Use it as a laptop or a tablet; the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 works great either way, experts say. With good Ultrabook performance and a sturdy build, it's a top choice for a lightweight laptop.
Solid speed, battery life. "A pretty normal machine that does wacky things with its hinge," is how TheVerge.com describes the Lenovo Yoga. Indeed, the Yoga posts very normal Ultrabook performance numbers in tests. You can start with a third-generation Intel Core i3 processor, 4 GB of RAM and 128 GB solid-state drive and step up as high as Core i7 and 8 GB of RAM, which will be fine for anything but heavy-duty gaming. Battery life is also average, five to six hours in most tests. While most users report no issues, some complaints of Wi-Fi problems surface at Amazon.com and elsewhere. No Haswell upgrade has been announced for the Yoga 13, but a new version of the laptop, the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro (Est. $1050 and up) has been released. It's pricier, but also brings with it a QuadHD+ (3,200 by 1,800 pixels) touch screen like the one in the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus (Est. $1,400) .
Yoga's poses aren't just a gimmick. Ergonomics is the Yoga's real claim to fame: It "will literally bend over backward for you," Laptop Magazine says. You can set it up as a laptop, tablet, tent or stand thanks to its sturdy hinges, and testers say that's actually useful. Tent mode, for example, is ideal for watching movies. At 13.1 inches and 3.4 pounds, the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13's a little bulky for a tablet, but manageable.
Although the keyboard is exposed on the backside in tablet mode, reviewers say they quickly get used to it. The keyboard and touchpad automatically deactivate in that position, so you won't accidentally type or swipe anything. The Yoga's touch screen and touchpad are very responsive in most tests.
Quietly "nice-looking." Matte gray outside and matte black inside, the Yoga 13's plain design certainly doesn't scream "look at me!" But, as TheVerge.com says, "that's not necessarily a bad thing -- it's nice-looking in a simple sort of way." The sandblasted aluminum finish is very soft to the touch. The 13.3-inch, 1,600-by-900-pixel touch screen is fine, but it's not fully high-def. Audio sounds a little thin, but it's decent for a laptop.
Dependable laptops, spotty service. PCMag.com surveys its readers to find the most reliable laptop brands every year, and Lenovo always ranks near the top. It's rated even higher for dependability this year. Lenovo's one-year warranty is standard among laptops. Unfortunately, support is another issue. Laptop Magazine's testers are disappointed with phone and website support. Some Amazon.com owners say they got a runaround from Lenovo's customer service when their IdeaPad Yoga 13 malfunctioned early, although most report no problems.
Versatile, affordable. The Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 is just as portable, powerful and versatile as the other top convertible, the Dell XPS 12 (Est. $1,000 and up) , but with a bigger screen, simpler folding mechanism and lower price. Experts like them both, but prefer the Yoga.
1. Laptop Magazine
Folding the Lenovo Yoga from a laptop into a tablet is really useful, Smith says. It's also fast in benchmark tests, comfortable to use and costs less than rivals. It earns an Editors' Choice award here.
Review: Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga Review, Sherri L. Smith, Nov. 12, 2012
"A prime example of a Windows 8 laptop done right," says Ackerman of the Lenovo Yoga. Its useful hinged design doesn't compromise performance or aesthetics, making it one of CNET's favorite laptops.
Review: Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13: A Full-time Laptop Meets a Part-time Tablet, Dan Ackerman, Nov. 6, 2012
Brian Westover gives the Lenovo Yoga 4 stars out of 5 and an Excellent rating, but stops short of an Editors' Choice award. He likes the touch screen, good Ultrabook performance and "the best hybrid design we've seen so far," but he finds it too bulky to use comfortably as a tablet.
Review: Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13, Brian Westover, Nov. 16, 2012
The Lenovo Yoga is "a perfectly good laptop" for $1,000, Pierce says after a lengthy test, but then you add those "awesome transformational abilities." He finds flaws -- including a "finicky" touch screen and touchpad -- but still gives the Yoga 13 one of the site's highest scores.
Review: Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 Review, David Pierce, Nov. 9, 2012
5. PC World
The "surprisingly awesome" Lenovo Yoga earns 4.5 out of 5 stars here. Performance in benchmark tests is good, but the "top-notch" touch screen, touchpad and keyboard, and versatile design lift the laptop to another level.
Review: Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 Review: Flexible in More Than One Way, Sarah Jacobsson Purewal, Nov. 19, 2012
6. Laptop Magazine
In this test, Laptop Magazine staffers contact various laptop brands with anonymous tech-support questions via phone, Twitter and Facebook. Lenovo's phone techs disappoint, leading to a reduced grade compared with previous years. Some issues with web support are also cited.
Review: Lenovo Tech Support: 2013 Rating, Cherlynn Low, Oct. 21, 2013
PCMag.com rates several laptop brands based on reader satisfaction surveys. Lenovo ranks third for both home and work laptops, while Apple wins both categories. Lenovo's already superb reliability has improved in the past year, according to the survey.
Review: Readers' Choice Awards 2013 Winners: Laptops and Desktops, Ben Gottesman, Feb. 20, 2013
Most of the roughly 140 owners posting reviews here love the Lenovo Yoga, which earns lots of praise for its neat laptop-to-tablet design, touch screen and solid build. Most complaints center around crummy customer service, but a few users note some issues with Wi-Fi connectivity.
Review: Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 13.3-Inch Convertible Touchscreen Ultrabook, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of November 2013