Lenovo’s Yoga series is simultaneously one of the most odd and most practical attempts at the convertible laptop/tablet. Its 360-degree fold-back screen means it’s almost completely uncompromised as a laptop, and can also be used in a variety of touchscreen configurations.
The most recent addition to the line is the Lenovo Yoga 700. It includes the latest Intel processor at its heart, but is otherwise a mid-range device: it's larger, heavier and less luxurious than the Yoga 900.
However, this 14-inch model is available in options that include an Nvidia graphics chip and its storage drive is an easy-to-upgrade 2.5-inch SATA model. These qualities make it an intriguing option for those looking for a slightly more versatile convertible that doesn’t break the bank.
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The review sample Yoga 700 I received makes a striking first impression, thanks to its bright-white exterior and black edges. Open it up and the ying/yang styling continues with a white keyboard surround and black keys. Alternatively, you can order it in black and black or silver and black.
Finished in plastic, the Yoga 700 doesn't offer the premium feel of a truly top-end laptop, nor indeed the Yoga 900. However, the plastic does a slightly textured finish on the outside, which should prove hardwearing.
Inevitably, dirt will build up and be far more visible on a white chassis but a quick once-over with a cloth should have the Yoga 700 back to looking its best – unlike some laptops with a soft-touch finish that can wear away.
With dimensions of 334.9 x 229.5 x 18.3mm, this 14-inch machine is relatively thin and light, although it’s no record-breaker. Notably, it’s a little larger than the likes of a 13-inch MacBook Air and another step up again from the Dell XPS 13 or new MacBook.
As a result it can be a little unwieldy as a tablet, regardless of the merits – or lack thereof – of its foldable convertible design. The iPad Pro may come close in terms of footprint, with its 305.7 x 220.6mm measurements, but it’s half as thick and heavy.
On the flip-side, those dimensions allow for a full-sized keyboard, with none of the key-size reduction of the Dell XPS 13 or MacBook Air 11-inch.
Connectivity is largely typical except for one standout feature, which is that the power socket doubles as a USB 2.0 port – and the mains power adapter thus doubles as a generic USB charger. Although this has been around on various Lenovo laptops for a while, in general it remains a rarity and is certainly a useful feature.
This port sits on the left edge, next to another USB 3.0 port, the 3.5mm audio jack and SD card reader. On the right edge is the power button, recovery button, rotation lock, volume rocker, micro-HDMi and a second USB 3.0 port. The front and rear of the device have no connectivity options.
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The heart of this machine is an Intel Core i7-6200U processor, which includes the very latest 14nm Skylake technology and Intel HD 520 graphics, which should combine to make light work of most workloads, as well as some gaming. All this while consuming less power than ever – although the real-world results of these improvements are only likely to be a few per cent of extra performance and battery life over last year’s Yoga 3 in normal use.
You can also spec up the Yoga 700 with an Nvidia GeForce GT 940M. Although a pretty modest graphics chip, it will double the performance of the Intel graphics and turn this laptop from one that’s capable of playing older games at low resolution and 30fps to one that can play older games at a high frame rate. It will just about be able to play the latest games, too, if you keep the resolution down.
Whip off the bottom of this laptop and you can see the 2.5in SATA drive. Lenovo has only made this laptop available with SSDs, but there's nothing to stop you from adding a hard drive if storage capacity is a priority over speed, or you could upgrade to a larger SSD – Lenovo only offers up to 256GB – or add a combined SSD and HDD.
You can also access the single SO-DIMM memory slot, again giving you the option of a future upgrade from the 8GB (DDR3 1,600MHz) that comes with all the available models.