Like its predecessors, the Yoga 11S has a stylish orange body that feels good to the touch and doesn't pick up any finger smudges or dust whatsoever, just like the black material surrounding the keyboard.
The keyboard is quite similar to the Yoga 13's and has the same disadvantages: a somewhat slack stroke that lacks rebound and backlighting, something that could have been a major plus.
As there's less space on the Yoga 11S than the Yoga 13, the touchpad is slightly smaller (9.1 x 6.3 cm), but it's still plenty big and offers a nice, precise surface to swipe and tap on. The left- and right-clicks are integrated into the corresponding lower corners. This was a good idea, as separate physical buttons would have taken up more space. The touchpad recognises all the standard shortcuts such as two-finger zooming and scrolling, plus all the Windows 8 touch gestures.
The touchscreen is precise and responsive. And, while normally we don't see much point in having a touchscreen on a laptop, the Yoga 11S makes a much better case for it, as the hinge allows the computer to flip into multiple positions that make touch interactions more worthwhile. By flipping the keyboard all the way back behind the screen (at which point the keys automatically become inactive), the Yoga 11S turns into a tablet; and by rotating the keyboard only part-way behind the screen, the keyboard acts as a stand for looking at content with the display sitting upright.
Hybrid laptops rarely have good connectivity, but the Yoga 11S goes a bit further than most, with two USB ports (one USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0), an HDMI out, a headphone/microphone combo jack and an SD card reader. There's no Ethernet port, but we've been expecting to see those less and less on mobile devices.
If there's one thing the Yoga 11S does less well than the Yoga 11, that's manage its heat. Our thermal imaging camera shows that the 11S goes as high as 54°C (129°F) in places, which can make it uncomfortable on your lap. On the flip-side, the fan stays quiet, never going above 36 dB(A).
The Yoga's audio is good... when it comes to electronics. The combo jack offers clean, clear sound with no notable flaws. It doesn't get insane volume, but it should be enough for most headphones.
The built-in speakers are a whole different can of beans. There isn't much distortion when you turn the volume up all the way, but that's only because the volume doesn't go that high in the first place. It's way too low for any usage we can think of. The sound isn't very impressive and the Dolby doesn't add much at all.
The IPS display has 1366 x 768 pixels and a glossy surface for the touch capability. The maximum brightness of 380 cd/m² is fine, but it won't work miracles outdoors. Making up for this, the average contrast ratio is 1,180:1, which is one of the best figures we've ever seen on a notebook.
The colours are more accurate than on many competing hybrids, which often range between Delta E's of 8 and 12. The Yoga 11S' average Delta E is 5.6, which is much closer to the ideal of three or below, and means that the colour tones shown onscreen aren't too exaggerated. And the colour temperature of 6,800 K brings the shades even closer to ideal (6,500 K is the target).
The model we were sent to review features an Intel Core i5-3339Y processor, 8 GB of RAM, an Intel HD 4000 graphics chipset and a 256 GB SSD. The comments above refer to all versions of the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11S, whereas the sections below apply only to the model we tested (see inset below).
The Intel Core i5-3339Y processor isn't the fastest one on the market, but it's capable of handling any type of activity at entirely reasonable speeds. Compared to the Samsung Series 7 Ultra's Core i5-3337U, this CPU takes about 20% longer to execute the same tasks, just as it does compared to the Sony Vaio Pro 13's Core i5-4200U. Ultimately, it performs just about equal to the Apple 13" MacBook Air's Core i5-4250U.
The Yoga 11S' solid-state drive allows it to start up in 10 seconds and shut down in 6 seconds.
The Intel HD Graphics 400 chipset (3DMark06: 3987) found in the Yoga 11S allows it to play HD videos without any problems, and it will run smaller games like FIFA 13 and Angry Birds smoothly. But for any more demanding games, such as StarCraft II, Medal of Honor: Warfighter or BioShock Infinite, you would have to turn all the quality settings down in order obtain anything resembling fluid gameplay.
Devices like these, which are mobile by design, need exemplary battery life. Unfortunately, the Yoga 11S only lasts for 4 hours and 20 minutes of video playback (in airplane mode with the screen brightness at 100 cd/m² and headphones plugged in), whereas the Yoga 13 lasts 5 hours in the same conditions. This is really a shame for a device that's meant to be carried around a lot, especially since at just 1.7 cm thick and weighing 1.35 kg, the Yoga 11S is small enough and light enough to travel in any backpack or briefcase.
- Flips into multiple positions (laptop, tablet...)
- Processing power
- Lightweight (1.35 kg)
- Good screen with high contrast (1,180:1)
- Overheats (up to 54°C)
- Low battery life for a device that's meant to travel (4 hrs 20 min)
- Sound quality
The Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11S is clearly an improvement over the Yoga 11. It's powerful, lightweight and has a nice screen—easily one of the best 11-inch hybrids we've seen. The biggest drawback is its relatively low battery life, which nearly cost it its fourth star. Mobile devices these days need to be able to last more than just a few hours. But we still love the Yoga's solutions for the hybrid design.