Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14 Review

by Reads (30,248)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Software & Support
    • 6
    • Upgrade Capabilities
    • 4
    • Usability
    • 8
    • Design
    • 7
    • Performance
    • 6
    • Features
    • 7
    • Price/Value Rating
    • 6
    • Total Score:
    • 6.29
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Overview

  • Pros

    • Excellent touch display
    • Slick keyboard raising mechanism in tablet mode
    • Great keyboard
    • Solid build quality
    • Long battery life
  • Cons

    • Heavy for an Ultrabook
    • Slow hard drive bottlenecks performance
    • Only one configuration offered

The Yoga 14 takes a slight liberty on the traditional ThinkPad license by incorporating a 360 degree display hinge that allows it to transform into a rather unwieldy 14-inch tablet. We gave the Yoga 14 high marks for its excellent full HD touch display, good keyboard, solid quality, and all-day battery life. We were less impressed with its hefty weight and slow hard drive, but found the pros outweighed the cons and gave the Yoga 14 our recommendation to business and home users alike.

Lenovo Yoga S3 14 front 2Build and Design

The Yoga 14 looks like a standard ThinkPad on first inspection but a closer look reveals the twin display hinges aren’t sitting in their usual positions; that’s because these are designed fold the display 360 degrees backwards to effectively turn the Yoga 14 into a tablet. We use the term “tablet” lightly because the Yoga 14 is not only big for a tablet at 14” but also quite heavy at 4.3 pounds. Needless to say you won’t be tossing around the Yoga 14 in tablet mode around like an iPad Air. The average 14” Ultrabook can weigh up to a pound less and also be one or two tenths of an inch thinner than the Yoga 14’s 0.83” height. Despite its weight and thickness the Yoga 14 is admittedly still useful as a tablet, especially in cramped situations where it might not be possible to fully unfold a notebook.

Besides allowing tablet functionality, the 360 degree hinge also allows the Yoga 14 to sit in a ‘tent’ mode when the display is folded back 270 degrees and a presentation mode where the keyboard is facing down and the display is tilted back about 300 degrees. The display hinge is stiff enough in presentation mode to prevent excessive display wobble.

Lenovo Yoga S3 14 standLenovo isn’t the first to pioneer a 360 degree hinge, but it is the first to address many designs’ inherent issue with exposed keyboards. Traditional 360 degree designs leave the keyboard exposed in tablet mode – it’s inactive but the keys are still pressable. The Yoga 14 still has its keyboard exposed in tablet mode but the keyboard’s tray rises up to sit flush around the keys as the display is folded backwards, effectively creating a flat surface and furthermore not allowing the keys to be pressed. This is an effective solution for making the Yoga 14 feel more natural in tablet mode. It’s nice to see some original thinking.

The Yoga 14’s build quality is solid overall. There’s minimal flex in the chassis which is always something we look for in notebooks. The plastics used are relatively thick and make a solid sound when tapped by a fingernail. The back of the display lid is aluminum which lends a bit of extra protection and stiffness to the lid. The fit and finish is good with even spacing between parts and no sharp edges. The plastics keep it practical with their anti-glare properties that don’t show fingerprints or create reflections.

Lenovo Yoga S3 14 botYou’ll have to be a bit exploratory if you plan to upgrade the Yoga 14 in any way; there are no dedicated access panels. The entire bottom of the chassis would need to be removed. The 2.5”, 7mm height hard drive in our review unit would at the very least be upgradeable provided you can get to it.

Input and Output Ports

The Yoga 14 has a standard assortment of ports for an Ultrabook this size including three USB, two of which are 3.0 and the other a sleep-and-charge, HDMI, and lastly an SD media card reader. It lacks Ethernet and VGA but Lenovo has USB adapters available for both. The Yoga 14 in true business notebook fashion includes docking station support. The standard $119.99 OneLink Dock includes two USB 3.0, two USB 2.0, HDMI and Ethernet. The more expensive $179.99 OneLink Dock Pro is what you’ll need to get if you want DVI-D or DisplayPort however. The Yoga 14’s ports are located on the right and left sides of the notebook. All picture descriptions are left to right.

Lenovo Yoga S3 14 left ports
Left: AC power connector, OneLink port, USB 2.0 (always on), headphone/microphone combination jack, SD card slot

Lenovo Yoga S3 14 right ports
Right: Power button, volume rocker, screen lock rotate button, 2x USB 3.0, HDMI

Screen and Speakers

One of the Yoga 14’s most appreciable features is its 14-inch full HD display (1920×1080 pixels). It has a slick glass surface and 10-point touch support. This display uses an IPS panel to achieve better color reproduction than a traditional TN panel, and haspractically unlimited viewing angles. The latter is more or less a requirement on any device that can be used as a tablet – the picture needs to look the same whether you’re looking straight on or from an angle. The only potential downside of this display is its reflective glass surface could be annoying outdoors or under overhead lighting.

Lenovo Yoga S3 14 screen frontLenovo Yoga S3 14 screen side
Lenovo Yoga S3 14 screen forwardLenovo Yoga S3 14 screen back

The Yoga 14 has no visible speaker grilles because the speakers are built into the chassis. The audio setup has few redeeming qualities other than the fact it produces sound. There’s no discernible bass and the sound is overall muffled likely due to the speakers’ placement within the chassis.

Lenovo Yoga S3 14 pointer stickKeyboard and Touchpad

The Yoga 14’s keyboard has a slightly different feel than a standard ThinkPad keyboard due to the raise-able tray we talked about in the design section of this review. This tray reduces the key travel a hair which takes away some tactile feedback. Nonetheless we enjoyed typing on the Yoga 14’s keyboard. It has one level of white backlighting that can be switched off. The keys have a precise up-and-down action and make a pleasant sound that’s not too loud. The keyboard has zero flex to boot. All of the standard keys as on a desktop keyboard are present including dedicated home, end, page up, and page down. The Ctrl and Fn keys at the lower left are interposed per ThinkPad tradition – this might take getting used to if you haven’t tried a ThinkPad before. The single issue we found with the Yoga 14’s keyboard is the same complaint we’ve had with other recent ThinkPads we reviewed: There’s no caps lock indicator light.

This keyboard has a feature called Function Lock or ‘FnLk’, activated by pressing the Fn and Esc keys which makes the F-row keys (F1-F12) function as F1-F12 instead of the other functions listed on them like raising and lowering the volume, screen brightness and others. When FnLk is activated, you can still access the other functions by pressing the Fn key in conjunction with the appropriate F key.

Lenovo Yoga S3 14 touchpadThe Yoga 14 has a Synaptics ClickPad which foregoes traditional buttons in lieu of a pressable surface. It’s nicely oversized relative to a 14-inch display and provides a dependable matte surface for accurate finger tracking. The click action is a bit excessive and makes more noise than it should. The biggest downside of this setup is that it leaves out a set of dedicated buttons for the track point in the center of the keyboard, an omission bound to irk track point diehards. The top left and right of the ClickPad indeed function as left and right clicks respectively, but this doesn’t feel as natural as dedicated buttons would. As of writing this, Lenovo’s newly released ThinkPads include revised ClickPad setups with dedicated buttons for the track point.


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