Lenovo Ideapad Yoga – a week on…

Having now had an ideaPad Yoga for a week or so, I thought I’d share my views on it and how it works, alongside the Windows RT Operating System it comes with.¬†First a bit of background…

My original purpose for buying one was that I wanted a device that was better than a tablet – I’m no fan of the iPad and I already own a Motorola Xoom and Blackberry Playbook. They’re both good in a way, but they’re very much “consumption” devices and I want and need to “do” things – create content and work – none of the “tablet” devices do it for me and I really don’t like the idea of bluetooth keyboards and the like.

Introducing the Lenovo Ideapad Yoga

The Lenovo Ideapad Yoga is something I’ve had my eye on for a while and a few weeks back I was able to try them out in London – my initial reaction was that they looked nice, seemed to be pretty well built and could fit the bill. The problem is that you really do have to use any bit of tech properly for a bit before you know if it is any good. PC World finally got them this last week or so, and as much as I normally don’t really approve of the place, they’re the only people selling it and of course you can “play” with them too. I actually spent well over an hour in-store trying it out (and nobody interrupted me at all, which I thought was a bit odd). Anyhow, I bought it the next day having done some more research overnight.

Having now used it for a week or so, overall I’m pretty pleased with it – it runs Windows RT – that’s not something that bothers me and shouldn’t bother you either. You have to realise it is fundamentally a hybrid of the “Windows you know” in the look/feel in it’s “desktop” mode, and the new interface/look of Windows 8. Despite the somewhat hyped-up ranting about it, the Windows 8 interface works well – and with a touchscreen it works realy well.

Hardware wise – the unit switches between the “Laptop”, “Tablet”, “Stand” and “Tent” options easily and the hinge system feels pretty solid. The screen isn’t the brightest in the world, but it’s more than bright enough (and I don’t like my screen too bright anyhow). The touch is nice and responsive, and the weight/feel of the whole device is nice. My only gripe about the unit is the keyboard. It’s actually nice to type on in the main, but I find it does sometimes “miss” repeat keystrokes – such as the “ll” in “hello” – it doesn’t always do it but it does feel like the keyboard has a bit too much flex. I’ve seen some reports that I’m not alone and some find it’s just a case of being a little more “firm” with keypresses”. That said, it’s not enough to stop me keeping it.

On the other hand, the sound is pretty poor – I can only assume Lenovo are anti-audio in some way because even on the loudest setting, the sound is weak, quiet and frankly lacklustre – so if you want it as a music or video device, you’ll not be using the built-in speakers because they’re naff. Completely naff. Perfectly acceptable with headphones though (and if you’re using the included HDMI out your TV will sort the sound just fine).

Back to more positive news – the battery life is amazing. Absolutely amazing. This thing just runs and runs and runs – I’ve watched hours of video, I’ve used it to work via Agility Desktop whilst online, and then gone out, met a friend, had them play around with it, then surfed the web in Tablet mode for a couple hours (online Christmas Shopping), got home and it’s still more than 40% to go. Outstanding stuff.

Software – Windows RT seems pretty responsive and fast on this device (it has the Quad Core Nvidia Tegra 3), and I’ve installed pretty much all the core software I use regularly. The supplied software works well – and I find myself rarely leaving the “Modern UI” (or Live Tiles, or Metro or whatever you call it) – I quite like the way the “Live Tile” system works. I’ve installed plenty of apps from the Store – some paid, most free.

Of the apps, my only real gripe is with the “evernote” app – it’s already installed when you buy the Yoga, and I’ve installed the latest updates, but it does seem that Evernote (who have made pretty good software on all the other devices I own) seem to have issues on the Windows 8 platform. Mine simply does not sync, and has lost 2-3 of the notes altogether so right now, I’m not using Evernote at all (which is annoying). That aside, it’s a strange omission, but would be nice if Microsoft had released a Metro/UI app for the “Task” functionality in Exchange – there’s the Mail App to get the messages, the “People Hub” gets your contacts perfectly well, and the Calendar syncs, but for some reason there’s no included “Task” app that also talks to your Exchange Servers – or in my case, Agility Mail. I’m currently looking through some apps to find a decent one for this.

Big Pros so far:

– Battery Life – it lasts and lasts – no charger needed!
– Performance¬†– considering it’s as per many smartphones, you can’t knock it
– Weight – it’s pretty light for a multi-format convertible device
– Conversion Features – It’s nice to go “tablet” to surf, then “laptop” to write up some docs

The cons:

– Keyboard seems a bit flaky if you’re a rapid typer
– Sound is weak, quiet and almost pointless
– Accessories – I can’t buy a proper “Sleeve” for it anywhere
– Other People – everywhere I go people ask about it and tell me it’s the one on TV…

Overall:

Despite the minor grumbles, it’s actually really very good and if you want a device that’s primarily geared towards “getting work done” and you want the power and ease of a keyboard, but don’t want to lose the superior “tablet” experience for browsing the web, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better device. You might consider it “expensive” but I think it’ll pay for itself in no time.

 

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