Windows 8 Hardware 2.0 from Lenovo

Windows 8 Hardware 2.0 from Lenovo

Summary: The latest systems from Lenovo continue the experimentation in system design that Windows 8 inspired. If they haven't gotten it right yet, they will eventually.


By combining tablet and PC functions into one operating system, Microsoft put some pressure on OEMs to innovate in system design. Windows 8, as the plan still goes, redefines tablets as PCs and set the OEMs on a quest for the perfect combination of both. Examples include the Microsoft Surface and Surface Pro and the Lenovo Yoga.

Perhaps it was too much to expect of PC OEMs to get a transition like Windows 8 right the first time. Now we're beginning to see the second generation emerge in time for the holiday season.

Below, behold the new Yoga 2 Pro. Like the original Yoga, it looks and works like a conventional notebook, but flip the display all 360 degrees around and it becomes a tablet. In this mode the keyboard shuts off and it's meant to be used purely for the touch screen.

The Yoga 2 Pro in "Tent" mode.

Lenovo likes to point out the other positions into which the Yoga bends, appropriate to a variety of circumstances. The "tent mode" above might work well for watching a video.

See also: Lenovo doubles down on convertible PC bet; Yoga-tizes lineup

The downside to the Yoga approach is that, as a tablet, it's kind of big and heavy. This may not be a problem, or it may be one you can work with, given the ease with which you can transform it back into a real notebook.

And Lenovo makes real notebooks, some of the best there are. I'm typing this on a ThinkPad X201, about the 7th or 8th Thinkpad I've had and probably the best computer I've ever owned. I've been excited about what the company can come up with for Windows 8, and nobody has experimented more freely.

They've avoided the Surface-style clip-on keyboard, but they have these other designs in addition to the Yoga:

Thrown up against the Lenovo wall; what's sticking? Clockwise from top-left: The new Flex 20; the new Flex 14; the Lynx, released several months ago; and the Thinkpad Twist, also released some time ago.

 The top 2 are newly-announced; the bottom 2 were announced with the original Windows 8 release. Lenovo calls the Flex 20 an AIO (all-in-one) system, but it looks more like a big tablet with accessories to me. The Flex 14 flips 300 degrees for a stand mode (there's also a Flex 15 with a 15.6 inch display).

When I first saw the Lynx I fell in love. Surely this was the optimal design for the hybrid/dual mode system. I got to test it briefly and it broke my heart; both test units I received had problems and the keyboard felt cheap, and certainly not up to Lenovo standards. They haven't done a 2.0 of the Lynx, but I hope they do fix it.

The Twist is a notebook with a screen that can swivel 360 degrees and flip 180 degrees.

It's worth noting that nearly all of these computers, including a series of more conventional notebooks released Tuesday by Lenovo, have touch screens, at least as an option. This is a general trend, I believe with substantial Microsoft effort behind it.

Of all of the designs I've seen so far, the Yoga and Surface seem like the best ones. I'm not claiming that those are the best, or even good implementations of the design. The main point is that both can be used as tablets or notebooks and are fully portable as both.

Lenovo has gotten the 13 inch Yoga a bit lighter (1.5kg for the first Yoga, 1.39kg for the new one), although it's actually a millimeter or two thicker.

I'm still a believer in the dual-mode/hybrid tablet/notebook computer. When I use a computer I generally need to type, so a tablet doesn't do the job, and having to carry both around causes more problems than it solves for me.


Topics: Tablets, Laptops, Windows 8

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  • This is not a convertible or a hybrid.

    This is a laptop with a lid that bends more than the normal.
    With the keyboard always there, as a tablet is terrible, the tent position seems almost irrelevant.
    Displays are finally getting hi-res, but the price is just too high. IMO a "real" tablet and cheaper laptop are better option and probably cheaper.

    I believe Asus transformer alike and surface already have the best solutions for hybrids.
    • There is no one best design

      Some people will be better suited with two devices to meet their needs and others will find the convertables or detactables a better solution for their needs.
      • It is all about the touch

        I was at the meeting recently and two had new Lenovo and one had a Sony Duo. I watched from the side as both crossed swords with their new toys. I have an old Surface Pro so no one cared. The winner was because of the touch display. I did not realize it before but noticed during the fight that Sony uses the Wacom system the same as Surface Pro. Using Microsoft OneNote with a pen the Yoga failed miserably. From now on I will look for the Wacom touch before buying a tablet.
  • Microsoft needs a 7" Windows RT tablet

    Actually, I think this is a workable design, and even a relatively big, heavy tablet like this is perfectly usable on the couch propped up against your knee, or in bed with one edge resting on your stomach. But if Microsoft really wants to make a go of the tablet thing we're also going to need to see some thin and light Windows RT devices similar in size to a Nexus 8 or an iPad mini. These are the perfect size to whip out in the Airport and hold in one hand while you're waiting for your flight to board and want to check your e-mail or read the paper. I've got a surface RT and a Nexus 7 and that pretty much describes how I use the devices.
    • I'd prefer a 7-8" Windows 8 Baytrail device instead.

      I like RT, but Baytrail providers more opportunities than ARM processors do without sacrificing battery life.
    • Microsoft needs a 7" Windows RT tablet

      There is a 8 inch tablet set for release with Windows 8.1 when 8.1 is released in October. I can't recall who is making it (ASUS, maybe?), but for the small size I assume it will be RT. Anyone know for sure more details on that product release? I have a 10 inch Windows 8 tablet running the preview version of Windows Pro 8.1 and it's the perfect size for what I use it for, but a smaller one would be a nice addition for the needs of others.
  • Choice

    There are enough consumers out there for multiple forms. My wife was curious about the Surface until she saw how "small" it is. The Lenovo Yoga got her interest because it has a larger screen. When you move your computer rarely (between rooms a few times during the week, and to another building every now and then), a larger computer is not a concern. One advantage of the Yoga is that while it is an unfamiliar design, it is very elegant. Clunky designs (swivel screens, plug-into-a-huge-base tablets) disqualify themselves by their mere appearance for plenty of people.
  • I agree on the Lynx

    I have one, in addition to the HP Envy X2 I am typing this on using the virtual keyboard. I love the Lynx tablet, I did not get the keyboard for it as it had terrible reviews and the Lynx was for my wife so she would stop asking for mine. The hardware is about the same for each tablet but the Lynx has no outward facing camera but does feels much lighter in my hand. My X2 has a slot in the tablet for a micro SD card they say can be up to 32GB but mine won't read a 32GB class 10 card, that reads in the Lynx, and both our desktops, but the X2 will read a class 4 16GB micro card. It has another battery in the dock, as well as another 64GB full size SD card slot on the dock along with HDMI and Full size USB slots. The full size slot does read the class 10 64 GB card I bought for it. Both suffer from slower than average WiFi adapters. My HP freezes up often and must be restarted with a continual press of the power button and needed the motherboard replaced under warranty for charging issues. Still freezes.

    I think that gen two needs to be a 4GB tablet, faster WiFi, and the same weight to entice me to upgrade. The X2 replaces a high end laptop and netbook, as well as an Android tablet for me. Quite frugal if high end gaming or engineering is not needed.

    I think the 11.6 light tablet with battery equipped keyboard dock and second Card slot are the way to go for a majority. Or at least for me.
  • Hopefully the Yoga 11

    will get some upgrade love.
    Higher Res Screen with Gen 4 processor in Clementine Orange would be the ticket.
  • Almost, but not quite, what I need

    Surely I can't be alone: I want something I can take handwritten notes on, as well type on. This means a tablet WITH A DIGITISER and a keyboard that detaches or folds away. The screen needs to be at least A4 / US letter. That equates to about a 14.5" screen. Anything less is just not big enough for serious pen work. A 15.6" screen would be perfect.

    Believe it or not, the slimmest possible design or the lightest possible weight are NOT priorities for me. Rather, I want a solid, FULL WORKING DAY (plus an hour or two in the evening) battery life, and I'd happily put up with a bit more weight or thickness to get that.

    Windows 8 (not RT) is essential, as I want to run numerous traditional (desktop) programs, and realistically it'll have to have one of the new 4th gen Intel CPUs.

    Why can't I buy such a thing? There must be zillions of professionals who would love something exactly like this.
  • You might want to check out

    Lenovo's ThinkPad Helix. What's not to love?
    David G. Hendrickson
    • The screen...

      What's not to love? The teeny little 11.6" screen. 3rd gen CPU. Battery life too short.