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First Look: Haswell i7 Lenovo Yoga 2 multimode ultrabook

updated 07:50 pm EST, Mon November 18, 2013

Does the multi-position convertible device impress?

At the turn of this century, then-Microsoft CEO Bill Gates tried -- and failed -- to anoint the convertible slate-PC as the "next big thing" in computing. Following the slow burnout -- hampered mostly by bad design -- the form factor wallowed in obscurity for years until Steve Jobs took the stage in 2010, using one of his last keynotes to show off the iPad. Since then, the small, flat tablet form factor has reshaped the computing landscape, with a variety of manufacturers pushing out devices running everything from custom OSes like iOS and Windows RT to a reincarnation of the slate, running Windows 8. Electronista is in the process of evaluating the new Lenovo Yoga 2.

The Yoga 2 Pro is thinner and lighter than the original Yoga, measuring just 0.61-inches thick (15.1mm) and weighing in at 3.06 pounds. It is also powered by the latest Intel Core i7 Haswell ULV chips, running Windows 8.1 - and it incorporates storage options up to a 512GB SSD and 8GB of DDR3L RAM. The Yoga Pro 2 also supports Intel WiDi for wireless streaming to TVs, boasts Dolby Home Theater v4 for audio, and is claimed to offer up to nine hours of battery life.

The notebook, taking after its name, can flex into four different positions including notebook, tablet, stand and tent. It also features a new smart capability called Yoga Picks that works like a concierge to suggest suitable apps based upon the device's mode. In tablet mode, for example, the tablet will suggest apps like the Zinio e-reader, or sketching app Fresh Paint in tent mode. It also incorporates a new backlit keyboard, and comes in a new signature Gray or Clementine Orange.

So far, we've been fairly pleased with the Yoga 2. The i7 Haswell processor makes light work of most tasks we've thrown at it, and as a bonus, doesn't seem to scald our lap area. The power-sipping that the Haswell line excels at serves the Yoga 2 well, with about seven hours of battery life as a realistic "real world" result in normal use.

The elephant in the room is the keyboard on the tablet. Older slates had a sophisticated rotate and fold mechanism, which broke more often than not. The Yoga 2 just opens all the way, with the (deactivated) keyboard and trackpad now adorning the back of the device. When the user handles the device, the fingers seem to naturally scrape across the keyboard, and so far, it just isn't a natural feeling. This may be surmountable with time, however.

The screen was a delight to use. Windows 8 and 8.1 do a good job of maximizing the use of the crisp display, and Acrobat did as well. This tablet/laptop hybrid, at 13 inches, is an excellent 8.5x11-inch document reader without a reduction in size mandated by most 9.5-inch devices. The high resolution keeps resizable text crisp for native documents, though it doesn't save lower-rez online pictures and text.

So far, the biggest issue we're having with the device isn't Lenovo's fault at all. Windows 8 is simply suboptimal in portrait mode, with a lot of unused real-estate. This isn't a problem when actively using Adobe Reader or other such applications, but the ex-Metro style desktop isn't a great fit on this -- or any other -- portrait-oriented device.

We're still a few weeks away from the full review of the device, which will further address benchmarking, battery life, and other aspects of typical use. Devices like the Yoga are very user-experience oriented, and we will be addressing what we feel are good use-cases for it as well.

By Electronista Staff
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