Lenovo is looking to bridge the gap between Android tablets and smart home hubs with no fewer than two new devices at this year’s IFA 2019. Those are the Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab and the Smart Tab M8. Both of the devices in question are, at their heart, Android tablets. Because Lenovo takes advantage of Google Assistant’s Ambient Mode, each can also effectively serve as a smart home hub.
Now, there are several similarities between these two tablets. To begin with, each is equipped with dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.2 as well as a SIM slot for LTE connectivity. The latter connective technology is optional on both the Lenovo Smart Tab M8 and Yoga-branded Smart Tab. That’s via Nano SIM card in the M8 as compared to the Micro SIM used in the Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab.
Each includes the sensors one would expect in a mobile-compatible device with cameras. Both keep the ever-popular 3.5mm headphone jack too but, minor similarities aside, almost nothing about these devices is the same. From the design to the internal specs, these tablets are intended for entirely different uses well worth a deep dive.
The Yoga Smart Tab
Lenovo’s Yoga Smart Tab is the more dramatic of the two in terms of design language and usability features. As its name implies, it’ll also to be the more expensive of the two. To begin with, this tablet is equipped with an octa-core Snapdragon 439 SoC. That’s four cores at 2 GHz and four more at 1.45 GHz.
3GB of memory and 32GB storage can be found backing up the processor here in one configuration. Another bumps things up to 4GB RAM and 64GB of storage. Storage is expandable via microSD card up to 256GB. Irrespective of the storage and memory options chosen, Lenovo’s tablet is powered by a 7,000mAh battery. Charged via USB Type-C 2.0, that allows for a claimed up to ten hours of battery life with video playback or 11 hours of web browsing.
Where things really get interesting with the Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab is in the exterior design. All of that hardware and a 10.1-inch FHD 10-point multitouch display is packed into a uniquely-shaped Iron Grey shell. That’s got an ingress protection rating of IP52 against dust and liquids.
Above the panel, rated at a brightness of 320 nits, an 86-degree wide-angle 5-megapixel fixed-focus camera is included. Lenovo included an 8-megapixel snapper is on the back but it’s the lower portion of the frame where things get interesting. That bulges out in a circular shape — when viewed from the side — because of two 2-watt Dobly Atmos-optimized JBL speakers.
Around the back, there’s a kickstand. That can be folded in for handheld use or folded out into either a low- or high-angle stand configuration. It can also be folded all the way out so that it’s center hold can be used to hang the device up.
The kickstand is where this device really shines. With the push of a button and thanks to three 3 embedded mics allowing for 360-degree far-field voice recognition, this tablet can be put down anywhere and used as a Google Assistant-powered smart display. That includes all of the same functionality that might be expected from a traditional smart display from media playback to smart home control.
Lenovo Smart Tab M8
The Lenovo Smart Tab M8 comes packed with similar features to its Yoga-branded counterpart. It does that in a package that’s only slightly less capable, at least on paper.
To begin with, it’s smart home hub experience is powered by far-field voice recognition with two high-performance MEMS microphones instead of a triple array. It’s two Dolby Atmos-optimized speakers are side-mounted and not specified as being built by JBL.
Internally, Lenovo equipped the Smart Tab M8 with a more affordable chipset too. That’s the MediaTek A22 Tab processor, a quad-core 2 GHz unit. Backing that up, Lenovo includes 2GB memory and just 16GB or 32GB of storage. The latter metric is expandable via microSD card too but only up to 128GB this time. A 5,000mAh battery drives everything, charged via Micro USB.
All of that is packed under a less impressive 8-inch HD 10-point multitouch display panel with a brightness rating of 350 nits. The front and rear cameras have been scaled back to 2-megapixels and 5-megapixels, respectively. There’s no IP rating listed for the hardware.
The biggest difference between the two Lenovo hybrid tablets, however, might be in how they approach the smart hub functionality. The Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab essentially acts as a tablet that can be placed anywhere and used as a smart home hub. Lenovo’s Smart Tab M8 has a decidedly more stationary design.
That’s because it’s smart home capabilities kick in when it’s placed on a charging dock that’s included in the box. The design decision comparatively reduces the portability of the device since it’s going to be inconvenient to lug a charging dock around. So although LTE variants will remain usable outside of the home, it will chiefly work as a tablet with a more standard Google Assistant experience under those circumstances.
Counter to that possible caveat, buyers will have more choices when it comes to the coloration of the device. Lenovo plans to make the Smart Tab M8 available in both Onyx Black and Platinum Grey.
Pricing and availability
Specifics about regional availability for Lenovo’s latest Android tablets haven’t been provided just yet. But there will be Russia and Japan-specific SKUs for the Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab tablet. That’s according to Lenovo’s press materials concerning pre-installed applications.
For pricing, Lenovo has kept costs surprisingly low. The most expensive of the two devices, the Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab, will start out at just $249.99. Lenovo plans to begin making units of the more portable gadget available starting at some point this month.
The company will take a bit longer preparing the Lenovo Smart Tab M8, with sales set to start around a month later in October. The Smart Tab M8 will be much less expensive at just $119.99, making buying the Lenovo-built hybrid smart home hub and tablet more feasible across a wider audience.