Review Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 - windows 8 compatible

Review Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 - windows 8 compatible - Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11, the little brother of the venerable Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 convertible Ultrabook. The Yoga 11 runs on a 1.4GHz Tegra 3 quad core CPU with GeForce mobile graphics that we've seen on the MS Surface RT, Asus VivoTab RT and various Android tablets. This time we're looking at a very lovely 11.6" IPS display with 350 nits of brightness and Windows RT with the same 360 degree hinge that turns this little laptop into a tablet or tent mode presentation machine. That means it runs the Windows Modern UI (formerly called Metro UI) with Live Tile apps but not Windows 7 x86 .exe apps like Adobe Photoshop or MS Access.

The Keyboard is a Star

For those of you who spend most of your time in the web browser, email and MS Office, the Yoga 11 is a compelling, highly portable companion with a sharp display and long battery life.  Lenovo knows how to do keyboards, and the AccuType keyboard with Synaptics multi-touch trackpad are a pleasure to use. The keyboard handily beats the optional detachable docking keyboards found on Asus transformer style tablets, the Samsung ATIV 500T dock and Acer Iconia Tab W510. Unlike pure tablet designs running on Tegra 3 and Atom CPUs, the Lenovo Yoga 11's keyboard is permanently attached, making it a prime pick for those who do a lot of typing. And the island style keyboard is simply amazing given its relatively small size (this is an 11.6" netbook-sized machine).Sure, we wish it were backlit, but otherwise, it's a typist's dream. Unless you have very large hands, you'll likely be typing at your best rate quickly.

Yoga 11 vs. the Windows 8 Tablet and Convertible Competition
Review Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11
The price, at $699 for the 32 gig model and $799 for the 64 gig, is comparable to the Samsung ATIV 500T and Acer Iconia Tab W510 Intel Atom Windows 8 tablets with their keyboard docks but $100 more than the 64 gig MS Surface RT with Touch Cover. It's cheaper than the Windows 8 Atom-powered Asus VivoTab TF810C ($799) plus optional $199 keyboard dock (total $1,000). While the Yoga 11 might seem expensive compared to traditional notebooks, we don't consider it overpriced among Windows 8 tablets since you're getting the keyboard and bigger battery in the deal. That said, it is the most expensive Windows RT product to date and is priced higher than the recently heavily discounted Asus VivoTab RT TF600 (it started life at $599 + $199 for keyboard dock but can be found for less these days). In fact, it's the only Windows RT machine that offers a convertible design like the larger, heavier and more expensive Intel Core i5 convertible tablets that typically sell for $900 to $1,500. Keep in mind that Lenovo often has good sales on their website, and you might find it for less.

Ports, More Specs and Wireless
The Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 has single band WiFi 802.11b/g/n (why not dual band, Lenovo?), Bluetooth 4.0, a 720p webcam and 2 gigs of DDR3 RAM. There is no NFC or GPS. It has a full size HDMI port, full size SD card slot supporting SDXC cards, two USB 2.0 ports and a combo 3.5mm audio jack. It has decent stereo speakers and a very sharp 1366 x 768 IPS display with natural colors that make video viewing a real pleasure.

Design, Ergonomics and Audio
It's hard to argue with Lenovo build quality and design for their ThinkPad and IdeaPad products. ThinkPads are understated and built like tanks, while IdeaPads are stylish and also use very good quality materials and attractive industrial designs that set them apart from budget products. The inside surfaces are black and the keyboard deck has a soft touch textured finish. The island style keyboard is inset so the keys don't contact the display and the trackpad is roomy for an 11.6" notebook computer.The Yoga has rubber paint finish over its metal casing, and that makes it easy to hold onto and it resists fingerprints. As with the Yoga 13, Lenovo offers two colors: silver gray and clementine orange, though we've yet to see the cool looking orange model on sale in the US.

The charging port, full size SD card slot and a USB 2.0 port are on the right, as is the rotation lock button. The full size HDMI port, another USB 2.0 port and 3.5mm combo mic-stereo headphone audio jack are on the left.  Volume is sufficient to fill a small room and quality is decent, though it certainly can't compete with big notebooks with high end audio. Sound through the headphone jack is very good and the tablet works with Bluetooth headphones and speakers. There's a volume rocker on the left as well so you can change volume when the Yoga is in tablet mode with the keyboard disabled. The power button is on the front left edge and stereo speakers flank the left and right sides toward the front. Since this is a single band 2.4GHz only tablet, we noted that WiFi can interfere with Bluetooth, sometimes resulting in audio delay when watching streaming video over WiFi with Bluetooth speakers connected.

Sharp IPS Display
The Gorilla Glass, 1366 x 768 IPS gloss display is a highpoint. It's very sharp, has very good color balance and factory calibration and good contrast.Though I truly appreciate the portability of 10.1" tablets like the MS Surface, the move to 11.6" surprisingly makes for a more enjoyable and immersive experience when viewing photos and videos.  It's a great tablet for viewing photos and watching movies since flesh tones look natural and colors pop. Viewing angles are very wide since this is an IPS display. The Yoga 11 works well with YouTube, Netflix and Hulu streaming video and it can play Adobe Flash.

Review Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11
Since this is a Tegra 3 tablet with an ARM9 mobile CPU, we can't provide our usual army of synthetic benchmarks like the Windows Experience Index or PCMark scores (those run only on Intel and AMD x86 family CPUs). The 1.4GHz Tegra 3 with 12 core GeForce graphics is certainly up to the task of running Windows RT (Microsoft chose that CPU and optimized RT for it). We have no complaints about performance and it feels very responsive in the Live Tile interface. Desktop mode is surprisingly more spritely than Intel Atom Windows 8 machines, and we suspect the GeForce is better suited to the job and the drivers may be better for the Tegra 3 vs. Intel's licensed Imagination Technologies graphics used in Atom tablets.

Games we downloaded from the Windows store, including 3D games, actually played at higher frame rates on the Tegra 3-equipped Yoga 11 than on Atom tablets like the Acer Iconia Tab W510 and Samsung ATIV 500T. The included MS Office 2013 RT (the machine ships with the preview version but Windows will update it to the full version automatically) runs quickly and smoothly, though we noted a bit of keyboard lag when typing in MS Word that becomes more noticeable as the document gets longer. This is an issue with all Tegra 3 Windows RT tablets, and we assume Microsoft will eventually offer an update that fixes the issue. MS Excel and PowerPoint don't have keyboard lag.

Windows RT vs. Windows 8
While Windows RT looks and feels exactly like Windows 8 on a laptop or desktop, it has one limitation: it only runs apps from the new Windows Store. Why? Like mobile OS tablets, RT runs on an ARM family CPU rather than the x86 CPU used in traditional Windows machines.

Review Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11

There are two versions of IE 10 here: the Modern UI IE runs in full screen mode and offers Adobe Flash for a list of Microsoft whitelisted sites. IE 10 on the desktop looks, feels and acts like the browser you're familiar with and allows Flash on all sites. There's no QuickTime or Evernote browser plugin at this point because they'd have to be re-written to run on ARM CPUs. And there's currently no Chrome web browser for Windows RT, but as a consolation, you can change your default search engine from Bing to Google in browser add-on settings under desktop IE 10. And no, iTunes isn't available for Windows RT.

Like Windows 8 Pro machines, the tablet has both the Modern UI with Live Tiles and the Windows desktop view (very similar to Windows 7, minus the Aero Glass visual effects). Some long time Windows staples are here like MS Journal and calculator but not Windows Media Player. The standard USB 2.0 port has Windows drivers for keyboards, mice, hard drives, flash drives, optical drives and game controllers like Microsoft's own wired XBOX controller for Windows. It also has printer drivers for popular printers but no drivers for USB 3G/4G dongles. Since it's Windows, support for NTFS drives is included, along with FAT32 and ExFAT. Thus you can use Windows Explorer to manage files, use the same control panel you're accustomed to on PCs and use IE 10 in desktop mode (windowed rather than full screen) and access the command prompt.

Battery Life
The Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 has a relatively beefy 4 cell Lithium Ion battery that Lenovo claims is good for up to 13 hours of actual use time. We've averaged 11.5 to 12 hours use with brightness set to 60% and WiFi active. There's no need to shut down the Yoga 11 given the excellent standby times and we found it the perfect instant-on companion for email, web, social networking and MS Office use. Standby times are superb, just as with mobile OS tablets like the iPad and Android tablets. Leave it sleeping for a few days and you've still got plenty of juice with little drain over time.

The laptop comes with a small notebook style charger rather than a compact wall wart charger and it charges very quickly. The Yoga uses Lenovo's newer style rectangular charging connector rather than the old barrel connector.

We love most everything about the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 except the price. It's a brilliantly portable, high class convertible Windows 8 tablet with the best keyboard you'll find on an 11.6" machine. Windows RT can't run Windows 7 apps, so this won't be a main computer for those who need Windows 7 apps like Adobe Photoshop or iTunes. The display is top notch and we don't wish for 1080p on a screen this small. The Yoga 11 is responsive and has superb battery life and standby among Windows machines. The only drawbacks? The nice bits cost money and this isn't cheap compared to mainstream laptops. On the bright side, it requires fewer Windows updates and is less prone to viruses and is an excellent mobile companion and second machine. Oh, it has more than twice the battery life of the Yoga 13, Sony Vaio Duo 11 and Dell XPS 12 convertible Intel Core i5 Windows 8 Ultrabooks.

Specifications Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11:

  1. Display: 11.6", 1366 x 768 IPS display with 5 points multi-touch. 350 nits brightness, Gorilla Glass. GeForce graphics. HDMI port.
  2. Battery: 4 cell Lithium Ion rechargeable.
  3. Performance: 1.4GHz NVidia Tegra 3 quad core CPU (ARM family), 2 gigs DDR3L RAM and 32 or 64 gigs flash storage.
  4. Size: 11.7 x 8.0 x 0.61 inches. Weight: 2.8 pounds.
  5. Camera: 720p webcam. 1 megapixel.
  6. Audio: Built-in stereo speakers, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack.
  7. Networking: Integrated single band 2.4GHz WiFi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0.
  8. Software: Windows RT with MS Office 2013RT Home & Student Edition.
  9. Expansion and Ports: 1 SD card slot (SDXC compatible), 2 USB 2.0 ports, HDMI port, 3.5mm combo audio jack.

List Price: starting at $699

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