Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 260 Review


I managed to get my hands on a new Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 260, so here’s my thoughts on the current Yoga situation and the Yoga 260:

20160111_135535
Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 260

Yoga History

The consumer series of Lenovo Yogas has been making leaps and bounds – from the Yoga Pro 2 I reviewed, up to the new Yoga 900S – many models have come out, all with their improvements from the previous, and attracting a lot of attention.

However, the Yoga 260 and 460 are the first ThinkPad series of Yoga laptops since the ThinkPad Yoga 14 (along with the 15 and 12 models) which were decent laptops, but didn’t get too much fanfare. It was a little on the hefty side for weight, and a little bit chunky which made other options such as the drool-worthy X1 Carbon more attractive, despite not having a tablet mode.

It was still an improvement however, over the earlier ThinkPad Yoga which was too weighty and thick to be a decent hybrid laptop. When I first saw one of these, it wasn’t really a consideration. At the time, the ThinkPad Helix seemed to make more sense with it’s proper tablet mode and crazy battery life, due to having a second battery in the keyboard base.

That has all changed – CES 2016 had a plethora of laptops launched, including the highly regarded ThinkPad X1 Yoga – but you can’t get those yet.

Before all those were launched, the ThinkPad Yoga 260 started coming out in Q3 2015 (not that I could get one until Q1 2016!) and were the first ThinkPad Yogas along with the larger ThinkPad Yoga 460 to feature Intel’s 6th Gen CPU, codenamed Skylake.

It is worth pointing out, that any Lenovo laptop under the ThinkPad name are incredibly robust, and have standards to Mil-SPEC and beyond Mil-SPEC, which is impressive that they now have such thin devices that still meet these standards.

ThinkPad Yoga 260

So here I am, with a Yoga 260 sitting next to me. First impressions of the device are that it’s not as small as I expected for a 12.5″ device, but it’s still reasonably light. I’ve spent some time playing around with it, so I’ll try to cover the bits and pieces I’ve found interesting about this particular model.

Hardware

I’ve put all the specs at the bottom of this post, as there’s a lot of them! Points of interest are:

Keyboard – it’s a nice keyboard, the standard I’d expect from a ThinkPad. Keys are nicely spaced and easy to type on. The trackpad is very clicky which I like – it’s a proper click when you press into it rather than a light click. It has the two proper left/right buttons for those who prefer it, but the standard gestures and left/right click work on the main trackpad too.

20160111_135511ThinkPad Yoga 260 Keyboard

Screen – I don’t like the lower end 1366 x 768 option, but love the 1920 x 1080. Perfect res without being over the top (I don’t think you need more than this on a 12.5″ screen). It doesn’t have a particularly thin bezel, comparing against a 3 year old X1 Carbon, the Carbon is a lot thinner. I’d be curious to know what reasons the engineers chose to not go thinner. At the same time it’s not too thick, but makes the laptop more of what I’d expect from a 13″ size overall.

20160111_135521ThinkPad Yoga 260 12.5″ Screen

Pen – The Yoga 260 comes with an inbuilt powered pen. It’s a supercapacitor stylus using Warcom technology. I calibrated it once after turning on the laptop to improve the accuracy, and it’s very accurate (video below). It’s compact, but personally I prefer the bigger Microsoft Surface Pen – but, I don’t know if that would actually fit inside the laptop. Lenovo’s pen fits snugly into the base of the laptop and you wouldn’t know it was there unless you looked. They’re different use cases I believe – Lenovo’s pen is better for ad-hoc use, where Microsoft’s pen is more designed as a mouse replacement. I also tested, you can’t use a Microsoft Pen on the Yoga 260 🙂

The pen requires charge, but uses a super capacitor rather than a battery. Engadget has a great supercapacitor stylus of the technology. It will go for 2 – 4 hours and then need a charge; 15 seconds of charging will give you 80% of the life back, or full capacity in 5 minutes.

Ports – Apart from the discreen pen slot (which I’m calling a port because it charges the pen), there’s quite a few ports on this device. There’s the micro SD slot which is handy if you have another device that uses one (such as a camera), and a SIM slot so you can have 4G straight from your laptop. The other ports are standard, there’s both HDMI and Mini DisplayPort which is nice for options, and the newer dock connection along with 2x USB3. There’s also a very long slot for a card reader, but as this is an optional addon I don’t think mine has the internal card reader.

20160111_135916ThinkPad Yoga 260 Pen and right hand side ports
20160111_135851ThinkPad Yoga 260 left hand side ports
Yoga Mode – As with all Yogas, this laptop does a full 360 on the screen to put it into tablet mode.
20160111_135600Yoga 260 doing a Yoga pose
When in Yoga mode, the keys will sink in to the chassis and not protrude at all:
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… and when it’s taken out of Yoga mode, the keys pop back up again:
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No complaints about the Yoga mode at all, it has always made sense as an easy way to convert from laptop to tablet mode, and works really well.
Thickness – I compared the laptop to an original X1 Carbon, and the thickness was close to identical. It’s not as thin as a newer Yoga 900/900S, but again this is designed to be tougher:
20160111_135801Yoga 260 vx Carbon X1 1st Gen
The laptop itself is very nice to use – the 6th Gen CPU is great, and it’s a nice size to slip into the bag for travel. If you have any questions please post below!
Update 18th Jan 2016:
This has a OneLink+ dock port, which is an upgrade from the older OneLink. They aren’t directly compatible. You can get an adapter if you have a OneLink+ dock and an older OneLink laptop, but that doesn’t help you if you already have a OneLink dock – you’ll need to get a newer OneLink+ dock!

 

Tech Specs

As taken from Lenovo’s website, here are all the specs. I’ve underlined the parts where there are options to show what I’m using:

ThinkPad Yoga 260 Tech Specs

DESCRIPTION THINKPAD YOGA 260 CONVERTIBLE ULTRABOOK
Processor
  • 6th Gen Intel® Core™ i3-6100U Processor (3M Cache, 2.3GHz)
  • 6th Gen Intel Core i5-6200U Processor (3M Cache, 2.3GHz), Turbo Boost 2.0 (2.8GHz)
  • 6th Gen Intel Core i7-6500U Processor (4M Cache, 2.5GHz), Turbo Boost 2.0 (3.1GHz)
Operating System
  • Windows 10 Home 64-bit
  • Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
Display
  • 12.5″ HD (1366×768), anti-glare, 300 nits, 16:9 aspect ratio, IPS, 10-point Multi-Touch
  • 12.5″ FHD (1920×1080), anti-glare, 300 nits, 16:9 aspect ratio, IPS, 10-point Multi-Touch
Digitiser pen (optional)
ThinkPad Pen Pro, active pen for multi-touch display
Hinge / mode
Yoga hinge, 360 degree / Laptop, tent, stand and tablet
Graphics
Intel HD Graphics 520 in processor only, supports external digital monitor via HDMI, Mini DisplayPort;
Supports dual independent display Max resolution: 3840×2160 (Mini DisplayPort)@60Hz 4096×2160 (HDMI)@24Hz
Memory
Up to 16GB, 2133MHz DDR4, one DDR4 SO-DIMM socket (8GB)
Webcam
Integrated, HD720p resolution, fixed focus
Storage1
  • 128GB / 192GB / 512GB SSD, SATA3
  • 256GB SSD, SATA3 Opal 2.0 Capable
Dimensions (W x D x H)
309.9 x 220 x 17.8 mm
Weight
Starting at 1.32kg
Case material
Carbon-Fiber Hybrid
Case colour
Midnight black
Battery
4-cell Li-Polymer battery (44Wh)
Battery Life2
Up to 10 hours3
AC adaptor
45W or 65W AC adapter
Keyboard
6-row, LED backlit, spill-resistant, multimedia Fn keys
UltraNav™
TrackPoint® pointing device and multi-touch with 3+2 buttons click pad
Fingerprint reader
Touch style fingerprint reader on the keyboard bezel
Audio support
HD Audio, Conexant® CX11852 codec, Dolby® Home Theater® v4 / stereo speakers, 2W x 2 / dual array microphone, combo audio / microphone jack
Security chip
Trusted Platform Module, TCG 1.2-compliant and Software TPM 2.0
Light sensor
Ambient Light Sensor
G-sensor
3D accelerometer and 3D magnetometer, 3D compass, 3D gyrometer
Wireless LAN
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260, 2×2, Wi-Fi + Bluetooth® 4.0, no vPro
SIM card Yes
Mil-Spec test
MIL-STD-810G military certification
Ports
  • 2 x USB 3.0 (one Always On)
  • Mini DisplayPort™
  • HDMI
  • OneLink+ connector
  • microSD,  supports UHS-I SD card
  • Combo audio/microphone jack
  • Security keyhole
  • Optional Card Reader
  • Note: Build your own with USB 3.0 Ethernet dongle, or purchase with a ThinkPad USB 3.0 Ethernet adapter (4X90E51405). Otherwise, use Ethernet (RJ45) port via optional OneLink Dock / Universal Port Replicators.

 

 

29 thoughts on “Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 260 Review

  1. Hi, thanks for the review. Could you say something about the fan noise. Some people have commented that the fan is on quite often and quite loud. But others have said that the fan noise gets better with the bio update of about a week ago.
    Thanks

    1. Sure, I’m running a Prime95 stress test right now, and the fan noise is very low. It’s an i5 CPU, so the i7 may be a different story… but the fan noise is lower than what I’d expect. Definitely not the normal whooshing you’d get from a high end laptop a year ago – and I’m going to guess this is partly due to the lower thermal specs of the 6th Gen Intel CPU.

    2. I forgot to mention, this is quieter than the Yoga Pro 2 and I haven’t noticed the fan kicking in when doing basic things – I’ve also run a BIOS update, so maybe OOTB it’s worse and the BIOS update addresses it. Just a guess!

      1. Thanks for that. I have ordered the i3 to be on the safe side, because fan noise is one of the things I really do not like. My desktop is fanless and that is so nice. But it is good to know the Yoga 260 is relatively quiet.

    3. Just in case, the tip can fall out of the stylus and there doesn’t seem to be a replacement option other than buying a new pen. There are tips for sale on ebay if you lose yours.

  2. Thanks for the detailed review! Is the screen a glass panel or a plastic one, and would I want a screen protector? Any fear of the pen picking up a grain of dirt and scratching the screen?

    1. The pen is a fine plastic tip, so I don’t think you’d catch anything and drag it along to mark the screen. I can’t actually tell if it’s glass or plastic – I’ll find out.
      The screen is tough and for it to be military grade, it won’t scratch easy – I wouldn’t bother with a protector at all!

    1. It is a smaller battery, but all the 6th Gen CPU stuff from Intel requires less power. Laptop is currently at exactly 50% and Windows 10 claims it has 4 hours 7 minutes remaining.

      If battery life is your #1 concern and you can afford it, check out the X1 Tablet. It has addons such as an extra battery and projector, but probably not quite as good laptop experience due to it’s style:

      http://www.lenovo.com/au/en/thisisthinkpad/innovation/x1-tablet-customise-dont-compromise.shtml

  3. Thanks for the review. Quick question: Are you able to check if you have a smartcard reader installed? I know the slot is there, but there is no option to add one during configuration on Lenovo’s site. I’ve talked to Lenovo’s support people a bunch of time, and literally half of them say it has a standard smartcard reader, while the other half say it’s not available at all.

    1. I’ve now checked and no there is no card reader – if it had one, it wouldn’t have the plate over the slot. It could be a region thing, some regions have it as standard while other’s don’t?

  4. Thanks for your review on this before any other major reviewer out there! Being a touchscreen, I guess I’ll be utilizing the touch features for things like browsing and whatever else this realm of touch has to offer. How is the screen wobble on the 260? From what I understand, the hinges are pretty strong but just how obnoxious can the screen wobble be?

    1. No worries 🙂 Screen wobble is very minimal, and the balance is really good. The Toshiba Z20t has *terrible* balance due to the screen being so heavy and the keyboard light. As the screen doesn’t detatch on the 260, it’s as solid as any other good laptop I’ve used – as I mentioned in the review, the hinges look identical to the Yoga Pro 2 which I’ve used happily for a long time with no wobble.

    1. I’m going to do a quick SurfaceBook vs Yoga 260 article soon, will do some color screen test photos. I’m not trained enough to see much of a difference personally 🙂

  5. Hi,

    Thank you for the review. You started by comparing the older Yoga model witl Helix. What is your impression now? Do you think the Helix is still a better option that the Thinkpad Yoga. What do you think the pros and cons of either models in comparison to eachother

    1. I’m not a big fan of the Helix. I’ll ignore the Helix Gen 2 because it’s a much lower powered device and I’ve never had one to play with, but with the Gen 1 we’re talking about a 3 year old hybrid laptop vs a brand new model. Aside from the age, I wasn’t a big fan of the form factor. Although, at the time it was released it was one of the best, I’d still prefer a normal laptop. One thing the Helix had though, was great battery life due to having a second battery in the keyboard.

      Anyway, all that aside the Yoga 260 is still way ahead in every aspect apart from battery. There’s no need to go detachable when going into Yoga mode is easy, light enough and thin enough.

      The next laptop to keep an eye out for is the X1 Yoga which I’ll hopefully review soon 🙂

  6. Hi! I’ve been looking for a replacement for my daughters old Elitebook 2760p. We looked at SP4, SB4 and other N-trig pen enabled units. The pen was WORSE than the four year old Wacom MMR Elitebook – lots of lag making it unusable in Photoshop and Flash.

    Have you tried these programs with the 260 pen? Does Wintab driver work on this device? Do you know of any artists using this device? What is the colour depth on this model?

    Hope you can help and thanks for a great review!

    1. I am not an artist, nor have I been able to try photoshop, but I use OneNote to write notes at school and the pen has next to no noticible lag in that program.

      For colour, I can tell you flat out that the display on this computer does not have very good colour. When compared to displays like those on Macs, there is a very noticible lack of colour vibrancy.
      If colour accuracy is important (as it should be for an artist), I would suggest you look elsewhere.
      Perhaps the X1 Yoga will have a better display. Especially when they release the OLED version in the next few months (at least that was the time frame they gave at CES)
      Perhaps Adam can say more.

      1. Thanks Rowan … I guess the 260 is not up to our needs as the gamut and gamma are way off! Thanks for trying to help us!

    2. I’m not an artist either sorry, so I’m not well suited to answer/test those questions. I don’t think the 260 is targeted at artists, but I’ll ask the Lenovo Insiders to see if anyone else can help on these questions.

      Thanks Rowan for putting your 2c in – the X1 Yoga and OLED screen (which as you’ve implied, isn’t on all of them) might be the way to go.

    3. Arthur H Walker https://twitter.com/ArthurHWalker has advised the following:

      “I looked at this as an option and ruled it out because it has only 68% sRGB and 53% for Adobe RGB. I wouldn’t recommend it for commercial production of visual content.”
      “If they are worried about having a really good screen because they are making visuals for the print medium, the X1 Yoga. The X1 has 92% sRGB, and 72% Adobe which is about as good as it gets with Thinkpads I think, and you won’t find much better out in the market place with a similar form factor. I’ve used the pen with this device, it’s good.

      If pen latency is their primary issue, my bet is on the P40 Yoga. Mine should arrive on Tuesday, so I’ll be able to tell you for sure soon. wink emoticon I did get a chance to use the pen at CES, but only in Sketchbook Pro. It did well enough for me to really want one.

      I’ve only seen pre-release reviews of the Thinkpad P40 that puts display numbers closer to the sRGB/Adobe color gamut of the 260 (slightly higher), BUT the grayscale and gamma values are very good. So, for photographers, for print media, it may not be ideal, but for people that make visuals for web, games, and similar it should be great.”

      Hope that helps, and thanks Arthur!

  7. Hi Adam, I’m very interested in purchasing a 260 and I’m an artist. I’m not as concerned with color fidelity as I am with any potential pen jitter/wobble. Can you test or confirm whether the pen draws relatively straight diagonals when drawing slowly? I have a yoga 12 that has maddening jitter! Thanks in advance.

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