We were back at Lenovo’s suite today and got a chance to spend a bit more time with a laptop that we didn’t get around to discussing on Tuesday. We’ve covered the ThinkPad and IdeaTab already, but we haven’t spent any time on the IdeaPad line. Where ThinkPad primarily targets business users, IdeaPad is a consumer line. There were plenty of IdeaPad laptops on display, but the one that really stood out is their Yoga 13 laptop. It won’t launch until Windows 8 is released, but already it’s looking to be one of the more promising ultrabooks.

Like all ultrabooks, the Yoga 13 is very thin. Intel requires a 13.3” (or smaller) ultrabook to be at most 18mm thick, but there’s a provision that says if a laptop has a touchscreen, it can be up to 20mm thick. Well, Lenovo’s IdeaPad Yoga 13 includes a touchscreen, but it still comes in at just 17mm thick. It also manages to do all this without sacrificing battery life, as Lenovo still rates the Yoga for over eight hours of battery life. Things get even better from there, as not only do you get a touchscreen, but it uses an IPS panel. Hallelujah! The panel looks great with very wide viewing angles, and it needs them because the hinge will allow the display to swing open 360 degrees and you can convert the Yoga 13 into a tablet. Once the display gets beyond ~180 degrees, the keyboard shuts off and you can hold the unit and interact with it like any other tablet, and the soft-touch coating on the palm rest ensures that the system is easy to hold and it won’t slip or scratch if you place it on a table/desk in tablet mode.

As the tablet interface requires Windows 8, availability is still a ways out, but even in this relatively early form the design looks extremely solid. The Yoga 13 will come with Ivy Bridge at release (Lenovo could neither confirm nor deny the presence of IVB in the demo unit, though we’re 99% sure it was there), it will ship with a Samsung SSD, and it also takes advantage of Intel’s ultrabook technologies that let the laptop wake up the wireless interface and sync email and Internet data while the unit is in sleep mode.

This is really the ultrabook that we want to be testing and recommending right now, and if all goes well it should be available by the end of the year. We’ll have to see if anyone can do ultrabook better in the interim, but having used the touchscreen Metro interface—and more importantly, having seen the IPS display—the other ultrabook vendors have a lot to fear from Yoga. Even if you don’t care about the tablet aspect, and even if you don’t want a touchscreen interface, the display and industrial design alone make this the one to watch for. It’s a just shame we have to wait so long for the release.

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  • LifeInFocus - Thursday, January 12, 2012 - link

    I have a ThinkPad that I have been using for four years and because it has the best keyboard for touch typists I keep upgrading it.

    This new machine looks great BUT look at the keyboard. There is no way I would buy that machine with that kind of chicklet style keyboard.

    The reason people want a laptop and tablet is so they can type and do touchscreen. If the keyboard is bad why bother.

    Are you listening Lenovo? Go back to your best keyboard otherwise this will be a flop.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, January 12, 2012 - link

    You can't get the traditional ThinkPad style keyboard into this sort of form factor (re: ultra-thin). The keyboard felt decent to me in the limited time I spent withe the Yoga, but obviously that's not really sufficient for me to come to any real conclusion. We'll see what the system is like when it actually launches.
  • LifeInFocus - Thursday, January 12, 2012 - link

    I expected that the form factor was driving the use of a bad keyboard. But why have this kind of laptop/tablet, at least for touch typists and those who wanna be, if the primary interface is bad.

    One of Lenovo's laptop primary advantages has been its excellent keyboard. So, if goes with this keyboard then one of their primary advantages is gone.

    Just have to look at other products who understand that a great keyboard can be THE deciding factor.
  • seapeople - Friday, January 20, 2012 - link

    But this does have a great keyboard... compared to fake touch-screen keyboards on most tablets. Comparable typing speed is probably something like 90 WPM on top of the line keyboard, 70 WPM on this "crappy" thin keyboard, and 30 WPM on an Ipad. Sounds like a fair compromise.
  • Visual - Thursday, January 12, 2012 - link

    I am a bit concerned that all the news about this device do not mention an active digitizer and stylus. It is a must have, the price bump it would bring is ok.

    Also, I am happy that finally some ultrabook, and especially a tablet convertible, has been confirmed as launching with Ivy Bridge. All the "new" models that have been announced with a plain old SB CPU are quite disappointing. Speaking of which, when will Ivy Bridge actually launch? I feel like Intel is purposely delaying it to move its SB parts for a good profit first.

    Anyway, I will manage to survive the wait for Ivy Bridge somehow... but why do Lenovo wan to test my patience even more than that? The quoted "by the end of the year" is a terrible thing to say during January. It does match estimates of Windows 8 final release, but Lenovo should not wait for Windows 8. I'll be happy to have this with Windows 7 as soon as Ivy Bridge becomes available, and if other similar tablets launch earlier Lenovo will lose my sale.

    Lastly, I wonder exactly what CPU and GPU this tablet will have. I recall AT reporting there are a slower and a faster version on the desktop, but only the faster one for mobile Ivy Bridge. Then again, a tablet like this may use some ULV mobile chip, which may launch later than the already announced models and have slower speeds... Can you find some details about this?
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, January 12, 2012 - link

    It will have ULV IVB when it launches. I believe the time frame for IVB launch is March or April, so that's when the exciting stuff comes out. Note that there are a lot of laptops with IVB at the show, but pre-CES Intel's directions were that manufacturers could not come out and say, "This will launch with Ivy Bridge." I think Intel changed their stance this week, but not everyone got the memo. Also, if I'm not mistaken, the touchsreen supports up to 10-finger multitouch; does that answer your question in regards to whether or not there's an active digitizer? (But no stylus AFAIK.)
  • Visual - Friday, January 13, 2012 - link

    An active digitizer is one that uses a special stylus which can send info about pressure level from a pressure-sensitive tip, orientation of the pen so you can use the other end as an eraser or rightclick, and often position above the display when it isn't even touching it completely for mouse-over without click.
    I guess technically I should have asked about "dual digitizer" as purely active one would not have finger touch sensitivity, and I do want that part as well.

    The lack of stylus and the stupidity of waiting for final Win 8 before this launches practically kills it for me. I am way too spoiled from my TM2 tablet, perfectly usable with Win7 btw. Even though I am not an artist and don't use it for drawing, I really love the stylus when playing normal windows apps and games that require a mouse. (Mainly Eve Online now, in laptop mode instead of folded in tablet mode because of the chat and weapon shortcuts, but there are lots of other games that work well too; Civ 5 is the last example of a game that was quite suited to tablet mode, but would still need a stylus for the smaller bits).

    Anyway, thank you for the info. The only thing I am left wondering is how is the ULV Ivy Bridge GPU performance-wise, but I guess we'll see some reviews soon.
  • nevertell - Thursday, January 12, 2012 - link

    Where's my trackpoint ?

    I wish they'd release something like this under the thinkpad brand and have it with HDD protection and a trackpoint. I can't stand trackpads, as good as they are.

    But I don't really understand why aren't they writing better drivers for the trackpoint for windows, since it only allows you to scroll certain windows, you can never get "raw" scroller input out of it. Seems odd, since this makes it a bit more problematic to use everyday, but it works perfectly in linux, youhave the third (middle) mouse button and you can scroll anything you could with a normal mouse.
  • pip7345 - Friday, January 13, 2012 - link

    I would buy this if it can stream HD movies from Netflix or similar service without video lag or overheating.

  • mgl888 - Saturday, January 14, 2012 - link

    It run ivy bridge... HD videos should be a piece of cake!

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