back to article Review: Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 Windows 8 convertible Ultrabook

To be fair to Lenovo, reviewing the IdeaPad Yoga shouldn't really be all about Windows 8. After all, this touchscreen Ultrabook – that bends over backwards to become a fully fledged tablet – is a well crafted piece of hardware with engineering merits of its own. So what, if it runs Windows 8? So do a lot of PCs these days. The …


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  1. Pen-y-gors

    Interesting but...

    I still have great difficulty taking any computer seriously that has those massive, brightly coloured Windows-for-toddlers-with-sticky-fingers icons on the screen.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Interesting but...

      If touch-screen PCs take off then OSX and Linux distros will suddenly be rushing to do something similar to create a touch-friendly UI.

      1. DrXym

        Re: Interesting but...

        "If touch-screen PCs take off then OSX and Linux distros will suddenly be rushing to do something similar to create a touch-friendly UI."

        There is nothing wrong with making a UI touch friendly. There is everything wrong with making an existing UI mouse and keyboard hostile.

      2. the-it-slayer

        Re: Interesting but...

        @JDX - "If touch-screen PCs take off then OSX and Linux distros will suddenly be rushing to do something similar to create a touch-friendly UI."

        Haven't we seen Microsoft try this twice before with XP and Windows 7 on touch-screen PCs? One of the Universities I did my Cisco course at bought a whole load of machines for a IT suite that had an intergrated touch-screen layers built into the monitor. Trying to use a desktop OS with a 27" monitor... useless. As Jobs rightly said, "who would want to use a touch-screen interface on a conventional monitor?" You definately get tired arms if you continuously did that.

        I'm quite surprised Microsoft or any other OS making haven't clocked onto making flat touch-screen enabled keyboards that can change keyboard layout depending on application etc and offer features that can interact with the main OS on the screen infront of you instead.

        M$ have tried to be clever and become an opportunist to embed both desktop and tablet ideologies into one OS. Personally, they've been stupid about it. Apple and Linux Distro's will never to react in such a way because Windows 8 will die harder than M$ it tried to get it off the ground.

        1. GitMeMyShootinIrons

          @ the-it-slayer

          While the Jobs argument is valid enough on vertical screens, the problem there is completely unrelated to the software, but rather in the hardware vendor implementations - so while on an iMac, touch would be bad, on a Macbook, it would be slightly better and a tablet better still.

          This, of course, is not Microsoft's problem, more the hardware vendors not being terribly imaginative. Of late, there have been some attempts to innovate here, such as the Yoga, and (for those who don't want to waddle with Penguins or eat the Apple), Microsoft, with 8, finally have a tablet interface that is pretty friendly. To balance that last comment though, I do agree with a comment made earlier - this doesn't mean that Microsoft should be applauded for making the user suffer when using a keyboard and mouse. A simple option 'Touch or Mouse' would have been marvellous - perhaps with driver support so if you convert a laptop to tablet it switches. Perhaps Win8 SP1...?

          1. Arctic fox

            @GitMeMyShootinIrons RE: "A simple option 'Touch or Mouse' would have been marvellous -

            .....................perhaps with driver support so if you convert a laptop to tablet it switches. Perhaps Win8 SP1...?"

            There I agree 110% despite the fact that I am nowhere near as hostile to Win8 as many here are. That type of change and at the very least a decent tutorial with the os is the absolute minimum as far as I am concerned. In addition of course the capacity to boot directly to desktop and to use "apps" in window form in desktop such they can be used like any other program when one is in "keyboard and mouse" mode.

          2. the-it-slayer
            Paris Hilton

            Re: @ the-it-slayer

            @GitMeMyShootinIrons - "A simple option 'Touch or Mouse' would have been marvellous - perhaps with driver support so if you convert a laptop to tablet it switches. Perhaps Win8 SP1...?"

            Would be nice to see an OS be complete for whatever interface you throw at it. I personally think any attempt at including such a mode switcher in SP1 would be too late. Microsoft are throwing everything they've got at us at the moment. Hints of imaginative practises in their adverts to ramming the Surface as a "cool and trendy" device that shows us no practical use for the tablet. Microsoft is totally confused. That's my worry as the direction will be all over the place unless someone high up there takes charge and sorts it out.

            Apple have tried to do some sort of cross-over with the App Store in a desktop environment (it works) and adding elements of App Launching via a collabrative grid with larger icons (not so sure as we still have the main row at the bottom that acts as a shortcut to apps). I can only imagine they looked to merge OS X and iOS together at some stage. At the moment, that's not possible with the different chipsets (ARM and Intel) to work around. Only if Apple are brave enough to ditch Intel at their low-end desktops/laptops (Mac Mini and MacBook Air) might we see a slow merge.

            Linux... I dare to think if any distro creator will be brave enough. I'd like to see an open source demo of a UI that works with both.

            Maybe Paris knows the answers.

        2. cortland

          Re: Interesting but...

          Don't forget the innovative, amazingly overpriced and underselling GriD Convertible, with Windows for Pen. I have a GriD/Tandy/AST prototype (I worked on these) somewhere, bought as scrap when the factory was closed down. I even have the pen. Wonder if it still works... Hmm. Might need to repair the battery pack.

      3. aqk

        Re: Interesting but...They already HAVE, you dummy!

        Various "mini-laptops" have had these "large" icons for years. And they were, most of them, touch-friendly.

        In fact, someone I know asked me to install Ubuntu (10.4? 10.10?) on her ASUS eee, just to get rid of these big icons.

        Hello? Don't understand? Windows HAS copied the linux /Android touch-screen of yore.

        Just like they did with copying the early Mac screens. And now, Ballmer &co. will put them out of business. Well, maybe not Google...

        Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose... Good god. You kiddies.

    2. Mondo the Magnificent

      Re: Interesting but...

      My issue with it is that, according to the photos, when folded into tablet mode, the keyboard becomes the base.

      I see an issue with that, as the keys may just inhale dust, fluff and other matter when placed on anything other than a very clean, flat surace.

      Other than that it's not a bad concept and Lenovo in their true manner have not tried to emulate any other brand's design.. which in itself gives it kudos with me..

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Interesting but...

        >I see an issue with that, as the keys may just inhale dust, fluff and other matter when placed on anything other than a very clean, flat surace.

        Maybe, but I can image that turning the keyboard upside down will help dislodge debris, compared to a conventional sky-facing keyboard. Add to that the vibration from the speakers (which play through the keyboard, according to the review), which may help expel dust.

        (Shudders at memories of turning keyboards upside down when working in a hot-desking call centre)

        (Mine's the laptop with the as-of-yet untested spill-proof laptop keyboard. Sod's Law dictates that if I didn't have a spill proof keyboard, I would have spilt coffee on it by now)

      2. conan

        Re: Interesting but...

        "... remains to be seen". Isn't that what a review is for?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Interesting but...

      Can we please get over it, they're just large icons. It's XP all over again, whinging on and on about how it's fischer price and not "proper" in some way. Why do people need to let everyone know that they don't like Win8 again and again and again and again.

  2. Mike Brown

    As we all knew, windows 8 is suffarable when used with a touch screen. The bigger issue for MS is what happens when there is no touchscreen.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lenovo offers a choice of Intel Core i3, i5 and i7 CPUs with the IdeaPad Yoga 13 and I’ve the 1.9GHz Core i7-3517U model with 4GB RAM here. Its smaller 11in Windows RT companion, the Yoga 11 is an ARM-based alternative and can perform the same bendy tricks but has limited software options.

    There you are...

    ARM = inferior/toy/crap

    ...just in case anyone in any doubt why MS kneecapped WinRT

    The Wintel cartel keeping the sheeple on the Wintel crack.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge


      There was an interesting many-paged article on Arstechnica about the Metro framework being an attempt to atone for past sins... MS hope that it will become the way to write software for Windows machines, GUI aside.

      As for ARM vs x86, there was a good article on Tomshardware... basically, ARM is efficient at doing nothing, but consumption ramps up quickly when under load. Intel have a more efficient memory controller (and currently, fab process) and ARM isn't yet fully up and running with 64bit.

      Interesting times, but leave your conspiracy-theories and name calling at home, would ya? You won't convince anyone to your views with an attitude like that.

  4. Dave 126 Silver badge


    Is there a technical reason Logitech use a proprietary wireless mouse/keyboard interface instead of Bluetooth?

    I ask, because it seems that with more devices that have a limited number of USB ports, Logitech should either adopt Bluetooth, or else get OEMs to incorporate their 'nano' dongle inside laptops.

    1. JJS

      Re: Question:

      I think it comes down to availability of Bluetooth and easy of use.

      The times may be changing, but many consumer laptops traditionally lack Bluetooth chips. Their USB dongle solution goes into any USB port and it "just works". No pairing process required. Bluetooth requires enabling discovery and going through the pairing process which differs by Bluetooth stack installed on the computer.

      The other benefit for Logitech is that they don't have to pay for a Bluetooth license. The more they use their own proprietary wireless technology, the more those development costs are spread out so it becomes cheaper per device.

    2. Fuzz

      Re: Question:

      Logitech make bluetooth mice and keyboards but their proprietary stuff is better.

      The devices are paired with the dongle, several devices can be paired with one dongle and vice versa. Once you've paired the devices (and if you buy a kit it's done for you) they behave like a wired keyboard and mouse.

      Want to move from one computer to another, just unplug the dongle and stick it in the other computer. Doesn't matter what that device is as long as it has support for USB mouse/keyboard it will just work.

      Bluetooth pairing depends on the quality of the bluetooth software on the computer. You have to place the device in a discoverable mode then get the computer to search then supply a pin and if you're lucky then it works but the next day it might be working or you might be back to square one.

      Also my logitech mouse lasts 18 months on a single AA battery, they keyboard can go for 3 years. Bluetooth devices need charging once a week or new batteries once a month.

      The concept of bluetooth is great but I've always found it to be a major let down where HID is concerned.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Question:

        @Fuzz and JSS

        Thanks guys!

        I was just curious about a possible way to free up a USB port... my current machine has plenty, but the trend seems to reduce the number! I guess a good number of laptop owners make do with the touchpad, though I couldn't do without a free-scrolling wheel and a middle button I can use as a modifier to mouse movement.

        I was thinking about the idea of Logitech paying OEMs to incorporate their dongles into laptops - giving the user an incentive to buy Logitech HID instead of MS or Razor- but I don't think the sums would support doing so.

        1. clriis

          Re: Question:

          I have been using a Logitech BT M555b mouse for 3½ years now with my ancient HP laptop and it works perfect, especially the fast scrolling function is great. I use two AA rechargeables and replace them every 4 weeks with about 12 hours of work/day. I definitely plan to migrate it to my Yoga

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a surprise!

    "The biggest disappointment was that Ubuntu didn't recognise the Wi-Fi hardware...."

    Looks like we're still waiting for that elusive "Year of Linux on the Desktop".

    PS I await the apologist(s) who will now appear claiming this issue can be solved by merely trawling through several internet forums followed by a few hours spent at the command line.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What a surprise!

      So commentards, which will come first (if at all)

      1. the year of Linux on the desktop

      2. the year of Windows on the phone

      IMO they're both stuck in the same state, tiny share of a market where there are acceptable alternatives.

      for completeness and equal-opportunity OS-bashing one could add 3. the year of Apple on the server but that doesn't count as they aren't trying...

    2. garbo

      Re: What a surprise!

      I'm afraid you've been reading old stories. Every machine I've had over the past five years running Linux detected wifi out of the box. Even ancient PCMCIA cards can be used with "ndiswrapper" which uses Windows proprietary wifi drivers. The latest Linux distros will handle this automatically. Best to try a FREE linux distro on your machine. No command line, just point-and -click.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What a surprise!


        I'm afraid you appear not to have read the very article on which you've placed a comment.

        "The biggest disappointment was that Ubuntu didn't recognise the Wi-Fi hardware and, having no Ethernet either, hampered the usefulness of a Linux Yoga install."

  6. uhuznaa

    Give me

    such a thing with the innards of the Nexus 7 and an 11" screen, running Android, for about $350 and I'll buy it.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    And 1000 quid. Next....

  8. JJS
    Thumb Up

    Personal experiences

    I picked one of these up near the end of November and have a couple of experiences that expand on some points mentioned in this review.

    The screen is a fingerprint magnet, much like all smart phones and tablets with glossy screens. My fiancée plays Wordament on it and whenever I go to use it, there is inevitably a 3"x3" square of solid finger smudges where the board shows up in the game. I keep a small microfiber rag in a nearby drawer and wipe it down occasionally, not a big deal and no chemicals needed to clean up simple smudges.

    It is definitely too heavy to hold in one hand in tablet mode for more than a minute or two. My solution is to place it in stand mode with the screen forward and keyboard face down. The weight is supported on my lap or body this way and all that remains is the ergonomic neck stretching issue that goes with all tablets.

    Battery life is good. I have the Intel RST timer set for 5 minutes after sleep to go into its deep sleep. It gets used for an hour or so each day and I plug it in every few days to charge it up. Wake up from RST mode is a couple seconds. In the normal sleep mode before it goes into RST, the power LED blinks too fast and too bright and annoys the piss out of me as it lights up the wall next to bed.

    It was briefly mentioned in the review but Lenovo's hard drive partitioning is awful. Nearly half the 128GB SSD drive is hidden for the recovery partition. Lenovo released a tool not long ago to maximize the available free space on the drive by messing with those partitions. If you're technically inclined there is also post on their forums for how to delete the recovery partition entirely and free up most drive (Intel RST needs a dedicated partition the size of your RAM). I did this immediately after uninstalling most of Lenovo's software as when it comes time to reinstall windows, I'll want fresh and clean.

    There is an open SSD bay for a 256GB drive and the i5 model I bought with 4GB of memory can be user upgraded to 8GB (single stick).

  9. AJ MacLeod

    Again - no Ethernet socket

    Stopped reading at that point; there is zero excuse for omitting an Ethernet socket on a device that size (or even considerably smaller.) And for the ten billionth time, a USB Ethernet dongle is NOT an acceptable option. I need a device I can grab on my way out the door, or leave in the boot without fear of things getting snapped off, falling out or being left behind.

    I am actually interested in a slightly smaller device (10 or 11" would be fine) which is reasonably robust, not Linux-hostile, has an Ethernet socket and isn't stupidly expensive. Basically a very slightly larger convertible netbook to replace the aging one I have. Even a nice thick solid tablet with the required sockets would do. Not holding my breath for it though...

    1. aqk

      Re: Again - no Ethernet socket? Socket to me, baby!


      It does not need an IEEE 802.3 or (LOL!) an 802.3z port. Wi-fi is good enough.

      STOP reading at this point. Zero Excuse.

      Are you planning to attach a couple of terabyte drives to your Yoga? WTF do you need a "real" cat5 cable for?

      OMG! perhaps you use only Cat6?

      Lissen: 802.11n will satisfy all but your most perverted needs. O/W, get an Ethernet USB dongle.

      If poor li'l you cannot handle wi-fi or bluetooth, or your dinosaur company cannot, then perhaps you should be sitting in front of a desktop CRT, running WinXP. But that's where you are now, n'est pas?

      1. Silverburn
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Again - no Ethernet socket? Socket to me, baby!

        @ aqk

        Some application using on the corporate level cannot be accessed over a unsecure LAN. This means cert-based authentication via SSL channel to a virtual App session over closed wire connection.

        Lenovo = corporate, so this is indeed an omission. 30 bucks per adapter x the total users in the department in question = lots of money.

        Helicopter...because some app need to be really REALLY secured from prying eyes.

  10. Joe K

    You didn't answer the only question required:

    Is it better than having a good laptop for work, and a tab (like a nexus, say) for couch time?

    Its certainly more expensive than those, almost by a factor of two, so it had better be.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Given the amount of cr*p that builds up in a normal keyboard...

    ...turning the thing upside down on a regular basis may actually be an improvement

  12. aqk

    WTF? YOU DO NOT NEED those "big" touchy-feely icons.

    You seemed to show here only the "touchscreen" aspect of Win-8.

    I've been using Win-8 for almost a year now, and quickly found out how to load it in its "classic" Win-7 / XP presentation. Just like Win-7 or (LOL) XP, but faster.

    I DO NOT NEED THOSE "BIG UGLY" ICONS on my desktop or laptop! But I can quickly switch (top-left or bottom-right corner of screen) to them if I wish to check Win-8 apps such as the Register's Hey! Looks cool!) or apps that I am developing now (Stay tuned).

    I suspect TheRegister is, like tired old Slashdot, still in the days, the throes of Micintosh and its legion of non-technical nerds.

  13. Blanch

    No Ethernet??

    I was considering one to replace my ageing Lenovo for work but the lack of Ethernet port is a deal breaker.

    Win 8 is OK despite what everyone one else's gripes are.

    It's easy, if you don't like it, don't use it but don't moan about it you just end up sounding like Apple fanbois.

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