Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga – the first Ultrabook-tablet hybrid has an impressive array of features

Lenovo has released quite a few devices at CES 2012 this year, but among the half a dozen laptops and a couple of tablets, the IdeaPad Yoga definitely stood out the most. It is basically a Ultrabook/tablet hybrid, but unlike convertibles like the Dell Latitude XT3, the Yoga has a different mechanism by which it transforms into a tablet, which is unique and, in many ways, better than a single rotating hinge.

The tablet heavily depends on Windows 8, which is coming out as a Beta at the end of February, and should be released as a final version by the end of summer, which is when the Yoga will be released, as well. Until then, you have plenty of time to decide if it’s worth it, and this short review can help you with that.

Exterior design

When closed, the IdeaPad Yoga looks just like any other Ultrabook – it’s slim, light and has a pretty nice exterior design, which reminds a lot of its bigger brother, the IdeaPad U300s. It has an all metal build, with a big sheet of glass covering the display and offering a decent amount of scratch protection, and you won’t find any flexing or creaks anywhere. The lid has a matter aluminum finish, as does the underside, while the palm rest and the frame around the keyboard is covered with leather, which prevents scratches and makes it easier to hold the laptop when in tablet mode.

The tablet mode transformation is simple – just open the lid and continue pushing it backwards, up to 180 degrees – it’s pretty wicked when you see it the first time, but you get used to it. Obviously, the laptop is thicker and heavier than your usual tablet (at 17mm and 1.5 kg), but you get a big 13 inch IPS display with a 1600×900 pixels resolution in exchange, plus of course some very powerful hardware inside. The keyboard is exposed on the back, but it won’t be damaged by everyday use, since it’s sunk into the housing.

Thanks to the 180 degrees opening angle, you can use the tablet mode on a desk without an additional stand, or watch movies, surf the web, read documents or play games with the display closer to you, which is more comfortable on a bed, for example.

Performance and hardware features

The performance of the IdeaPad Yoga will be quite respectable, thanks to the Core i7 Ivy Bridge processor with the next generation Intel graphics adapter (which is two to three times as fast as its Sandy Bridge counterpart), 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD in the top configuration. The battery life won’t suffer either, both because Ivy Bridge is very energy efficient and because Lenovo is using a pretty massive 54 W/Hr battery in the Ultrabook, which will last around 8 hours of continuous use.

The other hardware specs are nothing special – as is the case with most of the other Ultrabooks and tablets, the Yoga has a Wifi N and Bluetooth adapters inside, as well as a slew of ports on the outside: two USB ports, a HDMI out port, a Thunderbolt port, a 3.5 mm audio jack and a SD card slot.

Software

The IdeaPad Yoga relies heavily on Microsoft’s new Windows 8 OS, which is still in the early release stages, although it will definitely hit the market in time, by the looks of it. The new Metro UI makes it easy to use the tablet mode, and you still have the full power of a desktop Windows in laptop mode – you can use it to work with Photoshop, Microsoft Office, the powerful desktop version of Mozilla Firefox and other great software that you won’t find on any ARM tablet yet.

Price and Availability

As I already mentioned, the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga will be available by the end of the upcoming summer, so there’s still a pretty long way to go. The price is expected to be $999 for the base model (with Core i5, 128 GB SSD and 4 GB of RAM) and $1299 for the top model, but I believe that it will decrease by the time the device is released since there will be more competition, for sure. The Yoga is a perfect universal computer for those who need performance, portability and flexibility in one package.