Lenovo’s Yoga Book is different. It’s got an ultra-sleek design, a somewhat new take on the keyboard, Wacom tablet-style capabilities, Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, and wants to be a laptop of some sorts. At first glance, it looks more like a concept of something rather an on-the-market device, but it’s indeed ready to be picked up by hungry consumers starting at $499.
There are two versions of the Yoga Book available: one has Android on it, while the other runs Windows 10 (we actually reviewed this variant first). Each has their own dedicated features and functionality, but for the sake of this particular review, we’ll be taking a look at the former, the model costing $499.
The Yoga Book is straight out of the matrix. I mean, it’s nothing you’d expect would ever exist when you were a kid until 2065. But in 2017, it surprisingly does. What do kids nowadays think will happen in 2065?
This device is crazy thin. We’re talking 9.6mm with the lid closed. This makes the Yoga Book extremely portable and able to fit in nearly any bag you pop it in. And with its weight of just 1.52 pounds (690 grams), I swear you’ll barely notice it’s there.
The lid and bottom piece of the Yoga Book are very minimal, with the bottom half simply including a microUSB port (not a USB-C port, for some reason), SIM/microSD card reader, and mini-HDMI port sitting along the left side and a headphone jack, volume rocker, and power button sitting on the right. There’s also two Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers on either side of the Yoga Book which get pretty loud, offer good clarity and depth, and output good bass.
In addition, Lenovo’s signature watchband hinge is present to allow the Yoga Book to flip into multiple stances such as a tent, a laptop, a stand, and a standard tablet. I’m a big fan of this versatility so I’ve really loved working with the Yoga Book day in and day out.
When opening the Yoga Book, you’ll be greeted by a 10.1-inch IPS LCD display with a resolution of 1920×1200. This results in a very clear picture being projected from the screen and the lack of viewable pixels even from a few inches away. Colors are normally pretty accurate with nice vibrancy and depth, while 400 nits of brightness are available which help when you’re in extreme lighting conditions such as a park or outside your local coffee shop. Watching movies, scrolling Facebook, and doing a little work are all pleasurable experiences thanks to the display on the Yoga Book so if you’re concerned about what you’ll have to stare at if you pick this guy up, be assured you’ll no doubt like it. A lot.
This is where the Yoga Book gets interesting, however, as when you open the lid, you’re greeted by what’s known as the Halo Keyboard. It’s basically a cut-out of a full-sized laptop keyboard backlit by LEDs and is responsive to touch. Therefore, there’s no key travel or clicky sound when operating.
I didn’t exactly like the keyboard on the Windows version, and my opinion has most certainly not changed, unfortunately. Sure, there’s some dedicated keys to jump to in different parts of Android such as the app drawer and Google Search and vibrations to try to simulate a key press, but it still feels really weird typing on a touch-based surface without anywhere to rest my fingers. I wouldn’t recommend spending a lot of time with this keyboard as it’s only capable enough to get you through a couple of emails and passwords every now and then, but if you’re planning on writing essays or important documents with the Yoga Book, you may wanna pick up an external Bluetooth keyboard and maybe a mouse because the trackpad that comes on the bottom surface is just awful.
Then again, you do have a beautiful touch screen to interact with.
What makes the Yoga Book so special is what the Halo Keyboard doubles as: a writing/drawing pad. Lenovo calls it the Create Pad and it supports Wacom stylus input. This is where the Yoga Book absolutely shines as everything that makes the tablet unique is right here.
For starters, you can take notes using Lenovo’s pre-installed app or even Google Keep, draw and paint from within ArtRage, and more via just the Create Pad and bundled stylus alone. A special notepad called Book Pad comes inside the box which allows you to write directly on a piece of paper and have all of your drawings, notes, letters, and more translate to a digital note stored to the Yoga Book. This means that you won’t have to worry about copying anything over to your tablet as it’ll have already done so for you. Additionally, writing on the Create Pad is nice and smooth and almost feels better than writing with a ball-point pen, while special tips come with the device for the stylus so you can easily begin writing on paper and digitizing to your tablet.
I have to say, the tweaks Lenovo has made to Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow makes this experience a lot better than what would be offered with stock Android. For instance, by pressing a button in the lower right-hand corner, I’m able to take a quick note in case I have to jot down my thoughts. There’s a bunch of little tweaks and Easter Eggs throughout the software loaded on the Yoga Book that make using the Create Pad that much more enjoyable, so I appreciate Lenovo’s efforts in this department.
P.S. There isn’t a dedicated section where you can place the Real Pen while using the rest of the Yoga Book, but since there are magnets inside the stylus, I tend to just attach the pen to the back of the Book. It’s not an official storage method, but it’s better than nothing.
Speaking more on the software, the Yoga Book aims to blur the line between standard Android and the multitasking capabilities of Windows 10 by implementing a custom skin which allows for users to load apps in separate windows. You can’t run apps side-by-side, but if you resize them right, you can get around this restriction. A full-on navigation bar with tabs to open different apps currently stored in the tablet’s memory is present, while a simplified home screen provides instant access to app shortcuts. There’s also a bunch of transparency everywhere which can be kind of slow at times, so take note.
All in all, I’m a fan of Lenovo’s UI for the Yoga Book. I can double tap on an app’s window to bring it into full-screen mode, resizable floating windows make multitasking a lot easier, and the interface makes interacting with the Create Pad quicker and easier than I originally anticipated. Some may dislike the customizations present (discluding the multitasking tools) like all the transparency, but once you get used to it, all you see is software that offers plenty of features to get work done and be more productive. If only this thing ran Android Nougat…
Another interesting feature Lenovo built into the Yoga Book is AnyPen, allowing any conductive object to interact with the Yoga Book’s display (but not the Create Pad). As I don’t have much experience with this feature as it wouldn’t operate properly on our review unit, a good friend of mine who also checked out the Yoga Book can testify to this feature, and he loves it.
For an artist or someone who constantly jots down his/her thoughts in a notebook, the Yoga Book is gonna make your life a lot easier. But for those who need to multitask or be productive each day, I’m not sure if this is the right option. I mean, yes the features loaded on this guy are great and work well, but they’re a bit clunky and not polished properly. For instance, if I were to open the YouTube app in a floating window and then enlarge it, it still operates as if the Yoga Book were a phone and not tablet. Therefore, Lenovo needs to do a bit more work to perfect these small quirks, but pushing that aside, if you need to be able to write down notes or draw and paint portraits while out and about, you’ll love the Yoga Book.
Of course, we can’t go through a review without mentioning the specs of the device, so let’s dive into what exactly powers the Yoga Book.
Starting with the chipset, the Yoga Book uses an Intel Atom x5 processor clocked in at up to 2.4GHz. For an Android device, this is definitely enough power to get you through Word documents, YouTube streaming, Facebook scrolling, and even heavy tasks like gaming (I’ll get to that in a sec). Since Android was built for lower-powered CPUs and hardware, the OS absolutely flies on this Intel chipset, and with Lenovo’s optimizations on top and the fact that there’s 4GB of RAM on board, everything is buttery smooth. No complaints here.
Graphics seemed to hold up pretty well on the Yoga Book with Android as games such as Asphalt 8 and Madden NFL Mobile ran nice and smooth. In addition, 64GB of storage comes on board with compatible expansion via microSD card, so you’ll probably never wish you had more space on the Yoga Book.
Regarding audio, there’s two stereo speakers built into the Create Pad of the Yoga Book, with one facing the left and the other facing the right. I have to say, while watching YouTube videos and streaming Apple Music, audio playback was crystal clear thanks to Dolby Atmos audio being built in. Even at high volumes, no distortion took place. There’s a good amount of detail in the highs and mids, while there could be a little more low-end. In addition, while streaming over Bluetooth and having a wired pair of headphones (yes, that 3.5mm jack did get used) connected, audio also sounded stellar, something I was extremely happy to see (and hear).
Regarding battery life, Lenovo built in an 8500mAh cell into the Yoga Book, promising all-day use out of one full charge (15 hours to be more specific). I have to say, I don’t exactly agree with the company’s claims as I can usually get around 4-5 hours of screen-on time before having to plug in for fear of death while doing work. Of course, battery life will vary based on your own personal usage, but for me, this is just fine. I don’t really mind it not getting the advertised 15 hours of battery life.
Finally, in terms of IO, the Yoga Book, as aforementioned, has just three ports: a microUSB charging port that also works with a number of accessories, a miniHDMI port, and a headphone jack.
Regarding the first, this port is used for charging the Yoga Book, but it does so at an extremely low speed likely due to the overall size of the cell inside and the fact that an Intel chipset is being used rather something like a Qualcomm which includes Quick Charge technology. This is also your main hub if you wanna plug in accessories like an SD card or flash drive. But be warned, there’s nothing special to boost any speeds or data transfers.
Regarding the second mentioned, if you wanna output the Yoga Book to a secondary display, you can. I personally didn’t since this is a tablet and isn’t powerful enough for me to work off of while using a separate monitor, but some will likely find this a major convenience.
Lastly, regarding the third, it’s always nice to have a headphone jack at your convenience. It’s 2017 and it seems that this 100-year-old port is finally fading out, but since the whole world hasn’t made the switch yet to wireless headphones or USB-C, I find it proper to include a headphone jack at least in a product of this nature. Nice job, Lenovo. You didn’t go all “courageous” on us.
Lenovo has something special with the Yoga Book. It’s a really unique Android tablet that aims to be a 2-in-1 the best it can. But with software restrictions that required the company to place a skin on top of the operating system, I’m not sure exactly sure how many people are going to use the device for multitasking. It’s really nice to have, don’t get me wrong, as working is actually kind of nice with multiple floating windows and multitasking gestures, but I think the Android version (at least) is better as a standalone tablet that doubles as a Wacom drawing pad. Consuming media, scrolling through Facebook, gaming, and enjoying content you’d normally find on your smartphone on a bigger screen is just better, especially since the device is so smooth. But for writing papers, editing documents, or doing work that would require a laptop, the Yoga Book doesn’t exactly shine, at least how it wants to. Therefore, buy the Yoga Book if you want a fantastic Android tablet that stands out from the crowd, not because it “doubles” as a laptop. Save that for the Windows version.