CES 2014: ThinkPad Yoga Hands-on—Retractable Keyboard and the Best Trackpad Ever!

Posted on 23 January 2014 by

lenovo-laptop-convertible-thinkpad-yoga-silver-front-1

Intel had an impressive showing of convertible devices at the annual CES 2014 convention two weeks ago. Among an array of Ultrabooks was the new 12.5 inch Thinkpad Yoga which I got to check out for the first time. Beyond Lenovo’s classic ‘Yoga’ convertible mechanism is a smart retractable keyboard and an amazing trackpad.

The Thinkpad Yoga is Lenovo’s first forray of the Yoga convertible design into their professionally targeted ThinkPad line. In addition to the screen, which can Flip all the way back to convert the unit to a tablet, Lenovo has designed what they call the ‘lift-and-lock’ keyboard. When you Flip the screen back to convert to tablet mode, the keys lower to become flush with the keyboard base, like a frightened turtle pulling its head into its shell.

Why do this? Lenovo realized that feeling and pushing the raised keys on the back of other Yoga devices made for a less than ideal experience. Not only is it uncomfortable to feel the keys back there, but in my experience with Yoga devices in the past, it sometimes feels like you’re going to break the keys if you happen to be gripping the unit tightly.

The retractable keys of the lift-and-lock keyboard not only become flush with the keyboard base, but they really do feel like they lock in place well; there’s no bothersome wiggle and you hardly realize they are there when you’re in tablet mode (and fears of damaging them felt largely eliminated in my brief time with the Ultrabook). The lift-and-lock keyboard is only available on the Thinkpad Yoga, but I’d love to see it make its way to the other Yoga devices as well.

Another thing I would love to see on other Yoga devices—and all other laptops for that matter—is the amazing trackpad that’s built into the ThinkPad Yoga. Apple is to blame for the widespread adoption of the all-in-one-trackpad among PC manufacturers, where many implementations sacrificed function for form. The Yoga Pro trackpad, on the other hand, has incredible feedback. The entire trackpad is truly floating and can be clicked all over with excellent feedback and travel, unlike many other trackpads where only the middle and bottom of the trackpad offer any good clicking real estate.

If you watched the video above: yes indeed there is a stylus! That one was apparently glued in place.

Starting at $999 with Haswell, convertibility, lift-and-lock keyboard, the best trackpad I’ve ever used, and options for a 1080p screen and digitizer, the ThinkPad Yoga should be seriously considered for anyone looking for a productivity Ultrabook.

Find out more at the ThinkPad Yoga page in our Ultrabook Database.

  • spejr

    I really like this one. But, they could fit a 13.3″ screen in that chassis and put the full 28W TDP processor in it. Or reduce the chassis size and weight slightly for the same specs. As a student i would appreciate a lightweight convertible with digitizer and maximum screen size/resolution at minimum size/weight. Maybe there’ll be a future ideapad version with digitizer option.

    Though i suspect that the next true generation of laptops will morph from tablets, as that segment seem to be much more creative, bold and adaptive to the raised consumer expectations in both hardware and software. Which actually is strange as its all the same companies.

  • spejr

    Also, when you come home or to your office and hook it up to an external screen. it would be really awesome to just flip the screen under the keyboard and use the computer like regular but with that bigger screen. For me that is a loss of a really useful “mode” for this “multi-mode” device.

  • molasses

    I thought the Yoga 2 Pro was for professionals. For whom is the Thinkpad Yoga for? Professional professionals? Lenovo has been the reason for the downfall of the ThinkPad line. Now with their upcoming IBM server purchase, they’ll also bring that down.

    • DavidC1

      Thinkpad Yoga is for business users. Yoga 2 Pro is more for “Prosumer” devices, high end.

      I wouldn’t say with their record sales they are bringing it down. They are expanding the line beyond what IBM could do.

    • tosis

      Last Summer, my IT department has stopped making Thinkpads a choice when getting a new or upgrading a system. They only offer HP EliteBooks, Dell Latitudes, Dell Precisions and, for those who whined, MacBook Pros.

      I guess that means something. At least for my company.

      • Dave Rice

        The ThinkPad is for prosumers and the Yoga 2 Pro is for somewhat-prosumers. Neither are for business, haha.

  • Voni

    As someone that had the 2012 Samsung Series 9 and now bought the Thinkpad Yoga with i7 and 8gb ram, this is what I have to say about the Thinkpad Yoga:

    -The keyboard is amazing, as can be expected.
    -I work in humanitarian aid, so I often travel in difficult conditions – which my samsung did not like and the screen eventually died, so the Lenovo professional line is much appreciated, and the laptop feels really sturdy.
    -The trackpad is good, but I do feel that the Samsung one was on par
    -The 12.5″ screen on a 13″3 chassis is a bit annoying, but you quickly get used to it.
    -One big issue is that sometimes when on battery, the laptop automatically stops giving power to USB ports, which can be VERY annoying…

    -The biggest single complaint I have is with the switch to win 8.1, which is making it hard for me to properly evaluate the laptop, because it is full of bugs – the computer crashes, gets stuck, sometimes the mouse disappears when switching back from the different touch modes…The bottom line is that it feels like the Thinkpad Yoga is ahead of its time, and that Win 8.1 is not able to cope with its versatility very well…hopefully Win 9 will change that.

    A great laptop for those that really need durability and the tablet mode, if not then go with the Samsung ATIV 9…

  • Luis M.

    Another pretend business notebook from Lenovo.

  • DavidC1

    This is too heavy. It should be 2.7lbs at the max, and that’s stretching it too far.

    Also the battery life is not too impressive and its a pricey device.

    Ultrabooks will continue to sell mediocre numbers until what they offer for the dollar becomes lot better.

    Think Core i5 128GB device at $999, with XPS-like quality materials and 2.5lbs, and non-touch keyboard with 44WHr+ battery(and efficient enough for 8 hours or more life), and a GOOD digitizer(or at least a good capacitive display to use with passive pens).

    They are close, and some meet that, but none of them meet all.

  • Dave Rice

    The ThinkPad is for prosumers and the Yoga 2 Pro is for somewhat-prosumers. Neither are for business, haha.

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  • ClioCreslind

    Lenovo really made a mess out of the “Yoga” moniker.

    With “(Ideapad) Yoga”, “(Thinkpad) Yoga”, “Yoga 2”, and “Yoga 2 Pro”… most people will just remember “Make” and “Model”, and hence will mentally remember “Lenovo-Yoga”, “Lenovo-Yoga 2” etc…

    Now try telling consumers the “Lenovo-THINKPAD-Yoga” is higher-end than the “Yoga 2”, even the “Yoga 2 pro”; and watch them getting totally confused which one is which.

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