Review: Lenovo Yoga 500, hardly stellar

Lenovo is having a tough time these days. Despite being the world's largest PC vendor, beating both Dell and HP in unit sales, the company just cannot seem to turn a profit. The financial report for fiscal 2015 (April 2015 - March 2016) shows the company recording revenues of US $44.912 billion. That is a decrease of three percent from the previous fiscal year and a net loss of US $128 million.
 
Hardly surprising considering that the PC market itself is in a freefall. Lenovo badly needs some innovative products which can command a premium. Is the new Yoga 500 a good candidate for a profitable product?
 
Design

Review: Lenovo Yoga 500, hardly stellar
 

After being flooded with all-black laptops for the past year, it is greatly refreshing to see a 2-in-1 with a different colour scheme. With the Yoga 500, Lenovo has opted for a fiery red look. It is reminiscent of some older Ferrari laptops from Acer, although the reddish hue on this Lenovo device is of a darker shade. This along with the brushed metal texture on the lid makes the device stand apart in a very crowded market. Despite the look, the lid itself is made of plastic.

Review: Lenovo Yoga 500, hardly stellar

At 2.1Kg, the Yoga 500 is around 20 percent heavier than the Acer Aspire R 14 which we had reviewed earlier. But it is really thin at just 0.87 inches. Not quite as thin as some Ultrabooks that we have seen recently, but hardly bulky.
 
There is a sizeable bezel which runs along the edges of the screen. As the Yoga 500 is a true 2-in-1 rather than just a laptop like the Dell XPS 15, this is probably a requirement as you need to hold the screen edges in order to flip it into 'tent' mode.
 
But it is not ideal when using it in laptop mode. It has also given Lenovo the ability to include a large keyboard and touchpad. Both are very responsive and long typing sessions are not a problem. The keyboard is also backlit with two brightness settings.
 
Display and Ports
 
The Yoga 500 has a 15.6-inch IPS touchscreen with a 1920x1080 resolution. The screen has an anti-glare coating. For comparison, it is about the same brightness as the screen which adorns the Acer Aspire R 14.  

Review: Lenovo Yoga 500, hardly stellar

The laptop has two USB 3.0 ports, a single USB 2.0 port, HDMI out, a 4-in-1 card reader and a combination analogue audio port. Rather surprisingly, Lenovo has also included a wired ethernet port. It is a good thing as many hotel rooms, particularly in Europe, still provide internet via wired cables.
 
Internal Hardware
 
The Yoga 500 ships with the 'Skylake' family of Intel Core processors. The highest-end version of the device is available with the Intel Core i7 5500U CPU. Our test unit came with 8GB of DDR3 RAM.
 
Like many laptops and 2-in-1s these days, Lenovo has included a Nvidia 920M discrete GPU which functions alongside the integrated Intel HD Graphics core. The Nvidia GPU has access to an extra 2GB of dedicated VRAM.
 
Along with the CPU and RAM, another customisable option is storage. You can choose between a regular hard drive or a SSD, both up to 1TB in size.

Performance
 
Put simply, the Lenovo Yoga 500 does not set any new records. In graphics performance, it is slightly faster than the Acer Aspire R 14, but does not exactly storm ahead as the discrete Nvidia GPU is the very basic version.
 
Battery life is not exceptional either. Lenovo's own specifications mention just under six hours battery life for the included 45Wh power pack. We found it lasts just over three hours if you stream Full HD video and play a game from the Windows Store.
 
The quality of audio from the Yoga 500 is worth mentioning. It is above par for a laptop or a 2-in1. The maximum volume is excellent and the Dolby Home Theatre speakers provide a good experience.
 
Software
 

Review: Lenovo Yoga 500, hardly stellar
 

In addition to Windows 10, Lenovo bundles a photo management app. The value of this is debatable as there are several similar free photo applications available these days.
 
For audio, the Yoga 500 also has a software equaliser with presets for movie, music, gaming and voice. You can also customise the audio output to your preference.
 
Conclusion
 
The Yoga 500 has the exact same problem as the Acer Aspire R 14 and other 2-in-1s we have seen in the past few months. Thanks to the latest Intel processors, CPU performance is good. 3D graphics performance is below average and battery life is poor for a portable. Overall, nothing in the design, hardware or performance of the Yoga 500 propels it well above the level of mediocrity.
 

Review: Lenovo Yoga 500, hardly stellar

Review: Lenovo Yoga 500, hardly stellar
 

Rating: 3 out of 5

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