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Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 Convertible Notebook Review: The Power of Low Power

Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Lenovo

Conclusion

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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).

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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.

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June 23, 2013 | 06:35 PM - Posted by pdjblum

Hard to believe you gave it a silver award. It hardly even measures up to the under-powered atom netbooks that died a quiet death.

June 23, 2013 | 08:33 PM - Posted by Terminashunator (not verified)

MY Atom kicks ass. Runs netflix no problem, the 2/4 core processor takes a modest overclock from 1.6 to 2ghz no problem. People complaining about it much more than they should. It's not a multimedia processor, anything it does is to be taken with a grain of salt. 4 hours of netflix is just fine.

June 23, 2013 | 10:08 PM - Posted by pdjblum

Interesting. Probably better than the tegra 3 with windows rt, do you think?

June 24, 2013 | 09:44 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

A CloverTrail Atom kills the Tegra.

June 24, 2013 | 07:02 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

It is just a matter of time before some OEM takes an 8 or more core ARM 64 based CPU and pairs it more powerfull Nvidia graphics solution to compete with ATOM or Core i3!
Nvidia does not have the funds to develop such a chip by itself, but through licensing of its GPU IP to other well funded entities, ATOM will be easily defeated, and at a much lower price! A device like this, with a little more power (maybe in an 8/4 extra big.little CPU) running chrome or Linux with the 8 big 64 bit cores, each individually power gated off when not needed, and 4 little cores for standby and powersaving mobile use, and the Nvidia GPU with GPGPU general purpose compute abilities, for the more taxing video decoding/gaming functions when the device is pluged in!

June 24, 2013 | 07:05 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Silvermont is going to change everything...WINTEL FTW !
Hold out until early 2014 !

June 29, 2013 | 02:09 PM - Posted by Steve Schardein

This truly was a weird product to have to review. Reason being, it really isn't meant to be powerful--just versatile, portable, and unplugged.  It succeeds wildly in that realm, even though its lack of power and the constraints of the Windows RT platform limit its appeal for many users (including probably most the readers of our site).

It was a tough decision on the final award. Ultimately, as I said in the conclusion, it comes down to what you're looking for. If battery life and basic functionality is it, this might be a wonderful choice--just so long as it isn't your only PC. Based on that criteria, the silver award seems appropriate. (Quoting from a previous article explaining how we review laptops):

"The Silver Award is given to products that have strengths and an obvious appeal to certain users, but also has some flaws that could seriously turn off others. The conclusion will let you know who we think will like the laptop."

Hope you guys enjoyed the review! I appreciate the feedback. :-)

August 5, 2013 | 07:18 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I have owned a Yoga 11 for several months. It is a cool machine and love the battery life. I have noticed that the WiFi reception is not very good versus regular notebooks and smartphones. I despise the severely limited Windows RT environment and would love to switch it for an 11S.

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