Lenovo's hybrid laptops get smaller with the Yoga 11S, Helix tablet

Lenovo continued its deluge of new Windows 8 product offerings at CES 2013

Lenovo continued its deluge of new Windows 8 product offerings at CES 2013, with key additions to its line of Windows 8 hybrid laptops announced Monday, including a smaller IdeaPad Yoga 11S. These new laptops follow up on the company's earlier announcements of touch-based additions to its IdeaPad and ThinkPad clamshell line.

Lenovo is also launching the ThinkPad Helix, which can function as a pure tablet or dock to a keyboard with additional battery. It looks to be a drool-worthy road warrior's dream system, with 4G LTE connectivity, a full HD display, and a detachable keyboard.

Shrinking Yoga

Lenovo's innovative IdeaPad Yoga 13 is getting a little sibling. The IdeaPad Yoga 11S has all the features of the original Yoga, but in a smaller package that weighs just a shade over three pounds. The Yoga 11S will offer a bright, 1366 by 768 pixel IPS display. While Lenovo didn't provide specific configuration details, the entry level model will come priced at US$799, and the Yoga will offer a variety of Intel 3rd generation Core i5 CPUs as well as up to 256GB SSDs.

The Yoga 11S comes with full support for 10-point multitouch on both the display itself and the trackpad. Lenovo will also include its Lenovo Motion Control software, which uses the built-in webcam to recognize motion gestures for activities such as flipping through slideshows. The Yoga 11S features the same180-degree hinge as the Yoga 13. The lid can latch into "tent mode" (the screen and body are stood on edge, like a tent) or "stand mode" (where the keyboard is behind the visible display, useful for presentations.) Fully rotated 180 degrees, the monitor is flush with the body, with the keyboard underneath, which allows the Yoga to be used as a tablet.

The Yoga adheres to Intel's Ultrabook spec, at 0.67 inches thick, along with the requisite fast boot capability, and Lenovo says that it should run about six hours on battery power. The Yoga 11S's outer shell comes in both Silver Gray and Clementine Orange, and it features the same rubberized texture that's used on the Yoga 13.

ThinkPad Helix: Ultrabook performance in a tablet

The Yoga's 180-degree hinge may be cool, but the Helix represents the likely future of mobile PCs. The Twist is a tablet that fully docks into a keyboard base. In addition, the tablet can flip over into stand mode. Lenovo calls this combination of detachable tablet, docked clamshell, and stand mode "rip and flip." When separated from the dock, the tablet weights just over 1 pound, 13 ounces; the full clamshell (tablet plus dock) configuration weighs 3.68 pounds; both the dock and the tablet have batteries built in. In Ultrabook (docked) mode, the Helix can run up to ten hours on its two batteries.

The Helix offers a laundry list of features that make it desirable for road warriors. The 11.6-inch screen is an IPS panel with 1920 by 1080 pixel resolution--the same resolution you'd find on a 1080p HDTV. The tablet supports full 10-point multitouch, and it includes a digitizer pen if you prefer using a stylus over your fingertips. Lenovo will offer configurations with up to 8GB of DDR3 memory and a range of Intel Core i5 and i7 CPUs. Two 1080p capable webcams, front and back, are also included.

The Helix is the first Lenovo Windows 8 Ultrabook to include support for optional 4G LTE mobile broadband,in addition to the built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The Helix comes with NFC (Near Field Communication) "tap-and-go" support, so you can exchange data between two Helix systems by simply tapping them together.

Bottom line: Lenovo pushes the envelope

The IdeaPad Yoga 11S, with its US$799 entry price, offers a good Windows 8 hybrid feature set at more affordable prices without compromising overall performance, although its three pound weight is still a little high for an 11.6-inch device.

The Helix is the road warrior's dream machine with its HD-resolution screen, optional LTE support, detachable tablet, and ThinkPad keyboard, but the price of entry is pretty steep. Entry level configurations start at US$1499, and go up from there. Still, the Helix offers just about everything a mobile business user will need in one relatively compact system.

Both the Yoga 11S and ThinkPad Helix will be available in late February.

For more blogs, stories, photos, and video from the nation's largest consumer electronics show, check out our complete coverage of CES 2013.

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