Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro Review: One Step Forward…

Lenovo's latest convertible laptop is thinner, lighter and sometimes more frustrating.

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Jared Newman for TIME

Lenovo’s been no stranger to experimentation with Windows 8, putting out lots of touchscreen devices that bridge the gap between laptop and tablet. But none have been as conventional, or as practical, as the Yoga.

At a glance, the Yoga looks like a regular laptop. The difference is that you can fold the screen all the way around until it becomes a tablet. It’s still a notebook PC above all, but at least you can get the keyboard out of the way when you just want to use the touchscreen.

The Yoga 2 Pro is an evolution of last year’s IdeaPad Yoga 13. It has a thinner and lighter chassis, measuring 0.61 inches thick and weighing just over 3 pounds, and the screen resolution has ballooned to 3200-by-1800. The Yoga 2 Pro also uses Intel‘s fourth-generation Core processors, which are more power-efficient than last year’s chips. The basic configuration, which has a Core i3 processor, 4 GB of RAM and 128 GB of solid state storage, lists for $1,050, though Lenovo is currently offering a $100 discount through its website.

The original Yoga 13 was a great laptop, with a couple drawbacks: The battery life was too weak, and the design felt a little too bulky, especially for tablet use. Unfortunately, the Yoga 2 Pro introduces some new frustrations while failing to fix the shortcomings of its predecessor. It’s still a fine laptop, but it could have been so much better.

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Jared Newman for TIME

Let’s start with that 3200-by-1800 display. It’s incredible on paper, but the real-world benefit of having quadruple the pixels is hard to notice at normal viewing distances. I was never put off by the original Yoga’s resolution, and a mere boost to 1080p probably would have been enough to soothe any videophiles.

Instead, Lenovo went way overboard with screen resolution, and paid a dear price: Battery life in the Yoga 2 Pro isn’t significantly improved over last year’s model. In a typical work routine of writing, reading and researching on the web, I got about six hours of battery life at 50-percent brightness. That’s not bad for a laptop, and it’s not drastically worse than what I get from Microsoft’s Surface Pro 2, but lower screen resolutions tend to require less power. It’s sad to think about what might have been had Lenovo practiced some restraint.

The reduced weight and thickness are more obvious improvements. The new Yoga is better for toting around in a laptop bag, and the thinner design carries itself quite well. There’s a slight taper around the edges of the base, so in laptop mode the Yoga looks even svelter than it actually is.

yoga2pro2

Jared Newman for TIME

But as a tablet, the Yoga 2 Pro still feels burdensome. Without the benefit of tapered edges, the actual thickness of the hardware reveals itself when the screen is folded all the way around, and even though it’s thinner and lighter, 13 inches is still a lot of screen for comfortable tablet use. On occasion I used the Yoga 2 Pro in “Stand” mode, with the keyboard face-down on my lap and the screen propped up at an angle, but the large screen creates a lot of ground for hands to cover. I’d love to a see a proper revamp of Lenovo’s 11-inch Yoga, but so far Lenovo has only upgraded the processor for a Best Buy-exclusive model. It’s just as heavy as the 13-inch Yoga Pro 2.

Even with negligible changes to battery life and tablet usability, the Yoga 2 Pro would still feel like a significant upgrade, if not for a few backward steps on Lenovo’s part.

Most frustrating of all is the behavior of the Yoga 2 Pro’s trackpad. It’s large enough, and smooth to the touch, but it doesn’t include any way to invert the direction of two-finger scrolling. If you hate the way some laptops scroll down the page when you slide your fingers up, you’re simply out of luck with the Yoga 2 Pro. There’s also no way to invoke a right mouse click by tapping with two fingers on the trackpad. You must physically click on the trackpad with both fingers, or click in the lower-right corner. The Yoga 2 Pro’s keyboard also doesn’t feel as solid as the original, with mushy, shallow keys that caused a lot of mistakes in my experience.

yoga2pro4

Jared Newman for TIME

Like most Windows laptops, the Yoga 2 Pro comes with a lot of bloatware. I’m not going to single Lenovo out for what is an embarrassing industry-standard practice, but I do question Lenovo’s inclusion of an app that creates a notification and a noise every time you fold the screen into tablet or stand mode. The idea is to suggest apps for the current screen setting, but it creates a Clippy-like situation where the assistance is more obnoxious than useful. One other software niggle: The screen’s auto-brightness feature is way too aggressive, and Lenovo’s instructions for disabling it don’t appear to work.

Despite these flaws, the Yoga 2 Pro still doesn’t feel severely compromised as a laptop like some other hybrids and convertibles do. And as with last year’s model, the acrobatic touchscreen is more comfortable to use than a straight-up touch laptop. I’d still recommend it if you’re considering a laptop with a touchscreen, but it’s not the great leap forward that it should have been. With the original IdeaPad Yoga 13 selling for $849, you wouldn’t be much worse off with year-old hardware if you’re looking to save some cash.

9 comments
lenovoyogin
lenovoyogin

I have a Yoga 13 and LOVE the form and design - terribly disappointing that Lenovo have decide to ape other designs in tapering the edges. The original "closed-book" symmetry was wonderful.

Headhunter71
Headhunter71

Wrong.  Although you review this product with a critical eye (the vastmajority of reviews drool over it) you missed everything wrong with this product - although battery life and track pad seems to be really important to you since those seem to be your main complaints.  Read more customer reviews next time - then feel free to test those flaws and add those to your review if you agree they are, in fact, flaws.

Yes, they went overboard with the screen resolution and it does cause problems, but forget the battery life!  The screen is so high resolution that everything displayed on the screen (except the homepage and movies) are TINY TINY TINY. When browsing the URL bar is so small its nearly impossible to deal with. Everything on the screen is terribly tiny. That would be fine if there was a fix; there isn't a fix. Reducing resolution (which defeats the whole reason for high res anyway) to something like 1080 or 1600 does increase display size, but displays with far less quality than a computer whose native res is 1080 or 1600. In other words the screen display is practically impossible to use without feeling ripped off.

There are 2 other Lenovo-acknowledged, existential design flaws.

1. It drops wifi. 'Nuff said there wouldn't you think?

2. The color yellow looks like mustard. If you google "yellow" then look at the spectrum there isn't a single YELLOW on your screen; ;only different versions of mustard.

Per Lenovo's tech assistance department (after slaving for 45 mins to find solutions to these problems that they are plaqued with all day long, the rep told me that yes there is a bios update, but that it will revert back to the old crappy yellow hue. Even she said my particular unit will likely never be corrected.

ConclusionLenovo used to be a top notch company that produced some of the industries very best nmachines.  Today they area common company whose asic attitude is, 'SCREW YOU CUSTOMER WE ALREADY HAVE YOUR MONEY HWAH HWAH HWAH'??? 

Sucks for us.

AskAmy
AskAmy

I received my Yoga 2 Pro about a week ago... and can't believe the horrible battery life. I don't even get 3 hours on a full charge! And, I'm not doing anything intense. Just checking email, on the web, creating documents. It's astonishingly bad!!! (Haswell????) I have i7 and 8 GB RAM.  If the only way to get decent battery life is to adjust settings to make this a less- than decent laptop...what's the point?

fiyth
fiyth

Thank god there are already many competent reviews of this device out there.

Headhunter71
Headhunter71

By the by, I'm typing this on a Vaio - another company that used to produce wonderful products (this one has lasted 3 years, has been beaten to hell, fell off my dresser 2 times that left 2 cracks in it - but it keeps on ticking).


The only problem is the space bar and some keys arebeginning to fail - but I have zero complaints.  Today, Vaio sucks too.  Performance rates at the quantitative basement vs the competition (the yoga performs well, but the color, screen, and wifi are mailed to you broken).


Im adding this post because of the vast number of typos in the previous post :(  Im really defensive!!!

newmanjb
newmanjb moderator

@AskAmy Wow, that's odd. Never experienced battery life that bad in my tests. What brightness level are you on? If it's 50 percent or less, maybe look into a warranty replacement.

jfgzo1
jfgzo1

@fiyth Um, maybe tell us how you disagree with the review?