Lenovo may be the No. 1 PC maker in the world, but it got most of the way there by selling brick-like ThinkPad people were "issued" by their employer, not machines consumers would actually buy. The sleek IdeaPad Yoga changed things, however, and now that laptop's inspired design has earned a place in Lenovo's business line with the ThinkPad Yoga.
Just like the consumer version (now the Yoga 2 Pro), the ThinkPad Yoga has a fully articulating screen hinge that lets it "transform" between four modes: laptop, tablet, display and tent. But the ThinkPad Yoga tweaks the design in some key ways. First, there's the ThinkPad's signature red TrackPoint nub in the middle of the keyboard. Also, buyers have the option of a hard disk or solid-state drive for storage (it as just an SSD on the original).
But the biggest change is how the tablet handles tablet mode. With the consumer Yoga (and Yoga Pro), the keyboard is automatically disabled when the screen swings past 180 degrees, but the keys were still depressable, which Lenovo says felt a bit weird for some customers. The ThinkPad Yoga softens this problem by locking the keyboard when in tablet mode. Also a pair of tiny "feet" extend from the bottom to ensure the keys don't get dragged.
I got a little hands-on time with the ThinkPad Yoga, and came away liking it. It's pretty thin (0.74 inch) and light (3.48 pounds) as ThinkPads go, which is a plus. The flexible Yoga design translates well to the ThinkPad, and holding it in tablet mode, I thought the locked keyboard gave me a more confident grip.
As innovative as the Yoga's hinge is, the number of workplace scenarios where it'll be useful is probably fairly limited. If you're like me, and your work laptop is connected to a workstation 95% of the time, you probably won't be needing the multiple "modes" all that much. But for on-the-go workhorses who want all their "stuff" in one machine, it could have real value.
The ThinkPad Yoga runs a fourth-generation Intel Core processor ("Haswell") and the screen is 12.5 inches. It can be either HD (1,280 x 720) or full HD (1,920 x 1,080).
Of course, it also comes packing the same ThinkPad security features as well as the line's OneLink port, which lets users consolidate all connections — including USB, HDMI and power) through a single connector to an external hub (optional, $120). Subtle change: the wireless "kill switch" is now a function key and not on the side.