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

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.

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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.

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. 

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

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30 comments
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  • Perfect for business

    If I needed a new business laptop this would be excellent. Makes my current laptop look old school.
    Sean Foley
  • Kick Tyres

    Rock to check suspension.

    Would I choose this over a mac book ?

    Possibly.
    Alan Smithie
  • Laplet

    I think we need a new category of devices: laplets

    These are devices that are too large to be used comfortably as a traditional tablet, but which work well with touch input when you're sitting on the couch with your feet propped up on the coffee table and the device resting against your legs, or lying back on the couch with the bottom edge of the device resting on your stomach. I'd put Microsoft's Surface tablets in this category. Even the RT version is a little too heavy and awkward to comfortably hold in one hand for a long period of time, but it works well in one of the positions I have described (it's how I use mine in the mornings when I come down to read the papers and my favorite sites).
    dsf3g
    • Laplet

      dsf3g, you mention the Surface RT is too heavy. The Surface RT is 1.5lb. Isn't this the same weight for the IPad 1,2,3 and 4 version? Only the new Ipad 5? is 1.0lb. As for awkward to hold, all tablets including the Surface RT can be turn and use on portrait mode. So if you are reading a book or even e-mail you can set it up on portrait mode instead of landscape as any IPad.

      So, what is the difference between an IPad 4 to a Surface RT on portrait mode if both weight the same?
      jazzy2945
      • iPads

        I honestly haven't spent a great deal of time with the various flavors of iPad, but from my limited experience, later iterations of the device were, IHMO, uncomfortably heavy. I also own an ASUS Transformer TF300, and that's a much lighter device that's easy to hold in the hand. It's also very plasticky, and some reviewers complain that it feels "cheap" as a result. My chief complaint with the device is that it feels slow and unresponsive at times. The iPad may be heavy, but Apple has done a beautiful job integrating hardware and software, and in the iPad achieved something that feels more like magic than technology.
        dsf3g
  • Hands on with the Yoga 2 Pro: Windows 8 any way you like it

    Quite the versatile device. Laptop mode for doing work, stand mode when you want to show people applications.
    Loverock.Davidson
  • I will take the i7 model with 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD

    Sweetness
    greywolf7
    • @greywolf

      My son bought one last week with the 256SSD and 8G of Ram. Talk about a sweet convertible. In tablet mode 3lbs IS heavy but as a laptop it is very light to carry around.
      bvonr@...
      • heavy tablet...

        Yet I have carried laptops much heavier than 3lbs with shorter battery life for years and used them on planes and trains etc. so this is a big improvement and tablet mode is perfect on the plane especially when the person in front of you puts their seat back.
        greywolf7
  • My mouth is already watering...

    ...and fingers itching! Can't wait to get my hands on this gorgeous machine! Screen size & resolution, ports, and processor are exactly what I'm looking for. Storage is a bit on the low side but I guess I'll have to live with that. For under $1000 (and hopefully a sweet Black Friday deal), you can't possibly go wrong.
    jaykayess
    • It has more options you can choose

      Including a 512 GB SSD Drive...
      dr_lucas
  • It is the best ultrabook in market

    I have the i7, 256gb version and realize why Lenovo is doing great in a bad PC market. The form, display, keyboard, sound, OS all function amazingly well. Thanks I did not jump to Apple just because of hardware, this one goes circles around it. After using touch+keyboard+mouse for some time it makes real sense of why Microsoft is doing this.
    soulxfer@...
  • Probably the very worst business laptop on earth

    Cite : "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."

    Imagine one of your business critical applications (say SAP) doesn't manage to get along with the resolution. Screwed.
    EnticingHavoc
    • Yet someone else

      Who has never used the Product chimes in based on observations by others. Please try using it yourself before giving us an opinion. You are attempting to "cloudy the waters" based on someone elses observations or veiewpoints. To them the resolution may be an issue, to you and others... it could be different. But yet again, which is typical on ZDNet, we have people chiming in with statements based on someone elses statements. Amazing.
      BruinB88
    • change the resolution

      You know you can change the screen resolution on the fly...
      Or you could run a vm with different resolution at the same time.
      greywolf7
      • Have you tried it

        Change resolution on a non CRT display is not a "pretty" experience. Maybe if we halved the resolution - but what would be the point to put such display?!
        AleMartin
    • That's a valid point

      While 768 lines displays are terrible, I wonder how many applications can be barely usable with such high resolution. It's time for software makers to be very careful about the possibility of very different resolutions.
      This laptop looks very nice, I suppose the tablet mode is almost irrelevant, but at least the price don't go skyrocketing because of it.
      While the price is right, market for over $600 windows laptops must be small, at almost $1000 this device will hardly be a market hit.
      AleMartin
  • Great laptop, mine has a bad display

    I was a big fan of the first Yoga, and this one is much improved. That being said, mine is being replaced because the screen does not display yellow properly, even with calibration software.

    Apparently this is a big problem for many Yoga 2 owners, and the community forum thread about it is around 100 pages long. The estimated arrival time of the replacement is Dec. 30, because they are so backlogged with every model of the Yoga 2. (Maybe because of the initial screen problems.)

    James, your pros and cons were right on target. The other thing I would add is that the new track pad is smaller than the first Yoga model, and requires more effort to click. It is the one feature that has gotten a bit worse, IMHO. The shrinkage is probably unavoidable because the keyboard is located closer to the front, but requiring more effort to click is just their fault.

    Other comments:

    - The backlighting on the keyboard is an excellent addition, and much-needed. However, in the Yoga 3 they need to add the ability to control the brightness of the backlight.
    - The Yoga 2 is quieter than the first Yoga, which tended to spin up its fans loudly very often.
    - I hate the prominent Lenovo logo on the face of the screen. What were they thinking?
    - The face of the screen is much better than the first Yoga, as it is a solid piece of glass, rather than having a plastic chin.
    - The power plug moved to the left side of the laptop this time. (Was previously on the right.) It uses the same exact power brick as last time (which is nice and thin).
    - There is NO second mSata slot inside like the first Yoga, so get the 512GB model if you need that much storage.
    - The memory is not upgradable, so buy what you need.
    - You definitely get more time on battery power with the Yoga 2, thanks to Haswell.
    - The Yoga 2 is more comfortable to hold because the edges are thinner and a bit more rounded.
    - Lenovo still insists on having a USB 2 port, which is beyond comprehension. Why not just put two USB 3 ports on the thing?
    - As James mentioned, the high-DPI screen is fantastic (or at least mine will be when I get my replacement), but it's annoying how many desktop apps don't scale properly. For example, using Remote Desktop is almost comical, as you see everything crystal clear by very tiny.
    - The orange case is not available on the high-end model. :(
    Speednet
    • Yellow is totally back!

      For almost a week now, with the BIOS and Energy Manager update on my new Yoga2Pro, the yellows are back!

      Since, not all applications scale properly yet, I changed the resolution to 1920 x 1080 and tweaked scaling to my liking. Also, installed "classic shell", since I use desktop mode most of the time and now, I don't miss Windows 7 at all.

      With the flexibility and features of Y2P, there is nothing else like it out there for $1000!
      Lad1M
      • Thanks!

        Wow, I'm glad you posted that, because when I updated the BIOS and energy manager, it did help the yellow problem. Did you see advice somewhere to do that?

        Regarding Win 7, I don't miss it a bit. No need for a shell menu for me. I've re-oriented myself completely to Win 8, and I find it very easy to use.
        Speednet