I recently bought a Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga 12 because I wanted to tailor down the number of devices I had. In my inventory I had an Asus EP121, Surface Pro 1, and a Vaio Laptop. I wanted to be able to do computer work, coding and art, easily on the same device when I was mobile. If I traveled, I had to bring my laptop and either my Asus or Surface. It was a lot of extra weight carrying both those devices and their power cables around.
I decided that the 2 in 1 marketplace was in a good spot so I started my research. The screen size on my Surface Pro was way too tiny for my needs, the Asus felt a lot better, but I wanted something a smidge bigger.
Surface Pro 3 switched to N-Trig digitizers, which didn’t work for my needs. I didn’t like the feel of it when I drew. I also didn’t like how the setup worked as a laptop. I wanted to be able to use it as a laptop…on my lap. Devices like the surface pro setup, would not work for that need. I needed something that physically functioned as a regular laptop.
There were a couple other models I looked at that had a few main functions that differed in how they accomplished the 2-in-1 device. Some detached the keyboard, others just flipped only partially, and some flipped completely backwards.
Screen and Keyboard Separate
There were some benefits to having the “tablet” separate from the keyboard. When in tablet mode, it meant the device was lighter and easier to manage, it felt less bulky, and often there was a larger battery in the base with the keyboard.
The down sides were, a lot of the computing power would often be in the keyboard base, the majority of the battery would be in the base OR you had a setup like the surface with a kickstand which just doesn’t work for my needs. Basically my option was the former, and when you separated the tablet from it’s base, it just because a dumbed down machine, with a lower battery life.
This did NOT work for me. I need to use art programs, which often are quite resource heavy. I needed the full power of the laptop behind that device when in tablet mode.
Partial Flip Backs
Laptops that partially flipped back where intriguing. They served a purpose of the keyboard being it’s own kick stand so that when you used it in tablet mode, you could easily watch movies from that angle, or use it like an easel.
This allowed the device to usually be more sturdy, as the manufacturers didn’t need to be cutting out weight, as this wasn’t meant to be held in your hand. This was more of a table device in tablet mode
The problem for me was, that I needed it to fold completely down, as a flat tablet for me to use on my lap and on a table. No partial flip backs for me.
Fully Flip Backs
The last option was laptops that folded completely back, making me think of a spiral bound notebook on how it can be opened.
When these laptops are folded into tablet mode, the keyboard is exposed in the back, so you don’t have a flat surface. I was very concerned about this option. I didn’t think I would like the way I could feel the keyboard on the back. I was really worried about the wear a keyboard would take. Would the keys pop off while I had it in my lap?
Some laptops deal with this by having the keyboard being flush with the laptop. This made it more difficult to pop the keys. Others had the keys become flush with the keyboard when the laptop was folded back into tablet mode. Securing the keys into the base of the laptop. In both cases the keyboard and the trackpad are disabled, so you don’t accidentally press keys.
Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga 12 gen1
My research and testing brought me to the Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga 12. As far as my budget went, I was able to get a pretty good price for this device. Getting generation 1 made it even better. My concern was that I had read that the first line of the gen 1 yoga 12s had a screen burn defect. If I ordered this device, I had to gamble on whether I got a newer line or not.
Luckily, I have not noticed any “ghosting” on my screen at all.
At the time of me writing this, I have had my laptop for a couple of months. When I started using it, I was also trying to cut down on software costs, as recently I have had a smaller budget to work with for my personal finances. I couldn’t afford to keep paying for the Creative Cloud, and my year subscription lockin period was expiring at the beginning of May. I had about a month to try testing other art programs to see if they would work for me. I’ll be writing a different post on that journey.
Suffice to say, I had to get used to using a new device, and new art programs at the same time. At first, it was frustrating. Enfuriating, I didn’t want to do much other than simple line doodles. Being able to draw anywhere was nice, but because I was so used to photoshop, I started blaming the device rather than my lack of understanding of the new art software I was using.
One of my first doodles.
With practice I got better though. Figuring out the art program made leaps and bounds for my progress and understanding. I started growing to love it.
In fact, I haven’t touched my Cintiq in over a month.
The stylus sits very nicely inside the laptop. It’s snug and snaps into place. I have no fear that this stylus will go missing. I do not use this stylus, however, as it’s too small for me to use comfortably.
I had already owned the Bamboo Feel Stylus from drawing on the Surface Pro 1. I really like how it feels, and it works well with the laptop. As I’ve used it more and more, I’ve grown to dislike the 1 button on the pen being flush with with pen itself. Since I use that button to pickup colors, the flush button makes things more difficult for me, as I can’t tell where the button is usually without looking at the pen.
Thinkpad Stylus (left) and the Bamboo Feel (right).
I like the weight, it’s pretty light for a 2 in 1, at least it doesn’t feel much different from my Sony Vaio S. The laptop feels pretty durable, although I am a little worried about the screws at the base of the screen. I believe 1 is no longer flush with the screen itself. I may be too brutal with the way I open the laptop in tablet mode, but I didn’t believe I was being unnecessarily rough.
Sona (League of Legends) is not pleased with how I seem to be handling my computer.
The device is using 8 gb of ram, 120 SSD, and an i5 processor. It does the deed for a lot of pieces. Sometimes I wish I had more power behind it purely because with larger resolution images, it takes a really long time to save. I am a compulsive and frequent saver, as things can crash, power can go out, or the sky could fall at any moment. With the time it takes to save on larger files, I save less frequently as I don’t like sitting around waiting for the progress bar to go up. As a result I lost the last 10 minutes of a quickly black and white sketch, which ended up being devastating. I wasn’t able to replicate what I had done quite as well the second time around.
All in all, I am loving carting this laptop around. I use it on my lap or on a desk like I would use a sketch book. I’ve always had issues using my 21UX cintiq screen because of how high up it forces my arm to go. This may be an issue because I’m a smaller person, but I would just have issues drawing for an extended period of time. On my Yoga however, I have had no issues drawing for an extended period of time when used on a desk. I don’t prop it up in easel format, and I find myself being able to draw for longer than I did at my Cintiq.
My only issue is with the screen. I’m finding that art I create on the yoga appears more washed out on other screens. For some reason, I am not making my shadows/shading dark enough, or my blacks black enough. This may be more of a personal short coming, as after I finish the pieces, I do notice that some things aren’t dark enough, but it is starkly more apparent on my other devices. I haven’t fiddled much with the screen calibration to see if I can fix this issue for me, but it may be just something I have to keep in mind for the future when choosing colors. I also may just have to do color calibration on another monitor after I’m done.
I had to do some slight contrast balancing on this as my dark grays weren’t black enough. It appeared a lot more washed out on my other screens. Looking back at the piece after viewing on other screens, it did appear a bit washed out on my Lenovo, it just wasn’t as obvious as on other screens.
Short opinion: I love the device. The power in it does most of what I need, sometimes I wish it had an i7 or more RAM to handle large save files better. The screen brightness gives me some issues, but I believe that’s more of an issue of being used to what I’ve already got. I am glad I made this purchase, and would do so again if given the option over again.