Hands on with the Yoga 2 Pro: Windows 8 any way you like it

Summary:Windows 8.1 is designed to work on all types of PCs including laptops and tablets. The Yoga 2 Pro lets you use Windows in both of those configurations.

Yoga 2 Pro four modes
Yoga 2 Pro Images: Lenovo

When Lenovo released the Yoga 13 convertible notebook a year ago it was a unique ultrabook with four possible configurations. The Yoga could start as a laptop, open into a kiosk mode, and end up as a tablet. It did all of these fairly well but was too heavy in tablet mode, as I reported in my review at the time. 

The company was listening to those complaints and has released the Yoga 2 Pro. The refreshed model is thinner and lighter than that first generation laptop. Lenovo managed to put powerful Haswell technology inside while shrinking the Yoga 2 Pro, and keeping the price roughly the same.

Hardware specifications as reviewed:

  • Processor: Intel Core i5 1.6 GHz (Haswell)
  • Memory: 4 GB
  • Display: 13.3-inch IPS, 3200 x 1800, 350 Nits, 10-point multitouch
  • OS: Windows 8.1
  • Storage: 128 GB SSD
  • Camera: 720p webcam
  • Ports: 1-USB 3.0, 1-USB 2.0, audio combo, microHDMI, 2-in-1 SD/MMC card reader
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Battery: 9 hours
  • Dimensions: 330 x 220 x 15.5 mm (12.99 x 8.66 x 0.61")
  • Weight: 1.39 kg (3.06 lb)
Yoga 2 Pro laptop mode
Image: Lenovo

Laptop use

Lenovo is expert at making good laptops and the Yoga2 Pro is no exception. The thinner form is a nice size for a 13.3-inch model and the keyboard is a good one which is typical for Lenovo products. The keyboard has acquired backlighting, something missing on the last generation model.

The trackpad is nice and slippery, making it easy to use. It is a decent size and handles multi-touch gestures nicely.

Both the keyboard and trackpad are automatically disabled when the screen passes 180 degrees, but it feels quite strange gripping the keyboard in tablet mode.

The touch screen on the Yoga 2 Pro is very responsive and feels good to use. The special hinge sets it apart from most notebooks with 360 degrees of motion. This makes it possible to use in what Lenovo calls tent mode, which is the unit sitting on a surface in an inverted V configuration. It can also be positioned with the keyboard face down and the display open in a kiosk mode. Lenovo calls this stand mode. Positioning the display flat under the keyboard is the tablet mode.

Lenovo lists battery life up to 9 hours and while I haven't had time to verify that's what I've seen from Haswell processors like the Core i5 in the Yoga 2 Pro. The battery is sealed and is not user replaceable.

System performance is nice and snappy due to the Haswell processor. Touch operation is very fluid and apps load fast and run smoothly.

The display in the notebook is super hi-res (3200x1800) and is gorgeous. Colors pop on the screen and text is nice and crisp. The resolution makes it necessary to blow up screen controls to be usable. I have it set to scale the Windows desktop up 250 percent.

This high resolution can give some apps fits, as they display text too small to be usable. Apps with font size settings can deal with this but some apps have a set font size with no way to enlarge text.

Yoga 2 Pro tablet mode
Image: Lenovo

Tablet use

While I am not a fan of convertibles like the Yoga 2 Pro as they are heavy in tablet mode, the reduced weight over the first generation makes it a better fit. The long, narrow display is a bit odd as a tablet, but those wanting a bigger tablet won't be disappointed.

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The strangest thing about tablet use is that when the screen is rotated to form the tablet, the keyboard is totally exposed on the bottom of the unit. Both the keyboard and trackpad are automatically disabled when the screen passes 180 degrees, but it feels quite strange gripping the keyboard in tablet mode. I would have concerns that holding the keys underneath the unit would affect their operation over time, but I have no reason to believe that would happen. It's more a fact of how weird it feels to be gripping a keyboard.

Conclusion

The Yoga 2 Pro is a really good laptop that can be used in the three other modes when needed. The stand mode is good for watching videos and making presentations on the fly, although it is strange to set the unit down on the exposed keyboard. The tent mode can also be used for watching videos or for using the Yoga as a tablet propped up. The tablet mode is useful but due to the size and weight, it's likely to be used with the unit set down on the lap or a flat surface.

The Yoga 2 Pro is for those looking for a great laptop that can do occasional tablet duty. It is available from Lenovo and major retailers for just under $1,000. 

See related: 

Topics: Mobility, Laptops, Lenovo, Tablets, Windows 8

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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