“We go hands-on with Lenovo’s latest range of Yoga tablets”
Lenovo’s tagline of ‘For those who do’ fits well with its product portfolio well, since it tries to innovate on several fronts with respect to both hardware or software to make the consumer’s life easier. The Yoga Tablet duo, released last year, was a result of this pursuit since the Chinese brand brought an entirely new form factor to the table. The tablets were even more important from the perspective that all the other offerings in the tablet space have similar designs.
Now, the brand is taking it to the next level with the launch of second-gen Yoga series, which is now offered in three different screen sizes and two operating systems. We got a chance to play with them at the launch event yesterday and here are our first impressions. While we spent a majority of our time with the 10-inch Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 running Android, we will discuss about its siblings here itself, since they share quite a few things.
Overall, there are four tablets in the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 series, with three of them running Android and one running Windows 8.1. The Android slates are available in three screen sizes of 8-, 10.1- and 13.3-inches, while the Windows 8.1-powered slate sports a display panel of 10.1-inches.
First up, let’s take a look at the form factor itself, since we’ll be talking about that a lot. Yoga, as the name suggests, allows these tablets flexibility to be used in various modes. Last year, these tablets supported three modes – hold, stand, and tilt. This time, there’s an all-new mode called hang. All these modes are possible because of a cylindrical hinge towards the bottom of the slate, when it’s held in landscape orientation. So, holding the tablet via this hinge becomes easier since you can simply clutch it with a single hand. Similarly, if you rotate the hinge, then you get a kickstand that allows you to rest the tablet on a flat surface horizontally or vertically, resulting in tilt and stand modes. The cylindrical hinge can rotate 180 degrees and also allows you to hang the Yoga Tablet 2, just like a photo frame.
All this sound quite interesting on paper, but it works practically as well. The cylindrical hinge helps a lot in usability since the tablet is easy to hold even for long durations, for work or even watching movies. In fact, at 637g for the 10-inch Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2, the weight doesn’t feel that much, though it’s more than other slates in its class.
In terms of design elements, the front of the tablet is dominated by the display panel itself. There’s also a front-facing camera and a couple of sensors on the front, while towards the bottom, you’ll find the cylindrical hinge as well as stereo speakers. On the left side of the hinge is a large aluminium power button used to lock or unlock the device as well as turn it off, while the right side offers the standard 3.5mm audio socket. On the left edge, the device houses a micro-USB port as well as the volume rocker, whereas the right spine offers an HDMI port (on 10.1-inch models).
The back of the slate features a textured finish making it less prone to slippage. Under the kickstand, the Yoga Tablet 2 gets a SIM slot and a microSD card slot. This means that all the tablets offer cellular connectivity support for 3G (4G is supported in 1,800MHz band, and services are yet to start at this frequency in India). The 8-inch Yoga Tablet 2 also supports voice calling.
Almost all the hardware specs have been improved in the new tablets compared to their predecessors. Compared to the HD resolution on the older devices, the 8- and 10-inch models of the Yoga Tablet 2 features a full HD resolution (1,920 x 1,200 pixels). The colours pop out and during the brief time we spent with the devices, we loved the brightness and wide viewing angles we saw. The 13.3-inch version dubbed as the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro goes a step ahead by packing in a high-density 2,560 x 1,440 pixels (2K) resolution.
The hardware department has also been upgraded from the modest MediaTek SoC to Intel’s processors. All the devices in the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 range are fuelled by the Intel Atom Z3745 chipset offering four cores clocked at 1.86GHz (1.33GHz in case of the 8-inch Yoga Tablet 2). To help in multitasking, the processor is paired with 2GB RAM. In our usage, we found the device to be extremely smooth and there were no lags, though running processor-intensive tasks would indicate the true potential of the hardware.
For storage, both the 8- and 10.1-inch Android tabs come with 16GB flash memory, while the 10.1-inch Windows 8.1-based slate as well as the Yoga Pro 2 offers 32GB onboard memory. The storage can be extended further up to 64GB, thanks to the availability of expansion slots.
Lenovo has also worked on the interface to allow users to make full use of the tablets’ capabilities. While the Android slates run Android 4.4 KitKat, the interface is tweaked so much so that it looks heavily inspired from iOS. There are no separate homescreen and app drawer, and all the apps as well as widgets are available on the homescreen itself. Swiping from the top will bring down a notification panel, whereas quick toggles can be found by swiping up from the bottom. Similar to iOS, along with quick toggles, you can quickly access various apps such as the camera, etc. All the other apps have also been customised – if not in terms of functionality, then in terms of interface.
Taking a leaf from Samsung’s playbook, the devices also offer a multi-window mode. However, the number of apps supported in this mode are fairly limited and include gallery, Chrome Browser, calendar, etc. At any point of time, you can open two apps together and can resize them as well. The software also adapts automatically to whatever mode the tablet is being used in.
Microsoft’s Windows doesn’t offer that many options to customise the interface and hence the 10.1-inch model of the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 runs Windows 8.1 in its default state. The company has also bundled a free subscription of Office 365.
For photography, the slates sport 8-megapixel autofocus cameras at the back and a 1.6MP fixed focus front-facing snappers. Connectivity-wise, the devices offer dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.
Another highlight of last year’s Yoga Tablet series was their battery life and the same thing continues with their successors as well. Lenovo claims that the latest-gen Yoga Tablet 2 can offer battery life of up to 15 hours (18 hours for the Android-based 8- and 10-inch models).
The largest of the lineup, the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro has a few more tricks up its sleeve. It packs in a Pico projector allowing users to project anything onto a 50-inch screen. It also offers high-quality sound output with the help of an 8W JBL subwoofer.
Overall, our first brush with Lenovo’s latest Yoga Tablet 2 range has been quite positive thanks to the flexible form factor, eye-popping displays, great hardware and the promise of long-lasting battery life. However, when you bring their pricing in to the picture, then you’re bound to think twice. The 8-inch Android version costs Rs 20,990, whereas its bigger sibling will retail at Rs 28,990. The 10.1-inch Windows model will include a keyboard dock-cum-cover and hence carries even higher price tag of Rs 34,990. And, the largest of the quadruple is priced at Rs 47,990, which is in fact more than a full-fledged laptop. Hence, we would like to reserve our judgment till the time we review these tablets properly.