Lenovo is a company that is traditionally associated with plain old business PCs.
While the company hasn't forgotten its business roots, the recent launch of Windows 8 gives Lenovo an opportunity to aggressively target a consumer audience.
So I was really happy with Lenovo's new IdeaPad Yoga, a Windows 8 tablet/laptop convertible.
A majority of Windows 8 machines seem to have an identity crisis. Are they laptops? Tablets? Both? But the Yoga is certainly one of the better, if not the best, Windows PCs I've used this year.
The Yoga is interesting because it can bend and twist into five different positions, which all offer a different experience.
First is laptop mode, which is much like you would expect. Next is tablet mode, but with a 13-inch screen it feels a bit too large. When using the Yoga in tablet mode I sometimes had difficult getting the virtual keyboard to come up and stay up. I suspect that this is due to the sensor which is made to disable the keyboard once the PC reaches a particular angle.
The third position is called tent mode; this places the laptop at a reverse angle where the keyboard and screen prop each other up. I didn't really see a use for this position, but I assume some people will like it when watching videos or presentations.
Despite the strange positions, the Yoga is constructed from quality materials that make the computer feel and look great.
Lenovo really got creative when it designed this laptop. The company knew it wanted users to take advantage of Windows 8's touch capabilities, but also wanted to give users a traditional laptop experience.
Lenovo succeeded with both goals.
The Yoga is built from a rubbery, almost-leather type of material that screams quality.
While many companies are trying to copy Apple and its clamshell MacBook, Lenovo strayed away from that path and created something very different but also very great. It's refreshing to finally use a great laptop that doesn't try too hard to be a Mac.
The trackpad is responsive and feels good and the 13.3-inch multitouch screen supports a decent resolution of 1600x900 pixels. While we're used to higher resolutions on our devices, we didn't have a problem with it this time.
The Yoga weighs 3.4 pounds and is only 0.66 inches thin, making it highly portable.
The base model Yoga comes with an i5 processor and 4 GB of RAM, but if you want more you can certainly pay for it. There is also support for Bluetooth 4.0, an integrated 720p HD webcam, stereo speakers, HDMI out, USB 2.0, USB 3.0 ports, and a SD card reader.
The first thing I noticed about the Yoga was how fast it was. The computer boots up quickly and launches apps fast.
To me, an admitted Mac user, Windows 8 is the only thing that hinders the Yoga experience. The software is clunky and it was extremely annoying when using the trackpad instead of Windows 8's touch-based navigation features.
I don't like how Microsoft wants us to figure out how to use the software. It should just work, but certain things like searching for apps in the Microsoft Marketplace isn't as easy as it should be. (Windows 8 requires you to swipe over and reveal a "charms" bar for actions like search, but you're pretty much forced to figure that out on your own).
I also had trouble with the keyboard keys jamming a few times while typing. I inadvertently hit the home or page up keys when I intended to hit shift, backspace, or enter. This is probably because I am used to a wider keyboard, but I feel like if you spend enough time with the keyboard you'll eventually get used to it.
One thing I did like a lot was the Yoga's battery life. Lenovo promised eight hours, and with light browsing and word processing I achieved beyond that amount.
Despite a few shortcomings and the hindrance of Windows 8, the IdeaPad Yoga is probably the best Windows laptop you can buy right now.
The Yoga is well-designed, lightning fast, feels great, and it has a long battery life. Lenovo delivers on every promise.
The 13-inch Yoga starts at $999 and is available in two colors, silver gray and clementine orange. A smaller 11-inch version of the Yoga will be available later this month.
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