Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 Convertible Notebook Review: The Power of Low Power
Half tablet, half notebook, but not 100% perfect in either classification. The Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 borrows properties from both classifications to try and fill a very specific role: that of an easy-to-use, affordable replacement for lightweight computing activities.
It seeks to accomplish this by combining an ultra-low-power ARM architecture NVIDIA Tegra 3 SoC with the form factor and battery capacity of a subnotebook—but with the added advantage of a five-point multi-touch screen and the ability to rotate display 360 degrees backward to become a large tablet of sorts. The result? A convertible notebook with utterly fantastic all-day battery life and a silent, fanless, lightweight design (with very little heat to boot). Forgiving the disappointing resolution and requisite reflective surface, the display is also several grades above that of most notebooks in this price range.
So, then, why even consider the recently-released Yoga 11S, with its larger form factor, hotter chipset, and lesser battery life? Simple: it depends entirely on your intended use. The Yoga 11 is bottlenecked by both the mobile-grade power of the Tegra 3 and the stripped-down feature set of Windows RT—and as such, it offers fractured functionality in comparison to a typical notebook. At the same time, while it looks like a competitive tablet on paper, it’s rather large and cumbersome in that universe, and once again, the selection of apps offered by Windows RT is severely limited in comparison to either iOS or Android.
Do keep in mind that with Haswell releasing, we’re also sure to see a refresh of competing convertibles (such as the Yoga 11S) as well. Judging by the preliminary power consumption reports, it's safe to assume that this will seriously narrow the gap between the Yoga 11 and Haswell-based Intel convertibles (though the fanless design is still quite nice).
So essentially, it’s a good basic notebook with some appealing design perks, and a decent tablet if it’s all you’ve got, but not an excellent representation of either. There are some tasks for which it would be nearly perfectly suited: for instance, creating basic documents or writing, typing up notes in class, and general lightweight web browsing. Overall, however, given the inherent constraints of the chipset and operating system, the bottom line is that the Yoga 11 makes for a lousy replacement PC, but a wonderful companion.
You can find the Yoga 11 at either Newegg or Amazon for around $570 currently. On the other hand, if you’re taken by the design but you’d like something a little more fully-functional, check out Lenovo’s recently-released Yoga 11S, which runs the full version of Windows 8 and features an Intel Ivy Bridge chipset.