Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 review: a netbook by another name
7 January 2014
Summary: A few years ago, netbooks were small, light, inexpensive, often underpowered computers — and the word quickly became a pejorative term, to be used only with the greatest of disdain as you throw your netbook out the window. Then came ultrabooks — small, light, inexpensive, often underpowered computers that have taken the PC market by storm. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Pros: Incredible battery life, Small, sleek design, Good keyboard and trackpad
Cons: Limited functionality because of Windows RT, Slow, inconsistent performance, Poor app ecosystem
Conclusion: Our sample system arrived running Windows 8 64-bit although one could opt for the Pro version when ordering. I’m a bit more versed with Windows 8 now compared to when I reviewed the original Yoga last December. If you’re new to Microsoft’s latest operating system, I would urge you to check out our in-depth review of Windows 8 to get you headed in the right direction.
Summary: Lenovo has kept the same fun transforming form factor as its original 11-inch wunderkind, but has pumped up the processing power, making the 11S an attractive purchase and a better Windows 8 hybrid than Microsoft's own Surface Pro. It's not cheap, starting at £699, but if you're after a small convertible Windows 8 ultrabook that can do it all, the Yoga 11S is for you. Just make sure you take the charger with you.
Conclusion: All told, the IdeaPad Yoga 11S is a solidly built Windows 8 convertible with an excellent screen and keyboard (the latter of which, as with the Yoga 13, feels weird when held facing down). It has the same flaw as other hybrids in that it's a little heavy in tablet mode, and a particular flaw in its brief battery life.
Pros: Same versatile form factor as the larger Yoga 13, Solid input devices, Spacious SSD and ample amount of RAM for the price
Cons: Last-generation processor means short battery life, Keyboard lacks backlight, No option for higher-resolution screen
Conclusion: The Yoga 11S, like so many other convertibles, tries to combine a decent laptop with a good-enough tablet. And, like the Yoga 13, this smaller sibling is more successful than most. We’re still a ways away from a convertible that can rival an iPad or Nexus 10 as a tablet, but Lenovo’s latest effort comes as close as any, and does so without sacrificing traditional PC strengths.
Pros: Excellent design and quality, Very light and thin, Record-setting results in power draw, idle noise, and idle temperature, Literally silent at idle, quiet at low, Great value
Cons: Dim display, Only one USB 3.0 port, Below-average performance
Summary: If Lenovo's Yoga 13 and Yoga 11 got together and had a baby, it would be just like the Yoga 11S. The addition of an Intel Core processor and full Windows 8 have transformed the IdeaPad Yoga 11S from a cute and somewhat capable hybrid into a legitimate Ultrabook. We also like the comfy keyboard and the fact that you get a robust 256GB SSD for less money than the competition offers.
Pros: Flip design allows for multiple use modes, Vibrant colorful touch display, Comfortable keyboard, Big SSD for the price
Cons: Power button is hard to locate, Bottom can get hot, Hefty as a tablet
Summary: Final Thoughts
The IdeaPad Yoga 11 is a very interesting device. It is a laptop, but an underpowered one. It is a tablet, but is larger and thicker than other tablets out there. The Yoga 11 offers the best of both worlds, for those who need it. That is the big key factor, if you really need both a tablet and laptop. As a laptop it is compact and light, but is underpowered.
Pros: Cool convertible aspect, Great battery life, Two USB ports, Feels solid and qualitymade, Comfortable keyboard
Cons: Underpowered for a laptop, Windows RT makes for limited functionality
Conclusion: And that's our conclusion. Overall, we liked the Yoga 11, but we're not sold on Windows RT. Putting aside RT's limitations (the biggest one being that it can't run legacy Windows programs), we applaud Lenovo for trying something new here. If you can live with Windows RT, the Yoga 11 should suit you fine. If you need a full-blown version of Windows, this one won't do. But if that's the case, there's always the Yoga 13, which really is a laptop with a different twist.
Pros: Attractive price, Good-looking screen, Innovative 360-degree folding keyboard, Comfortable keyboard, Respectable battery life, Wide range of ports
Cons: Won't run legacy Windows programs, Keyboard position feels awkward in tablet mode, Too heavy when used in tablet mode
Conclusion: The Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 is a good Windows RT convertible to have around if you want a tablet-like experience, but absolutely need a keyboard. Its flips and acrobatics help usability, but ultimately this is a laptop with a good mix of tablet functionality.
Pros: Traditional clamshell form factor. Range of convertible positions. Feels fine in hand as tablet. Very good battery life. Comfortable keyboard. Full size HDMI
Cons: Limited Windows RT app library. Can't install older Windows apps. Can't install third-party browser. Local storage a bit small. Only USB 2.0.
Conclusion: We love most everything about the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 except the price. It's a brilliantly portable, high class convertible Windows 8 tablet with the best keyboard you'll find on an 11.6" machine. The display is top notch and we don't wish for 1080p on a screen this small. The Yoga 11 is responsive and has superb battery life and standby among Windows machines. The only drawbacks? The nice bits cost money and this isn't cheap compared to mainstream laptops.
Pros: Excellent keyboard and IPS display, unique and useful 360 degree hinge for laptop and tablet use, great battery life.