Lenovo Yoga 700 review: A great value hybrid laptop that falls just short
A great design and it’s well suited to less demanding users, but if you want an ultraportable with real firepower then look elsewhere
While other PC makers have fiddled with their hybrid laptop/tablet designs, Lenovo has stuck rigidly to the Yoga principle since the dark days of Windows 8. Although rigid possibly isn’t the right adjective: the Yoga’s flexibility makes most laptops look more wooden than Jason Statham playing Hamlet. You can put it to use as a conventional laptop, watch movies with it in “tent mode” (like an inverted V), or rotate the keyboard 180 degrees so it sits flush against the lid in “tablet” mode.
The downside of most previous Yogas is that, in the latter position, you’re left with a very heavy tablet, but the 11.6in Yoga 700 weighs a much more manageable 1.1kg. It’s no iPad Air – I found I needed to rest it against my legs when I was sat on the sofa – but if you want to switch between working and browsing it’s an excellent compromise.
The keyboard deactivates in tablet mode to avoid accidental button presses, but when you do need it you should be satisfied. I’m a keyboard snob and didn’t fall in love. There’s a lack of travel, the keys feel a bit unsubstantial and the single-height Enter key meant I hit the hash key above it irritatingly often. However, I was still able to reach decent typing speeds. Considering how compact the Yoga 700’s design is, the touchpad is also a decent size and responsive in everyday use.
Nor did the display wow me. The thick bezel looks distinctly old-fashioned compared with the best new ultraportables and makes the screen feel more cramped than it should. It’s also ordinary when it comes to colour accuracy, with a slight yellow cast to white backgrounds and relatively poor sRGB coverage of 61%.
But this is when I needed to remind myself that this is a budget machine: despite costing £499, this IPS panel has a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. That’s hugely to Lenovo’s credit. It’s bright too, registering 335cd/m² in our tests, while its contrast ratio is a perfectly respectable 744:1.
In practice, that means videos look decent – assuming you don’t have any distracting overhead lighting because the screen is reflective – and it’s helped by crisp, clear audio from the speakers. Nothing special, but good and loud enough to fill a small living room.
Lenovo Yoga 700 review: Performance and battery life
The one thing you will find is that, if you push the Lenovo Yoga 700 with more demanding tasks, including watching video, the base does tend to heat up. With no fans to keep things cool, it relies on the heatsinks and air vents on either side to shift the heat out and these aren’t quite as efficient.
Then again, Intel’s Core m3 range of processors is designed for power efficiency rather than firepower. This laptop has enough to be a casual user’s main PC, but if you’re the sort of person that likes to encode 4K video then look elsewhere. Indeed, heating problems caused it to struggle with our benchmarks, and only by allowing it to cool between the tests was I able to nurse it to a score of 19. Still, it’s a touch faster than the Atom-powered Microsoft Surface 3.
To underline that this is a laptop for the undemanding user rather than the enthusiast, it also struggled in gaming benchmarks. For instance, Dirt: Showdown returned an unusable 13.9fps at 720p, High settings.
Finally to battery life, where I find myself in two minds. On the surface, a result of 6hrs 54mins in our video-rundown benchmark, which tallies with Lenovo’s typical-usage claims of up to seven hours, is fine. Good, even.
But when you’re getting Atom levels of performance, I’d hope for battery life of more than ten hours, and never forget that battery life diminishes over the life of your device. As such, I can’t get too excited by seven hours. It’s decent, nothing more, and falls well short of the 11hr 35mins delivered by the similarly priced Surface 3 (although do bear in mind that we ran the Surface 3 at a lower screen brightness level).