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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  • CCrew - Friday, October 26, 2012 - link

    As a user that just bought (and will be returning) one of the Yoga's on Win8 launch day, let me point out that you can't get more than a 128gb SSD in the device. Lenovo carves that into 8 separate partitions used for recovery and other undisclosed uses (and hides from OS) leaving you with two partitions of 63gb and 24gb. On the 24gb is the drivers and the recovery software, so that can't be nuked to be added to the main partition. The main partition after personalizing is left with 43gb of usable space. Don't know about you, but that's certainly NOT enough to be workable for me.
    Nice device from a hardware standpoint, and I'm primarily a Mac user so I appreciate quality hardware and can make a decent (and fair) judgement but in this day and age a 128gb SSD is on the bottom end of usable on a good day, not letting me use all of it is a showstopper. So if a grand total of 60gb of usable space is good for you hit the associated "buy" button I guess, as the rest of the package is fairly nice. Bottom cover is held on with screws and appears removeable, I'll let someone else void their ability to return/warranty to open it up to see if anything inside is upgradeable. I'd nuke all the partitions personally and boot it from USB to do a fresh install but frankly At the $1k price tag I'm averse to nuking it too far and sadlling the merchant with a machine that can't be put back on the shelf in factory condition - and given there's no documentation on why 8 (WTH?) partitions it could be more work to blow it down for a clean install than it's worth. Especially since it has a recovery button in hardware that ties in.
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