Lenovo's Yoga hybrids strike a lighter, sleeker pose

Lenovo's new tablet/laptop hybrids have higher resolution touchscreens and faster processors than the first Yoga systems

Lenovo introduced a new wave of Yoga hybrids, shaving off size and weight so the devices are lighter when used as tablets, and faster in laptop mode.

The new Yoga hybrids include the 13.3-inch Yoga 2 Pro and 12.5-inch ThinkPad Yoga, which also have higher resolution touchscreens and faster processors than the first Yoga systems that started shipping in October last year.

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Yoga's design lets people turn its screen around almost 360 degrees to turn the laptop into a tablet, different from other hybrids that come with detachable keyboards or swivelling screens.

The Yoga 2 Pro is 15.5 millimeters thick, and weighs 1.36 kilograms, which is 0.22 kilograms lighter than the Yoga 13, an earlier model. But perhaps the biggest improvement is the optional 3200 x 1800-pixel screen, whose resolution is among the highest in laptops.

"We've made it better in almost every way," said Nick Reynolds, executive director, Lenovo Business Group, adding that reducing the weight makes it a more usable Windows 8 tablet.

The Yoga 2 Pro will start at US$1,099. Lenovo is estimating anywhere between six to nine hours of battery life. It will come with Intel's fourth-generation Core processors and up to 512GB of solid-state drive storage.

The ThinkPad Yoga, which will start at $949, is designed for professionals who need more storage or docking capabilities. It also has ruggedness and security features found on other ThinkPad laptops. System administrators will be able to remotely control them.

The ThinkPad Yoga will have up to 1TB of hard-drive storage. An optional stylus will be available. The hybrid can be configured with 1920 x 1080, or 1366 x 768 resolution screens. Other features include two USB 3.0 ports, a mini-HDMI slot and NFC (near-field communication) hardware.

The computer also has a feature in which the keys rise and lock into the chassis as the screen is folded into tablet mode. The keys integrate into the chassis, making it easier to use the hybrid when in tablet mode. This feature is not available on the Yoga 2 Pro, in which keys do not go up, and users can feel the keyboard when holding the hybrid in tablet mode.

Lenovo said the ThinkPad Yoga's battery will last eight hours. The ThinkPad Yoga weighs 1.57 kilograms and is 18.8 millimeters thick, making it heavier and thicker than the Yoga 2 Pro. The hybrid will be available with Intel's fourth-generation Core i3, i5 or i7 processors.

Both Yoga products will become available on Oct. 18, which will coincide with the release of the Windows 8.1 OS by Microsoft. However, the Windows 7 OS will also be available as an option on the ThinkPad Yoga.

"Many corporate customers are still, for example, on XP and maybe migrating to Windows 7 right now. They are a little behind the curve, so we have to offer that upgrade," said Ashley Perry, a Lenovo official.

The new Yogas arrive in a PC market that is slumping as tablet and smartphone adoption grows. The reception to hybrids has also been poor partly because of high prices, but as prices drop, hybrid adoption will grow, Lenovo executives said.

The company is also offering the new Flex 15 laptop, which the company is positioning as a watered down version of the Yoga. The screen of the Flex 15 cannot fold all the way around to become a tablet, but it can be used in what Lenovo calls "tent" mode, which folds the laptop enough so it is easier to place on a table. The laptop will start at $629 with fourth-generation Core i3 processors. It will feature six hours of battery life, and have up to 1TB of storage.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's email address is agam_shah@idg.com

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