The Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11S occupies an important middle ground between the larger-sized Yoga 13 (which is simply too cumbersome to serve as a reasonable tablet for many people) and the ARM-powered Yoga 11 (which, in spite of its superior battery life and silent operation, is handicapped by its inability to run Windows 8 and native x86 applications). But the real question is: does it manage to balance the most critical aspects of a great convertible properly, or do the trade-offs of the higher-powered chipset outweigh the benefits?
The answer, as it turns out, is a rather ambiguous it depends. For all-day battery life, there are plenty of better options out there; the Yoga 11S unfortunately really doesn’t make the grade in that department. There are even better convertibles with the same power and ability to run full-blown Windows applications but with much better battery life, keyboards, and overall build quality—such as Lenovo’s own ThinkPad Helix (though it is considerably more expensive). And, of course, if you don’t really need tablet or touchscreen functionality, you could do much better choosing from the wider array of options available without the convertible design requirements.
But for $999 or less, if you want touch, you need more than Windows RT, and you aren’t looking to spend a fortune, the Yoga 11S is an acceptable compromise in many ways, with (as compared to the Yoga 11) a marginally higher weight and size, a sturdy (albeit plastic) case, reasonably good input devices, and snappy overall system performance thanks to its combination of a capable Intel ULV CPU and solid-state drive. It’s far from perfect—and arguably (depending on your needs), only marginally more appealing than the Yoga 11—but it’s yet another option for those who weren’t completely satisfied by the benefits of the Yoga 11 or 13, and in many ways, it’s the most well-balanced Yoga yet.