Slim and sturdy chassis; Flip design makes it easy to change modes; Bright display; Very long battery life
Oversensitive touchpad lacks palm rejection; Limited app selection; Slow boot time; Feels hefty in tablet mode
The IdeaPad Yoga 11 gives you a notebook and tablet in one device along with epic battery life, but you'll have to deal with Windows RT's limitations and a sensitive touchpad.
Thanks to its unique 360-degree flip design and comfortable keyboard, the original IdeaPad Yoga is one of our favorite Windows 8 convertible notebooks. Now here comes the little brother. The IdeaPad Yoga 11 trades a 13-inch display for a smaller 11-inch screen and uses an Nvidia Tegra 3 processor to run Windows RT, promising all-day battery life. While you're largely limited to apps in the Windows Store, a copy of Microsoft Office is preloaded for your productivity needs. Does this pint-size, touch-friendly hybrid do enough to justify its $649 price?
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DesignSony VAIO Duo 11 also weighs 2.8 pounds but has a thicker 0.75-inch profile (though it also needs to cool down a beefier Core i5 CPU).
The original Yoga, which has a larger 13-inch screen, weighs 3.4 pounds and measures 0.67 inches thick. On the other side of the spectrum is Microsoft's Surface RT, which measures 10.81 x 6.77 x 0.37 inches and weighs 1.5 pounds.
Overall, the Yoga 11 is so portable we didn't even think twice about taking it to meetings or on our commute home.
Four Usage Modes
In our testing, we found that the hinges provided just the right amount of tension. We noticed a very slight creaking sound when changing modes, but Lenovo claims that the hinge was tested more than 25,000 times.
The Yoga 11's keyboard includes multiple shortcut keys that work without a Fn command, including the usual suspects such as volume and brightness. But you can also close apps with one of the buttons, and toggle through all of your open apps with another for easier multitasking.
Unfortunately, the touchpad doesn't offer any palm rejection, so an accidental brush against it can wind up moving your cursor where you don't want it, selecting a bunch of text or zooming in on a document. It's just too sensitive. Another strike against this pad is that it scrolls in the opposite direction of most notebooks (two-finger swipe up scrolls down), and we didn't see a way to change this setting.
This convertible's screen supports five-point touch, offering mostly responsive performance when swiping between apps and launching the Charms menu. However, at times, we had to tap the display more than once to make a selection. Also keep in mind that the display picks up fingerprints easily, so you'll want to wipe it down at least once a day.
The Yoga 11 registered 319 lux on our light meter, which soundly beats the ultraportable notebook average of 227 lux. However, the ASUS Vivo Tab RT (516 lux), VAIO Duo 11 (402 lux) and Microsoft Surface RT (373 lux) all scored higher.
The Yoga 11 pumps out a fair amount of sound for an 11-inch notebook. The two speakers -- one on each side of the system -- filled our small office when we played Maroon 5's "One More Night." Unlike most laptops, the audio didn't distort at maximum volume; Adam Levine's voice came through just as clearly as the pulsating beat.
Windows RT and Apps
How good is the app selection? It's improving. At last count, the Windows Store stocked 30,975 apps compatible with Windows RT devices. Twitter is a recent welcome addition, and you'll also get big-name apps like Skype, Netflix, Hulu Plus, Kindle and Slacker and Evernote Touch. Still, you won't find an official Facebook or YouTube app, Photoshop, Flipboard or any Google apps (such as Gmail or Google+). Microsoft still has a lot of catching up to do.
Some apps are so gimped they're not worth downloading. Dropbox, for example, only lets you view and not upload files. Skydrive is your best bet for syncing your files to the cloud.
Unfortunately, some apps took a long time to load if they weren't already in memory -- like 12 seconds for the Mail app. The Twitter app took 7 seconds to load after we closed it. Other apps, such as Weather, occasionally crashed after they opened and tried to update themselves.
The internal memory definitely isn't fast. The Yoga 11 took a leisurely 30 seconds to boot, which is the same as the Surface RT and slightly ahead of the Vivo Tab RT (32 seconds). Full-fledged Windows 8 devices, like the VAIO 11, took only 13 seconds, benefiting from a much faster SSD.
The Yoga 11 also turned in a slow transfer time when we tried to duplicate our typical 4.97 GB of multimedia files, taking 7 minutes and 27 seconds. That equals a transfer rate of 11.4 MBps, which is slightly better than the ASUS Vivo Tab RT (10.5 MBps) but behind the Surface RT (14 MBps). The average ultraportable notebook gets 58 MBps.
For everyday tasks, the Yoga 11 works fairly well, whether you're creating a document in Word, checking email (once the app opens), surfing the Web in Internet Explorer or editing an image in a third-party app like Fotor. We just wish apps loaded faster.
Anecdotally, we used the Yoga 11 for our entire commute home and on the way back into work on full brightness (about 3 hours), and then we continued to use it for another 4 hours. The system said we still had 35 percent juice left.
Available through retailers such as Office Depot, our review model of the IdeaPad Yoga 11 comes with a 1.4-GHz Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, 2GB of RAM and 64GB of memory. You also get Office Home & Student Edition and a 4-cell lithium-ion battery and 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. A similar configuration on Lenovo's site costs $759, so you'll want to shop around.
Overall, the Yoga 11 is worth considering if you're looking for a device that doubles as a notebook and a tablet, but because the screen is always attached, this machine is really more of a touch notebook with benefits. The Surface RT ($599 with touch cover) and ASUS Vivo Tab RT ($599) are both cheaper and lighter and let you detach the display for tablet use, but they also don't last nearly as long on a charge and have smaller screens and keyboards than the Yoga.
If you like the design of the Yoga 11 but want more versatility, you may want to wait for the $799 Yoga 11s, which goes on sale in June. Although you'll get less battery life and have to carry around 6 more ounces, the $150 premium will let you run both legacy apps and Windows 8 apps.
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|CPU||1.4-GHz Nvidia Tegra 3|
|Operating System||Windows RT|
|RAM Upgradable to||2GB|
|Hard Drive Size||64GB|
|Hard Drive Speed||n/a|
|Hard Drive Type||Flash|
|Secondary Hard Drive Size|
|Secondary Hard Drive Speed|
|Secondary Hard Drive Type|
|Optical Drive Speed||n/a|
|Graphics Card||Nvidia ULP GeForce|
|Touchpad Size||3.6 x 2.4 inches|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Headphone/Mic|
|Ports (excluding USB)||HDMI|
|Card Slots||2-1 card reader|
|Size||11.7 x 8.0 x 0.61|