2-in-1 or ultrabook
March 16, 2021 10:30 AM   Subscribe

I am in the market for a refurbished 2-in-1. Should I buy this Ultrabook instead? If this is not the computer for me, please tell me what I should buy instead.

I used to have a Microsoft Surface Pro 4. It broke. I need a replacement. TigerDirect is having a flash sale on a Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Ultrabook. It is well below my budget cap of $650, but I cannot tell if it has a 360 degree hinge. If it does not, that is a deal breaker for me.

Things I used my laptop for:
-Drawing with sketchbook and krita (this is the most important thing to me)
-schoolwork and business stuff from home, including zoom
-schooling in-person, which includes note-taking, with the keyboard and pen (portability is important)
-netflix and other streaming
-general computer stuffs like emails and recipes and things

I tried using the Surface Pro 4 with Steam to play Tacoma, and it barely could handle it on the lowest settings. I would be willing to ditch the idea of the removable keyboard if it meant I could play pretty puzzle games on it.

I'm a bit worried it's too big? Portability of the SP4 was something I really enjoyed, but if it runs drawing software with less fuss I could be happy.
posted by FirstMateKate to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
Best answer: but I cannot tell if it has a 360 degree hinge. If it does not, that is a deal breaker for me.

It appears it does not. Going from the specs in that TigerDirect ad (Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Ultrabook Core i5-6300U) it would be a first gen, and this sales reference shows on page 147 that the screen on a first gen does not flip all the way round (top right image).
posted by Stoneshop at 10:57 AM on March 16, 2021

Best answer: Not sure if stoneshop is right. Page 147 of that some doc says: Hinge: Yoga Hinge 360 degrees

(I think this is what "Yoga" means in Lenovo-land.)
posted by ManInSuit at 11:38 AM on March 16, 2021

Response by poster: that solved it! Marking both of you as the best answer, Stoneshop for the resource and ManInSuit for reading the fine print. Thank you, everyone
posted by FirstMateKate at 12:06 PM on March 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: That's the same generation of CPU as the Surface 4 and doesn't have a discrete GPU, so it's not going to give you a ton of more performance than what you currently have. If you're not aware, the first digit in Intel CPUs usually is the generation (or first two digits, if the first one is a 1 and not a very first generation i series CPU) - i5-6300U means it's 6th generation. There's been a number of security vulnerabilities in the Intel chips themselves that have been patched in the operating systems, but that comes with a performance penalty. The penalties tend to be substantially worse in 7th generation and older CPUs, so I would personally not recommend going any older than an 8th generation one.
posted by Candleman at 12:15 PM on March 16, 2021

Best answer: I only glanced at it quickly, but my understanding is that laptops like you linked are just touchscreens with a stylus. It is nowhere near the same quality for drawing as the Surface Pro--last I looked about two months ago, the Surface Pro is the only mainstream 2-in-1 that's any good for drawing (typically the choice is between a Surface Pro and iPad Pro). The only exception might be the Fujitsu Lifebook--I can tell you that 8 years ago they were fantastic, but I have no idea if the modern versions hold up. I did find this article about AES vs EMR pens--my Fujitsu has an EMR pen, as does the Surface Pro. I didn't see anything about pens either way in your Ultrabook, which means it's likely AES (as EMR is something that must be built into the computer, you can use an AES pen with any touchscreen but not an EMR). You can read the article for yourself, but essentially AES pens are much less sensitive.

I have an HP Envy 2-in-1 with an "Active Pen" (which is supposed to be one of the "best" of the AES styluses). It is flat-out garbage in comparison to my Fujitsu, which uses EMR technology. My SIL had a Surface Pro a couple of years ago, and she found it comparable to my Fujitsu. So I feel pretty comfortable saying that you will be very unsatisfied with the jump from the Surface Pro to this Ultrabook. I use my HP Envy for quick basic pose/concept sketches when I don't want to lug my Fujitsu up, but I don't do any detail or coloring work on it. The difference between the two is extremely evident.

If you look at articles for "best laptops for drawing" my HP Envy will come up (possibly your Ultrabook too). These articles are not written by artists, and typically they're picturing someone who's very much an ameuter and just wants to mess around and doodle. If you are more than an absolute beginner, I don't think you'll be happy with it. Even if you are, I think you'd find an EMR enabled laptop much less frustrating. I feel like a horrible artist when I use my HP Envy because the quality degrade is that bad. I might throw up an example later this evening if I remember to.

If you do want to try it, double-triple-quadruple check their returns policy. It's possible it's totally fine for the kind of drawing you want to do, but I strongly suspect it will not be what you're expecting.
posted by brook horse at 1:18 PM on March 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

Yep, from the specs, this is a first generation X1 Yoga, so it's 5 years old (and presumably used) now. I have an X1 Yoga 2nd Generation, and haven't used it for drawing. Here's a video review of using the pen on it, but also a good place to look at the computer itself.
posted by ambrosen at 2:26 PM on March 16, 2021

You've already marked some answers as best but I want to amplify what brook horse said: if your main use case is the stylus, do not get anything other than a surface pro. Last year I got a surface pro 7 after returning a yoga c940 with terrible terrible stylus response. I can't imagine the x1 would be much better.

My SP7 does just fine with less demanding steam games as well, so I think you'd be ok on that front.
posted by dbx at 4:54 AM on March 17, 2021

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