-notch keyboard

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga review

Lenovo has moved on to Chiclet-style keys on its keyboards, but the company's tradition of delivering world-class typing surfaces continues. The Yoga's six-row keyboard is responsive and a joy to clack away on.

One thing night-time typists will eventually find frustrating is the absence of a backlit keyboard here. This is becoming a standard feature on many laptops, and you'll find yourself wishing for this feature on more than one occasion. (To be fair, the screen is bright enough at the highest setting that you can see the keys with no other light source.)

Yoga's Trackpad looks and feels very similar to Apple's MacBook line, and that's a good thing. You can even swipe left and right on the trackpad to Alt-Tab between open applications. And a special app allows you even more gesture-based controls.