I have to admit, I fancied the Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro from the moment I’ve got my eyes on it, back in September 2013 at IFA Berlin. But there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to a laptop, so in this post we’re going to take this Lenovo machine through our standard review chores.
Before we start, you should know that I’m testing the base version of the Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro here, in Silver Gray. However, the only aspects varying between the many versions Lenovo has in stores all over the world are the outer case color (there’s also a Clementine Orange option) and the internal hardware specs. All the other things I’m going to say about this laptop just stand for any Yoga 2 Pro.
Besides that, a full disclosure: I’ve used this laptop for about a week before putting together the review, as it was a test-lease from Lenovo, and I’ve sent it back afterwards. However, that has NO IMPACT whatsoever on what I’m writing in the review, as you hopefully know by now from my other detailed tests.
Alright, with those out of the way, let’s get started. I’ve put up my detailed video review for you guys just below, a complete spec sheet for this tested model and then we’ll get on with the actual impressions about the laptop.
Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro video review
Full specs sheet
||Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro – 59394174 – Silver Gray
||13.3 inch, 3200 x 1800 px resolution, IPS, touchscreen
||Intel Haswell Core i5-4200U CPU
||Intel 4400 HD
||4 GB DDR3
||128 GB SSD
||Wireless AC, Bluetooth 4.0
||1xUSB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.0, SD card reader, micro HDMI, volume rocker
||4 cell 54 Wh
||12.99″ x 8.66″ x 0.61″ / 329 x 219 mm x 15.5 mm
||about 1.39 kg (2.96 pounds)
||backlit keyboard, screen flips 360 degrees on the back
Design and exterior
The main thing that clearly sets this laptop apart from the other premium 13 inch ultrabooks of the moment is the Yoga’s screen. The whole secret lies in the two hinges (small, but very sturdy), which allow the display to flip back to 360 degrees, as you can see in the video. That leads to several different use scenarios. You can place the device on a desk, like with a regular laptop. Or you can flip back the screen and place the Yoga in tent mode, if you’re watching movies or playing some light games, in presentation mode if you need more stability or in tablet mode, if you’ll flip that display all the way back.
Yes, the 3 pounds Yoga 2 Pro is heavy for a tablet, but actually browsing around on reading documents on this 13 inch screen is quite enjoyable. Or watching movies with nothing between your eyes and the screen. On the other hand, you might not like that the keyboard sits completely exposed in this case. I don’t either, but if you’ll treat the laptop right, that shouldn’t be a massive problem. Lenovo have had Yogas in stores for quite a while now, and few buyers have actually complained about that. Oh, and if you fear that you might accidentally press a key by mistake while using the Yoga as a tablet, you shouldn’t, both the keyboard and the trackpad are only accessible in laptop mode and just turned OFF in any of the others.
Besides that, I especially like that I can lean the screen completely on the back in laptop mode, which is great for couch or bed use. It might not matter that much for you, but for me this is a do or die on any laptop.
The Yoga 2 Pro might not be a looker
Speaking of the size and weight, the Yoga 2 Pro is not bigger than the other 13 inchers of the moment, has a 0.6 inch thick waist and tips the scale at just under 3 pounds. That makes it somewhat heavy for a modern 13 inch ultrabook, especially if you’ll put it next to the 2.4 pounds Sony Vaio Pro 13, but don’t forget about the form factor. Still, the Yoga does compensate with its strong, durable feel. The hinges are able to properly keep the screen in place exactly how you put it and the metallic case coated in a rubbery finishing feels great and does not flex or squeak, like with many other ultrabooks.
All in all, Lenovo did a really good job with this laptop. It’s probably not the most beautiful out there, although that’s up to each of you to decide, as I for one like the simple, even barren you might say, aesthetics. It also doesn’t use fancy materials for its body, it just sticks to metal and matte plastic. But the Yoga 2 Pro is definitely practical. I like the rubbery coating on the case and the palm-rest, the blunt front edge that won’t cut into my wrist, like with other sleek laptops (Cough, Cough … Zenbook UX301LA), the ports layout, with most of the things placed on the left edge and I definitely appreciate the cooling system, which draws fresh air from the back and blows the hot air towards the back as well, away from the user.
Of course, there are things some of you might not appreciate. For instance, the Power button is rather awkwardly placed on the right edge, towards the front, and there’s a limited number of ports on this unit, with 2 USBs (1 x USB 3.0 and 1 x USB 2.0 slot with Charge-while-sleeping abilities), one micro-HDMI connector and a card-reader that won’t entirely fit an SD card. You’re not getting any adapters included in the pack either, you’ll have to buy them on the side if needed. But these are things you should be able to live with.
Anyway, let’s turn our attention towards the screen. There’s a 13.3 inch display on this Lenovo, with an IPS panel, 3200 x 1800 px resolution and a pentile matrix. It’s very sharp and fairly bright, just not as bright as some of the other screens available on premium ultrabooks. However, that’s not going to be our main concern here. Two other things are.
First of all, there’s the color reproduction. Straight out of the box, I’ve noticed some dull mustardy yellows, with a tint of green in them. But the Reds, Greens or Blues were a bit dull as well. I’ve played around with the Power modes in the included Power Manager and the laptop was able to display proper colors only on Performance Mode. Annoying. Luckily though, Lenovo released an updated Power Manager and BIOS version that address this issue. Address, but not completely fix it. With the updates, the yellows are fine while using three of the given Power Modes, but not the bottom, most efficient option. So if you’re planning on squeezing long hours out of this laptop, you’ll have to either have to look somewhere else, or get used to the skewed colors.
Besides this, there’s the resolution matter. High density panels on Windows laptops are not necessarily the best idea right now, due to the OSes scaling issues. Don’t get me wrong, the more pixels the merrier, but if you plan on using the laptop in the classic desktop mode, your experience is not going to be as good as you might want. You’ll have to scale up the fonts. I’ve tried countless combinations and ended up with native resolution and fonts at 200%, or in other words, with a glorified 1400 x 900 px canvas. Everything else looked somewhat fuzzy. With that set-up, you’ll for sure enjoy browsing or reading texts on this devices, as fonts and most Windows 8.1 elements scale fine. When it comes to many third party programs though, things aren’t that lovely and you’ll end up having to read microscopic texts or having to press tiny buttons more often that you’d want. And that’s annoying.
Of course, I’m not blaming Lenovo for that per-se. I am however doubting the logic behind sticking a 3200 x 1800 px panel on this machine, which brings more headaches than gains, at least imh.
Keyboard and trackpad
Enough about that, let’s talk about the keyboard. It’s not the impeccable keyboard I’m used to having on my Lenovo ThinkPad, but that was expected on such a slim laptop. Even so, the keys are properly spaced and sized, offer springy feedback and are backlit. However, the travel is rather shallow and that’s why typing on this keyboard feels weird and requires some time to get used to.
The layout is OK, but again, not exactly what I fancy. The inverted F keys and the extra row of buttons on the right side might appeal to some of you, but they don’t to me. However, I do appreciate the full-sized arrow keys, which were only possible due to this selected layout.
As for the the clickpad, this one is smooth and accurate, although a bit stiff when it comes to clicking and quite small for a 13 inch device. But it will do alright for casual everyday activities.
The trackpad is smooth and accurate, while the keyboard will need some time to get used to
Hardware, performances and upgrade options
As I mentioned in the beginning, we have the base version of the Yoga 2 Pro here, with an Intel Core i5-4200U Haswell processor, 4 GB of RAM and a 128 GB SSD. Despite that, it’s been more than capable of handling my everyday activities and also movies or a few games. And if you need more oomph, you can spec up this ultrabook up to a Core i7-4500U processor, 8 GB of RAM and a 512 GB SSD. One thing to have in mind though: upgrade possibilities are close to nil on this laptop, so make sure to get what you need from starters.
The Yoga runs Windows 8.1 , with the touch friendly interface and apps, but also the classic desktop mode, where you’ll be able to run all of your favorite programs, but where you’ll encounter those pesky scaling problems I was telling you about earlier. Lenovo also bundles a few programs of their own on this laptop, like Yoga Chef, Yoga Camera Man, Yoga Photo Touch and a bunch of others, but also some third party software like Evernote Touch, Kindle, Netflix, etc. All these might be useful to some of you, or can be wiped off.
Back to the raw performances of this tested configuration, you’ll find a few benchmarks and test results below:
- 3DMark 11: P954;
- 3DMark 13: IceStrom – 26894, Cloud Gate – 4096, Fire Strike – 608;
- PCMark 07: 4785;
- CineBench 11.5: OpenGL 19.21 fps, CPU 2.44 pts;
- CrystalDiskMark: Seq – 505 MB/s read / 134 MB/s write , 4K – 28 MB/s read/ 69 MB/s write.
And I did run a couple of basic tests that I’m going to use as future reference for all my reviews:
- Video Encoding * – 150sec;
- Archiving ** – 13 sec;
* a 2.30 minutes 1080 MOV imported in Movie maker, with the Edge Detection visual effect applied and then exported as “For High resolution displays”.
** 220 MB worth of pictures archived using Windows 8 Send to Compressed Folder option.
All these being said, the base version of the Yoga 2 Pro proved to be a capable machine. Yes, the offered storage space, about 70 GBs with Windows and the bundled software installed, can run out very fast, but when it comes to actually doing things on the laptop, it will deal just fine with most everyday tasks. And you are getting a cross-platform experience with a single device, or in other words, both the laptop and the tablet experience (to some extent) with this Lenovo ultrabook.
Noise, Heat, Connectivity and others
The Yoga 2 Pro runs extremely quiet and the fan inside is actually turned OFF most of the time. In fact, I’m pretty sure this is one of the most noiseless ultrabooks I’ve ever tested. Despite that, the Yoga 2 Pro remains cool when used lightly, while when pushed, it only gets warm in the area on top of the keyboard and on the back, around the cooling system. Even so, the temperatures are far from being a problem, so you can safely use this device on your lap.
There are also two speakers on this laptop, fairly loud and punchy for a 13 incher slim laptop, although far from staggering.
And when it comes to connectivity options, the Yoga 2 Pro does offer Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi AC. I’ve had no issues with the connection whatsoever, but, one important thing to notice, there’s only a single band Intel Centrino 7260 module on this tested unit, which only supports 2.4 GHz frequencies. You can opt for a dual-band version as well if you configure your own model on Lenovo’s website, but I’m not entirely sure if all the other standard configurations come with this single-band Wi-Fi module, or some of them pack the higher-end option instead. I’ll try to dig around and come back with an update.
When it comes to battery life, the Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro is not at the top of my list of 13 inch Haswell laptops, and that despite packing a rather large 54 Wh battery. It only averages about 6 hours of everyday use, which includes in my case, browsing with around 10 opened tabs, watching some videos on Youtube, some text editing, listening to some music, etc, all on Lenovo’s Daily Power Mode (so I don’t get the skewed colors), with the screen set at about 60%. 6 hours is not a bad result, but other Haswell ultrabooks can do better.
Now, in your case the battery life will probably go for anywhere between 4 to 7 hours, based on what you’re going to run on the laptop. Again, that’s for sure not bad, but it doesn’t live up to my expectations. And I for one blame the fancy screen for that.
Prices and availability
Back when they first hit the stores, the Yoga 2 Pros started at about $1199, for the tested configuration (Core i5-4200U /4 GB RAM / 128 GB SSD) and went up to around $1700 for the top options (Core i7-4500U / 8 GB of RAM / 512 GB SSD). At those rates, the Yoga 2 Pro was cheaper than most other Haswell 13 inch ultrabooks. The Sony Vaio Pro 13 starts at around $1250, while the Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus, the Acer Aspire S7 or the Asus Zenbook UX301LA went for $1399 and up.
These days though, the Yoga 2 Pro is even cheaper. Right now, you can get the default configuration for under 1 G (more details via this link), which puts it under the Macbook Air, the Dell XPS 13 or the HP Spectre 13T ultrabooks. And that allows this laptop to be an incredibly good deal for the money.
I’m not going to rant about Lenovo’s pricing policies and how they can actually come with these insanely low prices in here. That shouldn’t matter that much to us, the end buyers. I’m just going to put it as it is: for the money, you can’t find anything better than the Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro right now.
At the end of the day, the Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro is an excellent deal for the money
Of course, this is not a laptop for everyone. You might want a more powerful device, or something fancier looking or maybe something that can last for 10+ hours on a charge. Or maybe a device better suited for corporate use, with more ports and extra features. If that’s the case, my list of recommended ultrabooks is a good place to start your search, as well as my list of top convertibles.
For the average user though, the Yoga 2 Pro is definitely something worth more than a look. There are things Lenovo could have done better with it, for sure. They could have put a faster SSD inside and maybe could have settled for a standard 1080p screen, which would have solved both the colors and the battery life issues. Even so, the Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro does tick all the right boxes and is for sure an ultrabook most of you will just enjoy using everyday.
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