ThinkPad Yoga Review

The ThinkPad Yoga is a convertible running Windows 8.1 with a 360-degree Yoga hinge. The screen can fold completely backwards until it becomes a tablet. And one of its most special features, never seen before, we present you: the lift-n-lock keyboard.

When I opened the box, first thing I noticed was that the ThinkPad Yoga is thicker and is slightly heavier than the Yoga 2 Pro. The ThinkPad Yoga is also slightly smaller than the Yoga 2 Pro. So it is smaller and weighs a little bit more, that is awkward. We will come back on that later.

But what makes the ThinkPad Yoga my favorite Yoga? Let’s find out.

Specifications

MTM 20CD0032US
CPU Intel Core i5-4200U (1.6 GHz – Up to 2.6 GHz)
Graphics Intel HD Graphics HD4400
RAM 4GB of 1600MHz DDR3L RAM (Dual Channel)
Storage 128GB SATAIII SSD
Display 1920×1080 IPS (low-glare)
Keyboard US backlit
WLAN  Intel Wireless-N 7260 802.11bgn (Up to 300 Mb/s)
 Operating System  Windows 8.1

Connectivity

The WLAN or WiFi card is a Intel Wireless-N 7260. The maximum theoretical bandwidth is 300 Mb/s on a 802.11n wireless network. The Intel Wireless-N 7260 only supports 2.4 GHz networks and does not support 5GHz networks.

The ThinkPad Yoga can also be configured with a Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 for those who like to benefit from the higher performance from 5 GHz networks or the 802.11ac protocol which allows an incredible bandwidth of 867 Mb/s. However 802.11ac is still considered high-end and quite new. If you love streaming movies at home over the wireless network a access point supporting 802.11ac is a must have.

Both WLAN cards mentioned here also support BlueTooth 4.0. The most important new feature or change compared to the older BlueTooth version is that power consumption has been severely lowered, specially when the BlueTooth chip is idle. But my two cents for optimal power consumption on a mobile device are to turn off what you do not use to save battery life. Just because you park your car doesn’t mean you have to keep the engine running until you get back.

Ports

On the left side we find the port for the AC adapter and the OneLink-port. The OneLink port becomes visible after we remove the plastic cover protecting it.

Next we find a USB3.0 port which also has ‘Aways On’ functionality which can be enabled in the BIOS. This means you can charge your phone through the USB3.0 port when your ThinkPad Yoga is turned off.

And eventually we find a audio jack to the front.

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On the right side, starting on the left we find the power button, volume buttons, rotation lock button, memory card slot, USB3.0 port and a mini-HDMI port.

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Display

The display is a Full HD IPS display and has good viewing angles both horizontally and vertically. The display is larger than a normal tablet with 12.5inches. The matte display doesn’t remove the light reflections completely, but is more than enough most of the time. I have no complaints about the display at all.

Battery Life

The battery life isn’t bad at all compared to other ultrabooks and convertibles I have tried. 5-6 hours of battery life is what you can expect with the ThinkPad Yoga doing regular office tasks.

You cannot hotswap the battery with another one as you need to unscrew and remove the bottom cover to do so.

The battery is not soldered and is user replaceable by removing the bottom cover. You cannot hotswap the battery! If you can handle a screwdriver it should be straightforward how to replace it. Make sure to turn off the battery in the BIOS before attempting to replace or remove it.

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Picture by Jin Li

Keyboard

The ThinkPad Precision Keyboard in my ThinkPad Yoga is a backlit keyboard with a US layout. Typing on it feels a lot more comfortable than on the Yoga 13 and Yoga 2 Pro. The Yoga 2 Pro’s keyboard was already a nice improvement over the Yoga 13, but the keyboard of the ThinkPad Yoga is just perfect.

Just what you would expect from a ThinkPad. However comparing the keyboard of a ThinkPad to just any other keyboard is like comparing champagne with water. Once you have used a ThinkPad Precision Keyboard you won’t want to use anything else ever.

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The ThinkPad Yoga also has a lift-n-lock keyboard. If you fold the ThinkPad Yoga in tablet mode, the keyboard frame will rise to lock the keyboard’s keys in place so they cannot be pressed, so you won’t have that awkward feeling pressing the keys while holding it in your hand. It is very fascinating how they came up with this idea and how they made the ‘lift-n-lock’-keyboard possible.

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Prepare for tablet mode! Lift & lock!

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When you buy a ThinkPad Yoga be careful, as there are non-backlit keyboards as well.

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ClickPad & TrackPoint

The ThinkPad Yoga doesn’t have physical buttons sadly enough, it took me some time to get adjusted to the clickpad. You may need to tweak the Ultranav settings and Windows settings to get it the way you want.

tpyoga_ultranav

 

Also there is a slight delay after typing or using the TrackPoint after which you will be able to click using the ClickPad. In “PC Settings >PC and devices > Mouse and touchpad”, you can reduce this delay or disable it alltogether. I do not recommend setting ‘no delay’, unless you have disabled the ClickPad in the UltraNav settings (TrackPoint Only Mode). Even with ‘short delay’ you should see and feel the improvements.

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But still we prefer physical buttons. In the Broadwell generation of the ThinkPad Yoga’s the physical buttons will be back.

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Storage

For storage the ThinkPad Yoga uses a 2.5inch SATAIII HDD or SSD. If you want to buy a larger HDD, make sure the thickness is not greater than 7mm, or else it will simply not fit. So stick to a 7mm thick 2.5inch HDD.

Grabbing a ThinkPad Yoga with a SSD instead of a HDD will also make the machine feel cooler at the bottom and the palm rest.

The ThinkPad Yoga doesn’t have mSATA and uses a new format: “M2 2242 NGFF (42mm)”. These SSDs are still quite expensive.

Thermals

The ThinkPad Yoga may feel warm at the center of the keyboard near the function keys when being stressed, but shouldn’t feel hot or uncomfortable at all. The ThinkPad Yoga runs cool at all times.

The temperatures are also way below Haswell’s maximum temperature of 100C. Idle temperatures are somewhere between 30C and 40C

With a synthetic load using Prime95, the ThinkPad Yoga’s temperatures didn’t climb above 65-67C

Build quality

The build quality is essentially my favorite part. From all Yoga’s I have had in my hands from Lenovo, the ThinkPad Yoga was my favorite. The ThinkPad Yoga is well-built and doesn’t have any weaknesses anywhere. The hinges seem to be stronger than the other Yoga’s, for example the Yoga 2 Pro. The Yoga hinge is incredibly durable, and even after a year, they still feel as strong as the day I bought them. And not a single scratch anywhere!

The ThinkPad Yoga uses magnesium in its base unit for extra toughness.

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