Lenovo ThinkPad S1 Yoga review

The Lenovo ThinkPad S1 Yoga hybrid ultrabook brings the Yoga multimode design to the business-focused ThinkPad lineup.
Photo of Lenovo ThinkPad S1 Yoga

Lenovo has been making the most of Intel’s push for 2-in-1 devices with its own special mix of design and functionality, with a family of convertible and detachable tablets and laptops. The latest entrant into the multimode family is the Lenovo Thinkpad S1 Yoga, a convertible hybrid laptop that brings the flexibility of the Yoga to Lenovo’s business-focused ThinkPad line. It’s a bold move, and some will welcome it with open arms, but others may be wary due to its middling performance.

Design
The laptop is the first in Lenovo’s business minded ThinkPad line to feature Lenovo’s multimode hinge, also seen on the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro. The multimode hinge is actually a dual-axle hinge, which allows you to open the laptop into the traditional clamshell arrangement, but then to open it further, bringing the display back and around, allowing for other modes: Tent, Stand, and Tablet. The folding tablet design has been updated with more rugged materials for business-grade durability, with a magnesium-alloy frame and Gorilla Glass providing a scratch-resistant layer of protection for the display. Take away the folding capability and the ThinkPad S1 Yoga would most closely resemble the Lenovo ThinkPad T440s, Lenovo’s standard business Ultrabook.

One small touch that has been added to refine the Yoga design is the keyboard. While the full-size AccuType keyboard looks like the average Lenovo keyboard—sculpted keys, with smooth typing action, and just enough resistance for solid tactile feedback—but it has a trick up its sleeve. When flipped around into tablet mode, the keyboard deck—the plastic base surrounding the individual keys—raises a fraction of an inch, bring it nearly flush with the tops of the keycaps. This goes a long way toward fixing one of the few problems we had with the original Yoga, the gnawing worry that the exposed keyboard would be damaged while in tablet mode.

The 12.5-inch full HD display (1,920 by 1,080 resolution) is pretty nice too, and doubly so because it supports both 10-point touch and stylus input. Tucked into the front edge of the laptop palmrest as an almost unnoticeable red spot, which look sort of like a button; upon closer inspection is the end of a stylus, with integrated storage. While not everyone wants stylus input on their tablet, business applications often require finer cursor control than fingers can provide, making a good stylus a necessity on business tablets.

Features
The ThinkPad S1 Yoga is slim enough that the port selection is a little sparse, with two USB 3.0 ports (one with extra power for charging devices), a micro HDMI out port, a 4-in-1 card reader, a headset jack, and a Kensington Lock slot for physically securing the laptop. Joining the ports on the sides of the laptop are physical volume buttons, a power button, and a screen lock button to prevent unwanted screen rotation. The ThinkPad S1 Yoga also has OneLink Docking capability, which offers RJ-45 connectivity for use in an office.

Inside the slim laptop is a dual-band 802.11AC WLAN adapter, along with Bluetooth 4.0 + HS for all of your wireless speakers and devices. In addition to Intel’s Wireless Display (WiDi), the ThinkPad S1 Yoga is Miracast-enabled, providing yet another option for wirelessly streaming to a display or projector. A 128GB solid-state drive (SSD) provides storage space, and while it’s not particularly spacious, it will do the job while providing speedy performance.

Even though the ThinkPad S1 Yoga is a business laptop, it comes with its fair share of preinstalled apps and programs. Some of these may be useful in the workplace, like Evernote, Nitro Pro 8, and a 30-day trial subscription to Norton Internet Security, but most of these would be more at home on a consumer system, like Amazon Kindle Reader, Rara Music, and an Ebay shopping app. In addition to these, Lenovo includes a handful of branded apps, like Lenovo Companion, which offers basic tutorials for Windows 8 and links to selected apps and deals, and Lenovo QuickCast, which lets you share files with other Lenovo devices on the same network. Lenovo covers the ThinkPad S1 Yoga with a one-year warranty, which includes repairs through Lenovo’s Depot and Carry-in centers.

Performance

While the unique design and feature set definitely bring something new to the business ultrabook space, the performance leaves something to be desired. Despite being outfitted with the same 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-4200U processor used in both the Lenovo T440s and Lenovo’s civilian model IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro, the business oriented hybrid fails to match either system. In PCMark 7 the ThinkPad S1 Yoga scored 2,943 points, falling behind both the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 (4,685 points) and the Lenovo T440s (4,562 points), to say nothing of the category-leading Dell Latitude 6430u, which led with 5,006 points in the same test.

The results were a little better in Cinebench, where the ThinkPad S1 Yoga scored 2.46 points, ahead of the Lenovo T440s (2.37 points), but falling behind the rest. In multimedia tests, the ThinkPad S1 Yoga offered decent enough performance in Handbrake, completing our test file conversion in 1 minute 26 seconds, but fell behind in Photoshop with a time of 14:00.

Equipped with an Intel HD Graphics 4400, Intel’s integrated graphics solution, the ThinkPad S1 Yoga isn’t going to offer workstation-level graphic processing, but for your average office uses and web-browsing, it should do great, as shown in 3DMark 11 scores—1,290 points (Entry), 208 points (Extreme).

Where the ThinkPad S1 Yoga does best—outperforming both the consumer-focused Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro and the Lenovo T440s ultrabook—is in battery life. When tested with our timed battery rundown test, the ThinkPad S1 Yoga lasted 7 hours 1 minute. The Dell 6430U was still ahead, lasting 7:40 in the same test, but it lacks the lighter weight and versatility of the hybrid Yoga design.

Conclusion
While there’s a lot to like about the Lenovo ThinkPad S1 Yoga—especially the introduction of Lenovo’s excellent multimode design into the business realm—the fact remains that it falls short when compared with similar ThinkPad models and business Ultrabooks. The Dell Latitude 6430u remains our top pick for business ultrabooks, thanks to its superior performance, and the Lenovo ThinkPad T440s offers equally compelling performance in a traditional clamshell design. The ThinkPad S1 Yoga is the perfect business hybrid for the user who absolutely wants a Windows tablet, or who has been using the consumer version Yoga for a few months and craves the same sort of flexibility at work.

Specifications
Touchscreen Yes
Processor Name Intel Core i5-4200U
Operating System Windows 8.1 Pro
Weight 3.4 lb
Graphics Card Intel HD Graphics 4400
Screen Type Widescreen
Type Business, Ultrabook
RAM 4 GB
Networking Options 802.11ac
Processor Speed 1.6 GHz
Screen Size 12.5 inches
Storage Capacity (as Tested) 128 GB
Storage Type SSD

Verdict
The Lenovo ThinkPad S1 Yoga hybrid ultrabook brings the Yoga multimode design to the business-focused ThinkPad lineup. Tablet fans will love it, but the performance isn't quite as good as other ThinkPad models.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
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