A well-designed convertible device with an eye watering ‘QHD’ display.
Lenovo’s Yoga 13 was a successful convertible Windows 8 device, working well as a laptop and tablet. The Yoga 2 Pro adds a high-resolution display, Haswell processor, and Windows 8.1 in an attempt to attract professional workers.
Our review unit featured an Intel dual-core i5-4200U processor running at 1.6GHz (2.6GHz with Turboboost), 4GB of RAM and 256GB solid-state storage, priced at £999.99.
Lenovo is also offering additional configurations which use Intel's i3 and i7 processors.
Hold me, use me, flip me, fold me
The Yoga 2 Pro retains the flexible ‘flip and fold’ design of its predecessor, which allows it to be transformed into different modes - laptop, tablet and tent. When you first open the Yoga 2 Pro it looks like a conventional laptop with a 13.3in screen. It's got a full-size keyboard and trackpad, which are comfortable to work with for long periods of time.
When folded flat the Yoga 2 Pro measures 15.5mm thick and weighs 1.4Kg. It’s not the lightest Ultrabook on the market but it’s easy to pick up and the ‘soft touch’ coating on the keyboard and screen panels gives it an elegant finish.
The keyboard on the Yoga 2 Pro can’t be removed but the Yoga’s flexible design allows you to fold the screen back through 360 degrees so the panel lies flat against the keyboard.
The 13.3in screen means it’s too big and heavy to hold in one hand whilst in tablet mode, so you’ll need to rest it on your lap or on a table while you browse the web or play Angry Birds. However, the Yoga 2 Pro also provides an intermediate ‘tent’ mode, in which the keyboard panel acts as a stand so you can view the screen from a distance. This will be useful for giving presentations, or simply watching a film when you’re off-duty.
It’s an ingenious and practical design, and gives the Yoga 2 an advantage over its convertible rivals, which tend to have poor quality keyboards not suited for prolonged work with apps such as Microsoft Word or Excel. It’s well built too, and more than sturdy enough to cope with life on the road.
There is one worry when the device is tablet mode because the keyboard is exposed. The keys are deactivated in this mode, preventing you from changing any settings accidentally, but having the keys exposed does risk of damage.
5 million pixels
Apple has been leading the display race with its Retina technology, but as Lenovo has upped its game. The Chinese manufacturer is using a high-end IPS panel with a ‘Quad HD’ resolution of 3200 x 1800. This is four times the resolution of the original Yoga 13 and it's also 1.6 million more pixels than Apple packs in on its 13in MacBook Pro with Retina Display.
Image quality is outstanding, producing a bright, sharp and colourful image with good all-round viewing angles in tablet and laptop modes. The Yoga 2 has a maximum brightness of 317cd/m2 and a contract ratio of 634:1 make it good for document or photo-editing work, as well as routine tasks such as web browsing.
However, there is a potential problem with such a high-resolution display as interface elements, such as icons or dialog boxes on some applications appear tiny. We had no problem with old copies of Microsoft Office, going right back to Office 97 – the main toolbar in programs such as Word were small but still usable.
Adobe’s Photoshop Elements 12 did suffer, with toolbars and icons not scaling to such a high-resolution. Apple dealt with this problem with the Retina Display on its latest MacBook Pro models by building scaling options into the Mac OS that help to enhance visibility of text and graphics. This isn't the case with Windows, so the only solution for apps like Photoshop Elements is for the developer to update the app itself, or for users to temporarily switch to a lower resolution.
The Yoga 2 Pro includes a micro-HDMI port so it can be connected to a larger screen. However, there’s no space on the slimline design for an Ethernet port. Other connections include 1 x USB 2.0 port, 1 x USB 3.0 and memory card slot. The base panel is held in place with a dozen tiny screws, but it can be removed in order to gain access to the memory slots and battery compartment.
Performance and battery
In addition to the high-res display, the Yoga 2 Pro ships with Intel’s latest Haswell processor - a Core i5 model clocked at 1.6GHz and 4GB of RAM.
The specification is more than adequate for running Microsoft Office apps, as well as light of photo- or video-editing for presentations work. Touch-screen controls of Windows 8.1 responded smoothly and quickly when using the Yoga 2 Pro as a tablet.
The entire screen image rotates quickly and automatically whenever you switch between landscape and portrait orientations, or when you fold the screen back into tent mode. The use of solid-state storage also allows the Yoga 2 Pro to start up rapidly, taking 9 seconds using the Windows 8 ‘fast start’ option, and 15 seconds from a cold boot.
However, performance doesn't quite match the 13in MacBook we tested out:
The Haswell processor does provide good battery life given the power requirements of the high-resolution IPS display. The intensive PeaceKeeper test for Wi-Fi browsing ran the battery flat in exactly four hours, with the brightness set to 75 per cent. Streaming video off the BBC iPlayer gave us five hours.
Turning Wi-Fi off and playing a continuously-looped HD video of Iron Man allowed the battery to last for a full seven hours and 10 minutes. However, this is someway short of the maximum time you can expect with the 13in MacBook Pro.
All those tests are demanding, so more casual web browsing and use of Microsoft Office apps should allow you to get close to Lenovo’s claim of ‘up to nine hours’, especially with the brightness turned down further.
In terms of upgradeability, the Yoga Pro 2 is average, The base of the unit is screwed on, but can be removed with a little torque screwdriver. The battery and SSD are user accessible, but the memory is soldered onto the motherboard, so not upgradeable after purchase.
The Yoga 2 Pro packs a high-resolution display which is simply be overkill for those running basic productivity software and is suitable for those using video and photo editing tools.
The weight of the Yoga 2 Pro, and the size of its screen also mean that its tablet mode is only partially successful. Nonetheless, it remains one of the more elegant convertible devices of this type, and its high-quality screen and flexible design could prove genuinely useful for business users who travel frequently and need to give presentations while they’re on the road.
OS: Windows 8.1 (64-bit)
Processor: Intel Core i5-4200U @ 1.6GHz (2.6GHz Turboboost)
RAM: 4GB (max 8GB)
Display: 13.3-inch, 3200x1800 IPS
Storage: 256GB SSD (max 512GB)
Connectivity: Wifi (802.11 b/g/n), Bluetooth 4.0
Ports: 1x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0, SD/MMC slot, headphone/mic socket, micro-HDMI