You don't have to break the bank to get a great 2-in-1 laptop for work. Lenovo's Yoga 700 is much more affordable than its more premium counterpart, the Yoga 900, although it's also noticeably thicker and heavier. There's still a lot to love about the Yoga 700, which starts at just $529 with a nice 14-inch display, fast performance and a sturdy, flexible design that lets you use the machine like an oversize tablet. But are there better options at this price point?
The Yoga 700 is all business, with a black matte plastic lid and a matching keyboard deck made from black plastic. It's a forgettable design, especially compared to the flashy Yoga 900. At least I like the look of the laptop's silver hinges, and its gently rounded corner makes it easy for users to hang on to it.
And you'll have little trouble lugging the Yoga 700 around, thanks to its relatively light weight and thin design. At 0.72 inches thick and weighing 3.5 lbs., it's noticeably more portable than rival 14 inchers like the Acer Aspire R 14 (0.73 inches and 4 lbs.) and the Toshiba Satellite Radius 14 (0.86 inches and 4.5 lbs.). But while the Yoga 700 won't weigh you down too much on your daily commute, it's still a lot heavier than the Yoga 900 (2.8 lbs.), as well as other superlight laptops like the 13-inch Dell XPS 13 (2.7 lbs.).
As its name implies, the Yoga 700 sports a flexible, folding hinge that allows the screen to flip back a full 360 degrees, so you can use it like a large tablet. Workers will probably get more mileage out of the intermediate modes, especially Stand Mode, which lets you use the keyboard as a base for easier access to the touch screen.
Unfortunately, the Yoga 700 lacks digitizer pen support, so you can't write on the display with a pressure-sensitive stylus. For that functionality, you'll have to shell out your dollars for a more expensive system such as the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14. The omission makes the Yoga 700's folding design less useful overall for workers.
The Yoga 700 sports a 14-inch display that's roomier than what you get on the 13-inch Yoga 900, which helps with screen-intensive work tasks like viewing large documents and editing spreadsheets. The full-HD panel on our review unit produced sharp text, though colors could be more vibrant.
The display is also pretty bright, topping out at 197 nits of brightness, which beats the Satellite Radius 14 (182 nits), and is about on par with the Acer Aspire R 14 (199 nits). The Spectre x360 offers the brightest display of the bunch, though, at 339 nits. Brighter displays are easier to view outdoors or in direct sunlight; all of these screens are fine for typical indoor use.
Keyboard and touchpad
The Yoga 700's keyboard is relatively shallow, resulting in a mediocre typing experience. The keys have a short 1.2-mm travel distance (1.5 mm is average for laptops), and they also don't feel quite as snappy as what you'll find on pricier machines like the Yoga 900 and HP Spectre x360. And there are a few other quirks that will annoy touch typists, like undersized backspace and right-shift keys that are easy to miss.
To be fair, most competing midrange models like the Acer Aspire R14 and Satellite Radius 14 offer similarly subpar keyboards.
At least the Yoga 700's touchpad is solid. The 4.25 x 2.75-inch pad provided responsive cursor control, and gestures like two-finger scrolling worked flawlessly.
The Yoga 700 offers excellent performance, with your choice of Intel's 6th Generation Core i-series processors. Our review unit came equipped with a 2.3-GHz Intel Core i5-6200U CPU, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of solid-state drive (SSD) storage. It proved speedy during my testing time, handling heavy multitasking without any hangups.
Those impressions were backed up by our testing. The Yoga 700 racked up an extremely solid score of 5,855 on the Geekbench 3 test, which measures overall performance. That beat out the HP Spectre x360 (5,614), though that machine had an older 5th Generation Core i5 processor. Among laptops with more modern hardware, the Acer Aspire R 14 (also powered by a Core i5-6200U chip) edged out the Yoga 700 with a score of 6,266.
The Yoga 700's battery can't quite keep up with the competition. The notebook ran for a slightly disappointing 7 hours and 3 minutes on our battery test, which simulates continuous Web browsing over Wi-Fi. That's far from terrible, but it is a half hour less than the average thin-and-light laptop (7:38). Competing machines also outlasted the Yoga 700, including the Acer Aspire R 14 (8:37) and Spectre x360 (9:28). At least Lenovo's laptop ran longer than the Toshiba Satellite Radius 14, which died after a meager 6 hours and 22 minutes.
The Yoga 700 includes a typical array of ports. The left edge sports a full-size SD card reader, one USB 3.0 port, and one USB 2.0 port, which doubles as the power jack.
The right edge, meanwhile, has an additional USB 3.0 port and a micro HDMI port.
The Yoga 700 may be thicker than its more premium sibling, the Yoga 900, but it's still too thin for an Ethernet jack. If you want to connect to wired Internet or a secure work network, you'll need to purchase a USB-to-Ethernet adapter.
The Yoga 700 runs on a relatively clean installation of Windows 10, the latest version of Microsoft's desktop operating system. If you're coming from an older version of Windows, you'll find a handful of nice productivity boosters in Windows 10. That includes Cortana, a digital-assistant app that can streamline all sorts of actions, from adding appointments to your calendar to searching your hard drive for a specific document. Other highlights include the new Action Center, a single location for viewing alerts, emails and messages.
Just a handful of extra apps come preloaded, including Lenovo's Shareit app, which makes it relatively easy to transfer files between your laptop and mobile device. You also get a free 30-day trial for Microsoft's Office 365 suite, which includes Web-connected versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint. You'll have to pay for a monthly subscription to keep using the apps past the trial period, though.
Lenovo sells the Yoga 700 in a handful of hardware configurations. The low-end model — a Best Buy exclusive — can be had for just $549 with an Intel Core m3 Processor, 4GB of Ram and a 128GB SSD. Up next is the Core i5, which is equipped with 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD for $769. Finally, the Core i7 model has 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, as well as a dedicated graphics card (the Nvidia GeForce GT 940M) for $1,099.
The Yoga 700 offers an impressive combination of power and versatility at an enticing price — at least in the lower-end configurations. The entry-level model in particular gives you good performance, a nice display and a sturdy folding design for just $529, making it one of the best budget-priced convertibles on the market. The midrange model featured in this review is also a good pick, even if its battery life could be better.
Models with higher-end hardware are still solid, but if you're going to spend $1,000 on a laptop, I'd opt for the HP Spectre x360, which offers similar hardware in a thinner, lighter package, and with a better keyboard to boot. Still, the Yoga 700 is a 2-in-1 worth buying, particularly for business users on a budget.