Friday, March 29, 2013

Lenovo Yoga 11

Having had a chance to play with a Surface RT, I knew I wanted a similar device. I like my Surface Pro but while the form factor is great for getting work done, it is less than ideal for generating text and casual computing.
Set Up
As always, make sure you run Windows Update and reboot a couple of times before you freak out and call tech support. When I got mine it barely functioned and as each update was installed my Yoga 11 slowly came to life. If you don’t already have a Microsoft Account, you’ll want to get one, particularly for RT since the Windows Store is the only way to get applications.
If you want to be able to store media, grab an SD card and be prepared to go online and figure out how to set it up as a drive. If I can figure out how to get it to work, I’ll post an update with the directions. So far, I’ve found a bunch of help online, but haven’t had a chance to try any of it out. Saving documents works fine, but setting it up to work with apps that play audio or video takes a little more finessing it sounds like.
Also, You’ll only be able to use specific mice, keyboards, printers, and similar with Windows RT. If you aren’t sure about a particular product, go here.
The built in keyboard has a little bit of flex, but it is still better than my MacBook Air, or any device I’ve used with a similar form factor. The key arrangement is great for writing, and the function keys are assigned to useful shortcuts by default. You can still get to F1-12 via the Fn key if you need them. It is comparable to the keyboard on my W530 and a little nicer to use because of the slim profile and pebbled feel of the palm rests. No doubt, I will make text in serious quantity with this device.
The track pad takes some getting used to. At first you’ll think it is loose or something, but it has a little space to reject accidental clicks and your palm. Like with my MacBook Air, I think my Bluetooth mice will probably find very little use with this device. Haven’t tried hooking up any other peripherals but it did seem to charge my phone a little while it was connected.
The screen, port selection, hinges, and feel of the devices exterior are all great. It is a little heavier than you think it would be for the size, but that’s probably because of the rugged construction and size of the battery. Having a device that outlasts my iPad is going to be pretty useful for generating content and casual computing alike.
Port, button, and speaker arrangement are really well thought out. I'm never bumping the power button by accident and my hands never block the speakers working in either laptop or tablet mode.
Windows RT is surprisingly good in spite of the limitations imposed by only having access to pre-load and Windows Store applications. Word, OneNote, Excel, and Power Point 2013 are pretty great. In particular, I really like Word and OneNote and using them on my Yoga 11 makes me want to upgrade from 2010 on my other machines.
Netflix, Adobe Reader, Kindle, Dropbox, Galactic Reign, and Xbox Smartglass were some of the first apps I loaded. In the little bit I’ve had to test each one, they seem to work as I expected. My only quibble so far is with the Adobe Reader app. Their desktop version is pretty good, but the Metro app needs a serious hug. As usual, with mobile operating systems (except iOS), I struggle to find a decent app to read PDFs with.
I’ve found that the device multitasks well, which was something of a surprise. I can have 4-6 tabs open in a browser, 2-3 Word Documents, OneNote, and Netflix running in snack mode without much in the way of slow down. I really thought I’d be having to exercise some more stringent workspace management to keep things going and maximize battery life, but RT seems to take care of that for me somehow.
The absolute best thing I’ve found about Windows RT? Virtually no OEM bloatware. It came loaded with EBay and two other applications that took one second each to uninstall from via the Start menu. The programs and features list had a single item, a pointing device driver.
Other Thoughts
I really like Windows RT. I was pretty sure I would after most of the tech bloggers gave it the thumbs down, I’m contrary that way. It’s extremely clean, minimalist, and capable with regard to generating content and casual computing. What it lacks in processing power and application access it makes up in pure battery life and usability.
In fact, most of my major quibbles with the hardware and the software are easy to forgive because most, including the single channel WiFi are in the name of preserving battery life. When I don’t absolutely need my Surface Pro, the Lenovo Yoga 11 is what I’ll be carrying. When you work mobile most of the time, having one less cable to carry around or worry about is really nice. Even added together, my Yoga 11 and Surface Pro weigh less than my workstation.
Lenovo makes a really nice device, but they’ve outdone themselves with the Yoga 11. If RT will work for you, and you want something that is more laptop than tablet, it is probably the absolute best device. If you want something that feels more like a tablet, get a Surface RT. The Surface is lighter and seems just as capable with only slightly less battery life.  

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