The Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 is one of the most eye-catching touchscreen Windows 8 hybrid Ultrabooks at launch. It looks much like a slimmed down IdeaPad U310 and it shares the same metal casing and elegant book design. But open it up and... well keep opening it up. It has a pair 360 degree hinges that allow you to transform it into a table-top all in one of sorts or a pure tablet. Nifty. The 360 degree hinge is fascinating, but unlike the older and once more common swivel hinge found on previous Windows convertible tablets and Lenovo's upcoming ThinkPad Twist, it means the keyboard faces down and contacts the table or your lap when used in tablet or presentation mode. The keyboard automatically turns off when the Yoga 13 isn't in standard laptop position, as does the trackpad, but it's a little disconcerting to hold a computer by its keys.
The Yoga 13 runs full Windows 8 Pro, so you get the new Modern UI with Live Tiles and the desktop with ability to run Windows 7 apps. Yes, you can install software from your CDs and DVDs like MS Office, Photoshop and games like Left4Dead 2. The machine runs on Intel ULV third generation CPUs, and we have the Core i5-3317U running at 1.7GHz. It's also available with a Core i3 and Core i7 CPU. It has 4 gigs of DDR3 RAM (you can order it with 8) and a 128 gig SSD drive (256 gigs also available). The Yoga 13 benchmarked well on PCMark 7: 4417 and it's a fast and responsive machine that can handle MS Office, web, email, social networking and moderate Photoshop use. Like most Ultrabooks, it has Intel HD 4000 graphics.
Lenovo wisely is using high quality displays with their new touchscreen Windows 8 machines. The Yoga 13 has an excellent 13.3" IPS display running at 1600 x 900. It supports multi-touch and capacitive styli like the iPad but not an active digital pen like the ThinkPad X230t or Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1. The resolution feels like a good match for the screen size with sharp text and images that don't look the least bit pixilated. Love it!
The keyboard is typical Lenovo: excellent. It has great tactile feel, good key spacing and a roomy island design. The only thing we miss? Backlighting. Likewise the large Synaptics trackpad performs well and supports Windows 8's multi-touch gestures without a hitch. Of course, you can simply touch the screen rather than using the trackpad. Nice to have the choice.