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Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro

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What's Hot: Great value, fantastic QHD+ display, solid backlit keyboard, extremely versatile design. Slim and light.

What's Not: The keyboard rests on your table or lap in tablet and presentation modes, single band WiFi, only one USB 3.0 port.

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Reviewed November 20, 2013 by , Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)

The Lenovo Yoga 13 was likely the most successful Windows 8 convertible tablet-Ultrabook to hit the market last fall. It was versatile, reasonably priced and had solid features. A barrage of convertibles later, and the Yoga looks a little long in the tooth, and that's why we have the Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro for the late fall of 2013. It's the newer, better and fresher Yoga that lives under Lenovo's IdeaPad line. With the Yoga 2 Pro, Lenovo takes a winning product and makes it better with a still reasonable price tag, Intel Haswell CPUs, an improved keyboard and a phenomenal 13.3", 3200 x 1800 touch screen. $1,000 for a 1.6GHz Core i5 with 4 gigs of RAM and a 128 gig SSD AND a 3200 x 1800 display? Nice. Lenovo will soon bring the Yoga to the ThinkPad line with the ThinkPad Yoga, for those who want every ounce of business goodness and a digital pen, but that will cost more and have a 12.5" display vs. the 13.3" panel on the Yoga 2 Pro.

Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro

Design and Ergonomics

The Yoga 2 Pro has the same sturdy 360 degree dual hinge design as last year's model and that's a very good thing: it's a laptop, a tablet and a few things in between courtesy of presentation and tent modes. The 2 Pro is lighter at 3.06 lbs. and it sports Lenovo's new tapered design so it's a little thinner at the front. To be honest I still love the old journal or book look, but tapered is trendy and makes the machine look more svelte. As with last year's model and some IdeaPad U series models, the Yoga 2 Pro is available in gray or our beloved clementine orange. The interior and sides are matte black with a grippy soft touch finish, while the exterior has a more subtle texture. Lenovo added a rubberized edge coating so the tablet would stand up with better grip in tent mode. The lid and bottom panels are clad in UV soft touch paint.

For the price, you won't get a classy metal casing that competes with the MacBook Air or Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus. Fair enough. If you press the lid, the plastic and metal composite (magnesium and aluminum) materials will flex and dip, but the frame is extremely rigid, and that means it won't torsion if you grab the notebook and twist it. The look isn't insanely sexy either, but this isn't meant to be a seductively gorgeous brushed aluminum Sony Vaio Flip 13 or the Gorilla Glass clad Acer Aspire S7: it's about solid value and features for your money.

The Yoga 2 pro has two USB ports, but only one is USB 3.0 (remember that value rather than high line lecture I just gave you). It has a micro HDMI port rather than a full size port, likely due to the new tapered design, a 3.5mm combo audio jack and an SDXC card slot (a card will stick half way out of the slot when inserted). The power button is on the side for easy access in tablet mode and there are volume controls on the side as well as on the top row of the keyboard. Fit and finish are good and this is a well made product.

Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro

The bottom panel is easy to remove once you've unscrewed several tiny TORX screws (all in plain view rather than hidden under rubber feet). RAM is not upgradable but you could replace the standard mSATA SSD or the wireless card that uses the newer NGFF connector rather than mini PCIe (make sure you buy the right card if you do wish to upgrade the pedestrian single band Intel 802.11n WiFi-Bluetooth 4.0 combo card).

Stereo speakers with Dolby audio fire from the bottom of the Ultrabook and my goodness they're loud and full. Though bass doesn't quite reach the shockingly good levels of the Samsung ATIV Book 9 and 9 Plus, the Yoga 2 Pro is still one of the best sounding Ultrabooks on the market. It handily beats Sony's 13" offerings that sound shrill in comparison.

Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro

 

Deals and Shopping:

 

Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro Video Review

 

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga vs. Yoga 2 Pro Comparison Smackdown

 

Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus vs. Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro Comparison Smackdown

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Keyboard and Trackpad

The signature smile shaped keys and good tactile feel make this every bit a Lenovo keyboard, though travel is shorter compared to bigger IdeaPad and ThinkPad models. The key tops are a bit slick and glossy, but we love the damped feel and quiet sound from the keys. The good news is that Lenovo added white backlighting, so typing in dim places isn't a terror. You can turn backlighting and off using the Fn and spacebar keys, so you're not at the mercy of a flakey ambient light sensor. To use multimedia keys on the top row, simply press them: there's no need to hit the Fn key first. The large trackpad is responsive and well behaved, as we've come to expect from Lenovo.

QHD+ Display

When the Yoga 2 Pro started shipping a few weeks ago, early adopters with keen eyes noted that yellows looked more like dull mustard. Lenovo has already released a BIOS update and Energy Manager update that remedies this, and we expect future shipments will have the new firmware and software pre-installed. After the fix, yellows look more normal, though a trained graphics pro might find them slightly off. Other colors continue to render properly with the update, so you've got a display with rich colors that's perfect for watching movies, viewing photos and editing them too.

This is a superb 13.3" QHD+ display that's made by Samsung and is in fact the same panel used in Samsung's flagship Ultrabook, the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus. Some folks call the PLS display PenTile, but that's really a term used for Samsung Super AMOLED displays used in smartphones. This is not Super AMOLED, it's PLS which is akin to IPS and it has IPS' level of viewing angles and clean whites. The display has the same very wide color gamut that achieves 97% of sRGB and 75% of Adobe RGB as measured by our Datacolor Spyder 4 Pro monitor calibrator (after the display firmware update). That places the Yoga 2 pro in the rarified company of the ATIV Book 9 Plus, Sony Vaio Pro 13, Sony Vaio Flip 13 and Vaio Duo 13 for the best color gamut on a touchscreen Ultrabook. Brightness is also excellent at 350 nits, though you'll have to disable Windows' auto-brightness to get full brightness. Contrast is very good and it puts the IdeaPad U430 Touch and other TN panels to shame.

The display resolution sounds insanely high and it is. Thankfully, the laptop ships with Windows 8.1, which handles display scaling better. It defaults to 200% zoom that makes for razor sharp text and icons that are a manageable size. Not all applications respect Windows scaling, for example Adobe Photoshop has quite small menu text at full resolution. MS Office and Metro apps respect scaling and look great. Chrome is hit or miss, and if you find text is too tiny, enter chrome://flags in the URL bar and enable high DPI features for a much better experience. When we first received the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus a few months ago, I wondered if the crazy high resolution wasn't more than a marketing trick. Particularly with Windows 8.1, I can tell you it's not: everything looks sharper and 13.3" full HD displays' text now looks a little fuzzy to me after using QHD+ for a few months.

The display supports 10 points of multi-touch but it is not an active digitizer. No Wacom, no N-Trig... no active digital pen of any kind. If you're an artist or avid note taker, this isn't your machine. You can use a capacitive stylus but those are thick, imprecise and don't offer palm rejection. If you do need a digital pen, consider the Microsoft Surface Pro 2, the aging Asus Taichi, Sony Vaio Flip or Sony Vaio Duo 13. Lenovo will have a Wacom pen option for the ThinkPad Yoga, but we don't yet know when that will be available.

Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro

Quiet and Smooth Operator

The Lenovo is quiet and cool for productivity work and even streaming an hour of HD video didn't get it hot and bothered. The machine has two fans, but we rarely heard them when working in MS Word or browsing the web. They kick in from time to time when working with big Photoshop RAW files or editing video, but they're neither loud nor annoyingly high pitched (ahem, noisy Sony Vaio Flip 13). The laptop never exceeded human body temperature, and was comfortable for lap use. If you play Civ V or Warcraft the fans will ramp up, but the same is true of all thin and light laptops.

Performance and Horsepower

The Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro ships with 4th generation Intel Haswell CPUs. These are ULV U series CPUs commonly used on Ultrabooks and not the slightly slower and lower power Y series CPUs used in the Yoga 11s and Sony Vaio Tap 11. You can order the Yoga 2 Pro with your choice of Core i3, i5 and i7 CPUs, and we generally recommend the Core i5. Why? The Core i3 lacks Turbo Boost and the i7 doesn't add much in terms of performance. Our unit has the usual 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-4200U with 4 gigs of DDR3L RAM and a 128 SSD drive. You can order it with 8 gigs of RAM or a larger SSD if you wish. RAM is soldered on board so you can't upgrade it later. The SSD is fairly easy to upgrade and it's the common mSATA drive used in many Ultrabooks. For the price, you won't get the newer and faster PCIe SSD interface; the Yoga 2 Pro is strictly mSATA.

Performance falls just where we'd expect from a Haswell Core i5 and the machine's dual channel RAM gives a little graphics boost since integrated graphics uses system RAM for graphics memory. As with most Ultrabooks, there's no dedicated graphics option, but the Intel HD 4400 is good enough for smooth Photoshop work, light CAD work and 3D gaming at modest settings for games like Civ V and WoW. Casual and Metro games are no problem at high settings, but forget Battlefield 4 on mid or high settings: Ultrabooks aren't gaming rigs.

Benchmarks

(1.6 GHz Intel Core i5-4200U, 8 gigs RAM and 128 gig SSD)

PCMark 7: 4737

3DMark 11: P887

wPrime: 22.96 sec.

PCMark 7 Benchmark Comparison Table

Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro 4737
Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga (Core i5) 4769
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2014) 5028
Sony Vaio Flip 13 4434
Dell XPS 12 (Core i5, Haswell) 4889
Asus Zenbook UX301 5828
Lenovo Flex 14 4434
Sony Vaio Duo 13 (Core i7) 4800
Sony Vaio Pro 13 (Core i5 Haswell) 4549
Sony Vaio Duo 11 (1.7GHz Core i5) 4772
Samusng ATIV Book 9 Plus 5050
Acer Aspire S7 (Core i7-4500U) 5075
Asus Transformer Book TX300 4495
Acer Aspire R7 3981
Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A Touch (Core i5) 4670
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 (Core i5, 3rd gen) 4427
Asus Taichi 21 (Core i7) 4952
Microsoft Surface Pro 2 4905

CrystalDiskMark SSD Scores

crystaldiskmark results

 

Wireless

The Yoga 2 Pro is an IdeaPad, and thus it suffers the IdeaPad curse: single band 2.4GHz WiFi. It's a decent Intel N-7260 802.11n adapter with Bluetooth 4.0, but we continue to lament the lack of 5GHz band on Lenovo's IdeaPad products. For $1,000 and up, we should get dual band WiFi 802.11n like other Ultrabooks in this price range. Why am I making such a big deal of this? Because Bluetooth also uses the 2.4GHz band, and sometimes Bluetooth peripherals like mice and speakers can cause network glitches or drops. Some colleges now require laptops with dual band WiFi in their recommended specs for students. 802.11n with dual band is faster than single band WiFi. Now that we've complained, 2.4GHz travels a longer distance than 5GHz and that means you'll likely get farther from your router before things get dicey. Overall we had good reception, though our Bluetooth speakers did indeed cause occasional pauses in streaming HD video playback.

Battery Life

The convertible has a 4 cell, 54 Whr Lithium Ion polymer battery that's sealed inside. If you remove the bottom cover, you'll discover it's not that hard to replace should it die of old age in a few years, but it's not designed to pop in and out easily. Lenovo rates the battery at 9 hours for productivity with WiFi off and 6 hours for video playback with the display set to 150 nits of brightness (350 is max brightness). In our tests with WiFi on and brightness set to 50%, the machine lasted 6.3 hours in a mix of MS Office, email, social networking, web browsing using IE and streaming an hour episode via Netflix. We went with the standard balanced power configuration and disabled auto-brightness. If you use a low power plan and reduce brightness, you could hit 7 hours of use. The Yoga 2 Pro has runtimes that are similar to the Haswell Acer Aspire S7, Sony Vaio Pro 13 and Vaio Flip 13, but falls short of the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus, Sony Vaio Duo 13 and the 13" MacBook Air.

The Lenovo ships with a slim charger and it uses their newer rectangular charging connector and port that are color coded yellow so you don't mistake it for USB. The laptop charges quickly and it's compatible with higher watt chargers such as the ThinkPad X1 Carbon charger.

Conclusion

Lenovo has another hit with the IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro. I honestly hope they can make enough of them, because inventory constraints are likely the only thing that could hold sales back. At 3 pounds, this slim Ultrabook is easy to take anywhere, and it's one of the few designs that can be all things to all people: laptop, tablet, presentation machine and a few things in between. Only the Sony Vaio Flip 13 and Dell XPS 12 beat the Yoga design, but some will prefer the Yoga's sturdy hinges to the thin flipping lid on the Vaio. The Yoga 2 Pro offers undeniable value and you get a couple of very high end features like the QHD+ display and backlit keyboard for your money. In terms of looks and materials, you won't confuse this with the high end offerings from Apple, Samsung, Asus and Acer, but it is well put together and durable. Our only real complaints are the single USB 3.0 port and single band WiFi, which show a little corner cutting to keep the price down.

Website: www.lenovo.com

Price: $999 for the Core i5, 4 gigs RAM and 128 gig SSD, higher configurations available at higher prices.

Related Reviews:

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga Review

Lenovo Yoga 2 13 Review

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2014) Review

Lenovo ThinkPad Helix Review

Sony Vaio Flip 13 Review

Lenovo Flex 14 Review

Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus Review

Asus Zenbook UX301 Review

Acer Aspire R7 Review

Microsoft Surface Pro 2 Review

Sony Vaio Pro 13 Review

Sony Vaio Duo 13 Review

Dell XPS 12 Review

 

Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro

 

Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro

 

Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro

 

Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro

 

Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro

 

Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro

 

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Specs:

Display: 13.3", QHD+ 3200 x 1800 PLS glossy display with 10 point multi-touch. Intel HD 4400 integrated graphics. Micro HDMI port.

Battery: 54 Whr, 4 cell Lithium Ion rechargeable.

Performance: 4th generation Intel Haswell CPUs, Core i3, Core i5-4200U and i7-4500U available (all dual core, Turbo Boost on all but i3). 4 or 8 gigs of DDR3l RAM soldered on motherboard (not upgradable). 128 or 256 gig mSATA SSD drive.

Size: 12.99 x 8.66 x .61 inches. Weight: 3.06 pounds.

Camera: 720p webcam.

Audio: Built-in stereo speakers with Dolby audio, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone-mic jack.

Networking: Integrated Intel N-7260 single band WiFi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0.

Software: Windows 8.1 64 bit. Lenovo recovery utilities, Energy Manager and bundled Metro apps.

Expansion and Ports: Two USB ports, 1 USB 3.0 and 1 USB 2.0. Micro HDMI, 3.5mm combo audio and SDXC card slot.

 

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