Design & Chassis

The Yoga 2 Pro continues with the design philosophy of other Lenovo Ultrabooks like the U300s. Rather than imitate a MacBook Air and taper to a thin edge, the styling when closed is more like that of a closed book. The shell of the device is entirely soft touch plastic, including on the bottom. The front lip has an edge with a rubberized coating, which is used as a grip to prevent the device from sliding around when opened up to extreme angles and used in tent mode. The soft touch plastic continues to the interior, where it surrounds the island style backlit keyboard.

The chassis is solid, but the lid has some flex to it. The 0.61" (15.5 mm) frame feels thin but solid, and the 3.06 lb weight is suitable for carrying in a bag. There are only two USB ports, with only one of them being USB 3.0. The 2.0 port can be powered when the device is off to allow charging a smartphone or other device. Lenovo has offered the Yoga 2 Pro in both grey and a vibrant “Clementine Orange”.

Moving from the Alienware, using the Yoga 2 Pro as a laptop is an experience. The keyboard has good travel for a thin device, and the keys have an aural indicator (which I like). The trackpad measures 3.5” x 2.25” (90mm x 57mm) and comes across as quite smooth. As seems to be the standard these days, the trackpad is a clickpad, with no discrete left and right click buttons. While I prefer dedicated left and right buttons on the trackpad, I do see the tradeoff of a clickpad to allow a larger area for the trackpad.

The trackpad supports all of the Windows 8 gestures for charms and app switching, among others. I found these to be a big distraction though, as often when I was typing my palm would brush the trackpad and I would switch to another app. The palm rejection could use some work, but if I disabled all of the gestures I was much happier. In my opinion, they are not really necessary. I have never been a huge fan of trackpads and due to my usage model, I have always preferred the track point available on the ThinkPad lines, or preferably, a real mouse.

The key point of the device is the hinge, which allows the screen to open a full 360° to make the device into a tablet. As I alluded to earlier, we bought this device first and foremost as a laptop. I did not really expect the hinge to be a big deal. I was wrong.

With a touchscreen and Windows 8.1, this device (as you should expect) is just as happy running desktop applications as it is in the modern world of Windows 8.1. For as much as Windows 8 has caused controversy in the computing world, a form factor like this is what I would imagine Microsoft's original plan migrated towards. You can easily switch from laptop to stand mode, and use it completely as a consumption device. If you need to send an email, switch it back, and you’ve got a full keyboard. It is funny how something so simple as being able to open a laptop wider can completely change the way you use it, but that’s the case with the Yoga 2 Pro

Laptop Mode

As a laptop, the Yoga is a device to get things done on the move. It feels as if there is no compromise, unlike some of the other two-in-one devices with a removable keyboard, which can be top heavy since the internals of the laptop are in the screen. Since the internals are still in the keyboard portion of the chassis, it feels and behaves like any other laptop.

Tent Mode

By folding the device like an upside down V, the user can implement tent mode. If the user wanted to do any sort of touch mode activities, tent mode is great because with the rubberized front edge and the V shape the device is extremely sturdy. Pecking at the screen in this mode has no bounce. If you have a flat surface and want to play a touch game, this mode is the best.

Tablet Mode

When I bought the Yoga 2 Pro, I thought it would be nice to be able to use the laptop as a tablet in a pinch, but, like most preconceptions, I was wrong. It can be used as a tablet like this, but the 13.3" screen and 3 lbs of weight can make it unwieldy. The Surface Pro 3 is almost half the weight as a comparison. Furthermore, in this mode the keyboard is tucked underneath, so it is not very comfortable to hold due to your fingers resting on the keys (which thankfully are deactivated when the screen pivots past a certain point). Unless the user is walking around carrying the Yoga, there is almost no reason to ever use it like this. There is one other potential usage scenario for this mode, in that some airlines are now allowing tablets to be used during take off and landing, allowing business travellers to continue working rather than having 20 minutes of downtime.

Stand Mode

For me, stand mode is actually the one mode that changes my paradigm for tablet use. The tablet world has been pushing for lighter devices with smaller screens in order to make it easier to hold them for long periods of time. However my experience has been that the Yoga 2 Pro in Stand Mode is much better for most of what I ever do with a tablet.

This mode makes media consumption great, moreso than a tablet with a cover that doubles as a stand. Folding the keyboard underneath makes for an extremely sturdy base, and the screen can be positioned at any angle that works best for the user. If you have ever tried to watch something in bed on a laptop, the keyboard sits between you and the screen, so it sits farther away. With a tablet, it needs to be held. The ingenious (but in hindsight obvious) solution of an extended range hinge means the user can keep the screen close, have a much larger screen, and not have to hold the device. Though I haven’t had the *cough* pleasure *cough* of flying with it yet, it seems like a good sized device for a cramped economy class seat. Stand Mode makes you rethink how to use a hybrid PC.

Yoga 2 Pro (left) versus Toshiba Satellite Radius (right)

For those not sold on the hinge, there is clearly a demand. Since the launch of the Yoga series, several other laptop OEMs have introduced a device with a similar hinge.

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  • Egg - Saturday, August 16, 2014 - link

    It's fixed with a recent Windows update :D
  • room200 - Thursday, July 31, 2014 - link

    You cannot upgrade the wireless card. Even though the card is a common Intel card, the card has to be on the "whitelist". Lenovo and HP have been doing that to ALL of their laptops. When you put in a card not sold by them, you will be met with "1802: Unauthorized network card is plugged in - Power off and remove the miniPCI network card." And you will find that the computer will not boot! Unless you buy the wireless card from them (even though it is the same as the card you can get on Amazon), they have hard-coded identification information into the bios of the card. Also, most times they don't carry an upgrade, and when they do it costs 4 to 7 times what the Ebay/Amazon/Tiger Direct card costs.
  • Egg - Thursday, July 31, 2014 - link

    Dude do you know how to read? I own a Yoga 2 Pro. I *typed* the comment on 5 Ghz Wi-Fi.

    All you need is the correct card. I bought mine at mfactors; it cost me $40. I can't guarantee that ones from eBay or amazon will work, for some reason FCC stickers are a good sign that it will work.
  • lolTyler - Thursday, July 31, 2014 - link

    How much better is the AC card in your opinion? I'm still running the stock card and it's incredibly flaky. I tried updating my drivers using the Intel's latest and the wireless drivers broken my trackpad. (Shit you not) - I haven't checked up on it 2 months though, may of been fixed.

    I was a day -4 Yoga 2 Pro owner. I got my Yoga a couple days before release when Best Buy posted it for sale early.

    Here's my list of things I've found wrong the device that hasn't been stated:
    - Terrible driver support. The Yoga 2 Pro is "flagship" ultrabook from Lenovo, yet it hasn't seen a major driver update since November 2013, other than a "Lenovo Motion Control" update pushed out in April '14

    - Mustard Yellow: (Already stated, but I really want to nail this one home) This still isn't fixed and Lenovo won't recognize it. I've done the fix and only in Daily (or High Performance) mode with the brightness on max is the yellow issue fixed. As a programmer who needs to also do a lot of design work, the lack of rgb accuracy in certain brightness modes is a huge problem.

    - Shutdown problems: Ever so often I shutdown my Yoga and it just hangs on a black screen with the keyboard lit up and won't turn off without my holding the power button. Happens every 1 out of 10 times. Might be a program I installed, but this has happened since day one for me.

    - Keys stuck/still enabled when switching modes: Sometimes when I switch my Yoga from laptop to stand/tent/tablet modem, Windows detects keys as being pressed and won't stopped repeating the key press until I switch my Yoga back to laptop. ~(1 out of 30 chance) Also, on rare occasions, the keyboard and trackpad aren't disabled in tablet mode. ~(1 out of 100 chance)

    - Wireless: The stock wireless card is abysmal, but this isn't just a Yoga problem. I get better reception on my phone sometimes and other times my Yoga fails to connect or drops connection. Depends on the router. The lack of 5GHz dual-band and AC is a joke.

    - Rubberized material: Apparently they fixed this on the lower end Yoga 2 (non pro), but the rubberized texture on the lid is a massive blemish magnet. I just went on vacation and something in my backpack rubbed up against my Yoga which was in a black case and left a dark smear across the lid of my Yoga. I tried cleaning it with Alcohol and also baking soda; but because of the material, it won't come out.

    - Yoga is cooking itself?: I noticed this right before my vacation. The corners of my Yoga by the heat vents are slowly turning brown: & - Notice these are opposite sides by the yellow AC jack in the first picture. I've never owned a silver laptop before, so I don't know if this is common. But for a device that's less than a year old and "premium," this is a let down. This might just be a lack of material experience on my part. I don't do anything too intense on my Yoga, most gaming I've done is for ~18h total over the live of my Yoga.

    - Windows 8.1 Hidpi: (Everyone's saying this, but again, huge deal) Not Lenovo's fault, but Hidpi mode is a mess. Sure, it's gotten better, but it still sucks. Chrome, my primary browser is also a mess.
  • Papa - Thursday, July 31, 2014 - link

    There is a bios fix for the mustard yellow issue. No need to fiddle with modes anymore.

    I think this is it:
  • lolTyler - Friday, August 1, 2014 - link

    Oh wow, that's a new BIOs fix, less than a month old. I'll check it out, thanks!
  • lolTyler - Saturday, August 2, 2014 - link

    Just did this "fix," and it's still a no go. Yellows are as mustardary as ever.

    I also tried locating the "new" Energy Manager that was released recently, which is suppose to help. I couldn't find a legit download. Only users posting random fileshare sites on Lenovo's forums with 60 minute download times and questionable package names.

    I tried updating my current install of Energy Manager and I get a network error. Lenovo is really dropping the ball on their customer service.

    I have a huge love/hate relationship with this laptop. My feelings for it are bio-polar, changing on a dime. When it works, it's great. When it doesn't, it fails hard.
  • KingGheedora - Friday, August 1, 2014 - link

    The shutdown/restart problems will only get worse. BEWARE THIS LAPTOP. I have owned the Y2Pro since February, and at first the shutdown problem happened once every few weeks, but then I started getting random reboots and lockups with corrupt screen image while watching XBMC, which seemed like they were happening due to heat. Once that started happening everything went downhill. The laptop wouldn't boot up, it just kept trying to boot, the keyboard backlight would flash, and then it would try to boot up again. That just keeps happening over and over.

    Initially I could leave the laptop alone for a while and then it would eventually boot. But the problem got worse and worse until 3 weeks ago. I haven't been able to boot it up at all. I even opened it and disconnected the battery and then tried booting, still not working.

    This is a common problem with this model. There are many users in the Lenovo support forums who have had this issue, had their laptop replaced, and had the issue again with the replacement model they got back. Some users eventually got a full refund. I just got the RMA set up and will be sending mine in for the first time this week.
  • lolTyler - Friday, August 1, 2014 - link

    Wow, mine hasn't been that bad. I got my first lock up two weeks ago. The funniest part about it is someone was admiring my Yoga when it completely seized up. I'm sure it's a software issue, but like I said, the drivers haven't been updated in forever, so go figure.

    I've thought about trying to RMA or get a refund, but I'm still "partially" satisfied with my Yoga and there's nothing else on the market that intrigues me outside of a MBA.
  • Egg - Saturday, August 16, 2014 - link

    Sorry for late reply.

    I haven't experienced the mustard yellow problems, shutdown problems, key sticking problems, or the wireless problems. I've used stock wireless on other Yoga 2 Pros and haven't noticed anything out of the ordinary, but not for too long.

    I haven't really bothered to update the drivers, but I think you're right that there aren't many new ones. I probably don't mind any but the graphics drivers. I guess I got lucky; a friend had the boot issues out of box, sent it back, and got a perfect one.

    I just switched back to Chrome after discovering Chrome 37 (on the beta channel) has HiDPI support and fixes the kerning issue :)

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