After impressing with last year’s Yoga Pro 2, Lenovo is still stretching the Yoga lineup. The Lenovo Yoga 2 is a light and nimble convertible ultrabook. Available in 11 and 13-inch form factors, it’s got the Yoga line’s signature four modes for keeping you busy or entertained, and a low starting cost that should attract those priced out of the Pro model.
The 11-inch model packs a Bay Trail Pentium Processor with a 1366 x 768 display and starts $549. Its accompanied by 4GB of RAM and 500GB HD.
The 13-inch configurations start at $999 and can be loaded up with a Haswell i7 processor and boasts full HD 1920 x 1080 screen. It can be loaded with 8GB of RAM 500GB HD with a 16GB SSD for speed up support.
The smaller Yoga will be in stores later in January. The big brother will be available in the US starting in February. I saw both of them at a pre-show event for CES 2014.
Yoga Picks Windows 8.1
Unlike previous Yogas like the Windows RT Yoga 11S, the Yoga 2 is full Windows 8.1. It also packs Lenovo’s new Yoga Picks software, which pops up to suggest the best applications for each of its four modes.
These suggestions come in the form of a toast notification. Touching the pop up takes you to the proprietary program, which shows apps you frequently use in certain modes, and those Lenovo suggests.
These apps can’t be manually catered, which seems like a miss. Yoga picks seems like a good way to get to know your new convertible, but I’ll be glad to turn off those notifications after a week or so.
Four familiar modes
The Yoga’s four modes are laptop, tablet, stand and tent. Laptop mode is exactly what you’d think. Stand and tent modes put the display first, letting you sail through pictures and watch videos with no keyboard between you and the screen. Tablet turns the Yoga 2 two into a slightly chunky slate.
In laptop mode the Yoga 2 is all ultrabook, and that’s when its at its best. It’s thin, light and benefits from a keyboard and touchpad. The overall build of the Yoga 2 is solid, but not premium like the all-metal Yoga 2 Pro. I really liked how light and thin it was. The 11-inch model is just 2.9 pounds and 0.67-inches thick, definitely the kind of machine you can just drop into your bag.
8 hour battery life, 0 fans
The 11-inch Yoga 2 sports a fan-free design, which means you won’t hear anything whirr to life as you marathon some Netflix. Since Lenovo is claiming eight hours of battery life, you’ll need to keep an eye on the clock or you could be up all night.
The chip providing the endurance is Bay Trail, the latest iteration on Intel’s Atom processor. That chip, which is commonly found in tablets and netbooks, could be a double-edged sword. It makes for a long-lasting, affordable machine, but will likely lack the grunt needed for serious computing.
However, for those just looking to browse the web, write papers and catch up on House of Cards, it won’t be an issue. Those looking to go beyond should look into an i5 or i7 13-inch model.
Beyond laptop mode
This is a Yoga so it has the usual transformer tricks. The keyboard folds all the way back for tablet mode, so you can flip through pictures or just poke and prod at Windows 8.
With the keyboard folded back, you still have those keys exposed, which feels a bit odd. The buttons don’t retract like on the Yoga 2 Pro, but the machine’s light build makes it more comfortable to actually holds as a slate. I never felt confident holding the Yoga 2 Pro in one hand, but the 2.9 pound Yoga 2 could be a different story.
Stand and tent mode are rather niche, but still have their uses. Stand mode is basically like having a propped up tablet; it’s great for touch-only games or watching videos while lying in bed.
Tent is for dropping your machine down on a messy desk. It requires a minimal amount of space to be stable, and its good for touch, since there’s less give on the monitor when you’re poking those Live Tiles.
The 11-inch Yoga 2 could be a winner simply because the price is right. It’s light, long lasting and feels like a machine that should cost a bit more than it does. That alone could make it a smart choice for students, as it undercuts the MacBook Air by several hundred dollars.
It’s the 13-inch model that has me wondering. It’s the more powerful of the too, but since configurations start at $1,000, I wonder why you wouldn’t spring for the better built, higher resolution Yoga 2 Pro? Hopefully it’ll surprise us during our full review.