Going into this review I had a very clear idea of what it was that I wanted out of the Yoga. I wanted something with great battery life, lightweight, moderate computing power and good “lapability”. I hate that word but it does cover that attribute quite well. Those of you who have read my first impressions will know that I was pretty chuffed with the device from the get go. Now a week later have things changed or am I am still in the honeymoon period? Read on to find out more.
Specifications and other information can always be found in the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 specifications page.
Hardware and Design
Here is a a YouTube overview in case you missed the unboxing from a few weeks ago. Yoga 2 Unboxing
Straight of the bat you will love or hate the look of this machine. It is very much a choice of function over design here. There is no way to get around it the battery cylinder on the base of the device when in landscape is a bit of a designer cop-out in an effort for thinness on the rest of the device. Yes I know it is “meant” to make it more comfortable to hold in portrait more like a magazine but I just really found it to be more awkward most of the time when in that mode.
Mode’s are what the design really comes down to and if you have seen any of the Lenovo Yoga range this will be a familiar term. Here we have 4 Modes the standard stand, tilt , hold and the addition of ‘hang’ facilitated by the hole cut into the aluminium rear stand. Lenovo have increased the potential of these modes with the addition of bundled Bluetooth keyboard that allows you to utilize the typing mode but opens other avenues such as media player control.
Ports and Connectors
On the left we have a Micro HDMI,
On top we have nothing as this is really too thin for any buttons, etc.
On the right is where you will find the power via Micro USB which will also support USB OTG via an adaptor (not bundled) the volume rocker sits here as well.
Then we come to the base which is where it is all happening, On the right is a 3.5mm headphone jack on the end of the cylinder, next to this is one of the forward-firing Wolfson speakers.
In the middle is a large space for the battery which is a 35.5wh unit that promises a very good 15 hours battery life.
On the left we have the Power button which is surrounded by a multicolored LED used to indicate charging states and next to this is the second speaker.
Up front is the 1920 x 1200 10.1 inch IPS panel which is very crisp and vibrant but shows fingerprints.
Above the screen is a 2mp camera for Skype and selfies there is a microphone located next to this..
Below the panel is a capacitive Windows Key which is intermittent at best as it did miss press’s with unerring regularity.
Finally around the back is an 8 mp camera nestled up on the rear of the cylinder to keep it out of the way. It does mean that your shots can be tricky to get but hey this is tablet not a camera.
In the middle and mounted to that beast of a battery is the rotating stand. This is a very good piece of engineering as it has plenty of friction allowing it to be used in a variety of positions such as the ones shown below. In the middle of the stand is the aforementioned hole for the “hang” mode.
Behind the stand is a space for a Micro SD card which will support up to 64Gb. If you are able to secure an LTE version that is where the micro sim would sit as well, the compartments covered by a flap to stop it getting clogged up and it is quite secure and neat.
Also included in the box is a Bluetooth keyboard.
Whilst it is a separate unit it is quite well made and is certainly up to the job of bashing out a few emails or a memo or two. I wouldn’t suggest that you write your memoirs on it unless you had a very short and uninteresting life. It does not lend itself to long writing sessions due to the cramped layout. It does however magnetically attach to the base of the rotating hinge on the Tablet making for a laptop like experience.
This is where the problems start to occur though as the magnetic connection is precarious at best and I never felt that comfortable using it on my lap, on a table fine even a backseat tray table it was fine. I just got the feeling that whenever it was on my lap it wouldn’t be there for long…
This led to me not having much confidence in its ability to solve one of my core needs from the device.
The key travel is shallow but enough to feel like it has registered and all the major keys are easy to find and use.
Some of the additional functionality was however sacrificed to allow the form factor. This is normal for this category and is similar to the boards on the Asus T100 and to any netbook of a similar size. One omission is a backlight but again this is the norm at this price point. The keyboard charges via Micro USB and this is located next to the power toggle on the right of the board.
The battery is good for up to two months according to Lenovo and since it’s first charge I have not had to juice it up again. In its closed position the keyboard also doubles up as cover protecting the screen. However,the magnets holding it in place are again not that strong and it is possible to slide the keyboard over the screen and of the device. This is a worry, but I do have to say it took a lot of force to push the keyboard off the device in this manner. I only mention it to be thorough.
I worry that this will be something that we come across more and more as manufacturers are not including physical hinges on their devices, I am looking at you Asus and Sony.
Unfortunately there have been one or two issues with the build quality of the Yoga 2. The first and most noticeable is that the front edge of the keyboard is very rough and can actually cause the user pain when typing for a prolonged period of time.
The second issue is one more of wear and tear than anything else i have had the device for a little over 2 weeks and it is already starting to show scuff marks on the hinge where they two pieces join. This is not great and I would be concerned with it getting worse over time.
The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 runs Windows 8.1 32-bit. There are a few pre-installed apps from Lenovo that can be uninstalled but on the whole there’s not a lot of bloat-ware on the device. I have the 32 GB version and it came with 27 GB free out of the box which is good and up there with one of the best install footprints I have seen. As this is Windows 8.1 with Bing you also get access to 1 years license to Office 365 and 6 mins free Skype calls. In addition this you get 1TB of Onedrive space which is brilliant as the integration with Onedrive is going to become more vital as we move into the Windows 10 era. This device will get a free update to Windows 10 upon launch and will work nicely with Continuum, as the Bluetooth connection between the keyboard and tablet should be enough to kick-off the switch between UI. I am betting that Lenovo are working to fine tune the experience as best they can right now.
I have performed some of the normal benchmarks that you would expect to see from a UMPCPortal review in addition I have also played Asphalt 8 on it to have a look at how the graphics feel.
First up is CrystalDiskMark 3.0.4 and as we would expect this is were we see some hardware constraints after all we are taking about a device using an eMMC drive and not an SSD drive. I was still pretty chuffed with the performance and it feels faster than the Acer Switch 10. [That looks good – similar to a Lenovo Miix 2 10. Chippy.]
The PC Mark 7 score of 2391 is a reasonable score for a 2013-2015 Atom processor with eMMC memory, bear in mind the system has got 2GB of RAM. The score is a little lower than the Switch 10’s result of 2530
Next Sunspider 1.0.2
The Sunspider score of 766.1 ms is roughly in-line with all the other tablets that I have tested both on Android and Windows 8.1.
3D Mark Ice Storm Unlimited
The 3D Mark Ice Storm Unlimited score is a good results considering the Atom processor that is powering the unit. [On-par with other tablets in this category though – Chippy]
In Cinebench the results are what I would expect for a modern Atom chipset with the associated on board graphics: 1 CPU: 945. Multi-CPU: 3340. OpenGL: 1833
I think the important thing to remember about this tablet is that it has been designed as an alternative to an Android tablet an not a replacement for a Core based laptop or desktop. In this scenario it performs admirably. With the newer generations of Atom based machines things will be getting pushed closer to what current Haswell Core i3 can achieve but it will always be slightly behind the Core range.
If this is what you are looking for you will not be dissapointed but if you are wanting something for high end video work or large spreadsheet work you would be best advised to look elsewhere.
As I indicated earlier I don’t really think that rear cameras are needed on tablets but hey, there is one here so lets go with it. We have an 8 MP unit on the back which will give you average results when taking photos.
The real problem with it with regard to usage is the fact that it mounted in a really odd position on the hinge barrel. Whilst this is great for when you are using the tablet in portrait. Most people will be using it in landscape and here it is just sitting too low and it takes some adjustment to how you hold the device and frame the picture. After a few shots you do get used to it and I can see why they have done this but it is just awkward to use.
The focus is automatic and quick to gain the focal point in good light the performance is okay. The front facing cam is perfect for Skype sessions and other video conferencing duties put that is it really. I would not really use it for selfies (I don’t take many so I’m okay). Really to sum up if you must take picture on this device and the light is good it will do but your smartphone in your pocket will be better so, put the tablet down and us that, you’ll thank me later.
Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 sample pictures
We have Wolfson powered speakers on here and these do give the tablet a bit more lunch than you would expect to get on such a skinny tablet. I was pleasantly surprised when listening to some tunes whilst on my way to and from work. Because the device has Connected Standby / IntantGo you can use music playback even if it is asleep which is nice addition.
The is another ‘biggie’ from my requirements list – long battery life. Fortunately this is one of the Yoga’s strong points. On the front of the device there is a sticker stating 15hrs and I am pleased to say that this is accurate and I have not have to charge it everyday as I have had to do with other Atom based Windows tablets I have used. In a run-down test where I played an HD Video clip for 2hrs 30 min I lost 20% of charge.
In this test I had WiFi on and the brightness also set at 50%. If we then multiply that by 5 we get 12 hrs 30 mins. I am sure if I was just writing for that same time then I would have got closer to the 15 hrs as advertised. This is definitely enough for a full days usage and is by far the best tablet I have used for battery life so far.
I have been pleased with the Yoga Tablet 2. As a casual use device that will allow you to get some work done when needed it is a very good option. The fact that you will be able to get through a full day of working on one charge is a huge benefit to those needing productivity on the go. It has a few problems like the instability when it’s on your lap due to the loosely-connected magnetic hinge. A backlight on the keyboard would have been very useful too but even with these point taken into consideration you have got a great little work machine for light and casual use for the price. If you require more power then it may be worth looking at the Dell Venue 11 Pro or the new Surface 3. Another worthy entrant is the newly announced Acer Aspire Switch 10 with its physically connected keyboard.
Comment from Chippy
It looks like the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 is perfect for home, weekends away and as a hotel device (HDMI to big screen, keyboard in bed?) and performance figures look better than the Dell Venue 10 Pro. It doesn’t compete with the performance on the Surface 3 though and if more Intel Atom X7 devices appear then the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 is going to fall behind. Pricing looks great (click through to the product database for the latest price) and battery life is almost unbeatable.
Thanks to Garry for taking the time to test his Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 for us. Feel free to ask questions in the comments below. More information can be found in the product database.
Alternatives: Microsoft Surface 3, Dell Venue 10 Pro, Acer Aspire Switch 10, ASUS Transformer Book T100 Chi, Fujitsu Stylistic Q584, Dell Venue 11 Pro (with Atom Z3795.) All 10-inch detachables can be found in this list.