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Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 review

January 28th, 2015 · 1 Comment

I won the Yoga that is reviewed here in late Feb 2014, it was for some training and testing and training I did with Intel. Thank you Intel! It took until late April for the Ultrabook to show up on my doorstep. Since I won it, I had “no choice” in the model et al. It is a Lenovo Yoga 13, with an Intel i3-3227 (1.9GHZ) processor, Windows 8 x64 (now 8.1), 8GB of RAM, with a 128GB Samsung SSD hard drive. There is no DVD or LAN connection, Wi-Fi only.

When taking the laptop out of the box I noticed the body flexes. It was more noticeable when sitting on my lap to hold / support it or when holding it with one hand. This flex is not in a good way. If I pick it up on one side one handed and hold that part level, I can see the flex in the case where gravity is pulling it down. Even though it is a very little amount, this is too much flexing of the case. More on that later.

This Yoga is so much better than my old Lenovo 15.6”, of course it was 5 years old when I received this one.

The Yoga has an all day, in fact for me, a multi-day battery life. I really enjoy not having to lug a power brick around. I use it for business so it gets transported in a bag, all over, opened and closed multiple times a day. At a customers, on the seat of my vehicle… so case flex and firmness is needed.

The touchscreen works with no real issues with the software drivers. My wife’s Toshiba is finicky with the touch screen, it works fine unless you start using the mouse then it seems as if the touch screen deactivates itself. On this laptop, I can and do use both the touchpad and touch screen.

Windows 8.1 is well, Win 8.1. I am coming to like it but still prefer to use Classic Shell to make Windows 8 look and act more like Windows 7. You can read my review on Classic Shell here.

The Ultrabook It is the same size (height, width and depth) as my wife’s Toshiba 14” laptop (Satellite U845T-S4165). Her screen bezel is smaller so this 13.3” is not saving you physical space over a 14.1”, in fact it appears that I am losing screen size.

The Yoga series are designed so you can flip the monitor all the way to the back and the laptop becomes a touchpad. While this flexing has been no issue, getting the screen keyboard to come up has been a hit or miss thing. Better than half the time, the keyboard does not appear, I must bring it back to an Ultrabook and then a reboot is required, then I can go to the tablet formation.

The Yoga is actually an “Ultrabook” not a laptop. The term Ultrabook is a Trade Mark, which is a certification by Intel for hardware that meets certain criteria in portability, weight, size, battery life.
It has one USB 3 port, one standard USB port, and a DVI port for connecting monitors or televisions. A combined headphone and audio jack with the only other connection being a SD card slot.

There is no LAN port or DVD drive. My wife’s Toshiba does have the LAN port plus one more USB port and separate Audio/mic jacks. I really like having a LAN port! Hint, hint wink, wink to any builders out there.
A fan always made a grinding when flexing of the case occurred. Then after a couple of months use the fan randomly made the grinding noise, even when flat on my desk or a table.

While researching the fan noise I found out this Lenovo model came out in 2012 and drivers were last updated in 2013. So I am not as excited as I was about winning it in 2014. Also the “retail” value is what I am being 1099’d for.

To see what I could do about it, I took the case apart to see what was going on. There are two cooling fans in the case, the “tolerances” between the fan and the fan shroud are way too small. I understand it is part of making a small light notebook, however usability needed to be considered.

The two fans are located about where the F5 though F9 keys are located. In trying to spin them, I broke a blade off one, by simply using a pencil tip to spin the blade. After removing the part and reassembling, the grinding was much worse, no doubt due to the broken blade. I then took the unit apart and unplugged the fans. The power plug ran both fans.

I can still use the laptop all day but it defiantly gets hot now that the fans are not running. I frequently tilt it so the heat rises out the back air ports. I don’t use it on my lap anymore, without a support of some sort.
Overall, I give the Lenovo Yoga 13 a B grade, it would be a solid B+ if there was a recall / fix by Lenovo for the fan. The screen being able to be larger in the same case would be nice but I did not ding the rating for that. I did ding it for the tablet keyboard not being dependable.

Final thought, when you go to clean your screen from finger prints, use eyeglass cleaner and an eyeglass rag. Spray the cleaner ON THE RAG then wipe the screen. Oh and do it with the laptop off, heaven only knows what settings you will change if you do it while the system is running.

Here are some links I came up with: I used the search terms “Lenovo yoga 13 grinding, buzzing, whirring fan noise”

https://forums.lenovo.com/t5/Idea-Windows-based-Tablets-and/Yoga-13-Fan-Noise/td-p/902693/page/12

http://uselesspuzzles.blogspot.com/2012/11/how-to-fix-lenovo-yoga-fan-noise.html

Until we meet again, have a virus free week!

Tags: Hardware · Purchasing · Technology Review

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 To Build or Not to Build, that is the Question // Feb 10, 2016 at 11:52 am

    […] prefer the Flex series.  I own two of the Flex series and one “plain Jane” laptop. The flex let you fold the laptop back so it can be used like a […]

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