The Lenovo Ideapad Yoga 11S was announced earlier this year, and it’s not your ordinary day notebook. The Yoga packs an Intel Core i5 CPU with 8GB RAM, Windows 8 and an 11-inch touchscreen that pushes all the way back at 360 degrees, but is it anything special? Is it worth a look at? Read on our full review to find out.
“That’s one eye-catching laptop” people would tell me.
Design and Construction
I’m going to put this frankly; be it a health practice, a stress reliever or a laptop, the Yoga is beautiful. Our unit is covered in semi-rubbery orange & black all around, and while a lot of people might consider this too flashy, I didn’t. In fact, the Yoga would succeed very well if it stood in a room full of laptops with plain & boring designs.
Just like laptops like the Macbook, this device stands on its own identity.
With the laptop closed, everything is clean and simple. There’s a Lenovo logo on the top left part, and on the bottom are the rubber stoppers along with some labels – that includes the Windows 8 sticker found awkwardly in the middle.
Pop the laptop open and you’ll find the keyboard, the trackpad and some labels again, all surrounded by a material that looks like brushed aluminum but actually feels like texturized rubber. We don’t know what Lenovo has done here, but we really like it. Dirt & fingerprints are nowhere to be found, and besides, it feels good to rest your palm on it.
Now let’s push things a little further – literally. When the back of your display is folded to touch the bottom part of your laptop – the Yoga turns into a heavyweight tablet.
Not only is the Yoga sexy, but it’s also flexible.
In this form factor, the button placements finally make sense. The power button that was once on the front side of the laptop is now on top. In addition to that, the once inverted volume rocker found on the left part of the laptop now works the way it should (up pushes the volume higher, down lowers the volume).
[From the tablet form factor's perspective,] a USB 3.0 port, the 3.5mm audio jack, the volume rocker and the mini HDMI port is found on the left side, while on the right side you can find the port for charging, a USB 2.0 port and a rotation lock button. The speakers are found on both left & right sides of the laptop.
On the top left part is the power button, while on the bottom you’ll find the vents and the metallic hinge system that works amazingly well; it is not flimsy in any case and it feels solid.
And of course, up front you’ll find the touchscreen that lies on top of the Windows 8 Start button… which is another story.
As you’d expect, the Yoga 11S packs an 11.6-inch display. It runs on a resolution of 1366 x 768 which produces a pixel density of 135ppi. The result? Not so astonishing, but not so bad either.
Texts and other details could be sharper, and this specific screen resolution is getting boring on laptops. On the bright side, colors look great and vibrant, and outdoor visibility is quite good.
The touchscreen was great too, as it was responsive all around the system and we didn’t have any problems with it.
Keyboard & Trackpad
If you’re not that into touchscreens, especially on Windows 8, then here is the keyboard and the trackpad.
The keys are chiclet, and they’re easy to press for the most part. When you’re in tablet mode, you’ll be having your fingers resting on the keyboard too, but there’s no need to worry as they’re very soft and friendly to the touch.
If there’s one major complaint that we have about it, it’s the lack of backlit keys. Typing in the dark won’t be a good experience for anyone, so keep that in mind.
The trackpad is smooth and accurate on this machine, although there might be times where it is quite jumpy. Gestures, for the most part, work well – however it is not capable of some specific ones such as pinch to zoom.
Apps & Multimedia
Lenovo bundled Windows 8 with a lot of apps here – Kindle, AccuWeather, Merriam-Webster and etc. (seen below). I’m not one of the people who would actually use these apps, but I’m pretty sure a lot of people would appreciate the package.
Apart from these, Lenovo has some more add-ons like SugarSync & Filmon Television. All of these needs a connection to the internet, but when we did try it out, it worked perfectly; FilmOn TV streaming is easily one of our favorites, while Motion Control, however, is something that we didn’t find ourselves using as much.
Watching movies & playing music with the Yoga is an absolute joy. There weren’t slow downs and bad viewing angles to be found with video, and music volume and quality was also sufficiently loud and clean with no hissing or whatsoever.
Performance & Battery Life
Running on a 3rd generation Intel Core i5 CPU & 8GB RAM, we didn’t find any lags or slow downs with the Yoga. There were some bugs here and there, but none of which caused a big problem (browsing with Chrome and etc. needs improvement).
The Yoga 11S lasts for a sharp 5 hours on our battery test. We looped a video on 50% brightness and 50% audio, and it managed to drain an exact 20% every hour. It’s not the 6-hours that Lenovo promised, but it’s still close enough and that isn’t bad at all.
Lenovo Ideapad Yoga 11S specs:
11.6-inch 1366 x 768 IPS display
1.5GHz Intel Core i5-3339Y CPU
Intel HD Graphics 4000
720p HD webcam
WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0
micro HDMI port
1x USB 3.0 port
1x USB 2.0 port
1x SD card slot
29.8 x 20.4 x 1.7 cm (dimensions)
*Core i3 / i7, Silver colored & 4GB RAM versions are also available at different prices
Having to depart with the Lenovo Yoga 11S, I felt somewhat attached. The Core i5 CPU, the 8GB RAM, the display or the design might be major plot elements that have led to this conclusion, but the real story here is the form factor.
I have handled touchscreen laptops before, and even the Microsoft Surface RT, but the Yoga just speaks out. As an ordinary laptop, the idea of having a device that could push all the way back just to hide the keyboard and the trackpad is amusing.
However, on the flip side, we’re pretty convinced as well that the Yoga is having an identity crisis – the button placements are convoluted, and the Yoga isn’t the most beautiful thing either on tablet mode.
Windows 8 still can’t live on itself without a dedicated keyboard and a trackpad, and we think Lenovo did the right thing in going through this path.
All-in-all, the Ideapad Yoga 11S has the makings of an outstanding laptop-tablet hybrid, and it’s one of the best buys out there if you can live without a 1080p HD display or a backlit keyboard.
What we liked about it:
- Great form factor for Windows 8
- Bright & vibrant display
- Comfortable keyboard
- Unique & outstanding design
- Fast & smooth due to CPU + 8GB RAM
What we didn’t like about it:
- 1366 x 768 resolution
- No backlit keyboard