I love tablets. I love the idea of carrying something thin and light around that has enough computing power in it to keep me up to speed with all my musings on this very site. I also love being able to just pull out something from my bag and get working whenever the moment strikes. This is something that I have not been able to replicate in the real laptop and computer world with much success. Don’t get me wrong, my Chromebook does come close to this, but it’s not quite there for what I really want.
Due to the reasons listed above, I was very excited by the concept of the Yoga Book from Lenovo. With that in mind, as soon as I was able to get hold of one to test, I was all over it. I have used various different Lenovo Yoga grade machines over the years; in fact, my current works machine is a ThinkPad Yoga 12 which I really enjoy using even with the somewhat archaic use of Windows 8.1 as its OS. I have also used a laptop with a non-moving keyboard before in the guise of the Dell XPS 11 which was, to be, honest diabolical. I am pleased to say that this is so much better room that aspect (the keyboard).
So without further ado, let us dive in.
I have already covered the build quality of the machine pretty extensively in the unboxing article that can be found here.
Here is the unboxing video as well:
In that unboxing process, we discovered all the little toys that the Yoga Book comes with. And I have to say that you are getting a pretty good bang for your buck here, especially for £449 as the asking price. That is of course for the Android version. If you wish to embrace what Windows 10 can offer this form factor, then you’ll need to stump up another 100 quid. If you require LTE as well, then the price does start to get a little silly. Especially since theYoga Book isn’t being sold in the UK market so you will be looking to be importing. Something I do need to add is that the device I am using is a US variant, therefore, you do have to settle with the US keyboard layout. This is something that cannot be changed, so be aware of this if you’re planning on buying abroad.
Here are the specs of the machine for those that may have missed them on the unboxing post the other day.
Operating System: Android 6.0.1 (Marshmallow)
Display: 10.1-inch FHD IPS (1920 x 1200) @ 400nits
Processor: Intel Atom x5-Z8550 Processor (2Mb Cache, Up to 2.4GHz)
Expandable: microSD Up to 128GB
RAM: 4GB LPDDR3
Rear Camera: 8MP
Front Camera: 2MP
Charging: micro-USB with Fast Charging
Battery: 8500 mAh
Dimensions: 256.6mm x 170.8mm x 0.96mm
For a full tour of the device, I would encourage you to refer back to the unboxing post here
One aspect I really didn’t go into in the unboxing was the brains behind the machine. The Yoga Book features the Intel Atom X5. This may be one of the last devices that we see with this chipset as Intel has effectively killed off that chipsets family. This is a shame, as the Atom series were and to an extent still are perfectly suited to powering this type of machine. I have used a couple of different devices with this chip in it, mainly the Surface 3 which was my main device for last year. This chip will cope admirably with the daily tasks of word processing, spreadsheets and some light photo and video editing. All of this whilst providing a very good battery life with very little drain when dormant.
Alongside the CPU, we will also find 4 GB of RAM, which allows the Android OS to have sufficient overhead so that you will never feel that you are getting bogged down. I have full benchmarks to discuss later on, so you can see how this device rates against some of the other options out there in this segment.
The software on the Yoga Book is based very closely on the standard Android 6.01 that you would expect from any up-to-date tablet, however it has some subtle tweaks to make it better suited for use as a tablet with a keyboard attached. These additions come in three main areas:
- The use of TouchPal for the keyboard and its interpretation
- The use of resizable apps
- The use of a dock style feature that Windows sees will be more used to seeing
Now let’s cover them in more detail.
First and foremost on the Yoga Book we have got the “Halo keyboard”. Now this keyboard will work admirably with the GBoard app that comes as standard for most Android tablets these days. That being said, as the keyboard is lacking any physical feedback, it can be quite tricky to ensure that you are pressing the correct ones. This is where TouchPal comes into play. TouchPal will intelligently correct what you are typing to ensure that you are not just bashing out gibberish. It works in a similar manner to the predictive text engines we used to know from the old T9 days of numeric keypads. Each key has a predefined touch area, and if you hit in the right place you get the right key. However, if you are slightly off centre then it will give you the wrong letter when using GBoard. TouchPal, however, is prepared for this and it will learn where you tend to hit the keys and adjust the detection points to compensate. It works very well and it has allowed me to write 90% of this review on the device itself without me wanting to pull my hair out.
Secondly, we all know that Android has been primarily designed for phones and phone UIs. That is great if you are using a phone, or at a stretch, an 8″ tablet. It is however not so great when you scale up to a 10″ device. Things start to look a bit weird and stretched. So this has been countered by the ability of some apps (I emphasise some) to resize to the phone UI size. In turn, these apps can be used as a means of multitasking. In the example below, we can that I have both Google search and YouTube open at the same time with both working as normal. Behind this, I am still working on this very review! This a great and easy-to-use solution, I just wish you could actually use a full half screen option as it would make it even better. (Ed notes: Our consultancy fee is not that high Lenovo…)
Thirdly, the dock-style taskbar which has been carried over from Windows works very well at allowing you to quickly and easily multitask. Essentially the apps that you open will sit in a dock at the base of the screen and you can easily jump into another app whilst the others will sit dormant until they are called upon again. This allows for lot more fluidity whilst working and creates a really user-friendly environment. We have seen something like this before in the form of Remix OS. It really is nice to see other companies trying to make Android more productivity-oriented.
So that about covers the software improvements that Lenovo added on top of what is a very near-stock Android interface.
The next big thing that differentiates the Yoga Book over other Android tablets, is the use of the “Create Pad”. The best way to show this off is most certainly by showing it in action. So I have tried to do so in the video below.
As you can see in the videos, I have tried to focus on the usage of the “Real Pen” and the included notepad. This is a really great and useful tool, especially for those who wish to make physical copies of the notes that they are taking. I can envisage this being particularly useful for college and university students for taking notes during lectures. If I am completely honest, it isn’t a feature that I see myself using particularly often. However, that being said, the combination of the “Real Pen” and the stylus will make this very handy for note-takers and artists alike.
What I was really looking for this device to do for me was to give me the best of both worlds. I wanted it to be a tool for consumption of media, and also a tool for writing whilst on the go. In this respect, with a little adjustment needed (mainly on the typing front), I have found it to be really proficient.
Now to come onto performance.
I have conducted my usual array of tests for the performance grading of the machine. I have used the same benchmarks that I use on phones to see what this is capable of.So. Let us dive in and have a look how the Atom X5 performs on the Lenovo Yoga Book.
And so. Let us dive in and have a look how the Atom X5 performs on the Lenovo Yoga Book.
|Sunspider 1.0.2||Quadrant||Antutu||Ice Storm Unlimited|
|Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact||1230.4||24617||62565||18215|
|Acer Iconia Tab10||1262.9||15716||40520||6958|
|Chromebook R11 (Android Apps)||671||9043||59491||16195|
|Lenovo Yoga Book||774.4||311959||88698||25633|
So as we see from the results in the tests above, it is very much a mixed bag. What surprised me was the sheer level of score that was achieved in the Quadrant test. I have not ever seen a score that high. I can only surmise that this has something to do with the Atom chip. As for the rest of the numbers, it does perform very well. It is one of the faster devices when it comes to loading up Sunspider, which can only bode well for intensive web browsing sessions. The gaming test through Antutu shows that it can certainly hold its own, and this is backed up by the Ice Storm Unlimited result as well.
As we all know though, these benchmarks don’t paint the full picture. So to try and get a clearer picture of the real world performance, I have also run a test of playing Asphalt 8. Have a look at the video below.
True to what I expected given the results of the benchmarking test, the gaming performance of the Lenovo Yoga Book is really not that shabby. If I have one complaint, it is that the tablet is quite awkward to hold whilst playing games. But be advised that this is more of an ergonomic issue rather than a performance one.
As a small treat, I have also taken the time to record the process of rendering the above video for you using Cyberlink Power Director on the tablet, to show that this is entirely possible on an Android device. In fact, this is one of my requirements of any Android tablet that I purchase. It is also a bit of a behind-the-scenes look into the review creation process. Enjoy
I should quickly talk about battery life. In short, it is really good and I have been very pleased with what I have been getting from the Yoga Book. I can charge this up, use it sporadically for a few browsing sessions during the day, and I will get about 3 days of light use. If I am to use it all day, then I will need to plug it in at night but after a 3-hour charge. It is good to go again for another day.
I also love that I can charge it from one of the power packs that I have for my phone, which is awesome for when I’m on the move.I have only one complaint. Lenovo chose Micro USB instead of Type C. This is only an issue for me as I have now moved to Type C for all my devices, other may not experience similar trauma.
I have only one complaint. Lenovo chose Micro USB instead of USB Type C. This is only an issue for me as I have now moved to Type C for all my devices. Other may not experience similar trauma.
I am not going to dwell on this one too much as a camera is really not what this device has been designed for. On the front, we have a 2MP fixed-focus unit which will be perfectly adequate for Google Hangouts/Allo. On the keyboard (which would become the back in tablet mode), you can see an 8MP auto-focus unit. It will produce images that are reasonable… but not much else. If you are looking to take a picture, just use your phone as it will be better, I promise you.
Here are a few shots that I have taken on the device
Value for money
This is always a bit of a tricky one, if I am honest. The Android version of this tablet (my review unit) will cost £449 from most retailers. The Windows version of the Yoga Book is about £100 more. I have not used the Windows version, but from what I can see of the Android Yoga Book, it should be just as good.
Is this a good tablet to buy? Well yes, as in my opinion, bar the Xperia Z4 tablet from Sony and the Pixel C from Google, there are really not that many good 10″ tablets out there right now. Just to clarify: whenever I say good, I am looking at this as a productivity device, not something to just watch Netflix on.
For less than the cost of either of these other devices, you get a gorgeously-designed device with plenty of power and style. The keyboard is extremely useable for typing on for a reasonable length of time. The added bonus of the stylus and “Real Pen” do certainly differentiate this from the normal mundane tablets that we are used to seeing. The best part though, is that all these things come include in the box so short of maybe having pad refills for the note pad your good.
Perhaps the biggest threat to the Yoga Book is going to come from within Lenovo themselves. They have just announced a cheaper, slightly larger version of a Yoga Book, the Yoga A12. The Yoga A12 is not going to be including the Create Pad and other stylus-related goodies, yet it will have a lot going for it – especially if it is priced right.
I have been really happy with the Lenovo Yoga Book over the last few weeks. This is something that I would happily recommend it to anyone who wants to get stuff done without having to carry a bulky laptop around, or worry about keeping it tethered to a charger.
I am hoping to get a look at the Windows version soon to see if is worth the extra money. For now though, I am going to leave you and go and indulge in some Yoga.