Monday, 8 December 2014

Lenovo Yoga 11s

I did it again. Spending money that I don't really have.

Before I dive further into the subject, first a little background on its purchase.

I actually really really like the Acer C720. The only thing that I felt could improve it further is for it to have a better screen, This led me to a journey of discovery for a better screen Chromebook but one with not too many sacrifices in terms of performance.

I decided early on that what I actually wanted is an IPS screen Acer C720 equivalent. I wanted something small like the Acer so it has to have an 11.6 inch screen. The resolution does not really matter because at this screen size, a full HD screen will make things on screen way too small for my old eyes. The current Acer's screen resolution is fine. Anything smaller than 11.6 inches would be too small and anything bigger I will have to deal with the additional size and weight. However there are not many IPS screen Chromebooks let alone a 11.6 inch one. I counted 3.

The first one is the Chromebook Pixel but it is way too expensive for me.

The second one is the HP Chromebook 11 which has the exact screen size that I wanted but it's crippled by the Exynos processor and I'm not willing to compromise on that.

The third and final one is the Toshiba Chromebook 2 which has an 13.3 inch IPS screen but I was disappointed by its N2840 BayTrail processor which is slower than the good old Haswell Celeron 2955U. This was however the most promising of the 3 as the BayTrail is still a massive improvement over the Exynos in the HP Chromebook 11. However I decided I do not want to deal with the extra size or weight of the Toshiba. It was close though.

During my journey I stumbled upon a very good deal for the Lenovo Yoga 11s on eBay. It is running a Haswell Core i5-4210Y processor with 8GB RAM and a 128GB SSD. I basically paid the price that I paid for the Acer C720 Core i3 version. Well maybe just a little bit more. To be precise, just SGD $36 more. It was a very good deal. Simply too good to pass.

So let's now get to the meat of this post. The Lenovo Yoga 11s.

It came in a very nice packaging. Upon boot up I realise why I would rather have a Chromebook on any given day. The boot up is still plenty fast at about 8 - 10 seconds. However once I launched windows update I ended up spending the next 4 - 5 hours updating the notebook before I can use it. This is unlike Chromebooks where the update do not take longer than 2 minutes. I am missing the Chromebook already.

The screen. This one has got an IPS screen alright. And it comes in the 11.6 inches that I was looking for. The viewing angles are great. However it is quite dim even at max brightness and as a result are quite bad on my eyes. Why why why?!? There is always one thing which ends up as a deal breaker and this happens to be a big one. Let's see how I adjust. The Acer has poorer viewing angles but it is a lot brighter in comparison.

The keyboard. The keyboard on these are excellent. I am typing this post on it. Doesn't take long for me to adjust. Like a duck to water.

The trackpad. OK. This is another deal breaker. Movement is pretty good. But on Windows 8, scrolling is the reverse of the Chromebook. What the hell! What is Microsoft thinking? The scrolling on the Chromebook is a lot more natural. Another thing about the track pad is that the left button ends up somewhere in the middle instead of the left and the right button is way on the extreme right which makes it hard to press. Another deal breaker for me but not as bad as the reverse scroll thingie.

The speakers. The speakers are side firing. That is, one is on the right side of the notebook and the other is on the left side. I guess this makes sense as the Yoga can folded into a tablet and it will not make sense to have the speakers down firing from the bottom as it will then be covered when it is folded. As a result the speakers are not very loud. Disappointing if I were to be honest. The Acer is a lot louder. The HP is somewhere in between which is not very loud but still better than the one on the Yoga.

Battery life. It's too early to tell but based on my usage so far it has been quite decent. Time will tell.

Performance. This has a Haswell Core i5-4210Y so performance has been pretty great. However I found out that this is actually a slower processor than the Haswell Core i3-4005U on the Acer C720. I guess this is due to the Lenovo having a Y series CPU even though it is a Core i5 and the Acer is using a U series CPU which is more performance oriented. Lesson learnt here is don't trust the i3 i5 i7 nomenclature too much. It does not matter as much as the actual architecture of the processor.

Other stuff. The screen rotates 360 degrees so this can act as a tablet. However I find it too heavy to use as a tablet for long. I also find Internet Explorer 11 superior compared to Chrome when using this as a tablet. A lot smoother.

OK. That's it for now. I will update my findings as I use this more. I get the feeling I will be falling back to the Acer C720.

UPDATE 1 : I have managed to get the reverse scroll problem resolved! There is a Synaptics program on the taskbar which allows me to change the setting. Evidently it was set to reverse scroll by default.

UPDATE 2 : I have managed to solved the screen dimness problem! It seems that Windows 8 will override whatever settings for brightness and will get the screen to auto adjust as it sees fit. Another reason for me to hate Windows 8. Chinese have a saying "kay kiang" or too much artificial intelligence when you never asked for it in the first place. The screen is still not very bright at full brightness but it's bright enough to negate the number one problem I have with it so it is no longer a deal breaker. Let's see how it affects the battery life. I have a feeling it will drain it fast.

Now to find a resolution to the track pad buttons alignment problem. Once this is solved I will have nothing really to complain about the Yoga 11s. I get the sneaky feeling that the problem is hardware related and not really a software issue. We'll see how it goes.

UPDATE 3 : I am unable to find a solution for the track pad buttons issue. I am able to find a workaround however. I generally do not have a problem with the left button activation and I am even able to perform a light touch to activate it. As for the right mouse button, I was able to configure a 2 finger button press to register a right click anywhere on the track pad. However it has to be a physical 2 finger button click and not a light 2 finger tap for it to work. At least that's better than nothing. I guess I just have to live with it.

More impressions. After using this notebook for awhile, I notice that it has small stutters here and there as I go about my work. Not a deal breaker but it can get annoying. The HP Chromebook 14 with its theoratically slower Celeron CPU feels a lot more fluid. Not faster but smoother. I suspect the Yoga has a slow SSD. The Acer C720 Core i3 on the other hand simply flies through every task.

UPDATE 4 ; One more pet peeve. The power is really hard to turn on. The button is located in front of the Yoga but it is sunken in making it hard to press. It's easier if you have nails but I don't have any! Even if you do have nails, it takes quite a bit of pressure to trigger so your nails will hate you for it.

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