- attractive display
- high-quality keyboard
- flexible hinge design
- solid performance
- limited port selection
- poor audio quality
Quick TakeThe ThinkPad Yoga S1 is a well-made business convertible with a beautiful flexible display, but it lacks the connectivity to be a true enterprise force.
The Lenovo Yoga line has become quite popular, offering consumers the convenience of a tablet with the stability of a laptop. Now Lenovo wants to afford that same level of flexibility to its enterprise-grade users with the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga S1.
Outfitted with a magnesium alloy build and equipped with an Intel Core i5-4200U CPU and a 128GB SSD the notebook features the durability and performance expected of a business notebook, all while retaining the flexibility of the 360-dgree hinge design that the Yoga namesake has become known for.
However, offering the allure of a consumer ultrabook with the practical needs of a business notebook is no small task. Can the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga S1 walk that fine line? Or will the device stretch itself too thin? Read the full review to find out.
Build and Design
Similar to other ThinkPad devices the Yoga S1 employs a high-quality black matte magnesium alloy build. The understated black protective surface is smooth and cool to the touch, making the device both comfortable to use and easy to transport. Of course in true ThinkPad fashion the alloy construct isn’t only there for superficial appeal; as it affords the device top-notch durability, having passed MIL-SPEC tests for pressure, extreme temperatures, dust and vibrations.
However, unlike the traditional squared Lenovo ThinkPad T Series design, the Yoga S1 sports a softer curved look more akin to the Lenovo ThinkPad S431. The aesthetic much like the rest of the notebook looks to parse the divide between being a practical business tool and a stylish ultrabook.
More in line with the typical Yoga design, the ThinkPad Yoga S1 features the iconic 360-degree display hinge, allowing the notebook to easily transform between the standard notebook, tablet, tent and stand modes. New to the Yoga S1, the molding around the keyboard raises to create a flat surface when display hinge passes 180 degrees. While it may seem like a rather small feature, the flat surface does make the device more comfortable to handle in tablet mode. As with other Yoga devices the majority of the notebook’s buttons (sans a Windows button located below the device’s display) have been positioned along the right side of the device’s chassis. From there you can access the power button, independent volume controls or lock the display’s screen orientation.
Measuring in at 12.5” x 8.7” x 0.76” and weighing in at 3.5 pounds, the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga S1 offers a form factor conducive to travel, but it’s not quite as portable as some of its competitors. Devices such as the 3.35 pound Dell XPS 12 (0.79”), the 2 pound Microsoft Surface Pro 2 (0.53”) or even the 3.06 pound IdeaPad Yoga 2 (0.61”) offer more portable form factors. However the small hit to portability is a small price to pay for the premium durable build employed by the ThinkPad Yoga S1.
Ports and Stylus
Business notebooks typically excel when it comes to connectivity, but the Yoga S1 falls short in this area. The notebook still manages to offer most of the basics, but it pales in comparison to other competing business-class notebooks. The left side of the device offers a OneLink Dock/power connector, a powered USB 3.0 port and an audio/microphone combo jack. The right side of the chassis features a Kensington lock slot, a mini-HDMI connector, a USB 3.0 port and a 4-in-1 card reader. The lack of an Ethernet connector is understandable given the device’s slim frame, but it still would have been nice to see Lenovo include a dongle to make up for the device’s lack of ports. Of course users can remedy the device’s lack of connectivity with the OneLink Dock connector, but that will run users an additional $120 (as listed on Lenovo’s website).
The ThinkPad Yoga S1 also features a 4.5” stylus, which is neatly stored along the front right-hand corner of the device’s chassis. The pen is lightweight, but still feels sturdy and durable when gripped. The tip of the stylus retracts providing an experience akin to using an actual pen when writing on the notebook’s display. In terms of actual performance the stylus proves top-notch as well, boasting accurate hover action and response times.
Display and Sound
Typically business notebooks aren’t known for their display quality, but the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga S1 isn’t an ordinary business notebook. The device features a gorgeous 12.5-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS touch display. Boasting a brightness of 330 nits the Yoga S1 is perfect for reading text and viewing media. While watching a gameplay stream of the upcoming title Titanfall the NBR team was particularly impressed by the screen’s robust color contrast, as the Yoga S1 accurately detailed the game’s constant barrage of bright fiery explosions against the scaling metallic cityscapes.
The display’s touch controls also work wonderfully. Swipes, clicks and multi-finger gestures read exceptionally well, allowing users to enjoy the Yoga S1’s Tablet Mode and navigate Windows 8.1’s home screen with ease.
With its exceptional screen brightness the Yoga S1 provides wide viewing angles. On the horizontal axis images hold upwards of 90 degrees with no noticeable color loss or image distortion. The notebook fares just as well on the vertical axis, as images remain pristine even at extreme angles. In direct or heavy lighting the display does produce a faint sheen and background images are distinguishable (especially while viewing a dark backdrop), but it never proves to be more than a minor annoyance at its worst.
The Yoga S1 houses speakers along the back end of the device’s deck directly below the display. The speakers manage to produce sound levels capable of filling a modestly-sized room with audio. The speakers prove more than acceptable for videos and movies, but NBR noticed the device produced a steady level of distortion while listening to various soundtracks at 100 percent capacity. Lowering the notebook’s volume did help to alleviate this issue to some degree, but users looking to listen to music would be best served by external speakers or just a simple pair of headphones.
Keyboard and Touchpad
While the Yoga S1 doesn’t strictly abide by Lenovo’s traditional ThinkPad formula, the device does feature the iconic spill resistant island-style keyboard that the series is known for. Similar to other ThinkPad notebooks the Yoga S1 offers exceptional spacing, despite the device’s petite frame. Each curved key is slightly indented on its face helping to form to the user’s fingers providing a comfortable feel and grip. Again similar to the other ThinkPad devices, the Yoga S1 boasts solid key travel and responsive tactile feedback, as keys quickly snap back into place after being struck. To little surprise the device is a joy to type with.
Of course the Yoga S1 wouldn’t be a real ThinkPad if it didn’t offer Lenovo’s TrackPoint pointing stick. The red rubbery control apparatus is positioned just above the “B” key. While operating the pointing stick, the top right and left portions of the touchpad function as a mouse buttons. With solid sensitivity and lighting quick response times, the TrackPoint proves to be a suitable control option for users that prefer this method.
Located just below the space bar on the keyboard, the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga S1 houses a moderately sized touchpad. The pad is devoid of buttons instead opting to use the bottom left and right portions of the pad (along with multi-finger gestures) to act as mouse buttons. The rubbery surface of the pad offers solid grip while also remaining easy to traverse providing a great deal of sensitivity and control. Not only does the pad feel great to use, but it performs as well. Swipes, clicks and multi-finger gestures all read with consistent accuracy.