We were back at Lenovo’s suite today and got a chance to spend a bit more time with a laptop that we didn’t get around to discussing on Tuesday. We’ve covered the ThinkPad and IdeaTab already, but we haven’t spent any time on the IdeaPad line. Where ThinkPad primarily targets business users, IdeaPad is a consumer line. There were plenty of IdeaPad laptops on display, but the one that really stood out is their Yoga 13 laptop. It won’t launch until Windows 8 is released, but already it’s looking to be one of the more promising ultrabooks.

Like all ultrabooks, the Yoga 13 is very thin. Intel requires a 13.3” (or smaller) ultrabook to be at most 18mm thick, but there’s a provision that says if a laptop has a touchscreen, it can be up to 20mm thick. Well, Lenovo’s IdeaPad Yoga 13 includes a touchscreen, but it still comes in at just 17mm thick. It also manages to do all this without sacrificing battery life, as Lenovo still rates the Yoga for over eight hours of battery life. Things get even better from there, as not only do you get a touchscreen, but it uses an IPS panel. Hallelujah! The panel looks great with very wide viewing angles, and it needs them because the hinge will allow the display to swing open 360 degrees and you can convert the Yoga 13 into a tablet. Once the display gets beyond ~180 degrees, the keyboard shuts off and you can hold the unit and interact with it like any other tablet, and the soft-touch coating on the palm rest ensures that the system is easy to hold and it won’t slip or scratch if you place it on a table/desk in tablet mode.

As the tablet interface requires Windows 8, availability is still a ways out, but even in this relatively early form the design looks extremely solid. The Yoga 13 will come with Ivy Bridge at release (Lenovo could neither confirm nor deny the presence of IVB in the demo unit, though we’re 99% sure it was there), it will ship with a Samsung SSD, and it also takes advantage of Intel’s ultrabook technologies that let the laptop wake up the wireless interface and sync email and Internet data while the unit is in sleep mode.

This is really the ultrabook that we want to be testing and recommending right now, and if all goes well it should be available by the end of the year. We’ll have to see if anyone can do ultrabook better in the interim, but having used the touchscreen Metro interface—and more importantly, having seen the IPS display—the other ultrabook vendors have a lot to fear from Yoga. Even if you don’t care about the tablet aspect, and even if you don’t want a touchscreen interface, the display and industrial design alone make this the one to watch for. It’s a just shame we have to wait so long for the release.

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  • solipsism - Thursday, January 12, 2012 - link

    Seeing a lot of larger IPS panels on portables this year. Looks like displays with wide viewing angles will become standard for mid-range consumer notebooks this year. It's about time!
  • B3an - Thursday, January 12, 2012 - link

    I wouldn't say we're seeing a "lot" of IPS panels. But we're finally seeing more of them atleast.

    This ultrabook is definitely one i'd consider getting. Either this or a Win 8 tablet with a keyboard dock that also extends battery life. I'm sure there will be Win 8 devices like this, and also have IPS displays being as it's pretty standard for tablets to have IPS. Wouldn't be surprised if they had 1080p displays too, like the upcoming Android tablets. But with Win 8 they would be the ultimate device.
  • ImSpartacus - Thursday, January 12, 2012 - link

    Yeah, this is basically the first generation of the ultimate do-it-all mobile device.

    And is that soft touch plastic on the hand rest? I'm a total slut for soft touch plastic.
  • Digobick - Thursday, January 12, 2012 - link

    I believe that's actually leather on the hand rest. It keeps the PC from sliding when used in "tablet" mode.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, January 12, 2012 - link

    You're right about it keeping the PC from sliding (that's what Lenovo told us), but I believe they did say it was soft-touch plastic and not leather. I thought it was leather at first as well and even asked, "Is that leather on the palm rest?", and was informed that it is not.
  • agent2099 - Thursday, January 12, 2012 - link

    The screen needs to be able to completely detach and then I'm interested.
  • ImSpartacus - Thursday, January 12, 2012 - link

    Yeah, ASUS's Transformer form factor is definitely compelling. I think you'll get your wish within a year or two in the form of Win8 tablets.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, January 12, 2012 - link

    The screen is still very thin on the Yoga; if you want detachable, the screen component obviously becomes much thicker. Lenovo does have an IdeaTab that has a detachable screen (Tegra 3 hardware), but I have to say that it felt more like an original ASUS Transformer in terms of quality (as opposed to the Transformer Prime).
  • B3an - Thursday, January 12, 2012 - link

    The Prime is around 18mm thick with the dock isn't it? Thats roughly ultrabook thickness. Being as the dock is just a keyboard and battery they should be able to make these kind of docks even thinner if they tried. I see no reason why Win 8 tablets + docks wouldn't be 18mm or under as they'd run on the exact same kind of hardware.
  • seapeople - Friday, January 20, 2012 - link

    Yeah, then pop in an ARM CPU and similarly crappy graphics chipset and we're set, right?

    Oh wait, maybe a full blown Intel top of the line CPU and solid state drive with SATA 3 capability are selling points here?

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