As what I primarily do is writing and programming, having a good keyboard is critical for me, which is why a tablet alone can’t work for me, and when I started looking I needed at least a tablet/keyboard dock hybrid. The Yoga caught my eye for being an actual laptop with a touchscreen integrated, but the hinging allowing it to be used entirely as a tablet. I did a lot of scrutinizing of the machine on display in Best Buy before I finally purchased it to make sure it fit my needs.
The machine is somewhat configurable ordering directly from Lenovo, and sold in a few different configurations from Best Buy. I purchased the cheapest model from Best Buy, which comes with a Core i5, 4GB of memory, and a 128 GB SSD. It came with a number of various bundled software, including McAfee antivirus and Office 2010, and the regular edition of Windows 8. I removed most of the bundled software and updated to Windows 8 Pro with the built-in upgrade functions, but even with the bundled software the boot time is really good.Battery life on the machine is rated by Lenovo as “up to 8 hours”, which probably it would only get on the lighter weight i3 configuration. I haven’t tried a straight run yet, but with sleeping my machine and resuming from that and the use I’m getting probably around or over 5 hours solid in just regular internet or Word use. My estimate right now as of righting this is 3 hours 40 minutes left at 62% capacity remaining. The machine has 2 USB ports, one 2.0 and one 3.0, an HDMI port, and an SDXC-compatible SD slot. With an SD inserted, at least with the SD I’m using the card becomes inset slightly from the side level, so it’s not likely to be knocked out accidentally.
TouchscreenThe touchscreen is the highlight of the unit inside and out. It is a 1600x900 IPS screen, with ten touch points for the input, on a unique hinge design that allows the unit to be completely folded around the unit. With the unit completely folded up the keyboard is disabled, so there is a button under the screen dedicated as the Windows button to bring up the menu when you are running in tablet mode. The screen will automatically rotate based on whichever is pointing down, unless rotation lock is turned on either in software or with a hardware button on the side of the unit. The screen also has a light sensor to automatically adjust brightness if you want, and a button to turn off the backlight completely (making the picture almost completely unviewable, but it is still on the screen).
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard’s a chicklet-style keyboard with encapsulated keys instead of standard scissor switch keys. They are all plastic though compared to some other chicklet keys I’ve typed on, so they are more pleasant to type on the way that I type. The keys are full sized so it doesn’t require an adjustment to my “weird” typing style.
One odd thing about Lenovo’s setup for the keyboard is the top row of the keyboard is all the laptop hotkeys on the F1-F12 keys, but they are the opposite of normal, with the hotkeys as the regular and the F-keys needing you to hold down Fn to use. Apparently this can be reversed with one of the Lenovo applications, but it doesn’t look like that one is installed by default in the bundled software. It also apparently can be changed in the BIOS, but I haven’t looked, as it doesn’t really matter to me.
The palmrest on the machine is leather, which is very pleasant to type on, having come from my previous main laptop having a metal palmrest that could get very cold. The touchpad for the machine is a single metal surface which is a little finicky. With the buttons not separated from the touch it seems to occasionally carry a register if I have my thumb resting on the button space and not actually registering my finger movement for the touchpad. It’s something I’ll have to get used to, but I’ve seen other reports of it being finicky for some people so something to keep in mind.
Now while I don’t play a lot of PC games these days, I did need something with some fair amount of power as I do indie game development. Now normally, for that reason, I wouldn’t even consider anything with a integrated video, but I’ve been extremely impressed with how far along Intel graphics has come this generation with the 4000 from what I saw in demonstrations. But even there I wasn’t expecting the level of performance I do get on here testing: getting 9-12 FPS consistent trying the Ungine Heaven benchmark, and at max resolution with the default settings it is playable in Left 4 Dead 2 (although somewhat laggy at some points, though no more than some matches I’ve played online with some people, so easy enough to bring down the resolution slightly to have solid performance).