Lenovo Yoga Book full review
Lenovo hopes to reignite the 2-in-1 laptop / tablet market with the new Yoga Book. It certainly stands out, thanks to its unique touch surface which flips between being a keyboard and a writing and sketching pad. See also: Best convertible laptop reviews
Also see: Best Black Friday Laptop Deals
We’ve had a limited amount of time with the Yoga Book; here are our initial impressions of the device.
Lenovo Yoga Book review: UK price and availability
There are two models of the Yoga Book, one with Android 6.0 that costs £449, and another which runs Windows 10 and costs £549.
They will both go on sale in a couple of weeks’ time in September, and with both you have a choice of Gunmetal Grey and Champagne Gold. The latter is particularly good-looking, although it is probably a little too bright for most blokes.
Lenovo Yoga Book review: Features and design
Lenovo says the Yoga Book has been developed over the past three years in a bid to produce a device that will appeal to what it calls the “touch generation”: students and young professionals.
While tablets in general haven’t changed since Apple launched the first iPad back in 2010, usage habits have. The Yoga Book is aimed at being the ultimate productivity tool and entertainment device in one.
The size might be a bone of contention, though. It has a 10.1in screen, which means it’s arguably too small for serious productivity. However, Apple has its 9.7in iPad Pro, and Lenovo has already hinted that larger Yoga Books are in the works.
Let’s get down to the details, though. The casing is made from magnesium alloy and is just 4mm thick at its thinnest point (the bottom of the touch keyboard). When folded shut, it’s just 9.6mm thick and the 130-piece hinge can be folded either way, so you can flip the screen behind the keyboard to use it as a tablet.
The highlight is the fact that the keyboard isn’t a physical one but a completely flat surface which lights up as a keyboard when required. Lenovo calls it the Instant Halo touch based keyboard. Apparently, two of the three years of development were spent getting the response and haptic feedback right.
The touch surface isn't a screen: you can see the outlines of the keys when it isn't lit up, and this means you can't change the layout. If you want a UK keyboard, make sure you buy a Yoga Book in the UK.
In lab tests, it turned out that it’s possible to type 151 characters per minute on it – essentially the same speed as using a physical 10-inch keyboard. To help speed up typing even more, there’s predictive text which works just like an Android or iOS keyboard, popping up suggestions as you type. And to keep typos in check, the keyboard will learn where you hit keys and know that you meant to hit the spacebar or ‘a’ even if your thumb or finger didn’t quite make it to the key.
In our brief tests, we struggled to adapt to such a large touch keyboard and even the auto-correct couldn't fix all of our typos. Strangely, despite being used to on-screen keyboards on phones and even tablets, it wasn't easy to quickly adapt to this version. The haptic feedback didn't trigger with each keypress and, while we felt it, it was difficult to know exactly what it was attempting to tell us.
Below the keyboard is a trackpad, which supports two-fingered gestures. On the Windows version there are two buttons – one either side of the pad – and just one for Android. They're not actual buttons of course, just distinct areas on the touch surface. You can tap the left one for the left-click, and the right for a right-click. And as you'd expect, tapping the pad itself is the same as a left-click.
In the box you also get a stylus. Lenovo sensibly partnered with Wacom for the touch and pen technology, which means that any Windows apps which already support an Intuos tablet will support the Yoga Book. Using EMR also means you can hover the stylus above the surface to position the stylus before drawing anything. Plus, as this works up to 10mm away, you can also use the magnetic Book Pad which sits on top of the touch surface. As you might expect, there are 2048 levels of pressure, a sensor to detect at which angle you’re holding the stylus and also palm rejection when you’re leaning on the touch surface.
Cleverly, the stylus is also a real pen so you can make physical notes or drawings which are captured digitally on screen at the same time. On the Windows version, notes are saved straight to OneNote, but there’s a dedicated app – Note Saver – on the Android one.
Lenovo also made the Yoga Book and stylus compatible with Windows 10’s new Windows Ink feature, which was added in the Anniversary Update. The main screen is also a touchscreen, so you can use the stylus on that as well, although you won’t get the pressure sensitivity of course.
Lenovo Yoga Book review: Performance
This screen has a 16:10 aspect ratio and a resolution of 1920x1200. That’s plenty for this size and, being IPS, colours were decent and viewing angles wide.
Power comes from a quad-core Intel Atom processor which can boost up to 2.4GHz. It’s hard to gauge performance from our short time with the Yoga Book, so we’ll wait until we can run our usual benchmarks to see how it shapes up against its 2-in-1 competitors around this price.
The on-board Intel HD Graphics 400 should be plenty for casual games, but forget about playing the latest 3D shooter on the Windows version at maximum resolution.
Battery life is claimed to be a “not exaggerated” 15 hours, and that’s a mix of productivity and entertainment, such as sending emails and watching Netflix. We can’t test this yet, but we will.
The Yoga Book supports fast charging over its micro USB port. It comes with a fast charger that will charge the battery from empty to 80 percent in 50 mins. That’s not bad at all considering the 8500mAh capacity.
Lenovo Yoga Book review: Software
The Windows model runs the latest 64-bit version of Windows 10. There’s little point in going into more detail about this here. You can read more in our Windows 10 review.
The Android version is more interesting. It comes with Android 6.0 but Lenovo has promised an upgrade to Nougat at some point. It has customised Android a fair bit, although it’s relatively familiar and the app tray has been retained.
Most of the customisation is for productivity which, as we noted in the Google Pixel C review, is lacking. Lenovo has made it possible to have up to four windows open at once, and ensured you can use standard keyboard shortcuts.
There's some work to be done, it appears. While the keyboard works whenever you tap on a text box, the stylus's use is very limited at the moment. You can't use it on the main screen, and you can only use it to draw in apps which support it. The only app on our demo machines was the Note Saver app.
Making apps open in Windowed mode was also a hit and miss affair.
Coming from an iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil, it was hard to get used to drawing on a tablet and watching your motions appear on the screen above it. For creatives used to a Wacom tablet, however, it will be second nature. The iPad approach seems much more natural to us though.
We'll bring you a full rview of the Yoga Pad as soon as we can.
Lenovo Yoga Book: Specs
- 10.1in (1920 x 1200) 224ppi, IPS LCD glossy
- 1.44GHz to 2.4GHz Intel Atom x5-Z8550 two cores, four threads
- Intel HD 520 GPU
- 4GB RAM DDR3-1600
- 64GB SSD plus microSD up to 128GB
- micro USB 2.0
- micro HDMI output
- stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos
- 3.5mm headset jack
- UK touch keyboard
- 8500mAh non-removable lithium-ion battery
- 9.6mm total thickess