As much as I like using touchscreen tablets, there are times when a keyboard simply makes life easier. And as much as I enjoy using mobile operating systems optimized for speed and convenient apps, there are times when they fall short. Is it possible to have it all — portability, a touchscreen, speed, apps, a keyboard, and a full OS?
Because we all have our own needs, work scenarios, and yes — ruts we get stuck in — which help dictate what makes us most efficient, allow me to let you into my head for just a moment …
I love the portability that my iPad and iPad mini afford. When I travel, either is fantastic for surfing, playing games, writing notes, recording notes, or taking care of email. The iPad falls short for me when I am editing and writing in WordPress because there is a big difference between what I can do, see, and control from a mobile browser or in the mobile WordPress app versus how easy it is for me to get things done when I’m working on a PC or Mac. There really is no difference on PC or Mac as far as capabilities, because it is all cloud-based.
There are quite a few workarounds that I have to employ on a mobile device, and more than a few compromises must be made. Add to that the fact that I prefer to edit and work with photos on a laptop rather than a mobile device, and right there, you have two major things that I do daily, and both of them are things I’d really rather do on a laptop.
That’s why when I travel, and I know I will be working — which is just about always — I will not only bring my iPad, I’ll also bring my MacBook air; that way, I am ready for anything. I suppose that my “perfect” full-size tablet device would be an iPad with its usual touch-friendly interface — and all of the cool iOS mobile apps — superimposed somehow on top of an 11″ or 13″ MacBook air sized device (complete with keyboard) running the full OSX experience just under its surface, ready to go when I need full desktop power. While picturing this imaginary device, let’s add an SD card reader, HDMI port, and a couple of USB ports. That sounds great, but impossible, right? And it is, and it would be … if I insisted that it be an Apple device.
With Windows 8, Microsoft brought a Live Tiles experience — like the one found on Windows Phone — to their desktop operating system. This user interface is one that we have discussed in the past, and it is one that people seem to either love or hate. But here’s the thing: if you’ve used a Windows Phone for any amount of time, then you are used to this Metro style.
When looking at it and launching apps like Facebook, Accuweather, Zinio, Kindle, Evernote, etc., etc., the experience isn’t that far off from what you get when you are on a Windows Phone; it’s just supersized. Just under that layer of Live Tile goodness, there is a full Windows 8.1 Desktop experience waiting for times when there isn’t an app that does exactly what you need on the pretty overlay.
So on the surface (no pun intended), this sounds like something that might be a possible solution. All that’s left is to discuss hardware … and that’s where the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro Ultrabook 2-in-1 13.3″ Touch-Screen Laptop comes in.
The Yoga 2 Pro is a fully powered touchscreen Windows 8 machine that can be used as a laptop, as a tablet, in “stand” mode (where the keyboard is flipped backward under the screen) or in “tent mode” (with the lid flipped backward until it and the body of the laptop make an easel for your movie (or presentation) watching pleasure). This is my first experience with this type of device, and I have to admit that I’m surprised by how much I like it.
In the box, you’ll find:
- Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro Ultrabook 2-in-1 13.3″ Touch-Screen Laptop – 4GB Memory – 128GB Solid State Drive
- 4-cell lithium-polymer battery
- AC adapter, power cord
- Software: Dragon Assistant; Evernote; Nitro Pro 8; YouCam, and more
- Owner’s manual
The laptop measures 12.9″ wide x 8.6″ wide x 0.5″ thick on the slightly thicker hinged end, and it weighs 3.1 pounds. It wouldn’t be fair to compare it to my MacBook air, because I have an 11″, so let’s compare it to a 13″ MacBook air using stats from the Apple site. The 13″ MB air is 12.8″ long x 8.94″ wide x 0.68″ thick, weighing 2.96 pounds. So size-wise, it would be fair to say that they are in the same ballpark.
The Yoga 2 Pro has a non-creaky, solid-feeling body composed of soft-touch material coated plastic. So far, this coating has managed to keep this laptop free of fingerprints and scratches; I’m a fan. It’s worth noting that there is also a black rubber rim that goes all the way around the screen and keyboard, helping keep the laptop from slipping in certain modes.
This laptop is thin! Even the backside — where the dual hinges and vent are located — is no thicker than the side of my thumb.
The front edge is totally clean with no buttons or latches.
The right side has the power button (with a built-in LED battery status indicator), the Novo button, the screen rotation lock button, the volume rocker, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a USB 2.0 port.
I absolutely love the Yoga’s keyboard; it is backlit, and like my MacBooks’, the keys are chicklet style — they don’t travel too far or clickety-clack when pressed. The touchpad is also very similar to the one on a MacBook; there are no buttons, and for right or left clicks, you press on a bottom corner. The touchpad supports gestures, so if you are used to swiping, pinching, and zooming, you’ll know just what to do.
The Yoga 2 Pro that I received has a 128GB SSD, 4GB RAM, and the Intel I5 with 1.6GHz. Its screen has a resolution of 3200 x 1800; in comparison, my MacBook Pro retina has a 2880 x1800 resolution screen. Because of this, there have been a few times when certain things in the classic Windows screen have been nearly impossible for my 46-year-old eyes to read — like the install boxes for certain Windows programs. Unfortunately, this issue carries over to Chrome, my usual browser. For some reason, Explorer displays just fine, but I haven’t yet found a way to make the Chrome address bar larger than a sliver. If anyone knows how to fix this, please share … I think I have tried everything. =P
That’s been my only complaint with the Yoga 2 Pro so far; granted, it’s pretty obnoxious, though. The Yoga is light enough that it is easy to travel with; it is flexible enough that I like using it at a desk in laptop mode or as a tablet while sitting on the couch. Working on it is a pleasure, especially when editing or writing in WordPress with it in tablet mode.
The resolution is so excellent that the onscreen keyboard isn’t in the way at all — I can actually see enough of the screen to get some work done with endless scrolling and weird rendering issues. In other words, I don’t have to deal with any weird workarounds that are usually necessary when I’m on a mobile browser. This is a full desktop experience, but it is enhanced and better because I can use it in tablet mode. Knowing that I can whip out a full keyboard at any moment for longer articles or notes is really reassuring, too.
Another way that it really shines is when reading magazines on the Zinio app …
…using the Kindle app …
… and using Flipboard.
The Yoga 2 Pro is rated up to 6 hours and 15 minutes battery life. While this may not be quite as impressive as the battery life on my 11″ MacBook air (and it’s only half as impressive as the battery life on the new 13″ air), I’m willing to overlook it because of the new usability I’ve gained. I’m usually not that far from an outlet when I’m doing much more than simple editing or browsing, anyway. Considering that so much of what I do anymore is cloud-based, my hardware choices need to be based on aesthetics, features, and what works best for me. The Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro takes care of all my needs while traveling. I suspect that my MacBook air will be finding a new home soon.
*This entire review was written on the Yoga — portions of it were done in laptop mode and portions in tablet mode. The fact that I enjoyed the process speaks volumes to me; I believe that I have found my perfect travel laptop. (Hooray!)
The Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro Ultrabook 2-in-1 13.3″ Touch-Screen Laptop is available directly from Lenovo and other resellers.
What I Like: Light laptop with four display modes and touchscreen; Durable design; Backlit keyboard
What Needs Improvement: The screen is such a high-resolution that there are things that will not be comfortably readable
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample