Hands-on: Lenovo’s ThinkPad Helix and IdeaPad Yoga 11S

June 2nd, 2013 | by Raymond Lau
Hands-on: Lenovo’s ThinkPad Helix and IdeaPad Yoga 11S

Lenovo ThinkPad Helix

One of Lenovo’s most hotly-anticipated ThinkPads ever announced will finally make its first retail appearance in Singapore at the PC show this Thursday.

First announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this year, the ThinkPad Helix is the first ever ThinkPad to come in the tablet plus keyboard dock form factor. And with a starting price of S$2,199, it’s probably the most expensive convertible we’ve seen so far.

So what does the Helix offer with that high sticker price?

The first is, of course, the ThinkPad brand. The Helix may be a new form factor, but it still handles very much like a ThinkPad, from its signature matte boxy look to the famous keyboard. As you’d expect of a ThinkPad, it also comes with enterprise-grade features and on-site service and repair.

The Helix also offers four different modes of usage. In addition to the tablet mode and the docked laptop mode that we’re already familiar with, the Helix also supports stylus input. The fourth mode is more unique: the tablet can be docked into the keyboard with the display facing away from the user. This last one should be useful for media consumption, such as watching movies or playing games from the Windows Store.

The tablet portion sports an 11.6-inch display with full HD resolution (1,920 x 1,080) that has good viewing angles and colour. However, hardcore fans may be disappointed to find that it’s glossy-only.

All the silicon is packed into the body of the tablet. The Helix runs Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro on your choice of third-generation Core processors and up to 8GB of RAM. SSD capacity options range from 128GB to 256GB. There’s also Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, and optional 3G connectivity.

Unfortunately, all this hardware makes the tablet quite think and heavy, so holding it up with your hands over prolonged periods of time isn’t very viable.

That’s where the keyboard dock comes it. It holds on quite securely to the tablet with a sturdy latch and two plastic supports that slides into the body of the tablet.

Thankfully, when docked, the laptop doesn’t show any tendency to tip over, so you’ll be able to type in peace without having to press your hands down onto the palm rest. The dock will also add on to the machine’s battery life, giving users up to a promise ten hours of usage.

With its combination of multi-touch, stylus input, and keyboard dock, the Helix is the most versatile ThinkPad ever made.

However, it doesn’t make sense for home users who won’t need any of the fancy enterprise features to fork out that much money for a laptop like the Helix. In that case, the IdeaPad Yoga 11S may have them covered.

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11S

No, this isn’t the same as the IdeaPad Yoga 11 launched in December last year. That one was powered by a Tegra 3 processor and ran on Windows RT instead of Windows 8.

The 11S, on the other hand, runs on full Windows 8 and is powered by a Core i3 processor. You read that right – Core i3, not Atom!

Together with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of solid state storage, the Yoga 11S is very much a full PC.

The form factor otherwise remains the same, with its signature 11.6-inch (1,366 x 768) display that flips all the way around to the back so that it can be held up like a tablet.

Of course, there’s no reason to choose any colour other than the fieryand unmistakeable “clementine orange”.

The Yoga 11S will be retailing from S$1,399, and if our quick hands-on performance test was anything to go by, it appears that the small netbook format may make a comeback yet.

Both the ThinkPad Helix and the Yoga 11 will be launched together with Lenovo’s new range of laptops at the PC Show from 6 June to 9 June.

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