Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Review: Lenovo’s IdeaPad Yoga 11 is convertible, portable, and…it runs Windows RT

Microsoft’s vice president of Windows planning may be confident that Windows RT is destined for great things, but I—and the rest of the world—have some doubts. The ARM-based operating system has limits (such as the inability to install legacy apps, or apps from outside the Windows Store) that just don’t belong on laptops.

A laptop you'll flip over

And while Lenovo’s $799 IdeaPad Yoga 11 may be trending toward tablet status, it’s still very much a laptop. In fact, the Yoga 11 is much more of a laptop than some of its competitors, such as the Dell XPS 10 and the Asus VivoTab RT. The XPS 10 and the VivoTab RT have detachable keyboard docks, while the Yoga 11 has a more unique form factor: Its keyboard doesn’t detach, but you can flip the entire screen around 360 degrees to have a slate-like experience.

So for all intents and purposes, the Yoga 11 is a laptop, not a tablet, but it’s running a tablet’s operating system. As you can imagine, this creates a few issues: You can’t download a third-party browser, for example, nor can you install some of the older applications you’re used to working with. You’re limited to apps that you can download in the Windows Store, which might not be a great thing considering Windows 8 app development has slowed in recent months. All of this is pretty unfortunate, because the Yoga 11 is an otherwise well-made product with potential as a replacement for your 15-incher and your tablet.

Stylish design, easy to use, and yes, very convertible

The Yoga 11 is the younger, lesser-equipped brother of Lenovo’s IdeaPad Yoga 13, which, as you may remember, I liked…a lot. The Yoga 11 features the same silver-gray rubbery finish, black chiclet-style keyboard, and moderately thick bezel surrounding its smooth glass touchscreen, as its predecessor. Its 11.6-inch capacitive touchscreen has a native resolution of 1366 by 768 pixels, and features bright, crisp colors. It’s a great touchscreen to use, too: accurate, smooth, and as similar to a tablet experience as you’ll get on a laptop. The touch sensitivity appears to extend just beyond the bezel, which makes certain Windows RT gestures (such as swiping from the right side to see the menu) very easy and intuitive.

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