Clean slate: A Lenovo Yoga Book review

Original and versatile Lenovo hybrid caters to a varied user base

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Clean slate: A Lenovo Yoga Book review The Lenovo Yoga Book delights in its versatility.
By  David Ndichu Published  April 2, 2017

Lenovo continues to refresh a convertible PC segment it popularised, with the Yoga Book.

The convertible PC-tablet model emerged a few years back as a response to the growth of tablets which threatened the traditional PC market. Lenovo with its Yoga series mainstreamed the PC/hybrid genre and has kept ahead of the curve since.      

The Yoga Book comes equipped with either Windows or Android-I got the Windows version.

Design

It initially stumps you when you unwrap the Yoga Book. It resembles a tablet, but not quite. Its form factor and size also reminds you of the netbooks of years past, only sleeker. And that’s before you see the slate-more of that later.

The hybrid PC in any form factor presents a few challenges for manufacturers. It has to be small enough to be portable, but powerful enough to run full productivity applications. For Lenovo, the task at hand was even more daunting in trying to create a hybrid PC targeting creatives, an even more demanding demographic.     

To do this meant getting rid of the keyboard, at least in the physical button variety we are familiar with. Instead, a slate covers where the keyboard is supposed to be, transforming the space into a canvas onto which artists can show off their creativity. For the rest of us, a keyboard does appear, almost magically, with the touch of a button.

For ports, it’s a hybrid between a tablet and notebook: there’s a Micro-USB port and HDMI connection while on the right are a power and a volume rockers.

Features

The Yoga Book is thin, at 4.05 mm thin when opened, and weighs just 1.5 lbs (690 g). It opens flat, like a book, partly the reason behind the “Book” moniker I would imagine.

There’s no flimsy plastic here; the Yoga Book is forged from an aluminium and magnesium alloy that feels and looks premium. And the surface handles those annoying fingerprint smudges really well too.

The Yoga Book opens on a sturdy-looking hinge that swivels 360º, transforming into four modes of operations. Create Mode where the device lays flat for drawing and taking notes, Browse Mode, converts the Yoga Book into a 10.1” tablet, Watch Mode rotates the device into a tent-like assembly, great for watching movies, while Type Mode is the more traditional laptop mode.

The keyboard, or lack of it thereof, is one of the highlights of the Yoga Book. The Halo keyboard turns on and off with the touch of a button. When it’s off, the slate turns into a writable surface onto which you can write or draw. Included with the Yoga Book is a pen and notebook, the latter of which Lenovo refers to as a Create Pad that attaches to the slate through a magnet. The pen is a real one so you can use your regular pen if you lose the one that came with the device.

The Yoga Book features a 10.1” Full-HD display and Dolby Audio Premium speakers.

It is powered by an Intel Atom processor, which is Intel’s range of chips for mobile devices. Atom processors are great for battery life and keeping mobile devices lightweight but fall short on performance. Compare that with the Lenovo Yoga 900S, an ultra-light notebook that uses Intel Core processors that are more geared towards productivity.

Lenovo promises up to 12 hours of battery life usage on a single charge. This is pretty accurate in real life, unlike many others.     

The Yoga Book was apparently impressive enough to win at the Red Dot Awards 2016, the Oscars of industrial design.

Performance

The look of the Yoga Book may be new, but you’ll be working a familiar Windows environment with mobile versions of Microsoft Work, Excel, and PowerPoint.

As aforementioned, the Real Pen is a real ink pen. Use the included paper which clips on the keyboard with a magnet. Any notes you take are digitised in real time which can then be saved. The feeling of real paper and pen gives the comfort of a traditional writing experience.

I found it useful to take to editorial meetings-you write your notes and then save and store the digital version on a PC where it’s far easier to follow up and access for the next meeting.

The keyboard is software-optimised, with an experience more like a smartphone than a laptop. This includes auto-complete and auto-correct as you type. The haptic feedback, which is the slight vibration when you press a touchscreen button, works to soften the blow when moving from a traditional keyboard.

If feels odd at first when you start typing on a virtual keyboard. The haptic feedback does help with a familiar feel of a “real” keyboard, but it’s really never the same, although it’s a far better experience than the average on-screen tablet keyboard.

I have to say although the Yoga Book was built with creatives in mind, it’s far from replacing the Macs a lot of designers use. The designers in the office I asked seemed to agree. Those who like a slate use Wacom tablets, which has more experience and pedigree within the design world. The Yoga Book I felt was more for the average guy who also likes to doodle.

Perhaps to save power, the Yoga Book seems to shut down when you touch the power button instead of going to sleep, something I thought was odd.

The screen is Full-HD and I can confirm that watching movies is a delight. The sound is also high quality if you happen to own a decent pair of headphones.

I had expected to see the more versatile USB-C on this beauty, but alas, only a standard Micro-USB is available. 

Verdict

You can clearly see, and appreciate, what Lenovo was trying to do with the Yoga Book. Lenovo clearly tried, and I would say succeeded, in getting a product that’s very original an innovative.    

However the need to keep tablet dimensions meant that it had to sacrifice firepower, hobbling the very creative demographic it was trying to reach. 

The Yoga Book I feel shines through as a whole. Although not powerful enough as a fully-fledged notebook, and perhaps not as a fully-fledged graphics tablet à la Wacom, but as a sum of its parts, it’s a great device allowing the average user do much more than they normally would. 

For: Original design; adaptable; Full Windows productivity; lightweight
Against: Underpowered for creative use
Verdict: A well-thought out instrument that caters to a wider user base but still room for improvement.

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