Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 13.3-Inch Convertible Touchscreen Ultrabook Review

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 13.3-Inch Convertible Touchscreen Ultrabook

The Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 13.3-Inch Convertible Touchscreen Ultrabook (Gray) is an interesting – and potentially very useful – variation on the standard Ultrabook theme of powerful computing capabilities in a small, lightweight, easily portable form.

To these attributes, the Yoga 13 adds first a touchscreen, and then the ability to fold it back over the machine’s case to varying degrees. As we will see later, this effectively allows the same device to act as a conventional laptop, a tablet and two different media display options.

Of course, clever screen folding techniques are only of limited use if the underlying computing capabilities aren’t up to scratch. Fortunately, however, in this case, the machine should be more than capable of meeting – and exceeding – the needs of most users.

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At its heart, it features a 3rd generation Intel Core i5-3337U dual core processor. This is an Ultra Low Voltage (ULV) component, specifically designed for use in small laptops and Ultrabooks, and offers a good balance between computing performance and power consumption. The processor’s two cores are each able to handle up to two threads simultaneously, thanks to Intel’s Hyperthreading technology, further improving the chip’s efficiency. Towards the same goal, Intel’s Turbo Boost technology allows the processor to automatically adjust its own speed, from its base speed of 1.8GHz up to a maximum of 2.7GHz, as needed.

This machine ships with 4GB of DDR3 RAM, and a 128GB Solid State Drive (SSD). Although less than is provided in some competing Ultrabooks, 4GB of memory should be more than adequate for most purposes, and will certainly allow the supplied copy of Windows 8 to show off its new, touch-driven interface to great effect. Conveniently, if you really need more RAM for your projects, it is easy to install, unlike in some other machines.

Similar considerations apply to the 128GB SSD. Although it offers somewhat less storage than other models, and considerably less than laptops that use a convention Hard Drive instead of a modern SSD, the available capacity should still be more than sufficient to meet most needs. SSDs are much faster than old-style Hard Disks, and are much less vulneable to damage from the kind of physical bumps and bangs that commonly befall a portable computer, but are also much more expensive, particularly in larger capacity models. 128GB represents a reasonable trade-off between speed, capacity and price, but, if you really need more storage space, you can easily connect an external USB hard drive, or upgrade the machine’s SSD to a larger model.

The 13.3 inch HD+ IPS, LED backlit, 1600×900 pixel, 300 nits touchscreen display is driven by integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics. Again, this is a reasonable and common choice for an Ultrabook; HD 4000 graphics are easily capable of handling routine computing tasks, HD video and even casual gaming, although more demanding games are beyond its capability.

However, the display itself is a little more unusual. This ten-point multi-touch display makes it easy to take full advantage of the new touch-oriented aspects of Windows 8. It also features a clever hinge that enables the display to rotate through 360 degrees, from the traditional “closed” position of all laptops all the way round to sit flat against the back of the keyboard / bottom of the laptop case (tablet mode), and several points between these extremes.

Pros :

  • Powerful, Easily Portable, Convertible, Touchscreen Ultrabook
  • Converts To A Tablet
  • 4GB RAM
  • 128GB Fast SSD
  • Windows 8

Cons :

  • Grapgics Are Underpowered For Serious Gaming
  • No Optical Drive

Naturally, the display can be opened to the usual position for a laptop screen (more or less upright above the keyboard). In this configuration, the machine is best used for  traditional, potentially mouse / keyboard intensive computing tasks such as editing files, composing documents, blogging, or focused work – functions that the machine should be easily able to carry out.

In tablet mode, with the display flat against the machine’s base, browsing the web, listening to music or reading documents – content consumption, rather than creation, in other words – are easy and convenient to handle. In this configuration, and in those mentioned below, the touchscreen becomes an essential element of the device’s user interface, rather than an optional nicety.

With the screen flipped most of the way back, the Yoga 13 can be propped up like a tent. This position is comfortable for video chats, sharing the screen with friends and colleagues, watching movies or listening to music. Or, for situations where you want an attention-grabbing way to display media without the distraction of a visible keyboard, the screen can be flipped back and around into an upright(ish) position, while the Yoga 13 rests on its (facedown) keyboard.

Of course, for some purposes, you may want to use a display bigger than 13.3 inches, no matter how cleverly it is hinged. For those occasions, the machine provides an HDMI port that can be used to connect it to a monitor or HDTV – great for presentations, or watching a movie.

There are also two USB ports (one high-speed USB 3.0 port and one standard USB 2.0 port) for connecting wired peripherals, a two-in-one card reader (SD, MMC) and a combined mic input / stereo output jack. Bluetooth 4.0 makes it possible to connect wireless mice, headsets and other peripherals, while network access is provided by 802.11 b/g/n WiFi.

Like most Ultrabooks, this machine doesn’t have a built-in CD / DVD drive. This isn’t unreasonable, as Ultrabooks are designed, first and foremost, to provide computing power in a format this small, lightweight and easily portable. It is, however, something to be aware of; if you think will need an optical drive, you’ll need to use an external USB unit.

In this case, the Yoga 13 has been squeezed into a shell that measures 13.10 x 8.90 x 0.67 (LxWxH) inches, and weighs just 3.3 lbs –  small and light enough to take just about anywhere, and, with a battery life of up to 8 hours, it’s powerful enough to get real work done while on the move.

Overall, the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 13.3-Inch Convertible Touchscreen Ultrabook (Gray) offers a good combination of computing power, portability and innovation. If you’re looking for a laptop to take around with you that is capable of doing real work, and, perhaps, a tablet for less demanding tasks, it may well be worth considering this machine instead. It combines the benefits of laptop and tablet into one device at a reasonable price, and could seriously cut down on the gadgetry you need to take with you if you travel a lot. It’s not a games machine, by any means (nor does it claim to be!) and the lack of optical drive could be a nuisance for some people, but these minor niggles shouldn’t keep it off your list of possible purchases.

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