Lenovo’s Yoga line of devices is nothing new, as they’ve been putting out products like the Yoga laptops for years now, but this new Yoga Book is something a little bit different from the company as it’s more of a convertible 2-in-1 tablet posing as a laptop than an actual laptop. That said, it’s not just a run of the mill tablet either, and this is blatantly obvious even after using it for only for a few minutes. It runs on Android and is mostly up to date with Marshmallow at the core and will cost you $499, although Lenovo does have a Windows 10 version of the device as well which will set you back an additional $50. Lenovo originally showed this off behind closed doors back during Mobile World Congress. At the time the device was not finished although it didn’t look any different then from the design that it carries now, but we did get to play with it a little bit and get a feel for what Lenovo was trying to do by bringing another device of this nature into this particular category. How does it stack up now that it’s a fully fleshed out product that can be picked up compared to when it was Lenovo’s secret device project? That’s what we’re going to find out here in this review.
When it comes to the specifications for this device, it feels like Lenovo was going for modest yet still extremely capable components and has filled the Yoga Book with respectable hardware that makes the device easy to use while being able to perform right alongside some of the best devices out there. It’s also not using top of the line hardware, but everything that composes the Yoga Book is more than capable of keeping things running smoothly and looking good while doing it. It features a 10.1-inch Full HD display with a resolution of 1920 x 1200 and a brightness of 400 nits. On the side opposite the display is where you’ll the find the touchpad, which can not only be used as a writing surface but it also doubles as a capacitive touch keyboard with haptic feedback.
On the inside of the tablet Lenovo has chosen an Intel Atom x5-Z8550 quad-core processor, and they paired that with 4GB of LPDDR3 RAM and 64GB of internal storage space so there’s plenty of room for all of your apps, games, movies, and other files. If 64GB isn’t enough, it also has an integrated microSD card slot for expandable storage up to 128GB. It has a rather large 8,500mAh battery which Lenovo boasts can deliver up to 15 hours of average use before it needs a recharge, and up to a whopping 70 days of standby time. It’s also incredibly thin and lightweight which makes it an ideal tablet choice for someone who needs something portable yet powerful, measuring at just 10.1-inches x 0.38-inches x 6.72-inches, and weighing just 1.52 lbs. It has two cameras, a front-facing 2MP camera as well as an 8MP rear-facing camera, and the device is encased in metal body for a stunning overall design. There’s no 4G LTE connectivity here, but it does support the latest Wi-Fi standards with Wi-Fi 802.11ac, and it also supports Bluetooth for wireless connectivity. Dolby Atmos is used for the audio, and it’s running on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow for the software version.
In The Box
In the Box you’ll actually find quite a bit more than you would with most tablet devices. The Yoga Book sits on top, with everything else packed in nice and neat around and under it, including the charging cable and ac adapter, as well as the Lenovo Real Pen, the Book Pad which has 15 pages to write on, and 3 standard pen tips which actually write on paper. Overall the box is packed with useful stuff to help anyone make the most out of this device.
Hardware & Design
The hardware and design of the Yoga Book is really nothing short of amazing. This is one attractive device and the fact that it’s so thin only helps to add to the allure. Lenovo has used a magnesium aluminum alloy metal for the body of the device giving it a more premium feel, and it’s using the same watchband style of hinge that can be seen on other Lenovo devices like the Lenovo 900 series of laptops. There are speakers on both the left and right side of the device along with a series of ports and the volume rocker/power button combo, which are all present on the bottom half of this tablet/2-in-1 where the touchpad/keyboard is. On the left is where you’ll find the micro USB port as well as a mini HDMI port for connecting it up to a large display monitor or even a TV if you feel the need, and this is also where the microSD card slot resides along with one of the speakers. On the right you’ll find the second speaker, the power button, the volume rocker, and a 3.5mm audio port for plugging in headphones, although the Yoga Book does of course support Bluetooth as well so you can wirelessly connect headphones if you prefer to be cordless. Thanks to the hinge, the Yoga Book can be used in a variety of configurations, and during my time of use I found that I was most commonly using it like one would a laptop.
The hinge opens up to a full 360-degrees too, making it possible to flip the touchpad/keyboard onto the backside of the display, allowing you to use it as just a tablet, and there’s no fear of accidentally touching or typing something when used in this way as the touchpad is disabled in this orientation. The device can also be laid flat and used to take notes like you would use a regular old notebook, which I found to be an ingenious idea for anyone that needs a small and capable device for class or work, and lastly you can also flip the hinge around almost all of the way and use it like a kickstand, making it perfect for watching video during those down moments when you have some free time. One interesting thing of note is that the cameras are both on the inside of the device’s closed book-like form factor, with one camera sitting dead center at the top edge of the screen (the front camera), while the other resides in the top right corner of the touchpad, which is essentially the rear camera when the device is flipped around and used in tablet form. When closed up, the device is pretty minimal as you’ll find no cameras or sensors, just a smooth metal finish on both sides, with the Lenovo logo sitting in the bottom left corner on the front side. Every piece of the device seems to have been thoughtfully and carefully considered, right down to the angled lip of the right edge opposite the hinge, as this angled design helps to more easily open up it up. Having said that, it can still be bit challenging as unlike many traditional laptops, you won’t find the usual indentation that can make opening the lid a lot easier. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t have any problems opening it up if hold like an actual book and pry from the top corner.
One of the most stunning parts of the Yoga Book is its illuminating keyboard which lights up whenever you flip it open. This is the touchpad I was referring to earlier, but Lenovo actually calls this the Halo Keyboard, and there are handfuls of adjustments and special tweaks baked in to make this feel robust and easy to use, such as brightness level, typing speed (which likely helps with how accurate my typing results were), vibration intensity, and how long it takes before the keyboard goes to sleep following periods of no operation. There are multiple keyboard shortcuts that are supported, including things like CTRL + ALT + DELETE to enter the lock screen, or more standard shortcuts which you’ll find on Windows like CTRL + C for copy or CTRL + V for paste. The Halo Keyboard also features a vibration for a Haptic feedback-like feel, and although it can feel a little challenging to get used to typing on this thing, it provided surprisingly accurate results with very little mistakes showing up. This was a blissful realization as a bad typing experience was a big worry before actually having used the device. That said, there are some things which weren’t as smooth as they could have been, like holding down shift and any letters when needing to capitalize anything. In this particular case I more often than not found myself having to hold the shift key for what felt like seconds just to get one capital letter, which ultimately slows down the typing experience, even after making sure that the typing speed setting was adjusted to fast. Overall, though, the keyboard works well and I had no issue with typing longer bits of context, and was even able to type out an article or two in docs without too many mistakes.
The other part of the touchpad surface, which uses Wacom technology, is the Create Pad. This is the second function of the pad and can be switched on quite easily simply by touching the dedicated button in the top right corner which looks like a little pen inside of a circle. The beauty of the Create Pad is that it can be used in a couple of different ways, either by writing directly on it with the digitized stylus pen tip, or by switching the stylus tip out for a real pen tip and writing on paper that is laid down directly on the Create Pad. Personally, I found that using the real pen and paper worked a little more seamlessly, but then again I am also not used to working with Wacom technology and am more accustomed to writing and drawing with a traditional tool like a standard pen.
You can write or draw on the Create Pad in more than a few ways. You can have it in a Laptop-like orientation which makes it easy for viewing your sketches, or laid flat like you’re writing in an actual notebook. If you’re going to have the screen put to sleep while you take notes, Lenovo has built in a nifty little feature that allows you to save on battery life. Whenever you transition the Halo Keyboard into the Create Pad, the Note Saver application opens up automatically and once this is opened up, you can hit the power button to lock the screen and put it to sleep before flipping it around to where it sits behind the Create Pad. This is an ideal orientation if you’re going to be taking notes using Lenovo’s included Book Pad. While the Book Pad does only come with 15 pages, you can use regular paper here, and if you do prefer the Book Pad paper you can buy additional paper refills for $15 which comes with 75 pages altogether. The pages can be kept inside the Book Pad while in use, but they can also be torn out and placed on top of the Create Pad surface. Lenovo has even made these easy to remove thanks to the little perforated line along the edge which you can see in the image just above. When the pages are used up and you need to replace them, the Book Pad features a little magnetic flap which keeps the Book Pad paper in place, and you can simply lift this up and swap out the paper as needed, then latch magnetic flap back down.
The display on the Yoga Book sits at 10.1-inches with a Full HD resolution and Lenovo has used an IPS panel here. While many devices these days are using Quad HD screens for extremely crisp and clear picture quality, Lenovo has chosen to stick with FHD, which you might think would compromise the clarity, but on the contrary the screen is actually nice and sharp and isn’t the slightest bit unsatisfying. It certainly won’t be as sharp as a 2K display, but it looks great, is easy to see even outdoors in the sunlight, and at least during the the time of my personal use it felt nice and responsive without any problems. The color reproduction of the display is about on par with what you would find on any other FHD screen. It won’t blow you away by any means, but it doesn’t look bad either and it should be just fine for anyone who isn’t interested in having the absolute highest resolution display that can be found on any device. It delivers a decent balance of color and blacks levels are just as good, though users shouldn’t expect them to be as deep as they would be on a Super AMOLED panel. While the contrast of the colors and clarity was not as enjoyable as something with a 2K display for playing high-end games, it was more than suitable for browsing the web and watching media, and it certainly wasn’t lacking when using apps like Docs or Lenovo’s Note app for typing. As briefly mentioned earlier, the touch responsiveness of the digitizer behind the screen is great and things never really seemed to slow down or lag behind finger presses, so you can expect rapid response after interacting with the display for any uses. Naturally, as much should be expected given the price range that the Yoga Book falls under, and it’s nice to see that Lenovo doesn’t disappoint in this area as the screen, like any touchscreen mobile device, is how you’ll be spending most of your time interacting with its features and functions.
Performance & Memory
Inside the Yoga Book Lenovo has used an Intel Atom chip, specifically the Intel Atom x5-Z8550 quad-core processor which is capable of clocking up to 2.4 GHz. It’s no Snapdragon 821, but then again it’s important to remember who Lenovo is targeting here with the Yoga Book, which isn’t the consumer who is looking for a high-performance gaming-grade tablet like the NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet K1. That doesn’t mean that the Yoga Book isn’t capable of playing games as it had no problems booting up and running high-quality titles with intense graphics like Mobius Final Fantasy or Gamevil’s upcoming title Devilian. Both of these games also contain quite a bit in the special effects department alongside the 3D visuals and both played without a hitch, however the lower graphics quality is certainly noticeable at times and while it might not bother most, users looking for the pinnacle in graphics performance from a tablet may not be completely satisfied.
For everyday tasks as well as opening and running multiple applications the Yoga Book performed just fine, and it never really seemed to have issues with hanging or stuttering. The processor has help of course, with 4GB of RAM to make use of the multitasking and it doesn’t hurt that it’s running Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow which makes great use of Google’s optimization to the software version to run nice and smooth. That said, there is a slight yet noticeable lag in between apps or menus opening, although it does seem more severe if you have more than 5 or 6 demanding applications running at once as opposed to one or two. Mind you, this isn’t really the performance suffering but it isn’t as fluid as some other devices. Overall, though, the Yoga Book performs quite admirably.
The Intel Atom x5-Z8550 is by no means a slouch, and it’s not a flagship chipset that should be used as a standard by which to hold other chipsets accountable. This certainly reflects in the benchmarks which you can see screenshots of below. We put the Yoga Book through Geekbench 4, as well as 3D Mark for the graphics, and although the results don’t paint a picture of the most powerful Android device out there, it can still hold its own and runs just fine for most tasks. The only possible area where most users would likely notice where the Yoga Book is lacking is with high-end games that have demanding visuals. It’s worth noting though that these are still just benchmarks, and real world use is worth factoring into how things will feel when interacting with it.
When it comes to the battery life, Lenovo boasts that the tablet has around 70 days of standby time. We of course couldn’t put that to the test as we haven’t had the Yoga Book for that long, but in the two weeks or so that it’s been in our possession it’s spent quite a bit of time in standby while off the charger and it does last quite a long time without any issue. On more than one occasion it was left overnight off the charger and had no battery drain the next day. What’s likely more important to most users, though, is how long the Yoga Book lasts while being used with the screen on, and on average Lenovo boasts about 15 hours here. Keep in mind, that this is with average use, which means some light web browsing and light use of social media apps, maybe a little bit of gaming and some video, note taking, or reading, etc. For the heavy users that expect to use this for notes and typing all day during classes, and watching loads of video or playing games for hours, the battery will drain faster, though because it is an 8,500mAh battery inside it should still last quite a while throughout the day.
When it comes to screen on time with the Yoga Book, I found that it was running for around 5-7 hours depending on what it was I was using it for. Obviously more performance heavy functions like gaming proved to be a little more taxing, but when used as a general purpose tablet for all sorts of tasks there was nothing really disappointing about the battery life at all and it lasted me throughout the day on just about every occasion without having to worry about charging it. This makes it a great device for using all day and thanks to its slender frame it’s easy to carry around, too. Lenovo has also baked in some nifty features to help with extending the battery life. For example, when using this thing as a notepad, the display can be kept off and flipped onto its face while still allowing the wacom touchpad to function properly, which, as you would imagine helps with battery longevity as the screen isn’t needlessly staying awake when you aren’t going to be using it.
The Yoga Book features Dolby Atmos sound, and with dual stereo speakers there is nothing disappointing about the audio experience. Everything comes through crisp and clear and without any choppiness or static at higher volumes. In short, it’s going to be a great device for the times you want to watch movies or TV, or when listening to music in the background while working on it. The Dolby Atmos can be turned off which should prove to be a little less demanding on the battery as well as the performance if you feel the need to turn it off, but everything audio-related is certainly better with it.
Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow runs the show, so while it isn’t the most up to date version of Android now that Android 7.0 Nougat has been released, everything still feels pretty smooth and Lenovo has added in plenty of special tweaks. Specifically they have made use of some of Android’s more recent native functions like Multi-Window with apps, something which you will only find in Nougat when it comes to stock Android software. That being said, the multi-window feature does not work with every single application as there seemed to be support lacking for even some of the more popular apps like Docs and YouTube. It does work with apps like Netflix, but it seems that this is one area where there wasn't as much thought put into development as the windows are too small to really enjoy video even on a 10.1-inch display since they can't be resized, and they're stuck in a portrait orientation. There is supposed to be a good amount of applications that support this feature but there is no list detailing which ones work and which ones don't, you as a user who might be interested in it you'll simply have to check each app, which can be done by double tapping on the bar at the top of the app to see if it's supported.
Multi-window aside, Lenovo has fashioned this nice little taskbar of sorts that sits at the bottom of the screen where you can see all of your open applications just to the right of the navigation buttons. A quick tap on any one of these will allow you to switch between running apps with ease and alleviates any need to make use of the recents screen, although this is still present next to the home and back buttons. This makes multitasking quick and painless, and when you’re done with an app and no longer need it open you can forego the recents screen here too as you can simply long press on the app you want to shut down and drag the icon from the taskbar to the main part of the screen, which closes it right out. This bar is also scrollable so if you have more apps open than icons will fit in the bar, you can simply run your finger across it swiping left or right to see any apps which aren’t presently in view.
While there is not an overly saturated software experience here, Lenovo has added in some of their own applications, but this should be expected as most devices will feature some OEM offerings alongside the stuff you’ll find on a stock Android device. Touchpal software has been baked into the experience, which is there to take care of auto-correction, auto-complete, and word prediction when doing any typing whether you’re using the on-screen keyboard or the Halo keyboard. Of course, if you prefer not to use the Touchpal software you can disable this by changing over to the Google keyboard from the input menu in the settings, or you can quickly disable touchpal temporarily by hitting the Shift + Enter keyboard shortcut. You’ll find other features unique to Lenovo here, like the AnyPen technology which allows you to use any conductive object to interact with the Yoga Book’s display, whether it be a pencil, pen, or even a fork, although that likely isn’t going to be the most effective tool. This can be enabled and disabled from the settings menu and is disabled by default.
Lenovo packages the Yoga Book with the Real Pen as note taking and drawing are two main functions of the device, and it looks and feels just like any other pen so it won’t feel awkward when holding it in the hand. It comes with the stylus tip attached, but there are three real ink pen tips included in the box that can be swapped out. Since the Real Pen can actually be used as a real pen, it’s also beneficial for having on hand when you simply need to write something down using good old fashioned ink and paper.
Camera Performance & Software
As the camera certainly isn’t the focal point of this device, don’t expect any out if this world shots. The camera is not going to blow your mind. It does work though, and it serves its purpose of being able to take a picture in the event that you need to and have no other options. That said, this is not the best performing camera. There is a slight delay in between pressing the shutter button and when the photo is actually captured, leaving you with a slight wait time for it to get back to the ready position for snapping another picture. This means that you can easily miss a shot if you’re trying to capture anything fleeting, and it leaves room for too much movement which could result in blurry photos. Picture quality is also not the best, as photos can come out noticeably grainy if you aren't in the absolute best of lighting conditions and you’re not going to get the best of pictures in low-light situations. Again, though, the camera is not a main selling point of the Yoga Book, so it isn’t surprising to see that it feels almost like an afterthought. As an 8MP sensor the pictures will be able to deliver enough detail to where they look ok on smaller screens, but overall the quality of the images (or lack thereof) makes the camera performance disappointing, yet images can still be passable if the lighting situation is ideal. The size of the device also makes it awkward to hold for camera purposes, so this is just an all-around bad time for this particular function. If you’re using the front-facing camera, then there’s nothing really to be too disappointed about here unless you’re trying to take selfies. Video chat on the other hand is just fine even if it isn’t the best quality.
When it comes to the software there’s nothing too special here, and that should be expected as this is not meant to be a device with which you’re going to take a lot of pictures. With that said, there are a few things to utilize if you find yourself without any other camera and you absolutely need to snap a photo. There are various modes you can access like standard photo mode, Action Shot, Smart Capture, and Panorama, and then of course you can also put it into video mode if you’re going to be recording. There are also various settings to adjust, such as picture size which goes from 8MP all the way down to 0.9MP, and you can even add grid lines if you feel the need, and adjust the shooting for different types of situations such as shooting fireworks, landscapes, or barcodes. You can also adjust the brightness with a little slider bar that sits right under the shutter button.
Thin and light which makes it super portable
Versatile with different modes of use
The design is stunning
Great build quality with a solid feel
The Halo Keyboard works extremely well
The Create Pad offers up a nice way to take notes even in the traditional sense with pen and paper, but still have them digitized and saved onto the Yoga Book
Taskbar style dock for open apps and easy multitasking
Performance is pretty good
Pretty decent battery life
Great audio quality
Real Pen and Book Pad for taking notes
Poor camera performance
Getting used to the Halo Keyboard might be challenging for some at first
Opening the Yoga Book could be easier
Multi-window doesn’t work with some rather popular apps
The Lenovo Yoga Book has a lot going for it, with plenty of useful features and a great design that will surely turn heads with the cool illuminating Halo Keyboard. At $500 though, the Yoga Book is a pricey Android 2-in-1 tablet device that some might find it hard to justify a purchase for. It’s easily more portable than a laptop, but not as powerful. So there’s a bit of a give and take.
Should you buy the Lenovo Yoga Book?
That depends. It has a couple of missteps, but it does have strengths and these should certainly not be overlooked. It looks amazing, the Halo Keyboard works much better than expected, and the Create Pad/Real Pen combination make for a great note taking tool especially when used with the ink pen tip and paper. For those looking at a device that can serve as more than just a tablet running on Android, the Yoga Book fits nicely, and although there are some areas where this device could have been executed just a little bit better, Lenovo has come out with a fantastic little device that is a step in the right direction for something truly great. One thing is for certain, if they can make a second generation of this device with a little more refinement, they’ll have a real winner on their hands.