Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro: Basically a Perfect UpgradeS

Last year's Lenovo Yoga was one of the better laptops we've ever used, and certainly right at the top of Windows 8 convertibles. This year's Yoga 2 Pro refines the hell out of that notion, and adds a super high res screen on top.

The Yoga 2 Pro isn't a great deal thinner than last year's model (though it is about a half-pound lighter), but it FEELS thinner because of the tapered edges. You can see them in the photo below (the old Yoga is on the bottom, in grey), but basically, the edges of the top and bottom of the YP2 curve slightly, a little more starkly than you'd see on wedge designs like the MacBook Air. This makes picking up and holding the Yoga 2 feel far more pleasant than the boxier Yoga.

Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro: Basically a Perfect UpgradeS

Then there's the screen. It's wonderful. All models will have a QHD+ 3200x1800 display, which is a higher res than the 2560x1440 on Toshiba's Kirabook and Asus's Zenbook refresh, and a fair notch above the 1080p on the Vaio Pro and Aspire S7. It's also vibrant and bright—which is a concern for a screen that's so pixel dense, since light has a harder time passing through. It's certainly brighter than the Kirabook, but we haven't seen the Zenbook in person. (However, we didn't get to compare it to the 2560×1700 Chromebook Pixel, which is currently our favorite display, and one of the brightest.)

Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro: Basically a Perfect UpgradeS

The other changes from last year are mostly housecleaning of minor complaints. There's now a nondescript rubber rim around the edge of the lid, so that the computer doesn't slip on hard surfaces in tent mode. (In person, this worked fairly well, though I did wonder about it collecting excess dust.) It also has a backlit keyboard now, and the home button at the bottom center of the screen is a touch button instead of the annoyingish clicky button from last year. And the power button is now on the side of the laptop, instead of the front, apparently to reduce the number of accidental presses, but it's not totttttally out of the way in its new location either.

The other specs include the ultrabook basics. It'll have 4th gen Haswell Core chips, up to an i7, and up to 8GB or RAM and a 512GB SSD. The screen's official brightness is 350 nits (most ultrabooks have been running at 300, for reference, but the extra oomph is for the added pixel density here). Lenovo is claiming 6 hours of battery life, which would be on the low end for everyday use for Haswell—we assume that's due to the screen being a battery hog, but we'll want to look at it a little further. Lenovo's targeting $1100 for a base config, with the QHD+ screen, a Core i5, 128GB SSD, and 4GB RAM.

Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro: Basically a Perfect UpgradeS

None of that matters all that much in the long run, though. (Well, aside from the battery life.) What does matter is that the core tenet of what made the first Yoga so great is still true: It's a damn fine laptop. Everything else is icing. The keyboard and trackpad are performing very well in the pre-production models I saw, though they were running on Windows 8, not 8.1. The lid hinge seems solid (one was super wobbly, but again, pre-production). And the screen is delightful, and scaled more or less fine in Windows—though from experience, day-to-day tasks are more tedious with the high res screens on Windows than just dropping in for a few minutes of hands-on time is. The other modes are still there, and improved to various degrees, but the strength of any convertible is always having one mode that it's superb at, and others that are usable. The Yoga still does that for laptops.

The Yoga 2 Pro will be out on October 18th, the same day as Windows 8.1, which it will ship with.