Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Yoga 2 Pro - Initial Thoughts

I'd been planning for most of this past year to retire my older Dell Vostro 1520 laptop and replace it with a Surface Pro 2. Even when the original Surface Pro was just out the gate, I was content with resigned to waiting for the better-performing Haswell-based variety I kept hearing about.

I wanted the convenience and versatility of a tablet/laptop combo to use as my one device no matter where I went. I needed something powerful enough to run Visual Studio and SQL while also light and portable enough to kick back and enjoy a touch-first experience with the more-than-sufficient number of good Modern UI apps available in the Windows Store.

I did have one nagging question, however, that kept me from pulling the trigger: what would it really be like to work many hours straight on the smaller 10.6" screen, particularly when staring at the code editor?


While debating this in my mind, I began seeing a new round of convertible Ultrabooks that were intriguing. They were touch-capable laptops first, but were small enough and light enough to be used as tablets in certain scenarios. The more I thought about it, they fit my personal needs better.

I settled on the Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro, the next iteration of their Yoga series featuring a 4th-gen Intel (Haswell) processor. I also looked at the ThinkPad Yoga, but ended up with the Yoga 2 Pro for two primary reasons:
  1. Best Buy carried the Yoga 2 Pro at a good price given the specs. In particular, their excellent Christmastime return policy made it a safe option.
  2. The Y2P was thinner/lighter than the ThinkPad Yoga, with a slightly larger screen and a somewhat more appealing profile. It was also a bit less expensive.

Here's my take on using it for the first two weeks:

The Good:

  • Convenient. It is lightweight and fast.
  • Sharp screen. The high resolution has generally not been an issue for me on the desktop. The DPI setting defaults to 200%, and it is needed. Visual Studio does a pretty good job scaling at that DPI setting, as do Office and IE. SQL Management Studio doesn't seem to scale as well (the Object Explorer tree nodes are a little small), but it is sufficient. Even Chrome isn't as bad as I'd heard, but the tabs don't utilize the space available to them. [UPDATE: It appears that Chrome tabs are now displaying more appropriately]

  • Tablet mode. It's nice, but I haven't used it much, and I think that fact confirms that I made the right choice in going with a laptop-first device.

The (Initially) Not-So-Good:

  • Wi-Fi wouldn't work out of the box. The wireless adapter didn't even show up in Device Manager. Installing Lenovo's wireless adapter driver resolved the issue, but I'm not sure what happened there.
  • Bluetooth was a major issue and almost caused me to return the device. My Arc Touch SE mouse was constantly dropping. I thought that perhaps the Y2P's single-band Wireless-N card could be conflicting with Bluetooth since that uses the same 2.4GHz band. After a few frustrating days messing with drivers I decided to uninstall the Lenovo driver and use the generic one. That still didn't help. But I then came across a thread in Lenovo's user forum that pointed to one simple setting. Since unchecking this setting, it has been solid - only one drop in a few days. I still haven't re-installed Lenovo's Bluetooth driver, but it suspect that won't be an issue.

  • I did also get a few BSOD errors related to Bluetooth, but that was early on and was probably related to messing around with the drivers while trying to fix the drops. None of that has occurred since those first couple days.

Other considerations:

  • I continue to occasionally see this message in the System event log when booting, pertaining to my use of Hyper-V (needed for WP8 development): "The speed of Hyper-V logical processor 2 is being limited by system firmware." I'm not sure why, and I'm not sure yet whether this is a big deal. I can still run the WP8 emulator.
  • The Function keys come defaulted to using Lenovo's specific settings, and this is actually pretty useful in most scenarios. But this setting can be reversed in the BIOS so you get the normal use of the F keys without pressing Fn.
  • I like the feel of the keyboard, but haven't completely adjusted yet to the layout of the Page Up/Down, Home, End keys.


I've got another few weeks to return it, should I need to. But I'm hoping I'll continue to find the performance good and the device stable. I still think the Surface Pro 2 is a great device and might work for my scenario, but I am glad I went with a larger device given my needs.

Final note worth mentioning: I did wipe the primary partition and install a clean copy of Windows 8.1 Pro.

15 comments:

  1. Same here, got the yoga 2 for dev. I found your blog searching for info about the event viewer message. In my case, I'm using VMWare and I notice that it's going way too slow so I thought it might be related to that message.

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    1. Thanks for letting me know. I've generally used Virtual Box for my VMs, but I haven't loaded that on the Y2P yet. If you find a resolution for the issue I'd definitely like to know. I did post about this in Lenovo's forum. Someone mentioned something about the power mgmt solution, but I haven't delved into that yet.

      http://forums.lenovo.com/t5/Idea-Windows-based-Tablets-and/Yoga-2-Pro-Hyper-V-not-working-right-on-Win-8-1-Pro/m-p/1355795/highlight/false#M13614

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  2. Great! I was actually looking for the experiences from someone that did dev stuff with the Yoga 2 and to be sure that Visual Studio scales well with that high resolution.

    BTW, what is your Yoga 2 setup? I have doubts about which processor/memory combination would work for me.

    Thank you Tim!

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  3. Glad to know that was helpful. I got the i7 with 8Gb ram and 256Gb SSD.

    Here's a link to the retailer from which I purchased it and the included specs.

    BTW - Scott Hanselman just shared some thoughts on the 4Gb ram model that you might want to read. At Best Buy's price for the 8Gb model, the extra RAM worth the money.

    After a month of use, I'm pretty happy. There are occasional things that bug me (for instance, every now and then the track pad is a little touchy) but the vast majority of time I'm really pleased. I wouldn't change my decision.

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  4. Can you please explain which partitions are safe to delete and how you went about it. I'm assuming you made an ISO on an external drive, yeah?

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    1. Sorry, I don't remember exactly. I know I searched a bit online for which ones would be safe to remove but didn't find convincing advice. In the end, I used Image For Windows (http://www.terabyteunlimited.com/image-for-windows.htm) to back up an image of the entire drive. From memory, I think I removed all but the OEM partition. When I look at the drive now, I see the original OEM parition, 2 recovery partitions, one EFI system partition and the primary partition.

      Yes, I did have an ISO file on a USB drive and installed from there.

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  5. Hey, thanks for this post, nice thoughts.

    Just wondering, are you still working on this device? Are you maybe considering changing to Surface 3 Pro now that it's available?

    I'm looking to replace my 6 year old 13.3 inch HP laptop (core 2 duo) and my main work is .net development in VS and the occasional Linux VM.

    Thanks

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  6. Hi Fanis,

    I am still using the Y2P and I'm quite glad I went with it as opposed to the Surface Pro 2. I would certainly give the SP3 a look if I needed a device right now. I haven't actually seen it in person yet, so I'm still not sure I would go with it if the keyboard was any less comfortable than what is on the Y2P. Also curious whether the smaller screen would still be a little too small. But in both of these cases, the SP3 seems closer to what I would need. Again, though, no regrets on the Y2P for me. It is a pleasure to use.

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    1. Thanks for getting back to me Tim! Really appreciate it :)

      I actually tried a Y2P today in a local store here in Greece. The high res kind of put me off, and I think 14"+ would be a better match for such a high res. I still need to see how it looks with my workflow though. As for the SP3 I actually can't experience one from up close, since Greece is not in the list of EU countries, which will get the SP3 tomorrow.

      I have to say I was impressed by the Y2P's build though. Really sturdy and nice to touch and carry. The keyboard was a little bit flat for my taste, but nothing I couldn't get used to I guess.

      What about the notorious WiFi issue? What's your experience?

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    2. Yes, actually - the high res has been the main issue for me, if there is one. VS2013 works great, as do Office, browsers, etc. However, if you do a lot of RDP sessions, be careful if you remote in to older operating systems. Whenever I have to RDP to a server running Win2008, everything is way to small since nothing scales. To my work desktop, some of the apps are reasonable, but still not great. I only RDP one day a week, generally, and can handle that amount of time. But if you plan to do a lot of it, you'll either need to adjust downward the resolution on the Y2P or look at another device.

      I've definitely had some issues with WiFi at work, but I'm not so sure it is my laptop's fault...I've seen a number of other devices have problems, too. At home, I rarely have any issues. When I do, usually disabling/enabling the wireless card does the trick. The last few public hot spots that I've connected to have worked fine.

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    3. Tim, once again your insight is valuable.

      About the RDP problem, I've read that Remote Desktop Connection Manager (found here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=21101), despite being kinda old, scales really well.

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  7. Thanks, Fanis, for the info about the remote connection Manager. I had not heard of that but will take a look. If that can help resolve some of the resolution issues using RDP that would be great.

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  8. Hi Tim… I’m kinda late. But thanks for the article. Me, too I bought the Y2P for developing. I’m using web Visual Studio, MS SQL Server, and Corel Paint Shop. Of course there are some additional usual stuffs (MS Office, Evernote, Firefox, ….). I can tell this laptop is really wonderful, smooth, and fast. I couldn’t tolerate the High ISP screen too. I reduced the resolution to half and I’m happy. No hardware issues.

    However, I wish to know if any are using movie editing software on it (e.g., cyberlink or corel video studio)?! And what are their experience here?

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    1. @Mohamad, I've not done any video editing except for some simple things with the Microsoft's Movie Maker software. I'm guessing that's probably not comparable to the applications to which you're referring?

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