I have had the honor of being a Technology Author for about 3 years now and it has been a blast. I have reviewed app, products, and even done a few editorials. After these 3 years I have learned a few things and have made my share of mistakes along the way. From what I have learned I have decided to start a little segment here on AndroidSPIN called “Writer’s Block”. This is where I will talk about tools that are available to writers from all walks of life and put them through the paces of what I think are a standard in this field. I do not claim to know it all and this is my opinion of a product that I have used personally for a month. This will not be a standard review as I will not be going into great detail about specifications I will use this segment to talk about why this product is a good fit and why I think this is a good tool for a present/future writer.
Now the first official tool I have had the pleasure of using this past month comes from the great folks over at Lenovo. They sent me the Ideapad Yoga 11 Ultrabook for review and I just wanted to thank them for allowing me this great opportunity to review such a great product. As I said I have been using the Lenovo Ideapad Yoga 11 for a month now and during my use I compiled a list of pros and cons that I encountered when using it in the field. To start things off on a positive note I will being with my pros and give you my reasoning in why. Let us begin.
Pro #1: Battery Life
This is the one specification that can make or break a Ultrabook. If the battery blows then you will be doomed to an outlet when you’re on the go or it may just become that laptop that only sees daylight when you are at home. This is not the case with the Lenovo Ideapad Yoga 11. This Yoga lasted me 10+ hours on heavy use and when I just used it to browse the internet I got an easy 13-15 hours on one charge. Needless to say the battery life on this thing is great, this is something that I need when I am on the go. Thankfully this proved true when I used the Yoga 11 at the Facebook press event for their Home launch. As I sat down and powered through some notes on Drive I couldn’t help but laugh while others looked, and in one instance fought, for an outlet to power them through some Tumblr posts.
Charging the Yoga 11 was also fast, I plugged it in for 5 minutes and went from zero to 13%. This helped me out in the best way as it allowed me to get about 6-7 hours of use from a one hour charge. In a press event a quick and rapid charge is necessary to ensure you get the latest info out to your readers.
Like battery life, portability is the second most important feature I looked at when I got the Yoga 11. I knew going in that this would be a light weight laptop so there was no surprise when I felt how light it was in my hands. Weighing in at 2.8 lbs. the Yoga 11 weighs no more than the average textbook, it is also small enough that you can throw it in your bag and go.
When it comes to laptops flexibility isn’t something you really read about in reviews or product descriptions. Most of the laptops out there don’t even fold back a certain point, the Yoga 11 isn’t one of them. This amazing laptop has a unique quality to it and it comes under the guise of a hinge. This however is no ordinary hinge, it is a double jointed hinge. What does this mean? Well it means that the Yoga 11 can fold all the way back and transform into a full-fledged Windows 8 RT tablet. This is a feature that has come in handy more than once but I didn’t find myself using it as much as the tent and V-shape the Yoga 11 can be set in. The tent mode came in handy when watching movies, made it a whole lot easier, while the V-shape made it perfect for using the tablet side of things without having to hold it up. While the flexibility of the Yoga 11 is great I really didn’t use it as much as I thought I would, I kept to the general laptop form.
I have used a variety of different keyboards but the one on the Yoga 11 is perfect for me. It is wide enough that I can type as I normally would on a full-fledged keyboard yet small enough that it allows me to have a good size trackpad towards the bottom. This is the best keyboard I have used on such a small laptop and frankly it has set the standard to which I will compare all my other reviews.
So many convertible laptops out there usually have one USB port and that’s it. Thankfully the Yoga 11 isn’t one of them. This convertible powerhouse has two USB ports, a full-sized HDMI port, and a SD Card port as well. It also has a headphone jack but that is universal among all electronics now a days so nothing really special there. Also this isn’t really a port but they also included Bluetooth which I always seem to find lacking in computers, I thought it was great that Lenovo went that extra step.
If I had to use one word to describe the screen on the Yoga 11 it would be great. The 11.6 inch screen on the Yoga 11 is great because not only does it double as a touch screen it also has the edge-to-edge design going for it. It is easy on the eyes which is perfect for those night time typing and web surfing sessions but powerful enough to be visible in direct sunlight. The touchscreen is responsive and makes using the Yoga in tablet mode a joy, I can’t say I found myself using it that much as, again, I stuck mainly to the traditional laptop form of the Yoga 11.
Despite all of the positive features of the Yoga 11 there were some faults that I encountered during my use. So let me start off the cons list here.
Con#1 Image Burn:
This first con isn’t really a deal breaker for me, it was more of an annoyance. I spent many hours typing up articles on the Yoga 11 and during this period of writing I would be switching between the browser and Word. It was during this switching that I noticed the image burn (image above top left corner). As you can see in the image above it was pretty bad, the burn would stay there for up to 10 minutes at some points and while it didn’t hinder me from using the Yoga 11 it was a bit of an annoyance to see when I switched over to the Windows panel.
Con#2 Windows RT:
Now this con has nothing to do with the hardware of the Yoga 11 it is about the Windows system. The Yoga 11 runs Windows RT, basically a lighter and less power consuming version of Windows 8. This is part of the reason why the Yoga 11 can last so long on a single charge but this is also the reason why I struggled with it in the beginning. You see since this is Windows RT it doesn’t play well with some services, in this case a simple G+ Hangout. This was frustrating to me as the Yoga 11 has a built in camera but I can’t use it with G+, this isn’t the fault of the hardware but of Windows RT. The OS is a problem but that is with Microsoft not Lenovo all in all they had no choice and this is what worked best with the Yoga 11, so I forgive them.
Con# 3 Tegra 3:
Now this is more about the performance issue that I experienced from time to time. Since the Yoga 11 is powered by a Tegra 3 processor it has two different sides to it. The first side is the amazing battery life it can give the Yoga 11 (10+ Hours) the downside is the slow performance. The thing that took the biggest thing was browsing, every time I went to any site there was a delay in loading the page, I had to wait an extra 20 seconds to click, zoom, or scroll on the page. There was also the boot up time, the Yoga 11 took about 30 seconds to boot and in a world of faster and more powerful machines a boot time is starting to become an important time. This again wasn’t really a problem for me as I usually had the machine on in a sleep state so it would always be ready to go.
Now may be the best time as any to pick up the Lenovo Yoga 11 as, according to Lenovo.com, the Yoga 11 is on sale for $549 after e-coupon. It seems Lenovo lowered the price in order to make room for the new 11s line. However this deal maybe short lived as the Yoga 13 and Yoga 11s are a great step up for the Yoga 11. The 13 and 11s have an impressive variety of processor choices starting from the Intel 3rd Generation i3 all the way up to the i7 and both offer the full Windows 8 experience. The Yoga 13 and 11s can also be expanded to a 256 SSD and can have up to 8GB of RAM installed. So while the Yoga 11 is on sale I’d suggest going for the new 11s or 13 you get great hardware choices and great battery life. Amazon also offers the Yoga 11 but the prices are the same you maybe be able to get that 2-day shipping which should save you some cash as well.
After a month of using the Lenovo Ideapad Yoga 11 I can honestly say that I would recommend this to others who are looking for a great convertible that can roll easily last them an entire day. The only real downside I had with the Yoga 11 is the fact that it is running Windows RT. I didn’t really have much that I could do with it and felt a bit limited during my use. I couldn’t even install the Google Chrome browser and had to settle for IE10, which was a painful experience in itself. Despite Windows RT I believe it is a great choice for a tech writer on the go, be it at a press conference or convention you can rest assured that the Lenovo Ideapad Yoga 11 can power through it all.