Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 Convertible Notebook Review: The Power of Low Power
Cooling, Portability, and Software
The Yoga 11 features no cooling fans (in fact, no moving parts at all throughout), so it relies entirely on passive heat dissipation through the casing for cooling. Luckily, it never even gets all that warm (with the warmest point being the back of the notebook near the center), so it’s not a problem at all. Keep in mind that this also means the device is completely silent under all scenarios—and yet it still manages to stay cool. Again, an obvious benefit of the ultra-low-voltage ARM chipset.
At under 3 pounds (roughly 2.7 to be exact) and less than an inch thick, the Yoga 11 is one of the most portable laptops around. For most people, 11.6” will still prove to be a comfortable size for everyday usage, too. Large-screened laptops are nice under some circumstances, but I find that many people overestimate their needs in terms of screen size. If the screen you choose is too small, you can usually pull it closer to yourself—so there’s a lot more flexibility than with the average desktop setup. On the flip side, it’s a bit large for a tablet, and holding it up eventually gets to be pretty tiresome—so you’ll likely find yourself leveraging the touch functionality either in standard laptop form or while resting it on a surface (where tent mode comes in handy).
But that’s only half the story with the Yoga. Thanks yet again to its low-power ARM architecture and fanless design, the Yoga 11’s battery life is phenomenal, even eclipsing that of most tablets. In fact, it lasts longer on a single charge than any notebook or tablet we’ve reviewed to date, enduring an excellent 10 hours and 4 minutes under typical web browsing usage (with brightness at 7/10) and an almost unfathomable 22 hours and 12 minutes with wireless off and brightness at minimum. In short, this device is great for someone looking to take notes in class or create documents—and it works very well for general web browsing, too.
The Yoga 11’s most significant shortcoming is its lack of compatible software. Since Windows RT limits you to apps downloaded from the Windows Store, most of what you’re looking for probably will not be available. As such, beyond the very basic functionality (as mentioned above), the Yoga 11 can’t really compete with the likes of a standard PC. It likely wouldn’t suffice as the primary machine for a household, but it’s a great companion.
A nice perk is the inclusion of Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013 RT Preview out of the box. Don’t mistake this to be a trial version of the suite; it’s actually the full RT Office version—but since the software has not yet completed final testing, until the production version is available, it carries the Preview label. Once the final version is released, any Windows RT devices that have the preview version installed will be automatically updated (via Windows Update) to the full version.
While it’s mostly fully-featured, the RT version still has its limitations, however. For starters, there are no email features (and in fact Outlook RT does not exist), so you can’t choose “Send as…” or use any sort of mail merge options. There’s also no support for Macros, Add-Ins, Forms, or Custom Programs. For the full list of limitations and plenty of other info regarding Office RT, check out Microsoft’s page on the subject.