Because the 2-in-1 category has been exhausted it is incredibly difficult to find something new and novel in this space. However, Lenovo has broken the mold with the Yoga Book. The first thing I noticed as I removed the device from the box was how light it is. Made from alloy and weighing in at just 1.5 pounds (690 grams) and 0.16 inches (4.05 mm) thick the Yoga Book is both lightweight and compact making it ideal for business-on-the-go. It has a micro USB port, a mini-HDMI port and a headphone jack.
The Yoga Book features Lenovo’s watchband hinge which looks like a piece of jewelry and gives the device an aesthetic boost. The contrast of the matte shell (in carbon black, gunmetal gray or champagne) and chrome hinge make the Yoga Book a stylish choice. But there’s more to the hinge than what meets the eye. It opens 360 degrees and allow the Yoga Book to be used in four different modes: Create Mode, Browse Mode, Watch Mode and Type Mode. In my opinion, Create Mode is the most interesting aspect of the design as it lets you lay the device flat for drawing and taking notes. The hinge works well too. It keeps the monitor and keyboard flush when shut. Consequently, it requires two hands to pry it apart and open the device. Having a “lip” or indentation on the upper edge of the monitor might help. That’s a good problem to have though.
The Halo Keyboard is essentially a flat, touch pad with no raised keys. It’s reminiscent of an electronic schematic, in that it has the outline of a keyboard etched into the surface and the outline glows when the Halo Keyboard is enabled. It falls somewhere between an on-screen, touch enabled keyboard and a traditional keyboard with raised keys. This innovation is made possible by Capacitive Touch and EMR Pen Technology. The surface is smooth and I found that keeping the touch tone on helped with typing. The Halo Keyboard feels a little awkward to use at first but after continued use, it grows on you.
The Yoga Book is available with two software options – Windows or Android. I reviewed the Windows version which worked as expected but I am curious about the Android version and how they stack up against one another. It did struggle a bit a boot up and I watched the ‘blue swirl’ for a few minutes. I was able to multitask and switch modes seamlessly. Yoga Book is powered by an Intel Atom X5 – Z8550 (2.40GHz 2MB) Processor.
Things I liked about using it…
There’s a keyboard icon in the bottom toolbar that allows you to easily switch between the Halo keyboard and the touch keyboard. You can also changes languages and a number of other settings. I appreciate that this feature isn’t tucked away in a menu option.
Lenovo also made it easy to activate the Real Pen. To use it, simply touch the stylus icon located in the top right hand corner of the physical keyboard. The Halo keyboard goes dark, signaling that it has been disabled and the stylus icon is illuminated. Again, having easy access to controls that switch modes is a plus. I also appreciate that the different methods of use aren’t isolated. You can still use the touch screen while the pen is enabled.
The flat Halo keyboard doubles as a notepad. Using Real Pen, you can write on the surface of the Halo keyboard. It feels weird at first because you have to watch the screen as you write as opposed to your hand, but you get used to it after a while. This device truly is a dream for an artists. The 360 degree hinge allows the Yoga Book to lie flat, making it feel more like a blank canvas for drawing and writing by hand.
Display & Audio
The Yoga Book features a bright 10.1” Full-HD display & Dolby Audio Premium-enhanced speakers. With 400 nits of brightness and a display range of 16.7 million colors, HD movies look vivid on the Yoga Book. The volume control is located on the right side of the device and the speakers are located on both sides of the Halo keyboard to round out the multimedia experience with great sound.
Yoga Book is outfitted with two cameras, a 2 MP front facing camera that’s good enough for Skype and an 8 MP rear facing camera with auto-focus. The rear camera would probably be more accurately described as an upward facing camera. It’s positioned on the top of the Halo keyboard deck and you have to fold the device flat – shell against shell – like a notebook to use it. I don’t rely on tablets/laptops for photography but it’s a nice touch to be able to take a decent photo with the device if you need to.
The Yoga Book comes with all of the accessories you need to fully experience the device – an aspect that puts Yoga Book over the top for me – and justifies the price tag. Yoga Book starts at AED 2,199.
Here’s what’s in the box…
Real Pen + 3 Real Pen Ink Refills
The keyboard doubles as a Wacom surface. You can place paper over it and write on it using an ink tip inside the Real Pen. Yoga Book will then simultaneously digitize your notes. There’s no need to worry about batteries because the Real Pen doesn’t require charging. It also has a magnetic clip on the pen top that allows you to store it on the left side of the screen while the device is open.
Pay attention when using the ink tip! I mistakenly wrote on the Halo Keyboard thinking that I was using the stylus tip and not the ink tip. After the panic and fear of ruining a loaner device subsided, I grabbed a wet wipe and easily removed the markings. Crisis averted but please exercise caution with the ink tip.
Real Pen is definitely an innovative and useful tool, however it’s the source of Yoga Book’s only design flaw. Switching pen tips isn’t easy or intuitive. I had to google instructions to figure it out. The pen cap has a hope in the top of it. To remove the tip, you stick it into the hole and use the cap to pull it out. It didn’t work that well for me at all. I spent a considerable amount of time trying to wiggle the tip out. The trick is to apply enough pressure to get it out but not too much to cause damage to or break the pen tip. This is definitely an opportunity for improvement for the next generation of the Yoga Book. I’d like to see Lenovo make the tips spring enabled like the stylus that’s stored in the Samsung Galaxy Note 5.
Book Pad (15 pages)
The Book Pad clipboard accessory allows you to magnetize your papers and easily keep them in place. If you place paper over the keyboard dock, open Microsoft OneNote and write with the Real Pen, Yoga Book functions like a ‘smart paper pad’.
There’s also a branded cleaning cloth to remove smudges and clean the surfaces of the device. Nice touch.