|Introduction & Specifications|
When Lenovo introduced the original Yoga 13 convertible ultrabook last year, consumers snatched it up in droves, making it one of the top selling Windows 8 convertibles on the market. Fast-forward a year, and Lenovo is at it again, this time with the new Yoga 2 Pro. Like its predecessor, the Yoga 2 Pro features the same well-liked multimode form factor that can function in laptop, stand, tablet, and tent modes.
The new Yoga 2 Pro is thinner and lighter than previous models. It also features Intel’s latest 4th generation Haswell-based Core processors and comes preloaded with Windows 8.1. Another key differentiating factor between the previous Yoga 13 and the new Yoga 2 Pro is the super high-resolution QHD+ touchscreen that is 16% brighter than the previous display.
First we'll take you on a guided tour of Lenovo's new machine in our video review, then we'll hit a deep dive on build-out and performance...
Before we dive into the full hands-on review, let’s take a quick look at the specifications of our test model:
Lenovo also includes a few new software features to further differentiate the Yoga 2 Pro from its competition. We’ll take a closer look at these features in the coming pages.
Like the previous generation Yoga models, the Yoga 2 Pro features a 360-degree flip-and-fold design. This design lets you use the Yoga 2 Pro in standard laptop mode, in tent or stand mode for giving presentations or viewing content on a plane or other tight space, or in tablet mode.
One of the best features of the Yoga 2 Pro is the vibrant new super-high-resolution QHD+ (3200 x 1800) 10-point multitouch display. Because this is an IPS display, you’ll enjoy a wider range of colors, better viewing angles, and a brighter backlight versus most other display technologies. The display also provides for wide viewing angles of 170-degrees. In real life this display is absolutely gorgeous, especially when viewing high resolution videos such as the Ultra HD 4K videos that are available on YouTube.
The Yoga 2 Pro has a backlit AccuType keyboard. You can turn the backlight on and off using the FN and Space keys. We felt the keyboard was comfortable to type on. The keyboard layout is the same as on the Yoga 13. You’ll notice Lenovo placed the Delete, Home, End, Page Up, and Page Down keys along the right edge of the keyboard. Arrow keys are located in the lower right corner of the keyboard.
When we first used the Yoga 2 Pro, we thought the Backspace key seemed a little small. However, part of this feeling likely comes from the placement of the Delete, Home, End, Page Up, and Page Down keys rather than the actual size of the Backspace key itself. With most keyboards, we’re accustomed to finding the large Backspace key in the upper right corner. This isn’t the case with the Yoga 2 Pro. It’s a minor thing really, but something you may notice at first until you get accustomed to it.
The Yoga 2 Pro automatically disables the keyboard and touchpad when rotating the ultrabook into stand, tent, or tablet mode. The average-size touchpad on the device supports scrolling, zoom, rotating, and edge swipes, which work very well with Windows 8.1.
When designing the Yoga 2 Pro, Lenovo listened to feedback from its customers regarding the original Yoga. One of the improvements Lenovo incorporated is a rubberized rim along the top bezel. This helps the Yoga 2 Pro have a better grip on any surface when using the ultrabook in Tent mode. It may seem minor, but this grip really does make a difference when using the Yoga 2 Pro in Tent mode.
Lenovo also moved the power button to the side of the PC, helping prevent the occasional accidental switching of the ultrabook on/off while in your bag. The side placement also makes it more accessible when used in the Yoga 2 Pro’s various modes. The power button is nearly flush with the edge of the Yoga 2 Pro. Although this looks nice, it’s hard to find the power button by touch alone.
To help improve the tablet experience using the Yoga 2 Pro, Lenovo made this new model a half pound lighter and 0.05-inches thinner than the original Yoga.
On the left edge of the Yoga 2 Pro, you’ll find the power adapter jack, a USB 3.0 port, HDMI Out, and SD card reader. On the right edge of the notebook, you’ll find a battery status indicator next to the power button. Near the power button you’ll also see a Novo button which you can press when the computer is off to start the Lenovo OneKey Recovery System or BIOS setup utility. The right edge of the ultrabook also houses a rotation lock button, volume controls, headphone/mic port and a powered USB 2.0 port.
When starting up the Yoga 2 Pro, you’ll notice it boots very quickly. In fact, we saw the login screen in less than 10 seconds from the time we pushed the Power button.
Lenovo includes a number of programs with the Yoga 2 Pro. Some of these apps are commonly found on ultrabooks such as McAfee Internet Security (30-day trial), Skype, Amazon Kindle, Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium (30-day trial), and others. You’ll also find a few preinstalled apps that are unique to the Yoga 2 Pro including Phone Companion, Yoga Camera Man, Yoga Chef, and Yoga Photo Touch.
Lenovo’s Yoga Picks app is designed to help you find apps that best utilize each of the configuration modes supported by the Yoga’s hinges. You can open Yoga Picks from the Start screen to see a number of apps that are ideal for each usage mode. You’ll also see a notification when you switch modes that alerts you to open Yoga Picks for app recommendations (these notifications can be disabled).
When you open Yoga Picks in Tent mode, you’ll see icons for Yoga Chef, AccuWeather, Rdio for Windows, and more. Stand mode shows icons for Skype, Netflix and others. Tablet mode shows various games and apps including LenovoTycoon, Fruit Ninja Lite, and Lenovo Roulette. Lenovo includes four free apps as a sample, but many of these apps must be fully downloaded before you can use them.
One of the apps Lenovo preloads on the Yoga 2 Pro is Phone Companion. This app is designed to be used in laptop mode. It lets you connect your PC and phone wirelessly to send text messages, make calls, sync contacts, share content, and more. This app is currently compatible only with Android phones. During our test with this app, the Yoga 2 Pro had no problems sending and receiving text messages through an HTC One Max smartphone.
Yoga Chef is another app that comes preinstalled on the Yoga 2 Pro. This app lets you navigate recipes in tent mode using touch, gestures, or voice controls. The voice control functionality is made possible by Lenovo Smart Voice which also works with Yoga Camera Man (another preinstalled app on the Yoga 2 Pro). Using Smart Voice, you can take a picture in Yoga Camera Man or switch between slides in Yoga Chef.
Lenovo’s Motion Control feature lets you navigate through music, photos, videos, eBooks, PowerPoint slides, Yoga Chef, and other apps by waving your hand in front of the web cam. The Smart Voice and Motion Control features worked great during our tests, but both are rather limited in compatibility with apps and in their functionality within those apps.
|Cinebench & SiSoft SANDRA|
In order to get a feel for how the Yoga 2 Pro compares to other ultrabooks on the market, we ran a few established benchmarks. We began our benchmark testing with Cinebench and SiSoft SANDRA.
Cinebench R11.5 is a 3D rendering performance test based on Cinema 4D from Maxon. Cinema 4D is a 3D rendering and animation suite used by animation houses and producers like Sony Animation and many others. It's very demanding of processor resources and is an excellent gauge of pure computational throughput.
The Yoga 2 Pro earned the top spot in the Cinebench's OpenGL test. And It tied with the ThinkPad Edge E420x for the third spot in the CPU test.
We continued our testing with SiSoftware's SANDRA, the System ANalyzer, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant. We ran four of the built-in subsystem tests (CPU Arithmetic, Multimedia, Memory Bandwidth, File System).
SANDRA CPU and Multimedia Benchmarks
SANDRA Memory and File System Benchmarks
The Yoga 2 Pro fared well in these tests earning respectable scores throughout. We're in the process of building our SANDRA 2013 score database, so it will be interesting to see how the Yoga 2 Pro compares to similar ultrabooks in the future.
|PCMark 7 & 8|
Futuremark’s PCMark 7 is a well-known benchmark tool that runs the system through ordinary tasks, including word processing and multimedia playback and editing. Graphics and processor power figure prominently in this benchmark, but graphics power doesn’t play as big a role here as it does in another Futuremark benchmark, 3DMark (which is designed for testing the system’s gaming capabilities).
The Yoga 2 Pro earned the second spot in our chart, coming in behind Toshiba’s KIRAbook which has a more powerful Core i7-3537U processor.
Futuremark recently launched PCMark 8, which has several built-in benchmark tests. The Home test measures a system's ability to handle basic tasks such as web browsing, writing, gaming, photo editing, and video chat. The Creative test offers similar types of tasks, but has more demanding requirements than the Home benchmark and is meant for mid-range and higher-end PCs. The Work test measures the performance of typical office PC systems that lack media capabilities. Finally, the Storage benchmark tests the performance of SSDs, HDDs and hybrid drives with traces recorded from Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office and a selection of popular games.
We’re still building up our comparison numbers for PCMark 8 but as you can see from the chart above, the Yoga 2 Pro earned the top spot in the Storage component. It didn’t fare quite as well in the Home Accelerated or Work tests, but still remained competitive.
Ultrabooks such as the Yoga 2 Pro aren’t designed to be serious gaming machines. However, even though these machines don’t have discrete graphics cards, they can still handle casual gaming. To see how the Yoga 2 Pro fares, we fired up 3DMark11, Cloud Gate, and Far Cry 2.
As a synthetic gaming benchmark, 3DMark 11 puts extra emphasis on your system’s handling of DirectX 11. However, 3DMark 11 measures more than just the graphics card’s performance; the processor has a definite influence on the score. As a result, this benchmark is a good way to get a feel for how well the system can handle gaming and general computing tasks.
As has been the case with previous benchmark tests so far, the Yoga 2 Pro earned a great score and second place in our comparison chart for 3DMark 11. Although the Intel HD 4400 graphics are integrated, we see here they’re still very capable of supporting casual gaming.
3DMark is the flagship benchmark in Futuremark’s catalog. As a result, it is a popular choice for testing all types of computers. Recognizing the technology differences between different types of PCs are significant, 3DMark has a separate test suite for each device category. The Cloud Gate test is aimed at entry-level PCs and laptops. It has two subtests: a processor-intensive physics test and two graphics tests. Cloud Gate uses a DirectX 11 engine but the graphics are designed to be compatible with DirectX 10 systems. We ran the test suite at its default 1280 x 720 resolution and at default rendering quality settings. It’s important to remember that 3DMark Cloud Gate scores aren’t comparable to scores from other categories such as 3DMark Fire Strike (gaming PCs) or Ice Storm (smartphones and tablets).
Our comparison systems are rather limited here but as you can see, the Yoga 2 Pro earned the top score in comparison to the Toshiba KIRAbook and Lenovo IdeaPad Z400 Touch.
Far Cry 2 uses high-quality texture, complex shaders, and dynamic lighting to create a realistic environment. Using the game’s built-in benchmark, we can get a better look at a system’s performance with DirectX 10.
Here again, the Yoga 2 Pro shows it can handle casual gaming just fine. This ultrabook earned second place in our comparison chart coming in behind Dell’s Inspiron 14z which has a Core i7-3317U processor and Radeon HD 7570M graphics.
Battery life is a big deal with a mobile system, especially an ultrabook. Lenovo claims you should get up to 6 hours of battery life from the Yoga 2 Pro during FHD playback at 150 nits or up to 9 hours of battery life with Windows 8 in idle mode with the screen at 150 nits brightness.
In an attempt to quantitatively measure the Yoga 2 Pro's battery life in a controlled benchmark environment, we ran Battery Eater Pro. This test is designed to tax a laptop’s resources to give a feel for how long the laptop’s battery will last under heavy use. For the test, we set the Yoga 2 Pro's display to 50% brightness and enabled Wi-Fi.
In the Battery Eater Pro test, the Yoga 2 Pro lasted for two hours and 17 minutes. This may not seem like much, but remember this is a test that is designed to tax the ultrabook and mimic heavy use. In comparison to other systems, the Yoga 2 Pro earns fifth place in our comparison chart, which is above average for a machine of this type.
Battery Eater Pro is designed to show the worst-case scenario since the system is taxed during the test. In a real-world light usage situation with light web surfing, the battery gauge dropped from 100% to 90% in about 40 minutes. While running our web browsing battery test, the Yoga 2 Pro lasted about five hours and 50 minutes. Of course, battery life will vary considerably depending on what you demand of the system.
|Performance Summary & Conclusion|
Lenovo enjoyed plenty of success with its original Yoga 13 convertible ultrabook last year and it looks like the company has another homerun on its hands with the Yoga 2 Pro. This new model takes everything that we liked about the original and improves upon it. Not only is the Yoga 2 Pro thinner, lighter and faster than the previous version, but Lenovo also made a few changes such as adding a rubberized rim that helps the Yoga 2 Pro have a better grip in Tent mode. It’s these little things that help make a system truly standout beyond just its nimble performance in the benchmarks.
There’s another key standout feature of the Yoga 2 Pro, and that’s the gorgeous super high-resolution QHD+ touchscreen with a resolution of 3200 x 1800. This IPS display supports 10 point multitouch technology and it simply looks great. We really can’t rave enough about this screen—it’s beautiful.
During our time with the Yoga 2 Pro we had few complaints about the system. Our benchmark tests revealed exactly what we experienced—this is a great system with excellent performance. Considering our test model wasn’t configured with all of the top-notch upgrades Lenovo offers, we can only salivate thinking about what more powerful Yoga 2 Pro models could offer in terms of performance. For it's as-configured price of $999, this Ultrabook delivers on all fronts with performance, build quality, great features and value. If you’re looking for even more performance, Lenovo also offers the Yoga 2 Pro with a Core i7-4500U processor and up to 8GB of RAM. You can also get a larger 512GB SSD if you like.
Although Lenovo’s included applications add some utility to the Yoga 2 Pro, we can’t see ourselves using some of them very often. That said, they’re not doing much harm either, and Lenovo’s additions are similar in quality and utility to other mobile systems we’ve reviewed over the years.
Ultrabooks are popular for a variety of reasons, and convertible ultrabooks, like the Yoga 2 Pro, that can operate in multiple usage modes offer even greater versatility. Because of its performance, versatility, and gorgeous display Lenovo’s Yoga 2 Pro is one of our top picks for convertible ultrabooks, and as such, we’re giving it our Editor’s Choice award.