Lenovo, a company few had even heard of a few years ago, broke out at CES. They made it in as Best of Show Finalist; Best of CES best Ultrabook and Desktop; Popular Science best of CES; Popular Mechanics Editor’s Choice; LAPTOP best of CES; LAPTOP reader’s Choice; Tom’s Guide Best of CES; Videomaker Best Computer; GottaBeMobile Best of show, Notebooks.com Best of CES; Stuff Hot Stuff Award; Last Gadget Standing Finalist; ComputerActive Best of CES; and got two CES Innovation Wards for design and engineering. Most of these awards were for one product that appears to have hit a chord, the IdeaPad Yoga.
As a result, this product may be the face of what it to come. What the Yoga did is provide a simple solution to a complex problem – in a notebook/tablet hybrid, what do you do with the keyboard when the device is in tablet mode? Let’s explore that.
I personally thought the most compelling design last year in a tablet/netbook hybrid was the Asus Transformer and Transformer Prime. In this case, you docked the tablet into a keyboard that locked on to it, transforming the result into a Netbook. In effect, you had the best of both of these worlds and Lenovo duplicated this with IdeaTab S2110. But it didn’t get one award.
I think the problem is that folks felt that they would either never disconnect the keyboard or that they wouldn’t have the keyboard when they needed it. Yes you had the ability to have both but you’d often find yourself with more or less than you actually wanted and the end result would be more frustration than satisfaction.
Finally this class, so far, has been tablet/netbook hybrids and netbooks haven’t done that well, except in third world countries. Users wanted more and in the Yoga they appear to have gotten it.
What the Yoga brilliantly does is it simply folds the keyboard under the screen. Now we’ve had tablets with folding screens in the past but the complexity of the twist and fold hinge made them both expensive and heavy. Also twisting and bending a wired connection reliably proved rather difficult as well. Eliminating the twist reduced the cost, weight, and thickness of the device so that the result is only marginally thicker and heavier than a tablet and yet it always retains the both capabilities. In effect, you always have both a tablet and a netbook with the Yoga and reviewers loved it.
I think it showcases that as users get more familiar with both tablets and convertible notebooks, they become much more discerning with regard to how they use the device and much more cognoscente of each form’s shortcomings. In effect, the excitement around the Yoga form is the result of experience, it drives the conclusion that this form would be far more useful, something that wouldn’t have happened had people not first seen and used the other forms.
The other big difference is that Yoga runs Windows 8, the first operating system designed for hybrids and, as a result, may have accidently become the quintessential Windows 8 form factor. This isn’t a tablet/netbook hybrid but a tablet/notebook hybrid and this new form has far fewer sacrifices than those that preceded it.
Wrapping Up: Windows 8
While this new Yoga hardware is exciting, perhaps the most important part of this offering is that it could save Windows 8.
Folks have had trouble wrapping their heads around Windows 8 as a touch interface on a traditional computer. However, now that they have seen the Yoga, they seem to get the advantages of a platform that can morph into the form that they need at any given time and are beginning to see a bright future for the product.
Windows is starting to be viewed as new and different in its 8th form on the Yoga and that is something Windows 8 greatly needed. Windows 8, to be successful, desperately needs more products like the Yoga that it can wrap with hope while removing the cloud of impending doom.
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President and Principal Analyst, Enderle Group
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