Gadgetslab: Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11S

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Lenovo Yoga

 

SPECIFICATIONS

Screen: 1 1 .6-inch IPS display (1366 x 768 pixels)
Memory: 8GB DDR3L
Storage: 256GB SSD
CPU: Up to 3rd generation Intel Core i7
Connectivity: Wi-R 802.1 1 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0
Dimensions: 1 1 .73in (W) x 8.03in (H) x 0.67in (D)
Weight: 3.08 lbs

WHAT’S HOT

  • Full Windows 8 OS
  • Form factor, size and weight
  • Responsive keyboard and touch pad

WHAT’S NOT

  • Battery life
  • Slightly heavier than Yoga 11

BOTTOMLINE

Because of its full desktop OS, Ultrabook-class processor, and convenient size, the L.enovo IdeaPad Yoga 11S has an edge over the Yoga 13 and its predecessor, the Yoga 11.

REVIEW

In our previous issues, we’ve featured the different devices under the IdeaPad Yoga line, Lenovo’s collection of convertible hybrid devices. A subsequent variant to the Yoga 11, the Yoga 11S, arrived in our office, and, being the designated tester for its predecessor back in May, I gladly volunteered to take a whack at the modification.

What makes Lenovo’s Yoga devices special is the 360-degree flexibility of their form factors. Like the Yoga 13 and the Yoga 11, the Yoga 11 S can be used in four different ways or modes: Laptop, Tablet, Tent and Stand. Laptop and Tablet mode are self-explanatory, of course. In Tablet mode, the device is folded so that the 11.6-inch screen sits face-up on one side, and the keyboard on the other. The keyboard is disabled in this mode, so you won’t have to worry about accidentally pressing letters while handling the device as a tablet. The screen supports up to 10 touch points.

Tent mode is when the device is folded in the shape of a teepee (or the letter A, or an inverted letter V—whichever works for your imagination). This setup makes it easier for you to do a presentation or view multimedia content. Stand mode serves the same purpose, with the keyboard facing down and the screen propped up at 90 degrees. Again, the keyboard is disabled in this mode.

The ports on the device—one USB 2.0, one USB 3.0, one HDMI, and one full SD card slot—are usable in all four usage modes.

Two things make the Yoga 11 S essentially different from the Yoga 11: the OS and the CPU.

The biggest frustration I had with the Yoga 11 was that it ran Windows RT, which meant that I had to deal with a very limited desktop computing experience, not to mention the scarcity of apps I had access to. For instance, since Google didn’t bother to make a Chrome app for Windows RT, I had to deal with Internet Explorer, which is comparable to joining a three-legged race with good ol’ grandpa during Family Day: slow, and you seem to be stopping a lot.

The Yoga 11S brings a full Windows 8 system to the table, turning the device into an 11-inch version of the Yoga 13. Yes, you guessed it—like the Yoga 13, the Yoga 11S is an Ultrabook, too.

Having a full desktop operating system enabled me to install and use regular (non-Metro) Windows applications that I couldn’t use on the Yoga 11. The unit I had was preloaded with both productivity and multimedia apps, including Microsoft Office 2013, Evernote, YouCam, Skype and Amazon Kindle.

The OS also allowed me to maximize the use of the device in Laptop mode, which also highlights two of the device’s strong points: the keyboard and the touchpad.

Aside from having good travel, the island-type keys on the Yoga 11S are properly spaced, giving me just enough room to avoid mistyping anything. The Synaptics touchpad features just the right amount of responsiveness—not too laggy, not too sensitive—and it supports useful gestures, such as pinch-to-zoom.

The IPS screen is equally responsive and also integrates swipe gestures. Remarkably, I never had to prod the screen more than once when I had to select files or access the Charms. As a side note, the screen’s resolution (1366 x 768) isn’t Full HD and isn’t even nearly as high as that of the Yoga 13, but judging from the well-saturated colors the Yoga 11S was still able to reproduce, it isn’t something to be missed unless you’re going to watch movies in true HD, such as Star Trek: Into Darkness or Prometheus. Audio is impressively loud, though, which means that you don’t have to use a speaker peripheral when you’re doing a presentation to a group of, say, 15-20 people and you have to play a video.

The other key difference between the Yoga 11S and its previous incarnation is the processor on which it runs. The Yoga 11, being a Windows RT device, was able to chug along on a low-powered NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor. This gave the device an amazingly long battery life.

Because it requires more power to run its more sophisticated OS, the Yoga 11S that I used ran on a 3rd generation Intel Core i5-3339Y chip. The device also comes in i3 and i7 configurations.

While the upgraded processor gave the device more than enough grunt to run its OS and a generally snappier performance than its predecessor, it also dropped the device’s battery life to half as much as the Yoga 11. With the same amount of work I did on the Yoga 11 and replicated brightness settings, I was only able to get roughly six hours of usage on a single charge.

Another less-than-welcome change is the increased weight. One of the things I loved about the Yoga 11 was its portability. It was light, thin, and didn’t take up too much space in my bag; it was the perfect travel companion. Because of the processor it uses, the Yoga 11 S is noticeably heavier than the Yoga 11. It doesn’t really reduce its value as a portable companion, but consider this: the device has a Tablet mode, and no one likes a heavy tablet. Nothing has changed in size, though, which is a good thing. Thickness is increased by tenth of an inch.

The slight drawbacks are worth it for the change to full Windows 8. While there may not be much value as a tablet because of its bulkiness and its noticeable increase in weight compared to the Yoga 11, its value as a notebook sky-rocketed because of its full desktop OS that gives users a more complete experience when used in Laptop mode. No doubt, it was a smart decision for Lenovo to pack the usefulness of the Yoga 13 into the smaller form factor of the Yoga 11 to deliver one valuable, portable and convertible Ultrabook.

BuyMeter 4

Words by Racine Anne Castro
First published in Gadgets Magazine, August 2013