At the Lenovo launch event introducing the Yoga tablet, Ashton Kutcher said, “…Lenovo is courageous enough to take chances and not just be a me too company”. Well they certainly took a chance with its’ design and it paid off. The company’s investment in ergonomic studies has yielded a tablet design that’s more user friendly than the status quo. The Yoga Tablet’s pioneering design incorporates a battery cylinder and kickstand that enables the device to be used in three different modes; hold, tilt and stand. It was a bit of an adjustment to handle the Yoga with ease because I’m accustomed to using flat tablets. But, after a day or so I got the hang of it and have really come to appreciate this aspect of the design. My favorite mode by far was stand mode. The tablet’s chrome kickstand is sturdy enough to securely stand the device on any level surface. I found stand mode to be particularly handy for internet surfing and watching videos. I have a toddler who often uses my tablet to watch Youtube when trips away from home become intolerable. Because of stand mode, he actually watched and did not have to touch the device which will surely prolong the life of my gadget.
The design of the Yoga is both practical and stylish. It doesn’t have any protruding parts or elements that can be easily broken. In fact, the body is so seamless that I flipped the device around several times trying to find the power button. It’s the chrome trim adds a nice touch. The tablet is sleek and trim with dimensions of 213 mm x 144 mm x (3.0-7.3) mm and weighs less than 1 lb. It’s a portable device that fits in my purse with room to spare for my other personal items. It’s size is optimal for the person on-the-go.
The 8″ Yoga Tablet has an eight-inch HD (1280 x 800) display. Now, I mentioned above that the kid can get his Youtube fix from the Yoga but not with the sharpness we’re used to on the iPad 2. In my opinion, the Yoga Tablet is not optimal for watching movies or gaming. For a glimpse at pictures and video content that would likely be found somewhere like a social media site, it performs as expected.
There’s a 5.0MP rear and 1.6MP front camera on the Yoga Tablet which let you take high-definition pictures and enjoy video. I used Skype, which comes pre-loaded on the Yoga Tablet, and both videos were clear. The photo quality however, is an area of opportunity for Lenovo. Below, you can see a photo taken with the Yoga Tablet on the left and a photo of the same target taken with the iPhone 5. There are visible differences between the two with regard to sharpness and depth of color.
The camera has great editing functions which allow you to enhance photos and add filters. Both of the Christmas tree photos below were taken using the Yoga Tablet. The one on the left is the original photo and the one on the right has the “Vibrance” filter applied.
I was startled the first time I heard the notification chime. It was clear and loud. This can be attributed to the fact that the Yoga Tablet has integrated stereo speakers with Dolby Digital Plus. Unlike most tablets, the Yoga Tablet 8’s speakers face front, toward you, rather than to the side our out the bottom; Yet another design move that improves functionality and sets the Yoga apart from the rest. The speakers can be managed with different presets based on how the tablet is being used. Yep…there’s an app for that. The Dolby app allows you to customize your listening experience. For example, the speaker levels can be set up one way for playing music and another way for games or movies.
The Yoga Tablet has a Quad Core 1.2GHz processor with 1GB memory and it zipped along well. It has 16GB of internal memory and can be extended up to 64 GB via the micro-SD card port. I am a high social media user and I didn’t experience any problems with speed or crashes. Email worked well. I was able to setup my email accounts in a matter of minutes. I like the email notification system on the Yoga too. If an email is sent while the mail client is still open, a message appears telling you when an outgoing message has been sent. If you have exited the the mail client, a message appears telling you that the email is being sent in the background. Nice touch.
I found Lenovo’s Android skin to be aesthetically pleasing and in line with the Android brand. The only notable difference is the absence of the app drawer but I didn’t have any problems learning navigation. The Home screen offers short cuts to certain apps like the camera and there’s a bottom navigation control that allows you to access recent apps easily.
The Yoga Tablet runs Android 4. 2 JellyBean and comes with the following preloaded apps:
- Lenovo® AnyShare
- Route 66 Navi+Maps
- Lenovo® Launcher
- ES File Explorer
- Kingsoft Office
- Norton Mobile Security
It was a pleasure opening the Route 66 Navi+Maps app and seeing a clear noticeable map of Dubai. I tried mapping directions from my current location in Abu Dhabi to a well known point in Dubai with no luck. But, the map did give me interactive directions and a map for two well known points in Dubai. A gadget with preloaded navigation software that’s actually useful is a first for me in this region. Well done Lenovo. Another notable app is the Feature Guide which walks you through the features of the Yoga Tablet. I found this resource to be especially useful for getting to know the device in a short period of time.
Let’s just start the section with hand claps and praise. The Yoga Tablet is hands down the best tablet on the market with regard to battery life. Lenovo boasts that the Yoga battery lasts up to 18 hours without recharging and well, it does. It actually lasts longer. The secret: Yoga Tablet’s unique, cylinder-shaped side chamber allows more room for battery storage — and more time between charges. I am still conducting my own experiments to see how many hours the battery will last with maximum usage. For me, max use is at least 2 consecutive hours of frequent Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and camera usage. With moderate use, a single charge lasted 5 days, 8 hours, 24 minutes and 32 seconds, proving that the Yoga uses virtually no battery when it’s in sleep mode. Over that 5 day period, I used the Yoga Tablet at two media events and on both occasions, I left with a dead iPhone 5. While the iPhone charged, I could hear the Yoga push notification chimes coming from my bag. It still had plenty of juice.