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Lenovo Yoga 13" Mini Review

Wed Dec 19, 2012 6:29 am

I recently got a Lenovo Yoga 13" and posted this mini review over at Lenovo's forums. I thought some of you gerbils might be interested in this aswell. I hope a few of you out there will fine this information useful.

I got my Yoga 13, Orange, 8gb ram and 256gb SSD on Monday the 17th. I also ordered the slot case and the screen protector as well. I really really wanted to like this laptop. But sadly, after playing around with it all day (and night!) I returned the Yoga earlier today. There were some major issues that I encountered that was definitely a deal breaker and I feel are things that should not exist in a $1500 laptop.

Lets start with the good stuff first: The first impressions were great.

Exterior build quality was very nice. The shell felt very solid and the orange color looked awesome! I believe the shell is aluminum with a rubber-like coating applied on. So when you hold it, you get a very good grip and at no point where i felt the laptop was going to slip out of my hands. Power buttons and volume button (in both design and positions) mimicked those as seen on tablets. The position of these buttons make a lot of sense when the Yoga is in tablet mode. Everything looked VERY sturdy and felt well built.

Upon opening the laptop, I was greeted with a very nice looking and interestingly textured palm rest area. The texture has an almost faux leather look to it but it definitely feels rubbery, smooth and a little cushion-like. Its is hard to explain but when I'm resting on it, it feels very nice to the skin and it certainly insulates any type of temperature changes from transferring to your palms/wrists unlike some metal enclosures. Very interesting material choice for sure.

The keyboard area looked very nice. Typing on it was very comfortable and keys were responsive.

Trackpad was OK. I found my self accidentally right clicking and the pointer acceleration as a bit wonky. Not the worst trackpad I used but also not great.

Battery life after the first full charge showed a little less than 6 hours. Machine was dead quite and everything was silky smooth loading apps and painting with my fingers. There was a surprising minimal amount of bloatware installed. Even with the Lenovo software, non of which was "in your face". First boot-up of the machine went through windows 8 account setup and subsequent boot up time was about 4-5 seconds. EXTREMELY fast.

Looking at the device manager, my 256gb ssd is sporting one made by Samsung. One interesting I found was the wireles/bluetooth module is made by realtek and is interfacing with the system via USB 2.0.

Tablet Mode/Tent Mode/etc
This is the reason I bought this laptop. As a graphic artist, my plan was to use this as a sketchpad, photo editing and light animation use. As I mentioned, the touchscreen was very responsive and Windows 8 "Metro" felt right at home here. Even using the touchscreen with desktop apps was a lot of fun. I spent maybe an hour or two playing in paint before I remembered that I should install photoshop (LOL).

I found the Yoga's touch capabilities most satisfying and usable in tent mode and tablet mode. In regular laptop mode, touching the screen bounces and moves the screen which gets annoying. In stand mode, same thing.

Aside from painting with my fingers, I tested the touchscreen with a touch screen stylus i got on Amazon. It worked ok as i needed to put quit a bit of pressure in order for the screen to register the tip of the stylus where as using the same stylus on other touchscreens (ipad 2, nexus 7, nexus 4, droid x) did not require any force.

Speed and performance
Everything felt snappy and ran all my programs great. It worked and it worked well for my needs. I did not run any benchmarks as I was more concerned with testing my usage habits.

This laptop sounds wonderful, why the hell did i return it?!

After a couple of hours playing with it, that's when I started to notice some glaring problems.
Lets go down the list:

Screen Flicker issue
This was a surprise to me. After the first few hours of using the laptop. I notice the screen would flicker once in awhile. It seems to be random but I notice to be more apparent especially when I load up new programs and when I am quitting them. It is almost as if there is a loose connection or interference somewhere. At first I thought it was the automatic brightness playing tricks on me so I proceeded to turn it off. Nope, the flickering was still there. This is a real deal breaker (duh).

High pitch whine
Yes, there is a high pitch whine and buzzing sound that emanates from the laptop (coil whine). I couldn't pin point the exact location but it seems to come from around the F3 key area. I don't have an overly quiet room. When I heard this whine, I was actually playing some music in the background. The sound was unbearable!

Fan noise, rattling noise.
The sound of the air movement coming from the laptop, I don't mind and I barely notice it. But there is a rattling sound coming from the fan itself (loose fan??). I build my own PCs and I've owned some cheap fans over the years where it makes the same noise. The fan in the Yoga is not a good quality fan. The fan also stays on most of the time. It is not excessively loud, but it seems it needs to be on much more than it needs to be. Either that, it seems like it can run at a lower RPM.

The Loose Keyboard
Yes you read that right. The keyboard is loose. This is very apparent when you press any keys in the F7 to F12 keys area (or any other keys around those). When you press any of those keys, you will FEEL and SEE that area of the keyboard will sink in. I'm not exaggerating.

This should not happen in any laptop at any price range, and this one costs $1500 USD. This is unacceptable. I don't think this is even a QC issue, it is a design issue. As seen in other threads in this forum and other forums, the keyboard is attached on there with double sided tape. Wha??

Palm rest area flex
As I mention prior, the texture feels great and feels soft almost cushion like. Well it turns out, the cushion like feel is the result of that area flexing in. No joke. Pressing on the palm rest area with my fingers reminds me of pressing on the surface of a water bottle. You'll feel this even more when in tablet mode. It feels plain fragile. 

Screen Protector
It Sucks. Don't know how to put it another way. It is the worst screen protector you can get. Yea you can see through it but that it is. The material gives the surface a lot of traction so you'll find your fingers getting stuck on it while swiping the screen. I wish Lenovo would make the glass (or at lease offer a screen protector) similar to cellphone / tablets screens where they put a oleophobic coating so your fingers glide on the surface. So yea, save the money and forget about the Lenovo screen protector.

Slot Case
Its ugly, it feels cheap and it looks cheap. The texture of the case is just..I don't even know what it is. It is just SOOOOOO ugly. The material of the case will probably last maybe 6 months use. Its not even practical as 1.5" of the laptop sticks out at the opening. What?? Did i mention it is crazy ugly?

Great concept, great idea. Execution, not so good. Build quality not consistent, major design issues that keeps this from becoming a good laptop. The price tag (i paid $1500) makes this even more so. 

Returning the laptop. Lenovo customer support
I had a really good experience. The post-sales rep from somewhere in India was courteous and quick. After I explained  why I wanted to return the laptop, my return was processed immediately and I was told I would be getting a full refund. My shipping labels was emailed to me very quickly and total time spent on the phone  was about 15 min.

Closing thoughts
It might seem I might have gotten a bum unit but from looking at the other threads in this forum and other forums, It seems other people are having some similar problems as me. I didn't want to exchange for a new unit (and waiting even longer) and experience these issues again. I see these are design issues, not QC issues. The Yoga has a HUGE potential to be an amazing ultrabook/laptop (booktablet??). Huge potential. Maybe the Yoga 2 will get that chance.

I’m traveling in a week so I went ahead and reordered the Asus UX32VD. (lol should of kept my first UX32VD)
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Re: Lenovo Yoga 13" Mini Review

Wed Dec 19, 2012 7:12 am

Thanks, that's a useful piece of information for someone I'm sure.

I quite often get downranked for moaning about how manufacturers have lost the plot in the ridiculous chase of the thin and light form factor. The only victims are build quality, value for money, and battery life.
Congratulations, you've noticed that this year's signature is based on outdated internet memes; CLICK HERE NOW to experience this unforgettable phenomenon. This sentence is just filler and as irrelevant as my signature.
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Posts: 84
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Re: Lenovo Yoga 13" Mini Review

Wed Dec 19, 2012 8:15 am

Chrispy_ wrote:
manufacturers have lost the plot in the ridiculous chase of the thin and light form factor. The only victims are build quality, value for money, and battery life.

I 100% agree with you. It also seems they want to capture every "price bracket" and end up with too many products. I can imagine how this can spread their design/engineering resources too thin and end up with half-baked products all around.

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