Hands-on love affair with Lenovo’s Yoga

Lenovo Yoga

Lenovo Yoga in tablet mode

If you’ve been using laptops for years, they all get to be very similar – until now. Taking the Ultrabook to the next level, Lenovo has set up the Yoga to be everything to everyone.  Your choice – a performance laptop, a larger than life tablet, and an entertainment/presentation machine.

Not skimping on the specs, this machine is a workhorse. I loaded Adobe’s Creative Cloud suite of software and was duly impressed with how it handled video editing with Premiere Pro CS6. Fed with multiple streams of HD 1080i video, this thing cranked out H.264 videos as quick as any laptop I’ve ever used.

Lenovo Yoga

Lenovo Yoga in Laptop Mode

That’s really saying something, because the machine I was testing had an only 4GB of PC3-12800 DDR3 SDRAM 1600 Mhz and an Intel Core i5-3317U CPU at 1.70GHz.   Other models of the Yoga can be had with up to an i7-3517U processor and 8 GB SDRAM. This model came with a 128GB SSD, while the top model comes with a 256GB SSD.

The solid state drive is quite responsive and the short start-up times are what a SSD is all about. I can’t wait for the price to come down and the size to go up for all solid state drives.

The Yoga’s real innovation is the hinge that allows almost full 360 degree swing.  When folded back 190 degrees or more, the keyboard is disabled so you aren’t pressing keys while it sits on your lap or while holding it in the palm of your hand.

The 13.3” multitouch screen is what you need to comfortably use Windows 8  and the 1600×900 resolution screen lets business users work on two spreadsheets or Word documents side by side. Watching an HD movie on this screen is terrific. Absolutely gorgeous. I’ve never seen a crisper picture.

Lenovo Yoga

Lenovo Yoga is only 2/3″ thick

While I use the computer in its normal laptop configuration 90% of the time, I’m looking forward to its tablet configuration while I’m flying and there’s not enough room to fully open a laptop. In its tent or stand mode, there’s no distraction while you watch a presentation or movie. (Again, perfect for on a plane or train seat-back fold-down table.) Paired with a Bluetooth mouse you can control it all from across the desk or the across the room.

The audio from the machine is pretty amazing considering this unit is just 2/3 inches thick and only weighs 3.4 pounds.  That was my only complaint about my last Lenovo machine (an X61 convertible.) If you wanted to rock the room with music, you definitely needed an auxiliary amplifier. The Yoga won’t blow you away, but you can certainly hear it in the next room. Use your F2 and F3 keys to raise or lower the volume – no more hunting around for that confounded speaker icon. These are the only two buttons that work if you open the screen more than 190 degrees – handy.

Lenovo Yoga

Lenovo Yoga in Stand Mode

External connections are limited but you have the essentials: HDMI out, two USB (USB 2.0 and USB 3.0), a combo mic/headphone jack, a 3-in-1 SD card slot, and power adapter slot. An external screen rotation lock button keeps your display from rotating while you are moving around.  The internal battery can last up to 8 hours if you are power conscious.

The touchpad is good-sized and features two built-in mouse buttons. If you’d rather use an external mouse like me, there’s a handy F6 key to turn off the touchpad. This keeps your palm from moving the cursor around while you are typing.

Overall, this was one of the computers I most wanted to test after the CES 2012 show. It was definitely worth the wait.  If you are looking for versatility without sacrificing performance, this is the model you have to see. Check out their entire line of configurations available at Lenovo.com.

This product is one of those featured in my 2012 Gift Guide.  For great gift ideas, check it out anytime.

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