Windows 8 hybrid notebooks are fun to play around with, but this is a luxury not everyone can afford. The trouble with these notebooks is that they are simply too expensive and since there're no strict guidelines set by Intel for these Ultrabooks, not all of them make very practical sense – the Sony Vaio Duo 11 is one such example. Another reason is that these hybrid notebooks don’t exactly give you much value for money. You’ll have to compromise on storage, ports, processing power, etc., which is why many still prefer a standard notebook for productivity use. Lenovo’s attempt at changing this comes in the form of IdeaPad Yoga 11. Let’s see if this manages to offer better value compared to the others.
Design and build
The Yoga gets its name from its ability to bend to your seating position. It can morph into standard laptop mode, a tablet mode, tent mode and stand mode. This is possible thanks to a cleverly designed hinge system that allows you to twist the screen all the way back, 360 degrees. The chassis is made up of a scratch resistant plastic shell that looks and feels extremely tough and durable – even the keys didn’t seem to do much damage. The Yoga is quite slim and light, too, at around 1.27 kg, so it’s actually quite comfortable to use in tablet mode. Single handed operation is still not possible for prolonged periods unless you have forearms like Popeye.
Tent mode in effect
The power button is placed in the front instead of the inside, so it can be powered on in any mode. Ports include a full-sized HDMI, two USB 2.0, headphone and SD card slot. There’s no LAN jack or a mciroSD card slot. Physical buttons include a volume rocker and an orientation lock switch. There are speaker grilles placed on either side of the notebook for stereo sound. The palm rest area inside has a rubberised, anti-scratch coating as well and matt finish keys look like they can stand the test of time. The screen doesn’t have too much flex to it and the LCD doesn’t distort either, which is good. The lower half, however, is quite flimsy and slight pressure near the trackpad area causes quite a bit of flex. The trackpad is generously large and the mouse buttons have a much better feel than the ones on the HP Envy x2.
From all sides
The true beauty of the Yoga is when you bend the screen beyond its typical inclined position. The double hinge mechanism automatically disables the keyboard and trackpad once you fold the lid beyond 180 degrees. This second hinge then kicks in, allowing you to fold the laptop all the way around the back so that it becomes a tablet. Lenovo has pulled this off in spades and the hinges feel really strong and durable with absolutely no wobble. The bottom portion of the notebook is completely sealed off and the battery is non-removable. Four rubber pegs keep the notebook firm on a desk and when in stand mode, the rubberised palm rest takes over. In terms of functionality and ergonomics, the Yoga 11 is by far the best we’ve come across to date.
The Lenovo Yoga may look like a notebook from the outside, but it has all the makings of a tablet on the inside. Powering it is an Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core SoC with a generous amount of 2GB RAM. Since this is ARM-based, Lenovo has had no choice but to go with Windows RT. This means you get to use Modern UI and that’s about it. There is a desktop mode for using Office 2013 Home and Student preview and Internet Explorer, but that’s pretty much it. Windows Explorer is also present for copying files to and from external devices, but all your media files will only open through Modern apps. Along with this, we have a 64GB SSD for storage, an 11.6-inch HD (1366 x 768) display, Wi-Fi ‘n’, Bluetooth and a 1MP front facing camera.
Bends to your need
The Yoga 11 comes with some preloaded applications like Evernote, Kindle, Lenovo Cloud Storage, Motion Control, Energy Management, Companion, Transition and security apps like OneKey rescue.
We couldn’t run our standard suite of benchmarks since this is not an x86-based system. On the bright side, you’ll be happy to know that Windows RT runs smoothly without any issue. We tried out a bunch of games from the store, which ran very well. Riptide GP looks really good thanks to the special effects only possible with a Tegra 3 SoC. Other than a select few apps that you would want to use on a daily basis, there’s still a huge void for x86 alternatives for Windows RT. For instance, we couldn’t find a Media Player Classic: Home Cinema replacement for Modern that works. This means you are limited to the stock player, which only reads WMV, MP4, AVI and a few other formats but not MKV and others.
You can't use any of your standard desktop apps
Onboard storage is also a limiting factor here, but thankfully, you can expand it via the SD card slot. The speakers on the Yoga produce very weak sound. The max volume level is not very high and the audio fidelity is below average. The trackpad works well and the keys are comfortable to use even for long typing sessions.
Lenovo claims up to 13-hour battery life and we did manage to achieve something pretty close to it. Our test involved playing back an SD video clip with the brightness set to medium and Wi-Fi on. Here, we managed close to 11-hours, which is really good.
Verdict and Price in India
The IdeaPad Yoga 11 carries a price tag of Rs 61,790, but you can find it online for roughly Rs 56,000. While this may seem like a good price for a Windows hybrid Ultrabook, it’s actually not. All said and done, the Yoga 11 is nothing more than a tablet with a keyboard and should not be mistaken for a real notebook. Windows RT is the main culprit here as it’s very limiting in terms of app support. The good thing is that you get a familiar working environment as Windows, but you can’t really do much with it since none of your standard EXE files will work and there isn’t any Modern app equivalent for most of them either. What you’re left with is a notebook that’s good for a bit of gaming, HD video playback, working on Office documents and Internet surfing – all of which can be done on a dedicated Android or iOS tablet, which are a lot cheaper. The Yoga 11 would make an excellent buy at about Rs 30,000 or less, but nothing more than that.