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Not Perfect, But Still A Great Value

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 Review: One Flexible Ultrabook
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Our time with the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 was very Zen-like in the beginning, filled with ego-boosting moments of showing off our flexible trophy to all who would bear witness. As the novelty waned and our teardown commenced, we focused more on what lies below the system’s impressive exterior. We couldn’t help but second-guess our initial excitement. Did we fall too hard for the Yoga 13’s beautiful aesthetics, or does its flexibility make up for the performance hit attributable to the lost memory channel?

On the upside, Lenovo’s IdeaPad Yoga 13 is surely thin and lightweight. The satin-finished aluminum system casing is both solid and elegant. The island-style keyboard is above average, the massive touchpad is great, and the IPS-based touchscreen is fantastic. The innovative hinges are sturdy enough to accommodate all four of the Yoga 13’s usage modes, making this one truly versatile mobile PC. It runs cool and quiet, and the performance is more or less what we’d expect to see for a system with these specifications.

An empty mSATA/min-PCIe port in this form factor are just icing on the cake, right? Unfortunately, since the Yoga 13 isn’t openly user-serviceable, getting to these components isn’t a job for the timid. And while upgradable memory may seem like a bonus since most models in this size class feature RAM soldered directly to the motherboard, due to the Yoga 13’s closed nature, this also loses much of its relevance.

While we’re on the subject of the Yoga 13’s memory, Lenovo sacrificed part of this system’s full potential for that removable RAM. In order to allow for upgradable memory, it seems that the company only had room for a single module, locking the Yoga 13 into single-channel memory mode. SATA transfer speeds and general CPU performance also appear to be slightly lower than Dell's competing XPS 12 in our synthetics. However, since the real-world benchmarks don’t show any significant performance drop compared that other slim Ultrabook, we'll let you decide whether the Yoga 13’s removable memory is a pro or a con.

The non-standard internal WLAN card also limits the upgrade path of that component. Speaking of upgrades, we’re not happy that the Yoga 13 can't be ordered with a backlit keyboard, seeing as most Ultrabooks in this price class have this at least as an option. For that matter, the exposed keyboard in the Stand, and especially in Tablet Mode, is something that we doubt we’ll ever be fully comfortable with.

All of that aside, with a starting price of $1,000, the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 still presents a solid value for a high-end Ultrabook. And even with its shortcomings, there's no denying that the foundation exists for the Yoga 13 to be a well-rounded solution for today’s multi-tasking, multi-device user.

If Lenovo had included a second bank of removable memory and a backlit keyboard, we'd have no technical qualms with the design. As it stands, the Yoga family has a viable future, and we definitely look forward to seeing what Lenovo has up its sleeves now that Haswell-based processors are available. Thinner, lighter, and more battery life, anyone?

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  • 0 Hide
    danaistina , June 12, 2013 11:26 PM
    I bought a yoga 13 a few months ago. Author of the article obviously has some special version of this ultrabook, which no one else, including me and the people of the Lenovo forums has heard that there is no following problems: touchpad does not support all Windovs 8 gestures, wirerless card has very weak signal, runs very hot and noise from the vents is loud. And finally: windows 8 has not yet up to use touch screen like a android or ios devices.
  • 0 Hide
    kartu , June 12, 2013 11:57 PM
    Would be nice to see the same thing with AMD's Jaguar based APU.
  • 2 Hide
    danaistina , June 12, 2013 11:57 PM
    I bought a yoga 13 a few months ago. Author of the article obviously has some special version of this ultrabook, which no one else, including me and the people of the Lenovo forums has heard that there is no following problems: touchpad does not support all Windovs 8 gestures, wirerless card has very weak signal, runs very hot and noise from the vents is loud. And finally: windows 8 has not yet up to use touch screen like a android or ios devices.
  • 1 Hide
    sgadadish , June 13, 2013 3:29 AM
    Tent (Joke) Mode : simply serving as a digital picture frame placed tastefully on a shelf or desk . , Sure...
  • 0 Hide
    hothfox , June 13, 2013 7:45 AM
    I contemplated this and the Thinkpad Twist, and wound up getting the Twist, largely because when you flip it around to it's tablet mode, the keyboard and touchpad are covered by the screen, instead of exposed.
  • 0 Hide
    Amdlova , June 13, 2013 8:07 AM
    9hr battery... idle and screen of... 5 hr real condition... when we get something can do 12 hrs.
  • 0 Hide
    whyso , June 13, 2013 8:16 AM
    How is the yoga gettng better bandwidth numbers that it is in theory capable of? 21GB/sec for cached read when theoretically it maxes out at 12.8 GB/sec
  • 0 Hide
    ojas , June 14, 2013 10:40 AM
    Are those external body temperature is degrees Celsius or Fahrenheit?
  • 0 Hide
    Kattie Anderson , June 14, 2013 4:27 PM
    Get a premium support for yoga at http://ytechsupport.com/lenovo-laptop-support-.html
  • 0 Hide
    Kattie Anderson , June 14, 2013 4:31 PM
    http://ytechsupport.com/lenovo-laptop-support-.html
  • 0 Hide
    AMKANMBA , June 15, 2013 12:00 PM
    I think the xps and lenovo convertible laptops are the same. No two processors are alike(I am a fan of dell though, happy to see it win).
  • 0 Hide
    Fernando Lopez Martinez , June 15, 2013 5:14 PM
    Quote:
    I bought a yoga 13 a few months ago. Author of the article obviously has some special version of this ultrabook, which no one else, including me and the people of the Lenovo forums has heard that there is no following problems: touchpad does not support all Windovs 8 gestures, wirerless card has very weak signal, runs very hot and noise from the vents is loud. And finally: windows 8 has not yet up to use touch screen like a android or ios devices.

    I agree with you. I also bought a yoga 13 and the Wifi is really bad. For that money, is incredible that the wifi is only N150. I also have lot of problems connecting to some places. I can confirm that those problems are true.

  • 0 Hide
    flowingbass , June 16, 2013 9:43 AM
    Stand mode is just stupid. might as well use laptop mode instead, it takes the same amount of space when in laptop mode but no touchpad and keyboard support and your keyboard is at risk of being dirtied up by the surface you put the device on. Tent mode could be somewhat useful, like if you lack the space to put the device on while requiring to still be able to see the screen.

    the only useful modes i can see is laptop and tablet mode.
  • 0 Hide
    sanilmahambre , June 17, 2013 6:28 AM
    AMD's APU should easily raise the Win 8 graphics rating and decrease the overall amount
  • 0 Hide
    clriis , June 17, 2013 9:27 PM
    Quote: Stand mode is just stupid. might as well use laptop mode instead, it takes the same amount of space when in laptop mode but no touchpad and keyboard support and your keyboard is at risk of being dirtied up by the surface you put the device on. Tent mode could be somewhat useful, like if you lack the space to put the device on while requiring to still be able to see the screen.
    .....

    I find the stand mode to be really ideal when travelling on bus/train/flight and also in general when just sitting in a chair. Place it in your lap and you got a tablet with a 'stand' which you can adjust to an ergonomically correct position and got both hands free
  • 0 Hide
    clriis , June 17, 2013 11:29 PM
    I have been a Yoga owner for the past 3 months and in general I really like this hybrid though it takes some time finding out new ways of utilising and working with, especially when you are also new to the modern/metro interface but I don't find the learning curve steep and for me it's definitely an enjoyable and amusing process. Overall I have no regrets given that it is also a fantastic traditional laptop. As opposed to others I don't find any problems using Windows 8 in traditional desktop mode with mouse and all and no, I don't miss the Start button.

    BUT... as a couple of contributors here have already commented, THE WI-FI / BLUETOOTH MODULE ON THE YOGA IS SERIOUSLY FLAWED. To prove that point just try to Google 'wi fi issues' and see what comes out on top!

    In an otherwise interesting review I'm surprised to see that the WI-Fi section deals with only signal strength and not data transfer rates which is supposedly of more interest to the end user. Here the Yoga is challenged especially if you also use one or more Bluetooth devices (like a mouse and streaming audio). Sitting in a space with -61 to -67 dB signal and with no competing or overlapping channels you at times get transfer rates as low as 6 Mbit/s (turning off BT devices increase the speed to around 25 Mbit).

    The Yoga apparently is also very choosy in which wireless router it's connected to. I have personally tried 5 different ones at home (TP-Link WDR4300, Thomson, TP-Link WR741 with Gargoyle, D-Link DIR645 and Netgear R6300), and with the Netgear R6300 I, in some cases, get the above nearly tolerable speeds, but not anything that can match my other wireless devices. I'm now contemplating purchasing the Netgear A6300 USB adapter in order to obtain reasonable and stable transfer rates although this step also contains a number of cons.

    Despite subsequent driver updates Lenovo/Realtek has not managed to solve these problems. The latest update even includes some kind of USB trigger, installing itself as a running service with log file and all. For all we know it makes the mousepointer flicker every two seconds....hilarious!!!

    I (and I'm sure, many others) would be really interested if Scott could elaborate more on the possibilities of utilising the empty slot for adding/changing the WiFi/BT adapter to a PCIe thingi. What would be the real options given the BIOS whitelist and all???
  • 0 Hide
    timeandspace , June 21, 2013 2:37 AM
    The Lenovo Yoga 13 is big but the 11 is not powerful or fast enough. The yoga 13 is great for anyone who wants the speed and visuals. The other comparable Yoga 11s is great (small and speedy) but expensive.

    I've created a comparison chart at: http://angelinaward.hubpages.com/hub/Lenovo-IdeaPad-Yoga-13-Price-and-Review-Dream-Deal-or-Dead-Loss

    that compares the Yoga 13 vs Yoga 11 vs Yoga 11s vs Macbook Pro. Based on this chart you'll see that the Yoga 13 still remains the best of the bunch and the launch of the Yoga 11s will do everyone a favour prompting sellers to reduce the Yoga 13 price even more.
  • 0 Hide
    timeandspace , June 22, 2013 4:51 AM
    I find the stand mode to be really great when travelling on flight/bus/train and also when just sitting in a chair. Place it in your lap and to get a tablet with a 'stand' which you can adjust to an ergonomically comfortable position and got both hands free.
    The Yoga 13 is great for when I'm in a hurry or I need to show someone something on the fly and my smartphone screen doesn't cut it, I whip this bad boy out. I manage more than twenty websites and online services for friends/customers and this baby does everything. Not to mention I manage to get in some good Command & Conquer when I'm stuck in-line at the doctors.
    The newest one Yoga 11s (small and speedy) sounds great but it’s expensive.

    I've created a comparison chart <a href=" http://angelinaward.hubpages.com/hub/Lenovo-IdeaPad-Yoga-13-Price-and-Review-Dream-Deal-or-Dead-Loss”>Here</a>
    that compares the Yoga 13 vs Yoga 11 vs Yoga 11s vs Macbook Pro.
  • 0 Hide
    timeandspace , June 22, 2013 4:51 AM
    I find the stand mode to be really great when travelling on flight/bus/train and also when just sitting in a chair. Place it in your lap and to get a tablet with a 'stand' which you can adjust to an ergonomically comfortable position and got both hands free.
    The Yoga 13 is great for when I'm in a hurry or I need to show someone something on the fly and my smartphone screen doesn't cut it, I whip this bad boy out. I manage more than twenty websites and online services for friends/customers and this baby does everything. Not to mention I manage to get in some good Command & Conquer when I'm stuck in-line at the doctors.
    The newest one Yoga 11s (small and speedy) sounds great but it’s expensive.

    I've created a comparison chart <a href=" http://angelinaward.hubpages.com/hub/Lenovo-IdeaPad-Yoga-13-Price-and-Review-Dream-Deal-or-Dead-Loss”>Here</a>
    that compares the Yoga 13 vs Yoga 11 vs Yoga 11s vs Macbook Pro.
  • 0 Hide
    timeandspace , June 22, 2013 4:54 AM
    Sorry - the link to the comparison chart didn't come out very well, here it is again, it compares the Yoga 13 with 11, 11s and Macbook pro.
    http://angelinaward.hubpages.com/hub/Lenovo-IdeaPad-Yoga-13-Price-and-Review-Dream-Deal-or-Dead-Loss