Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 review

The Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 is a good Windows RT convertible to have around if want a tablet-like experience, but absolutely need a keyboard.
Photo of Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11

The Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 ($669 list) is an 11-inch convertible tablet that mainly acts as a laptop. It’s not a docking slate tablet; rather, it’s a laptop that flips around so you can use it like a slate tablet, or put it in other positions for better video playback or photo display. It’s also got a battery life of just short of 18 hours. If you want a touch-screen Windows RT laptop with one of the best keyboards in the segment, then the Yoga 11 is for you.

Design and Features
The Yoga 11 looks very much the little brother to the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 ($999). Both look like standard clamshell laptops when you first take them out of their boxes. However, instead of stopping at 90 or 180 degrees like most laptops, both Yoga models can swing their screens 360 degrees. When flipped completely around, the keyboard and screen are on opposite sides of the slab. This way, when you hold the Yoga 11 with the screen facing you, the system acts just like any other touch-screen tablet. In this mode, the keyboard is disabled so you won’t be typing gibberish with your other hand. Since it’s smaller and lighter, the Yoga 11 feels more natural in the hand when flipped over, unlike the bulky Yoga 13 in tablet mode.

The Yoga 11′s 11.6-inch (diagonal) screen is a five-point multi-touch display and 1,366 by 768 resolution. The screen is bright and has a decent angle of view, befitting the tablet-style use you’re expected to get out of it.

When situated like a regular laptop, using the chiclet-style keyboard was as comfortable as any other Lenovo IdeaPad laptop. The keyboard isn’t backlit, but it is comfortable with flat keys with rounded edges. The one-piece trackpad is responsive and supports Windows RT/8 gestures. The function keys don’t require you to hit the Fn key for use, simplifying their functionality. The keyboard deck is textured for a little more grip. The lid and base are silver-colored polycarbonate. Thanks to the construction, the system weighs in at a moderate 2.62 pounds. The overall dimensions are measures about 0.61 by 12 by 8 inches (HWD), fairly compact, but still a bit larger than the Editors’ Choice for Windows RT tablets, the Dell XPS 10 ($679).

Though the system is only 0.61 inches thick, there is some measure of connectivity. The system has two USB 2.0 ports, an SD card reader, and a full-size HDMI port. It would’ve been nice to have faster USB 3.0 ports, but the HDMI port increases utility over other Windows RT systems like the Dell XPS 10, Asus Vivo Tab RT ($599), and Microsoft Surface with Windows RT ($699), all of which have micro or mini-HDMI ports that require a HDMI dongle. With the Yoga 11, you just have to unplug the HDMI cord from your cable box, and hook it up to the system for 1080p viewing on your HDTV.

The Dell XPS 10 and Asus Vivo Tab RT both use keyboard docks, and while both docks improve battery life, they both feature slightly smaller than full sized keyboards. The alphanumeric keys on the Yoga 11 are full size. The side-firing speakers on the Yoga 11 are adequate for quiet room use, but if you are in a noisy airport you’ll want to use a headset plugged into the jack on the left side panel.

The Yoga 11 comes with a 64GB SSD, which boots and loads apps quickly. There is some free space when you pull it out of the box, 43 out of 52.5 GB are shown as free. The rest of the space is occupied by the operating system and recovery partition. There aren’t a lot of extra pre-loaded programs, just rara.com (music), Evernote Touch, and eBay. The system also includes Microsoft Office 2013 RT (Home and Student Edition) with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. This helps the Yoga 11 seem like a good choice for the home user or college student, but since this a Windows RT system, you can’t install older programs from other PCs nor replace the Internet Explorer browser with Firefox or Google Chrome. You’re limited to apps from the Windows Store, but if you can live with that, then the system is quite usable. The Yoga 11 comes with a one-year warranty.

Performance
The Yoga 11 has a Nvidia Tegra 3 processor with integrated Nvidia GeForce graphics, 2GB of memory, and that 64GB SSD. Since the system runs Windows RT, we currently can’t run our Windows 8-based benchmark tests, aside from the battery rundown. The Yoga 11 has some of the best battery rundown performance numbers we’ve seen on a Windows RT system at 17 hours 40 minutes. This is far better than the other Windows RT systems on their standard built-in batteries (7:45-11:34 rundown times), but the Dell XPS 10 still is the champ when you add the keyboard dock to the mix (20:36). The Asus with keyboard dock is a close third with a 16:03 rundown. 1080p HD videos like the Star Trek (2009) trailer looked smooth, with only occasional skipped frames. Essentially the system can do what it promises, which is a decent Internet experience with some productivity in Office.

The Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 is one of the better-executed Windows RT systems on the market right now. It balances usability, weight, compactness, battery life, and screen size to give you the Windows RT convertible that you want if you are a laptop traditionalist. The Dell XPS 10 is a better traveller, with more battery life and the option to leave some of the bulk behind, so it holds on to its Editors’ Choice award. That said, if you’re ready to experience Windows RT and don’t need legacy Windows compatibility, the Yoga 11 can give you that old school Office-running laptop experience most of the time, with some forays into the world of the touch-screen tablet.

COMPARISON TABLE
Compare the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 with several other laptops side by side.

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Specifications
Touchscreen Yes
Operating System Microsoft Windows RT
Weight 2.62 lb
Graphics Card Nvidia ULP GeForce
Screen Type Widescreen
Type Ultraportable, Value, Tablet
RAM 2 GB
Storage Capacity (as Tested) 64 GB
Networking Options 802.11n
Screen Size 11.6 inches
CPU nVidia Tegra 3 Quad-Core

Verdict
The Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 is a good Windows RT convertible to have around if want a tablet-like experience, but absolutely need a keyboard. Its flips and acrobatics help usability, but ultimately this a laptop with a good mix of tablet functionality.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
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