Lenovo ThinkPad L13 Yoga review: Business on a budget

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Lenovo’s line of ThinkPad laptops remains popular for multiple reasons. When you see a laptop with the ThinkPad emblem, you know you’re getting a comfortable keyboard, good performance, the signature Nub, a nice port selection, and a business-oriented design. A lot of people (including myself) enjoy that combination of features. Those are the fundamentals of Lenovo’s budget-conscious L line which promise to bring down all the features you come to expect from a ThinkPad to a more affordable price point.

One of the newest entries in the line is the ThinkPad L13 Yoga. It replaces the L390 and makes a name for itself as being a solid mid-range 2-in-1 starting at about $700. I’ve been using it for the past couple of weeks as my main computer at home and it’s surprised and delighted me in just how capable it is. For the money you spend, you really do get a great business laptop.

ThinkPads always look like thick, black slabs and the L13 Yoga doesn’t stray from that. While not the slimmest or lightest computer in the world, I don’t mind the bulk of the machine when it’s in my backpack. Its overall footprint is still relatively small given the display is 13.3-inches. It’s not too thick or to the point where I have to remove other things from my backpack for it to fit. It’s also not the prettiest laptop out there, but I don’t mind its forgettable design since you don’t buy ThinkPads for their looks anyway.

It did receive MIL-STD 810G certifications, though, so if you’re worried about dropping your laptop or using it in high humidity, the L13 should be just fine.

Around the laptop, you’ll find a decent selection of ports. There’s a pair of USB-C ports on the left (one for power, one for data) in addition to a USB-A port, a headphone jack, and a proprietary Ethernet port. On the right you’ll find an HDMI port, another USB-A, a microSD card slot, a power button, and a security lock slot. It’s probably a rarity for many people to not find the type of port they need when using the L13 Yoga unless you absolutely need a full-size SD card reader or Thunderbolt 3 slot. If you do, you can always buy an adapter.

Opening the laptop (a two-handed job, mind you), you’ll be presented by the 13.3-inch display I just talked about. It’s Full HD and there’s no option for anything higher resolution. Colors, off-axis viewing, sharpness, and clarity are all fine. I wouldn’t use this laptop in direct sunlight since it can’t get quite bright enough, but you might be okay on an overcast day or under an umbrella at your local coffee shop.

Since this is a Yoga, the display is a touchscreen and works with both your finger and its included stylus. There’s nothing fancy about the stylus, mind you. It’s a pretty run-of-the-mill pen you can use to sign documents or jot down notes. I like how to just comes with the laptop and you don’t have to purchase it separately. It even has its own garage on the right side of the machine. It’s a delightful little addition.

Above the display in a relatively large bezel is the webcam. Normally the camera isn’t worth noting on laptops unless it’s exceptional in quality. This one isn’t, but it is exceptional in security. That’s because Lenovo includes its ThinkShield slider on the L13 Yoga. You can slide a physical shutter over the camera to block it in case you get hacked and someone decides to spy on you through it. The L13 Yoga also ships with Lenovo’s Discrete Trusted Platform Module (dTPM) to store sensitive data securely. It works in conjunction with Windows’ own security measures. Rounding things off, there’s a fingerprint scanner below the keyboard which works perfectly fine.

Speaking of which, the keyboard on the L13 Yoga is a true pleasure to use. I’m always a fan of ThinkPad keyboards since they typically have a lot of travel and make typing for hours on end comfortable. The L13’s key layout is no different.

One thing that annoys me greatly is the placement of the Fn and Ctrl keys. They should be swapped. More often than not, I reach for the Ctrl key on my keyboard and wind up accidentally hitting Fn. There’s no option to switch the keys in Lenovo’s proprietary Vantage software, either. You’re stuck with this layout, is what I’m saying. If you can live with it you’ll be fine, but personally, I can’t stand it.

In addition, the trackpad is good and reliable. I wish it were covered in glass so it’d be a bit smoother, but it works well enough. You even get dedicated left and right mouse buttons in addition to the infamous TrackPoint nub.

In terms of performance, I really don’t have any complaints. My review unit came with a 10th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of SSD storage. It also ships with Intel’s integrated graphics, but if you’re buying this laptop, it likely means you won’t be doing anything too graphics-heavy. In fact, anyone buying this laptop shouldn’t expect it to render out video at record time or handle the most demanding Photoshop tasks. That’s not what it’s designed for. It’s designed for office work and some heavier tasks like multiple Chrome tabs, a few Word docs, and a PowerPoint all running at once.

With that kind of workload, the L13 Yoga is perfectly fine. I use Microsoft Publisher every day to compose my church’s bulletin each week, and it runs perfectly fine on the machine. All of Office 365 runs well, mind you. This is a business-oriented machine that costs less than $1,000 (at least my unit does) so it’s really not meant for gamers or video editors. You can do some light photo editing if you wanted, but I wouldn’t go much further.

Notably, this laptop is also good for students. If you’re doing a ton of work in G Suite or Office 365 during class, the L13 Yoga will treat you nicely. Plus you get the included stylus which will make taking notes easier.

As far as battery life goes, the L13 Yoga runs just shy of a full day. I’m finding I can get through about eight hours of usage out of the 46Whr cell with mixed use. That’s still short of a full day for me since I work late in the evening, but at that point I’m close to a wall outlet so I can use the included 65W power plug. For both business users and students, this type of stamina should be just enough to get through a full day before needing to recharge.

Interestingly, Lenovo claims the L13 Yoga can last up to 12 hours on a full charge, but I’ve never been able to achieve anything more than nine.

All in all, there’s not a lot wrong with the L13 Yoga. I wish it were a bit slimmer, had smaller bezels, and lasted a tad longer on a charge. The speakers could also use some work since they’re tinny and fire from the bottom of the machine. But at the end of the day, Lenovo has built a fine ThinkPad here. It offers a good array of spec configurations (all the way up to a 10th-gen Intel Core i7, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage), good general performance, decent battery life, and a fantastic array of IO. Plus, it can flip around so you can use it like a tablet for when you want to wind down.

If you’re looking to save some cash and want something from Lenovo’s ThinkPad, the L13 Yoga is a great choice.

Lenovo ThinkPad L13 Yoga

$959.40 (as reviewed)
6.9

Design

7.5/10

Display

7.0/10

Performance

8.0/10

Battery Life

7.0/10

Extras

5.0/10

Pros

  • Comfortable keyboard
  • 2-in-1 design
  • Included pen
  • Solid port selection

Cons

  • Battery life is good but not close to Lenovo's estimates
  • Not the thinnest laptop around
  • Trackpad could be smoother
  • Display colors could be a bit more vibrant



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