Monday, March 31, 2014

Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga

What can I say about Lenovo's Thinkpad Yoga that hasn't already been said in the dozen or so other reviews? Lisa Gade is hard to beat when it comes to telling you everything about the device, how it works, and why you should (or shouldn't) buy something. Devices like this don't merely allow me to persist, they change the way I do things for the better. 

The machine has it's flaws, but they are incidental to the manufacturing process. A sticking Fn key here and a dead pixel there. What you won't find is a lack of ways to use this device. 

My old desk was fettered by a large monitor, my medium Wacom Intuos Tablet, a workstation, and an array of other gadgets, cables and external drives. My new desk has a decent pair of speakers, a Lenovo One Link Dock, and my Lenovo Thinkpad. This might seem like I've merely uncluttered my life, but devices can do more than that. 

They can save your life. 

Let me explain. We only have a finite amount of time on the planet. Specifically, we are here to produce, create, and do things. Something that saves me time, literally is saving my life for other things. That I don't have to pull anything out of drawers and cabinets to switch gears between projects saves me minutes a day, which becomes another book or video game in the long run. 

When you work for yourself, your time is the greatest resource you have. 

It is what you use to barter with others, create product, and converse with your cohorts and contemporaries. Spending extra on equipment that saves you time is like getting it for free, as it pays you back a little bit every day. Lenovo's Thinkpad Yoga is like that every time I use it. Instead of clearing my desk for a more spartan lay out for me to write, I just flip it around to laptop mode and go. When I want to create textures for my game or take down hand written notes, I turn it back to a tablet and set it down on my desk. 

I probably save 10-15 minutes a day not having to mess with my workspace. It doesn't seem like a lot, but that's probably a 100 hours annually. If it would do the same for you, and you charge more than $20 an hour for your time, a fully loaded Yoga will pay for itself in a year. 

This is where the One Link Dock is really a necessary sidecar to the Yoga. You hook up everything to it, and then run a single cable to your Yoga. The cable is tough enough to take a couple of twists every day when I shift gears between projects and saves me a ton of time messing with cables and moving peripherals around on my desk. I've even dropped the money for a 128 GB SD card to act as my on board back up. When I leave the house, I just pop it out and set it on my desk, in case some calamity befalls my Yoga while I wander. 

Besides the One Link Dock and SD Card, there are some other accessories you'll want to get for your Yoga. 

Get a gaming mouse, even if you don't game. They are more precise and I find that they interact better with small screens with high pixel density. 

Get a decent Wacom-enabled stylus that has an eraser button tip. The Surface Pro pen is still the best stylus I've used, but that isn't to say there aren't others. The pen that comes with the Lenovo isn't bad, but for taking lots of notes or doing more serious visual works it is pretty small in the hand. 

Get a sleeve. The Yoga is tough like any Thinkpad but you'll still want something to throw it in when you take it places, and you will want to take it places. Almost anything that fits one of the newer Retina 13" MacBook Pro laptops will also fit the Lenovo Yoga perfectly. I went to Best Buy and tried out a few on the shelf and they all worked. 

Pick up something to take notes in. Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft's OneNote, or similar are good options. The built in applications aren't bad but they are far from ideal and lack a lot of the options paid applications possess. It's worth it to be able to handwritten notes. My bags (and my back) no longer carry sketchbooks or Moleskines to scribble in as I can write on my Yoga just like it was paper. If you're more of a note taker, OneNote is probably the way to go. Scribbler? Get Sketchbook Pro. 

I would caution people when ordering custom from Lenovo. You will wait, and wait, and wait for your machine to show up. The fastest I've gotten a machine was four weeks and it took almost six to get my Yoga. It was worth the wait for all the time and hassle it saves me, both on my desk and relative to what I carry in my bag. 

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