Thinkpad Yoga 12.5″ 20CD S1, Review

This is an almost perfect combination of an ultrabook and a tablet. 😀

The first felling when opened is the feeling of mechanical QUALITY that can handle rough treatment. I have a strong feeling that should I drop it it is more likely to dent my floor…

This is a review posted on Lenovo, here expanded with some stuff that I needed to cut out, and later modifications (actually posted in 2016)

I have always looked at tablets as a poor solution except in a few scenarios, but the Yoga gives us the best of both worlds!! (except of course it being heavier than a normal tablet)
But for the extra weight we get both a tablet (with mechanically locked keys and flat back) and an ultrabook with a full 64-bit Win 8.1 at hand, that can EASILY handle say two different FullHD videos playing on internal and external screen without even feeling close to a bottleneck.

The ONLY really negative thing I have, is that:
I miss separate mouse-buttons.

A few more USB’s would have been nice, but i guess it is a matter of keeping the size down.

PROS:
Processor
Memory
Storage
Input/Output compatibility
Wireless card
Display resolution
Display performance
Video card
Durability
Build Quality
key-lock as tablet
good viewing angles
USB 3.0
Replaceable battery – though behind back plate

CONS:
no real mouse buttons
large bezels
no fingerprint reader (nor gesture login)
only two usb
Missing Caps-lock LED
Strangely curved keys – getting used to required? [Edit: Yes I got used to it]
Strange digitizer function with external screen
Battery not easy to click off, for prolonged use attached to mains power.

I have been a fan of the build-to-be-used thinkpad laptops since the days of IBM, and they kept the good trend. Laptops not just for play but for 24-7 use year over year.
(This is an upgrade for my ancient X300)

[edit] It was very hard to get hold of a RECOVERY DVD!!! (I succeeded after a long while though)

I bought the full-spec. ¼TB SSD i7 8Gb variant (20CD0038MD) and a OneLink Pro ‘docking’

Specs: https://support.lenovo.com/dk/en/documents/pd030761

[Later upgraded it to a 1TB ssd]
The first felling when opened is the feeling of mechanical QUALITY that can handle rough treatment. I have a strong feeling that should I drop it it is more likely to dent my floor…

I have the feeling that the Yoga solution is the RIGHT solution, and that within a short period all ultrabooks will have touch screen and this bend over functionality. It is so obvious and intuitive when you see it, like opening a booklet all the way round for writing using the back for support.
And with the key locking of this model there are no reason why not any new ultra should be able to bend-over (seen from the users perspective)

The locking of the keyboard and trackpoint when flipped over, leaving an almost flat back is a great idea and an ingenious solution. Why they forgot locking the touchpad movement I do not know (it is inactive though). But as I would have much preferred real mouse-buttons and a fixed touchpad as we are used to on the thinkpads, I assume/hope they will fix/revert that for the next model(s).

I expected the hinges to be a potential weak-point due the complexity of those, but they certainly looks far from weak, I’m quite convinced that these sturdy hinges can take quite a heavy beating.

I have always looked at tablets as a poor solution except in a few scenarios, but the Yoga gives us the best of both worlds!! (except of course it being heavier than a normal tablet)
But for the extra weight we get both a tablet and and ultrabook with a full 64-bit Win 8.1 at hand, that can EASILY handle say two different FullHD videos playing on internal and external screen without even feeling close to a bottleneck.

The ONLY really negative thing I have, is that:
I miss separate mouse-buttons.
Allowing the touchpad to be completely disabled. I never used the touchpad on my x300, but while navigating the trackpoint with the index finger I often rest on the touchpad-area. When doing so now, I have to lift my hand to click the mouse. So I use my external mouse a lot more and the trackpoint much less than I did with my X300. I see the trackpoint as an ingenious solution where you can navigate without moving the hands away from the keyboard. And this is (one of the) reason(s) why I prefer Thinkpads for competitive brands.

I miss the fingerprint reader also though, but see my suggestion below for gesture login.

I could have wished for less bezels. I do not know the technical reason for why they are there, but it is a MUCH better screen than my x300, with a very superior viewing angle.
I haven’t yet tested it in full sunlight but as it is much clearer than the X300, I’m sure it is better here too.

A few more USB’s would have been nice, but i guess it is a matter of keeping the size down.

A few simple firmware suggestions, that could be easily fixed with an upgrade:

  1. I hope that Lenovo will soon add GESTURE LOGIN as a supplement to text-login at the bios-level. It is SO much more intuitive, especially in tablet mode.
    Either by use of the touchpad or the touch-screen. And this could practically substitute the lacking fingerprint reader. It could even be done with five-finger-multi-touch on screen to make it more complicated to mimic.
  2. When the yoga is opened LESS than 180 degrees, then lock the display in landscape-mode. Yes I know I can lock it by the key on the side. But it really makes no sense to turn it to portrait when the keyboard is active. (In portrait-stand-mode, you will open it beyond 240 degrees to get a stable stand anyway)
  3. A way to swap the function of the FnLk LED! As now it is ALWAYS on [Fixed in later update], as I practically never use the ‘fancy-functions’ but use the real F-keys all the time. So I would like the LED as warning rather than the opposite. Could I buy a set of 12 replacement keytops with the F1-F12 print in readable size, and the symbols I never use small I would do so even for £100…

For future variants, PLEASE add an led somewhere for Caps-lock

I have almost entirely used the Yoga in laptop-mode these first two weeks (and in classic windows mode – I strongly dislikes the tiles). But still I find myself increasingly using the finger rather than the mouse to select something on screen. It is fast and literally at the tip of your finger.

The keys and key-movement feel slightly less comfy than the x300 ones, but it might be just a matter of getting used to it. The flatness of the keytops makes perfect sense when flipped over in tablet mode. But as almost all keyboards ‘out there’ have a slight double concave curvature in the keytops it feels ‘new’ to the fingertips that they are ‘flat’ with just a slight upwards curvature sideways.

And a strange thing with the digitizer used with external non-touch monitor
It might be a feature and might be a bug in either the digitizer driver or Win8.
When used with an external screen, the digitizer position on the internal screen is reflected as being on the external one!! But as finger touch stay on the internal one, it may be deliberately done to give access to both screens. It does fell counter intuitive tough – especially with different screen resolutions where not all the external monitor can be reached, so at least it could be a setting somewhere

[ADD:] It CAN drive an additional external UHD/4K display through DP, with a OneLink Pro docking. though ‘only’ in 30Hz not 60Hz – this refresh is quite sufficient for non-gaming usage though. Note that the documentations of the docking claim that this is NOT possible!!! (they say that the max is QHD not QFHD aka UHD/4K)

This gives the working area of FIVE monitors in FHD mode. And is GREAT for e.g. Lync. See monitor review: https://eskerahn.dk/?p=571