Review Index:

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

Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Lenovo

User Interface, Display and Audio Quality

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User Interface

Lenovo’s AccuType keyboard (unfortunately not backlit) once again makes an appearance here, though thanks to the constraints of the form factor, it isn’t quite as superior as that of its larger brethren.  The key travel is at least sufficient (and certainly better than that of most tablet keyboards), but it hardly compares to the best notebook keyboards—and operation overall is a bit on the mushy side. 

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In terms of spacing and size, the keyboard is technically a full-sized one (at least as far as the major keys are concerned), though the ancillary keys are creatively placed and resized to accommodate this.  On a normal notebook of this size it wouldn’t be an issue, but considering the need for the rubbery shelf around the keyboard for protection while the keyboard is facing downward, it’s necessitated here.  Thus the Backspace, Shift, Tab, and other such keys have shorter lengths than standard.

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The Synaptics touchpad is thankfully spacious and features a smooth, soft-touch finish that is comfortable.  The buttons are integrated, but they do a fine job here, with a defined click that nevertheless requires very little effort to activate.  There’s no rattling from them during normal pad operation, either—overall, a great touchpad for even a small device.

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Of course, the final user interface option is touch.  In this case, it’s 5-point capacitive multi-touch, unlike the 11S, which features 10-point.  If you ask me, the latter is a bit excessive and rarely useful, though, and the Yoga 11’s 5-point touch works perfectly well.

Switching between modes is handled nicely.  Rotation is accurately managed by the gyroscopic sensor, and the main controls (power button, volume rocker) are all easily accessible in both modes thanks to their locations on the lip of the notebook.

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Display and Audio Quality

The Yoga 11’s display immediately impresses in terms of color, contrast, and brightness, but falls notably short in the realm of resolution.  Unlike the 11S’ 1600x900 display, the Yoga 11 tops out at just 1366x768, which (at ~135 DPI) is considerably below that of most competing tablets.  Nevertheless, with such excellent color and contrast, the display still looks great, and if it weren’t for the DPI limitations, it would seem to belong to a class of much more expensive devices.  Plus, the viewing angles are fantastic (where lighting permits) thanks to the IPS technology; no brightness inversion or washed-out colors apply.

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As is the case with most tablets, however, the edge-to-edge glass means that outdoor usage is significantly limited by reflections.  This naturally affects the device both in tablet and notebook mode, so if you’re planning on using it outside, you’ll need to duck out of the sunlight to do so.  Fortunately, in the shade the Yoga 11 works quite well due to its adequate brightness and contrast levels.

Audio levels aren’t remarkable, but that’s exacerbated by the fact that the speakers are located (along with most of the critical controls) along the lip of the notebook—and thus they fire outward while the device is being used.  As is normally the case with such speakers, their output is magnified when the unit is resting on a flat surface.  So when in traditional notebook mode atop a table, they’re loud enough, but if the tablet is being held or if it’s propped up in “tent mode”, the sound is projected away from the user and isn’t quite as full-bodied.

June 23, 2013 | 09:35 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 | 11:33 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 24, 2013 | 01:08 AM - Posted by pdjblum

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

June 24, 2013 | 12:44 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

A CloverTrail Atom kills the Tegra.

June 24, 2013 | 10:02 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 | 10:05 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

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

June 29, 2013 | 05:09 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 | 10:18 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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