Durability defined: Lenovo’s ThinkPad Yoga 11e reviewed

If you’re a little worried about what the kids might do to a cheap laptop, it might be time to consider something made to withstand their school life.

Bringing it back to what machines were like when the government was still paying for them (grumble now), Lenovo’s ThinkPad Yoga 11e packs in features more like today in a body that was once designed for the needs of students.

Or in other words, it was made to survive tumbles, falls, and drops.

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Specs

A computer that can survive tumbles, falls, and drops still needs to be a computer, and for that, we turn to the specs.

On paper, Lenovo’s ThinkPad Yoga 11e Generation 2 — which is officially what this is called — is interesting, bringing to mind the hardware design of the Apple MacBook to a slightly more durable form-factor.

You’ll find one of Intel’s fifth-generation Core M processors here, set to a rather low 800MHz, though paired with 4GB RAM and a 192GB solid-state drive.

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Microsoft’s Windows 10 Home arrives on this box, as does an extra input device, with Lenovo delivering its “WriteIt” Active Pen in the package, attachable to the computer by way of a small USB mountable clip.

Connections on the computer are decent for a 2015 computer, which this technically classes as, and you’ll find 802.11ac WiFi with support for 802.11a/b/g/n, while Bluetooth is set to version 4.0.

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Wired ports are found in the form of one USB 2.0, one USB 3.0, a single HDMI port, an Ethernet port, the typical 3.5mm headset jack, and an SD card slot.

There’s even a web cam here, though it only measures up to 720p HD.

The battery inside is rated up to 8.1 hours and is not removable.

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Design and build

Getting started with the Yoga 11e, you have to make mention of the build because that is the main reason why someone would consider this machine.

Like most machines out there, Lenovo has relied on plastic, and a lot of it, but unlike pretty much everything else you may be looking at, the plastic is more than just there because the product is meant to be cheap.

No, in this computer, the plastic is there to be padding, with rubber bumpers around the screen designed to absorb more shock, a thicker bezel to protect that screen, and a tough casing that can handle the rest.

Design is pretty simple despite this, with black plastic and a lot of it blowing out the weight to a surprising 1.59kg, surprising because the machine otherwise doesn’t have much to it.

But there is a lot of material protecting the innards, and there is even a level of scratch and crack resistance applied to the display making it just that much more durable, and it is still a touch screen.

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Summing it up is the final rating: MIL-SPEC.

Sometimes described as “MILSTD”, MIL-SPEC is the term applied to any product that has been graded so highly that it technically classes military specifications, with a test that pits the laptop against high pressure, humidity, vibration, extreme temperatures, temperature shock, low pressure, low temperature, and finally dust.

Yes, it’s jargon, but it’s jargon that translates into this one basic fact: if it says “MIL-SPEC” on the box, you can drop the laptop and it will still survive.

And you can drop the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 11e and it will still survive.

We tried.

Several times.

Begrudgingly so.

Every time, the laptop hit the ground with an unsatisfying thud, the keyboard raising the low-pitch sound with a couple of clattering keys, turning it all into a symphony of anxious wallets and gritted teeth.

But the machine was fine, and while we didn’t want to drop the computer — because quite frankly nobody should want to go out of their way to intentionally break a computer — Lenovo’s Yoga 11e survived in every drop test we gave it.

That is definitely impressive.

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