A few months ago Lenovo announced a range of new tablets, some running Android and some running Windows, yet they all shared something unique. They all have a kickstand on the back allowing you to prop up the tablet in a variety of positions. But the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro is something a bit different, it’s bigger, has a better display and it has more internal memory. Oh and it costs more too. Lenovo have sent me one to have a play with and I’ll start my review with my good and bad points.
- Glorious display, with great colours and decent viewing angles.
- The large hi resolution display is ideal for gaming, multimedia or web browsing.
- 32GB Internal Memory really helps with app and game choice.
- Kickstand is really useful in all modes.
- Huge great battery means some great battery life.
- Intel chip really helps the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro fly.
- Sound quality from the speakers and sub-woofer is really good.
- Built in projector is a unique addition, ideal for those on the move (although see below).
- Multi-Window takes advantage of the large display.
- The Lenovo Launcher takes some getting used to.
- The large size isn’t that mobile or manageable in the hand.
- Some third party Android apps don’t look that great on a 13” landscape display.
- The projector takes a bit of figuring out.
Lenovo continued the design of previous models of the Yoga Tablet in the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro, albeit in this model a bit bigger. So you get the same looking thin sturdy silver plastic tablet with a few metallic accents like the power button and volume rocker, a battery bulge down one side and a metal kickstand attached to the bulge, a camera on the rear and a large glorious screen round the front. Very few things have changed with this model over previous generations.
The sides of the tablet don’t really contain much, in landscape view with the bulge away from you the volume rocker is on the right, along with the Micro USB socket which has USB Host functionality and also the 3.5MM Headphone socket. The power button and projector are contained in the battery bulge, the power button on the right and projector on the left. The power button flashes when you are charging the tablet and you can configure this behaviour in the settings. The projector has a focusing button nearby on the bulge, this basically just slides in and out until you get a clear image.
The kickstand on the back seems more sturdy than other models and now has a catch to hold it in place when closed, it also has a large cutout hole where the sub woofer sits which Lenovo say you can use to hang the device on a handy hook somewhere. Not sure I’d trust any hooks I’ve got attached to stuff. The Kickstand can be rotated around to help you position the tablet wherever you want, you can open it to 90^ and use on the flat, you can spin it around and use it upright or hang it on a hook! I really like the kickstand, it makes the tablet really quite useful for a variety of things. The kickstand hides the Micro SD slot which lives under a plastic flap.
The front of the tablet is basically a large slab of glass, with a bezel about the width of your thumb around each edge. The top of the display has the front facing 1.6MP camera, ideally placed for Skype or huge tablet selfies. The front also has two front facing speakers, which in conjunction with the sub woofer sound great.
Overall the size of the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro cannot be ignored. It is one of the largest mainstream Android tablets out, taking it on your travels is going to more like taking a lightweight laptop with you. Also the size means holding it whilst using it is difficult, one handed is a no no, two handed is do able with a split onscreen keyboard. In portrait the tablet looks ridiculous, just don’t do that.
The Yoga Tablet 2 Pro is designed to be used in landscape mode, placed on a hard surface with the Kickstand holding the tablet upright. I found it to be a great media device thanks to the speaker arrangement, a great games machine paired up with a Gamepad and also a great productivity device once paired up with a Bluetooth keyboard. The kickstand makes all of these Use Cases easier.
Spec wise the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro is pretty good.
- Processor – Intel Atom Z3745 Processor 1.86GHz.
- Display – 13.3″, IPS Multi-touch, 2560×1440 QHD, PPI 221.
- Internal Memory – 32GB (Out of the box 25 GB).
- RAM – 2.0GB LPDDR3.
- Rear Camera – 8MP f2.2 wide-aperture lens, advanced glare-reducing glass, BSI 2 sensor.
- Front Camera – 1.6 Mp.
- Battery – Li-Ion 9600 mAh 3 Cell Li-Cylindrical Life up to 15 hours.
- Connectivity – Bluetooth Version 4.0, 802.11abgn WLAN, GPS with A-GPS.
- Ports – Micro USB with USB Host, Micro-SD card, 3.5mm audio jack.
- Speakers – Premium JBL® front-facing, large-chamber stereo speakers 1.5W with subwoofer 5W, Wolfson® Master HiFi™ audio processing and Dolby® surround sound.
- Projector – approx 40 – 50 lumens.
- Android 4.4.2.
- Dimensions – .
- Weight – 950g.
Spec wise the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro is really pretty good, the most important thing is the 32GB internal storage, it really gives the tablet some flexibility, especially when combined with a Micro SD slot. You can put media on the card and apps and games on the internal memory.
The Intel processor and the 2GB of RAM really make the tablet feel quick, I didn’t notice any weirdness with the Intel processor, those days are really over. The speakers also deserve a mention here as the two front facing speakers combined with the rear sub woofer really make for a decent audio experience. The display also is rather splendid, it’s bright, colourful and viewable from all angles. It is 2560×1440 QHD 2K, which is the same resolution as the LG G3, Nexus 6 and Note 4, just a lot larger. Yes the PPI is a lot lower but it is still perfectly readable.
Battery wise the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro has a 9600 mAh battery which on average will give you about five hours of screen on time, playing games really gobbled up the battery. In standby the battery lasted really well, just sitting on the coffee table just waiting to be touched.
Manufacturers have a choice to make with the software they put on their devices, do they take what Android gives them, add a few apps for the sake of it and leave the rest to the user? Do they set a team of UI and UX software developers onto the task of making an intuitive and useful custom launcher for Android, complete with skinned apps and some rather cool additional apps? (Yes I was thinking of HTC there) or do they create a launcher, skin the lot and stuff a load of apps that aren’t of any use to anyone and just continue in this manner for years and years and years and years? (Yes I was thinking of Samsung there). Well Lenovo are some way between the last two, they have created a custom launcher that is a little basic and lacks an app drawer, they’ve skinned a few of the core apps, they’ve had a play with the notification area and the quick setting buttons and they’ve bundled a few apps that they think are going to be useful.
The launcher makes you categorise apps when you install them, they then appear in the folders on screen, you also get a screen full of Lenovo pre-installed apps. So sometimes finding an app is fiddly, if you’ve installed hundreds of apps finding that specific app might take a while. My solution was to just install the Google Now Launcher, sticking to one screen of apps and widgets and using the app drawer to find apps in the traditional way.
On a large display being able to reduce the size of a window that you’re using is handy, Lenovo have a split screen mode that allows you to open an app in split mode. It’s triggered via the button on the far left edge of the navigation bar. The only problem with this is that only a few apps are able to work in split screen mode. The nice thing is that Multi Window works when using the Google Now Launcher.
Lenovo have fiddled with the Notification drop down and the Navigation button swipe up area. The swipe up section is quite handy as it lets you easily access things like brightness and WiFi.
Other notable stuff
Benchmarks aren’t the definitive way of telling if a device is “good” or not, they just give us a vague indicator of how it compares to other devices.
- 3DMark – 16558 ( Tesco Hudl 2 – 14650, Moto X 2014 – 19677, LG G3 – 17239, Oppo Find 7a – 20275, Sony Xperia Z2 – 18685, Samsung Galaxy S5 – 18720, LG G2 – 17730).
- Antutu – 34860 ( Tesco Hudl 2 – 31319, Moto X 2014 – 44253, LG G3 – 29810, Oppo Find 7a – 35958, Sony Xperia Z2 – 32384, Samsung Galaxy S5 – 27113, LG G2 – 28587).
- Quadrant – 15790 ( Tesco Hudl 2 – 13922, Moto X 2014 – 21256, LG G3 – 13709, Oppo Find 7a – 21907, Sony Xperia Z2 – 17470, Samsung Galaxy S5 – 23264, LG G2 – 19250.
The speakers are really good, for media or for gaming they are nice and loud. I compared it to my HTC One M8 and the speakers on the Yoga have more volume, loudness, depth and bass, however compared to a decent external speaker or a separate stereo the quality is inferior. Overall though the combination of two front speakers and the rear sub-woofer makes for a pleasant experience, as long as you’re not watching low quality videos on YouTube.
The projector is a weird addition for a tablet. Initially you think, “Oh that would be ideal for watching films on” or “oh that would be ideal for a sales rep on the road to do a presentation with”, after five minutes of playing with the projector on the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro that I’d happily do either.
For me one slight problem is with the whole ergonomic feel of the tablet and the projector. As you can see from my hands on pictures the projector sits in one end of the battery bulge, so when you turn it on the projection comes out of the bulge, meaning you need to hold the tablet in portrait to control where it points. The projector creates a level image with the kickstand opened, which if you place it on a desk or something to watch a film interacting with the tablet in front of you is fiddly. Sat in my lounge I can project an image onto a wall ten foot away and it is perfectly view-able, reasonably bright and if you dim the lights things improve. Reading text isn’t the easiest, it’s a matter of adjusting the focus with the slider beneath the tablet until you can read it. Watching a film that far away would be perfectly do able, once you’d got to grips with the positioning of the tablet that is. From that distance (about ten foot) it projects an image about six foot wide. At about twenty foot away the projection gets bigger and slightly less clear, but still acceptable for a film or YouTube clip.
The software for the projector works in three ways, screen mirroring, slideshow or interactive mode. Screen mirroring basically just shows what is on the tablet, allowing you to display games or websites easily, here though the tablet works in landscape and you have to hold it/position it in portrait. Slideshow lets you pick images or presentations to display and interactive mode lets you draw on the display. Overall I liked the projector, it sure takes a bit of getting used to and at times I would rather use Chromecast functionality or just watch any content on the glorious 13” 2K display on the Yoga Tablet. I’d only really choose the projector if it essential to see the graphics on a much larger display than on my TV.
How easy would you imagine it to be to take pictures on a thirteen inch tablet, with a large heavy battery bulge along one side? The camera on the Yoga is an 8MP camera positioned about two inches from the bottom edge, it’s part of the sub woofer and hinge lock area, that slots into the cut out on the kickstand. The camera is awkward to use thanks to the unbalanced nature of the device, however if you manage to balance it on something, you manage to focus it on something and you have decent light you’ll get some nice shots. The front facing camera is a 1.6MP camera and that is ok, again keep it steady and well lit and you’ll not be too upset at the quality. Video wise the rear can record up to 1080p and the front 720p.
Overall I really liked the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro, I mean I really really liked it. A lot.
At first I thought it was just too big, then I realised it really was a great piece of kit, I mainly saw it as a home multimedia hub, thanks to the great display, projector, handy kickstand and the decent speakers. Watching Netflix on it was a joy and similarly listening to music was as much fun too.
I thought I’d try out some games on it, the processor and internal memory really lend themselves to gaming and I set about playing Modern Combat 5, with a Moga Bluetooth gamepad and the volume turned up loud and I had a blast, the display and the sound made the experience really quite immersive. I also found it to be a really handy productivity device, paired up with a keyboard I typed up quite a few articles on Coolsmartphone with it.
Watching films with the projector is do able, you just need to work out where to put it, how to operate it and you’ll be good.
The one thing I did feel whilst using this was that it would be a really good device if it ran Windows 8.1. The rest of the Yoga Tablet 2 range are all available in either Android or Windows variants, just not this one. The apps on the Windows Store are more suited to large tablets and laptops, at times the apps from the Google Play Store just looked ridiculous and stretched out, which is the lazy app developers fault and not Lenovos.
The one ever so slight thing that lets the tablet down is the price, at approx £400 (current price on Amazon) it basically comes in above most other Android tablets. Yes you get a lot of decent stuff for that price, you have to ask yourself a question, are the larger high res display, 32GB of inernal storage, some fancy speakers and a projector enough to warrant that cost? I guess if you want large Android tablet with decent specs, decent speakers and a projector then you’d say yes. But if you just want an Android tablet to browse the web on and to use to order your Asda shopping on I’d say look elsewhere.