“Every business will have a Yoga by 2020.” Bold words from Lenovo, but then it’s pretty confident in its latest pair of ThinkPad Yoga convertibles. Clad in the familiar uniform of the ThinkPad, these ultra-flexible laptops intend to make the multi-talented Yoga design a familiar sight in the office.
With Intel’s Skylake chips, the latest SSD tech and active stylus technology also making their debut, these are business laptops worth getting excited about. And the big news? Hold onto your touchpoints. The Yoga 260 and Yoga 460 will come in both black and silver. A silver ThinkPad? It’s bordering on heresy.
The little things
Let’s shove the 14in ThinkPad Yoga 460 to one side, though. For most people, I suspect the 12.5in ThinkPad Yoga 260 is the device which is really going to hit the spot. It has everything. There’s power, connectivity, flexibility and stylus support all crammed into one supremely portable chassis. Is this the holy grail of business laptops? Maybe.
Imagine a ThinkPad X1 Carbon that’s had its DNA spliced with a Yoga, and then been hit with a shrinking ray for good measure: you’re now looking at the ThinkPad Yoga 260. Theres the usual matte black finish, an aluminium lid for rigidity and drop resistance – the Lenovo IFA press conference featured a Yoga 260 being flung to the floor and stood on – and the wedge-shaped design even manages to add a little sleekness into the mix.
Lenovo couldn’t resist boasting about it being the world’s lightest 12.5in convertible notebook (although I suspect it’s not the lightest 2-in-1, hence the careful choice of words), and it definitely ticks the cutely-proportioned business laptop box. Granted, at 1.35kg and 17.8mm thick, it’s not going to give the Apple MacBook anything to worry about – but then this is a dramatically more capable device.
Performance & Features
As you’d expect, Intel Skylake steals its moment in the spotlight. The Yoga 260 on show partnered a 2.4GHz Core i5-6400U (a chip which, incidentally, wasn’t due until January 2016) with 8GB of DDR4 RAM and a 256GB SSD; a very healthy specification for such a compact device. With Core i7 CPUs and up to 16GB RAM available as optional upgrades, the Yoga 260 promises to pack more power into a 12.5in chassis than most people are used to.
Compromises are few and far between. The 12.1in Full HD screen has a matte anti-glare finish, and the IPS panel serves up wide viewing angles and decent looking colours. The stylus support is welcome, too. The active stylus docks flush with the laptop’s edge, automatically recharging when you slot it home.
The array of connectivity and features strikes a fine balance. Security is dealt with by a combination of a discrete fingerprint sensor and a physical smartcard reader, and while there’s no Ethernet, the Yoga 260 provides plenty of high-speed means of shunting data to and fro. Physical connections include two USB 3 ports, mini-DisplayPort, HDMI, a docking connector and a headset jack, so there’s very little missing here – if anything at all.
Oh, and it’s probably not worth mentioning: the Yoga 260 has a great backlit keyboard, as well as the usual touchpad and touchpoint combination. ThinkPads very rarely step out of line when it comes to ergonomics, and the Yoga 260 is no exception to the rule.
The NVMe revolution
It’s worth focusing on the Yoga 260’s SSD for a moment, though. Thanks to the arrival of the Skylake platform, Lenovo has been able to equip its new ThinkPads with the very latest high-speed SSD interface, NVM Express (NVMe). As a result, Windows users are finally going to start seeing disk performance that can match and potentially exceed the PCI-Express drives in Apple’s Macbook range.
NVMe is a new specification for connecting solid-state drives via the PCI Express bus. The Samsung MZVPV256 256GB SSD in the Yoga 260 still comes in a tiny M.2 package little bigger than a couple of postage stamps, but the NVMe interface allows it to hit blistering speeds. I wasn’t able to test the drive myself, but a quick scan around the internet suggests that it offers read and write speeds north of 1,200MB/s, at least for large files, and very healthy small file performance, too. Combined with the Skylake processor, I suspect this is going to be a very potent little laptop.
If Lenovo are serious about getting a ThinkPad Yoga in every business by 2020, there’s every chance that they’re intending this to be one of the most affordable, high-end business portables yet. Cross your fingers now.