One of the biggest perks of Windows 10 is the focus Microsoft has put on creating a seamless system transition from a touch-controlled tablet mode to the point-and-click cursor based laptop interface — and it’s devices like Lenovo’s Yoga 300 which are, in theory, perfectly suited to cash in on this new OS.
Now, there are bound to be some compromises in price or specs when you attempt to combine two tech categories into one device, but one of the better tacks to take with hybrids (or 2-in-1s) is to make the tablet or laptop aspect an added bonus, rather than an unrewarding additional expense.
And though we can safely say that the Yoga 300 isn’t definitively in the latter camp, we’re also not completely sure it fits in the former either.
With a sturdy white or black plastic exterior that opens into a black aluminium veneered keyboard surround, the Yoga 300 provides a compact but usable set of keys and a decent trackpad.
In terms of specs and performance, the Yoga 300 it similar to, but fractionally behind, the Acer Aspire R11, with an Intel Celeron N3060 CPU, 4GB of memory and a 500GB hard drive (fair when you consider that the Acer costs around $50 more).
The Lenovo generally performs how you’d expect with regards to tougher tasks like video encoding (not that well) and your average work and web-based activities (perfectly fine) and it gets a respectable four to five hours of battery life under general usage conditions.
The Yoga 300 has a pretty stock-standard 11.6-inch 1,366 x 736-pixel antiglare display, which looks a little faded, even with the screen brightness turned fully up. But they’re the limitations that come with a budget hybrid screen that has 10-point, capacitive, touchscreen technology built into it.
At 1.39kg, the Yoga 300 is okay for a hybrid and its small footprint certainly makes it more portable than your average laptop.
With two USB 2.0s and one USB 3.0 port, HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet and an SD card reader, it also offers ample ways to keep you connected. However, we did find the pre-installed McAfee security app slowed the OS to a crawl, and though you can easily uninstall it, it does slightly mar the ‘out of the box’ experience.
Taking a broader perspective for a moment, when you compare the Yoga 300 to something like the Kogan Atlas X14FHD laptop, the latter flaunts a bigger and better 14-inch 1,920 x 1,080-pixel display and has similar work and video playback performance, and you can pick it up for some $200 less than the Yoga 300.
On the flip side of the equation, you have Apple’s iPad Mini 4 tablet — a top-of-the-line iPad in terms of processors and screen resolution — starting at around the same price as the Yoga 300.
So unless you’re dead certain you want a device that has the flexibility to be both a laptop and a tablet, you can do better in one or the other category at this price point. You might want to pick a side.
Verdict: This 2-in-1 can arguably do it all, but not all of it is done that well.