Hybrid devices that can function as both a laptop and a tablet are in vogue with manufacturers following the launch of Windows 8. However, Lenovo’s Yoga 11 stands out in a number of ways. It’s a lot more stylish than most of its rivals, and is also one of only four devices that runs the ARM-based Windows RT rather than Windows 8 itself. See: more tablet reviews.
At first glance, the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 looks like a sleek and slim Intel Ultrabook. The 11in-screen device measures 16mm thick, and weighs a mere 1.2kg. It’s a delight to pick it up with the fingers of one hand to just admire the quality of the design.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 is well built too, and sturdy enough to withstand a few bumps in a backpack or briefcase. The widescreen 11.6in display is clear but not especially bright. The resolution is only 1366 x 768 pixels, but that’s less conspicuously coarse on an 11in screen. Keyboard and trackpad feel comfortable despite being squeezed into a relatively small casing.
It’s also well connected, with an HDMI port, headphone socket, SD card slot and a pair of USB ports – although, disappointingly these are slower USB 2.0 rather than 3.0. The speakers aren’t very loud, but they’ll do for playing online video every now and then.
That streamlined design is helped by the use of Windows RT, which, of course, is designed for mobile devices based around power-efficient ARM processors.
In this case, it’s a quad-core nVidia Tegra 3 running at 1.3GHz, and backed up by 2GB of memory and 64GB of solid-state storage. That’s the only configuration currently available, but it’s reasonably priced for an ultraportable at around £700; or expensive for a tablet, depending how you look at it.
If you don’t need to use the keyboard for a while, you can simply fold the screen right back and switch into tablet mode. The Yoga 11 is twice the weight of a conventional 10in tablet but – unlike some of its hybrid rivals – is just light enough to hold in one hand while browsing the web or tapping out some notes on the large, responsive on-screen keyboard.
And, if you just feel like sitting back and watching some streaming video, you can switch into ‘stand’ mode by partly unfolding the keyboard panel so that it can prop up the screen on a table.
Tablet mode does reveal the limitations of the Tegra processor, though. The touch-screen controls feel smooth and responsive, but there’s a noticeable pause as the screen redraws when you rotate between portrait and landscape modes – especially if there are documents or web pages open that have to be reformatted at the same time.
Even so, the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 is more than adequate for routine tasks such as browsing the web or doing some work with a preview of the RT version of Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013 that comes bundled with the Yoga 11.
Remember, Windows RT can’t run ‘legacy’ software written for the desktop versions of Windows.
While the Tegra processor may not be spectacularly powerful it is certainly power-efficient. We got a full 10 hours of battery life when streaming video from BBC iPlayer, and lighter web browsing or running MS Office might even give you close to Lenovo’s claime for 12 hours of battery life.