Lenovo announces Yoga 2 Pro with 3,200 x 1,800 screen, slimmer design (update: video)

We think we can all agree the Lenovo Yoga has been long due for an upgrade: while every other flagship Ultrabook got refreshed with Haswell, the Yoga 13 stuck around with Ivy Bridge and a relatively low-res 1,600 x 900 display. It was getting so long in the tooth, in fact, that we almost didn't recommend it in our most recent laptop buyer's guide. Well, Lenovo's finally giving us the upgrade we've been asking for, and if specs are any indication, it might have actually been worth the wait.

The new Yoga 2 takes a big step up to a 13-inch, 350-nit, 3,200 x 1,800 touchscreen, putting it well ahead of its peers, most of which max out at 1,920 x 1,080 resolution. As you'd expect, this new model runs on fourth-gen Intel Core processors (all the way up to i7), with the battery life now rated at up to nine hours. The Yoga also adds Intel Wireless Display, in accordance with the current Ultrabook spec. Equally important: the new model measures 15.5mm thick (versus 17.1mm on the original) and sheds about half a pound so that it now weighs a little over 3 pounds (3.06, to be exact, or 1.39kg). And believe us when we say that half-pound makes a difference: chalk it up to muscle memory, but we could instantly feel the difference when we picked it up for the first time. We don't remember the original ever being this thin or light.

Interestingly, though the Yoga 2 adds a backlit keyboard, it suffers from the same flaw as the original, which is that when you fold the screen back into tablet mode, you can feel your fingers pressing into the keys on the back side. (Like last time, the keyboard automatically disables in tablet mode.) That's especially curious because Lenovo also just unveiled the ThinkPad Yoga, whose keys lock up and flatten out as you fold the screen over into tablet mode. According to Lenovo, its design team had to make a tough choice between ergonomics and thinness. Right now, at least, that "Lift and Lock" keyboard setup used on the ThinkPad Yoga requires both a thicker hinge as well as extra space inside the chassis to accommodate all the bits that keep the keys clamped in place. At least as far as its consumer line is concerned, Lenovo figured customers would rather have a thinner machine than one with a self-flattening keyboard.

Some other changes: the power button is now on the the side, instead of on the front. (The previous setup apparently confused some people?) Lenovo's also added some rubber gasketing on the edge of the display, so that it holds up a bit better when you put it upside down in Tent Mode. Speaking of Tent Mode, the Yoga Pro also includes a new software utility called Lenovo Picks, which automatically detects what position the Yoga is in, and shows a list of apps that might be relevant (in Stand Mode, with the screen facing outward, you might want to use Skype or Netflix). Meanwhile, Phone Companion is an app you can use in laptop mode to copy things like documents and websites and send them to your phone in the form of a text message. Rounding out the list are Lenovo Photo Touch (photo re-touching), Lenovo Camera Man (photo filters) and Lenovo Chef (a recipe app with motion and voice control).

The Yoga 2 will be available in October starting at $1,100. Also the 11-inch Yoga 11S is getting refreshed with Haswell too, though it's unclear when it'll start shipping with those newer chips. In the meantime, we've got a sneak peek of the Yoga 2 in the form of hands-on photos (lots of 'em). Have a look and let us know what you think in the comments.

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