Lenovo’s recent love for Android has seen the company finally step into the tablet market, with the introduction of the Yoga Tablet. The addition of the “Yoga” moniker means that the tablet can be handled in a variety of modes, depending on the scenario. Lenovo have been quite successful with their Yoga brand of Ultrabooks, so I was keen to see if the brand was going to do the same with its first official tablet.
Build quality & design
The Yoga Tablet comes in both 8” and 10” models; I received the 8” model for review. Unboxing the tablet brought only one thing to mind, and that was how the Yoga Tablet looked awkwardly similar to an oversized Apple trackpad. The Yoga Tablet has a cylindrical design at one end, which houses a durable battery and integrated kickstand. The cylindrical shape also allows the tablet to sit on a surface at a slight elevation, making it a bit easier to type on-screen. You’ll also find a circular physical power button at one end of the cylinder and a headphone jack at the other. Lenovo designed the Yoga Tablet with this cylindrical aspect so that the tablet would be easier to hold when used in portrait mode. To an extent, this actually works quite well. Your fingers wrap around the cylindrical shape quite well, so you actually feel like you’re holding something firmly, making it very comfortable to use for reading eBooks or surfing websites. In landscape mode you’re best using the Yoga Tablet with the cylinder at the top, just so if you place the tablet on a flat surface, the screen won’t be tilted away from you.
Design quality is quite good, with the kickstand being just as strong as the hinges found on the Yoga Ultrabooks. It’s made of brushed aluminum and can be swung out by firmly twisting it. Don’t try to pry it apart with your fingernail, unless you’re Edward Scissorhands. The kickstand also cleverly hides the microSD and microSIM card slots, and has certainly been built to handle plenty of wear and tear. When fully extended, the kickstand props up the tablet so you can watch videos comfortably, though you can’t adjust the angle of the stand.
Benchmarks and Performance
Performance on the Yoga Tablet was acceptable, with the tablet slowing down only when quitting apps or navigating around the UI. This of course, is probably due to Lenovo’s awkward skinning of the Android interface (more on that soon), so you never really get a smooth Android experience at all. Apps and games for the most part launched properly, but given the specs of this tablet don’t expect to launch anything too taxing – my favorite game of “Super MAMC” brought the Yoga Tablet to its knees after a few levels.
UI and Apps
Much like on its smartphones, Lenovo have chosen to heavily skin the Android interface. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, however a lot of the icons look very cartoonish, and generally spoil the overall look of the tablet. There’s also plenty of apps that come pre-installed, many of which you probably don’t need or would even use (and a few which refused to work at all). I would have certainly preferred running a vanilla version of Android so that the interface matched the clean and sleek design of the device. Another annoyance is that there’s no app drawer, so you’re forced to scroll through pages of apps rather than display only the ones you need.
Screen and Camera
One of the most disappointing things on the Yoga Tablet was the screen. It of course comes nowhere close to the screens seen on other smaller tablets such as the iPad mini or Nexus 7. Here the screen is 1280 x 800, and colors seem washed out whatever you’re looking at.
The camera on the Yoga Tablet is another let-down, but not in terms of quality. I’ve never been one to advocate taking photos with a tablet, but it’s always handy to have a camera on a tablet for apps like Skype. Having said that, while the front-facing camera is quite good, the rear facing camera is a bit awkward, because it’s located at the lower-right side of the tablet. This means that your view might often include the tablet or surface that the tablet is propped up on, and it’s also awkward to keep looking towards the bottom left of the tablet rather than at the top where the camera is usually located, if you’re facing the rear camera. This is also true when using the front-facing camera, because in landscape mode the camera is situated once again on the leftmost bezel of the tablet.
The speakers on the Yoga Tablet are fairly good, with the tablet utilizing Dolby Digital Plus to boost sound. There are a number of presets to choose from, and overall the effect is quite noticeable when switched on.
Heat levels & Battery Life
Thanks to its cylindrical battery, the Yoga Tablet was able to hit about twelve hours of non-stop usage, which included a mix of watching videos, emails, surfing the web, and reading a few eBooks. Lenovo are certainly keeping up their promise of a tablet with better battery life, and in this department the Yoga Tablet passes the test.
A rather ironic thing I found with the Yoga Tablet is that its brand ambassador is Ashton Kutcher, the man who recently portrayed Apple’s Steve Jobs. I’ve yet to really figure out why Kutcher is behind the Yoga Tablet, but I’m going to chalk it down to Lenovo wanting the Yoga Tablet to appeal to a younger business audience. Having said that, the Yoga Tablet certainly does have an appealing design that sets it apart from almost every other tablet on the market. Its integrated kickstand is sturdy and helps to keep the tablet upright, and its cylindrical edge makes it much easier to hold in portrait mode. But man cannot live on design alone, and it’s the Yoga Tablet’s underwhelming performance, average screen, and busy UI that brings it down. I can’t be too harsh as this is a first-generation attempt, but hopefully Lenovo will hear what users are saying about the Yoga Tablet and improve upon it in the second generation, much like it did with its Yoga Ultrabook. The Yoga Tablet is certainly a decent attempt for the company, and while its design is certainly very unique, there are still a lot of things that can be improved upon for the Yoga Tablet to truly be a success.
Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8″ is priced at AED 1,299 and is in stores now.