Apr 23, 2015

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 15 - On the Way & Reasoning Behind the Order

Gear: Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 15, Lenovo OneLink Pro DockLenovo ThinkPad X230T, Wacom Cintiq Companion 2, Fujitsu LifeBook T935Microsoft Surface Pro 3, Sony Vaio Flip 15, Razer Edge Pro.  Also, use RMNUSLENOVO3 coupon code for $50 off.

For a few years I have used a Lenovo ThinkPad X230T.  This convertible tablet has been used almost daily.  The system is excellent for taking handwritten notes, typing, and is quite portable.  However, the X230T does have restrictions that in a way prevent me from being able to accomplish what I need to do.  For several of these issues I have felt that a replacement is needed, and yesterday I made my decision to order a Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 15.  Below is my rationale for why I must replace my X230T and why the ThinkPad Yoga 15 will be a good choice over several other available tablets.

TrackPoint and Keyboard

My X230T's TrackPoint and touchpad are now disabled due to hardware failure.  These days I often carry a mouse with me.  I miss that TrackPoint and not many systems have it.  The Fujitsu T935 and the Wacom Cintiq Companion 2 don't have a TrackPoint.  I have never liked the touchpads in most laptops so this is a factor that plays highly on my decision on going with Lenovo.  Also, I feel that Lenovo keyboards have always been very good and the ThinkPad Yoga 15 does have the Precision Keyboard that I use on my X230T.  The Yoga 15's keyboard does differ in that it has a number pad and is off-center.  The X230T, and many systems, have the keyboard centered with the screen, which I like, the Yoga 15's is off center (which I sure hope I can grow to tolerate).  This off-center keyboard though does have that number pad--which is an advantage as it provides rapid numeric input and the possibility of programmed shortcuts via AutoHotKey.


The X230T's hinge must do a lot of work.  It supports the screen and must rotate in multiple directions.  Over time this hinge has lost rigidity, which I knew would happen.  The Yoga 15 has a two hinge system that distributes the weight of the screen better, and shares the wear that rotating produces.

Power Supply and Batteries
One of my two power supply units for the X230T has burned up.  It's only a matter of time before the other one goes too.  This, if I recall correctly, is one of the major issues that most computers have to deal with.  Regarding batteries, the Yoga 15 sacrifices the concept of easy to replace batteries (which I'm against).  Over time all batteries have to be replaced--with my X230T I can do it at my convenience (ex 1, 19+ slice).  Currently my X230T's battery has a run-time of less than 30 minutes!!!  I could get a replacement, but due to scarcity, the prices will rise.  One curious thing about the Yoga 15 is the lack of support for slice batteries that have been used by field workers to extend the overall run-time.


The X230T and predecessors allowed for a under-side docking station, commonly known as ThinkPad Ultrabase.  To me this has always been a good concept for the user as it provides an easy way to connect multiple devices (monitors, hard drive or optical disc drive, speakers, ethernet, usb stuff, etc).  However, from the business perspective, the docking port is an expensive issue (think of the engineering and custom work that has to take place).  The Yoga 15 sacrifices this by the concept of OneLink technology, which seems to be a dual power and USB 3.0 connection (I'll have to do better research eventually).  The docking station for the Yoga 15 is the ThinkPad OneLink Pro dock.

External Monitors.
The X230T used DisplayPort and VGA for external monitors.  The Yoga 15 uses HDMI.  As far as I'm aware, DisplayPort has been better than HDMI because it has had a record of higher resolutions supported.  In the previous versions of HDMI there have been restrictions on the resolution (usually 1920 x 1200), but the newer versions have gone up to the 4K range (4096 x 2160 since version 1.4 released in 2009).  It's likely that the Yoga 15 supports the higher resolutions without a problem.

Now, keep in mind though that the OneLink Pro Dock for the Yoga 15 does have DisplayPort and DVI.

3D Graphics
The large majority of tablets use integrated graphics.  Some systems, such as the X220T and X230T could achieve some decent results when handling 3D games and programs (ex by Nrk112, ex freezing).  However, integrated graphic systems may have issues and in general cannot compete against discrete graphics.  Throughout my time tracking tablets with discrete graphics I can only think of a handful (HP TX and TM2 a long time ago, Sony Vaio Flip 15, Razer tablet).  There are a number of great looking tablets, such as the Wacom Cintiq Companion 2, The Fujitsu T935, Microsoft Surface Pro 3, Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 12 (both 1st and 2nd gen), and others, that look like sleek systems to have--but they don't have discrete graphics.  Surprisingly, Lenovo chose to add discrete graphics to the Yoga 15.  The device has a Nvidia GeForce 840M 2GB RAM.  As a casual gamer you don't need the latest and greatest, for the gamer enthusiast this becomes a higher concern, but for the developer this should be a top priority.  Currently my X230T limits how much I can achieve while on the road, which is why I have a more powerful desktop computer at home.  However the Yoga 15's discrete graphics will will me what I need when I'm mobile, and therefore I will be able to run more intensive developer programs.
Btw, heat can be concern with the system as the GPU will need plenty of ventilation.

ExpressCard Slot
The ThinkPad Yoga 15 does not have an ExpressCard slot.  It seems as if USB has won the battle as the main interface for peripherals.  For the most part this is acceptable.  However, the one good function of ExpressCard slot is the possibility of external graphics processing units.  A eGPU (sometimes also referred as ViDock) is one way of improving graphics on systems that lack graphics processing power.  This option could be seen in X201T, X220T, X230T and many other Lenovo systems.  However, the Yoga 15 has that Nvidia GeForce 840M that should be good enough.
Some links; ViDock 4 on X201T, X230T and eGPU, other eGPU enclosures.  Another advantage of eGPU is that the heat is external of the system, therefore prolonging the life of other components on the system.

The X230T has a resolution of 1366 x 768 on a 12.5 inch screen.  This resolution restricts me when I'm coding, writing long pieces of text, editing images and videos.  The Yoga 15 has a bigger screen, 15.6 inches, and does have a higher resolution, 1920 x 1080.  Frankly I don't think the Yoga 15's resolution is that great when compared to other systems--the Wacom Cintiq Companion 2 has 2560 x 1440 in a 13.3 inch screen, and the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 has 2160 x 1440 in a 12 inch screen--if anything this is a negative of the system.  However, the 1080 vertical pixels will help a lot more when compared to my current work space constraints with the X230T.  I presume that eventually Lenovo will update their ThinkPad Yoga 15 to have higher resolutions.

Boot Up Times
Although most systems are placed in a sleep state, and the X230T does this just fine, the longer wait times of an actual boot up is ridiculous on Windows 7.  The newer operating systems, such as Windows 8.1 on the Yoga 15, provide excellent boot up times.  No one can say that short boot up times is something they don't desire.

Most tablets play focus on reduced weight.  The ThinkPad X series of systems have generally been on the light side, so the X230T is quite light (between 2 and 3 lbs).  The ThinkPad Yoga series begun with the lighter Yoga 12 (both 1st and 2nd gen), and begun to diverge with the Yoga 14.  The Yoga 15 is a much heavier system (about 5 lbs), comparable to the ThinkPad W series.  This additional weight, and the bigger dimensions, may take me some time to get used to.

There is a lot of cloudy information on the Yoga 15's digitizer input.  Many videos on the internet have failed to demonstrate the digitizer input, which is something I intend to resolve.  At the moment the only information I have is that it does use Wacom, but the digitizer uses batteries (this is unusual for Wacom pens on these types of tablets).  From experience, Lenovo has used Wacom penabled technology in their products.  The X230T, which uses Wacom, has quick response and decent pressure sensitivity.  The same technology does suffer at the edges of the screen, but it seems that Wacom has improved this  issue in some of their newer systems (which can be observed on the 512 levels of pressure Wacom DTU-1031).  Hopefully the Yoga 15 continues the trend of better pressure levels and precision.  Now, if you wanted the best digitizer input you would have to get the Wacom Cintiq Companion 1 or 2 tablets.  In the coming weeks I will begin testing the Yoga 15 and see what it has to offer.

For other Wacom-based pen digitizer tablets check:

For N-Trig based tablets check:

The Yoga 15 has several models.  I would consider the i5 if I was only a gamer.  The i7 is the system that I recommend for developers.  The price of the device is between $950 and $1,200, which is very reasonable in my opinion.

At the moment I am presuming many things and from what I can see it looks like the Lenovo ThinPad Yoga 15 will be a good system.  It is not the best system in any single category, but it does seem to strike a balance of pros and cons that meets most of my requirements.

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