(Pocket-lint) - Tech giants have responded to the decline of laptops in a couple of ways. Some companies have backed out altogether, others have simply gritted their teeth and carried on, doing their best to reinvent the laptop. Again.
The Lenovo Yoga 11 710 is a Windows 10 high point in this new laptop era. It offers just about everything you get with the 12-inch MacBook, and a bit more besides, for much less money. What's not to like?
The Lenovo Yoga 11 710 is a Windows take on the 12in MacBook mould, but at half the price and with a super-flexi hinge for a bit of hybrid flavour.
Build quality is good, the screen is nice, the keyboard fine, and battery life is even better than the company's claims.
Other than an occasionally fiddly-feeling trackpad and lack of memory card slot, you'll only encounter issues if you radically overestimate what an Intel Core M laptop like this can do.
As affordable Windows 10 laptops go, the Yoga 11 710 has got almost everything right. At this price it's bending the rules and winning.
Lenovo Yoga 11 710
- Good battery life
- Top-quality build and screen for the price
- Decent keyboard
- Useless for most gaming
- Limited connectivity
- Trackpad could be better
Lenovo Yoga 11 710 review: Design
The "Yoga" part of the name gives away the device's top feature. The Yoga 710 is a laptop with a 360-degree hinge, just like every other laptop in the Yoga series. It's not the only laptop with this silhouette Lenovo has made recently either. The Yoga 700 is less than a year old, but the 710 makes significant improvements to the build.
It may not be as eye-catching as a Lenovo Yoga 900S, but this machine feels as if it's built to the same standards as the top-end models. It's mostly aluminium and magnesium - apart from the pane of glass covering the screen, of course.
The keyboard area gets cool-feeling aluminium, while the lid is magnesium alloy (a mix of magnesium and aluminium). You might mistake it for plastic at first, but it's something altogether more impressive. Magnesium is very light and durable, it just doesn't feel quite as flashy as aluminium. The bottom seems to be plastic, but it feels so much like the lid you'd be hard-pressed to notice.
At just a shade over 1kg and 15mm thick, the Lenovo Yoga 11 710 is very easy to lug around. Put it in a rucksack and you could easily convince yourself you've left it in a cafe somewhere two hours later. It's a dream for working on-the-go.
Unless you're presenting Powerpoint to your boss in a lift, the 360-degree hinge part is much more about the Lenovo Yoga 11 710's fun side. Flip the screen all the way over and you'll be prompted to switch to Windows 10's tablet mode, which tweaks the interface so it's better-suited to life led by touchscreen.
A 1kg tablet isn't going to convince anyone to ditch their iPad, but it does make a pretty neat digital comic book if you have both hands to spare, and the hinge can rest at any angle. You can prop the screen up on a table for a bit of bedside table Netflix or, well, whatever you want really.
We've really stopped thinking of this kind of hybrid as any sort of tablet in the traditional sense, though. It's all about finding when/where the Yoga 11 710's skills might come in useful. And even if you just want an ultra-portable laptop, it's not as if Lenovo seems to have added much to the asking price for the 360-degree hinge feature.
Lenovo Yoga 11 710 review: Connectivity
The first sticky point is the Yoga 11 710's connectivity. You get just the one USB port and a micro HDMI socket.
It fares better than the single USB Type-C port in the 12-inch MacBook. With the Lenovo you can plug in a mouse without a converter, and do so while the laptop is plugged in. But unless you carry around a USB hub in your pocket, this is a strict peripheral monogamist.
What's really going to get some of you sighing is the memory card slot. There isn't one. So that's a USB hub and a USB card reader you're going to have to carry around if, like us, you need to juggle camera photos on the regs.
However, for most people the one USB port is much less of an inconvenience than a single USB-C would be, right-here-right-now, even if that newer connector is more forward-looking.
Lenovo Yoga 11 710 review: Keyboard and trackpad
Given the amount of space Lenovo had to work with, the keyboard and trackpad combo are great. There's no backlight, though, so you'll be tapping blind if it's dark.
All the main keys are full-size, with only the ones sprinkled around the edges being cut-down in order to fit in. Typing is a cinch: we've written thousands of words with no problems.
Unlike a 12-inch MacBook, typing doesn't feel like tapping on pieces of eggshell either. You get proper key feedback; a bit of resistance, but the same sort of travel you'd feel in one of Lenovo's larger IdeaPad fancy laptops. Not a load, but enough.
The Yoga 11 710 has a slightly squat but long trackpad that, again, feels a lot like that of Lenovo's larger premium laptops. It's smooth to the touch and works well.
Some of Lenovo's pads suffer from a strange almost "double click" action, with a bit too much give to the pad before you reach the clicker. That's largely fixed here. There's is a little bit of occasional erratic behaviour, the driver occasionally firing off a mouse click when you were just trying to scroll across the pad. It's one of the laptop's weaker parts, but we've used far worse.
Lenovo Yoga 11 710 review: Screen
The Yoga 11 710's screen is another strong element. It's 11.6 inches across, which isn't huge, but if you're after a giant screen you are obviously in the wrong place. The bezel is neat and trim, which works a treat in terms of design.
It's an IPS LCD 1080p-resolution screen with decent sharpness, good contrast and fairly good colour too. Sure, if you spend £1,000 or more you'll get slightly richer colours and more pixels, but Lenovo doesn't claim the 710 is a screen tech master.
It's a glossy screen, so you will see some reflections outdoors or near a window. We've been using the Yoga 11 710 outside on a sunny day, though, and you can still see what's gong on when brightness is maxed out.
Overall it's a far nicer screen than that of most cheaper hybrids and more-or-less ready for anything.
Lenovo Yoga 11 710 review: Power & specs
The Yoga 11 710's processor isn't, though. It uses the Intel Core M3-6y30, the same seen in the lower-end version of the 12-inch MacBook. It gets 8GB RAM and a 128GB SSD - the latter being fast but not quite as fast as the quickest.
This is no power PC, then, but it does have enough power to feel almost as speedy as anything on the market when you're just pootling about Windows, doing some basic work and browsing the internet.
A couple of things will appear slightly quicker with an Intel Core i7 laptop, but it's no night and day difference.There is a huge difference when you compare the Lenovo Yoga 11 710 to one of the weakling budget hybrids that uses a Celeron or Atom CPU. This Yoga is light years faster.
You'll be able to perform basic photo editing (once you've managed to get your shots on the laptop that is), and 95 per cent of the stuff most people use a pricey MacBook to accomplish.
However, the Yoga is almost useless for gaming - but then you probably knew that already. Playing Skyrim at minimum graphics settings and 720p resolution only just reaches a playable speed. And that will dip as the action hots up.
So the Yoga 11 710 is perfect up to the point, for which it's designed, then falls off a cliff thereafter. But this is what Core M devices are about, and the Lenovo Yoga 11 710 is one of the more affordable M systems around.
Lenovo Yoga 11 710 review: Battery life
Efficiency is the main aim of Core M. This chipset has - geek klaxon alert - a thermal design power (TDP) of 4.5W, which is under a third that of its Core i5 brother (the i5-6200U). Speaking in non-geek this means it's designed to output a third of the heat. And heat is wasted energy when we're talking about a laptop.
Lenovo says the Yoga 11 710 will last for eight hours from a single charge, but we've had it lasting even longer. Just using it as our day-to-day work machine we can get almost eight hours with the brightness maxed out half the time. When working indoors with office-style lighting we could keep the screen brightness at just 30 per cent without feeling like you're scrimping - and like that we've been getting over 10-hours of light use from a single charge.
So where does Lenovo's eight hour figure actually come from? Its playing back a 1080p movie at 200-nits output, which is fairly bright. It'll last for a flight to New York playing locally-stored video, and while we wouldn't recommend being the person that doesn't use headphones, the speakers aren't bad either, delivering extra audio weight that you might not expect from a mid-price, skinny hybrid.
A quality hybrid that offers enough high-end flavour to feel like a great deal. And a solid MacBook 12in alternative.
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