Lenovo Yoga Book (Windows) Review
Lenovo’s Yoga Book is different. It’s got an ultra-sleek design, a somewhat new take on the keyboard, Wacom tablet-style capabilities, Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, and wants to be a laptop of some sorts. At first glance, it looks more like a concept of something rather an on-the-market device, but it’s indeed ready to be picked up by hungry consumers starting at $499.
There’s two versions of the Yoga Book available: one has Android on it, while the other runs Windows 10. Each has their own dedicated features and functionality, but for the sake of this particular review, we’ll be taking a look at the latter, the model costing $549.
The design of the Yoga Book is undoubtfully the biggest perk of buying this device. It’s made of magnesium-aluminum alloy and is cool to the touch. It weighs in at just 1.52 pounds (690 grams) and features a profile 9.6mm thin when closed. This is extremely thin for a 2-in-1 and tablets in general and creates a device that’s not only extremely portable but a pleasure to carry around.
The top and bottom of the Yoga Book are completely blank other than some branding and model information, while there’s a microUSB port (yup, not USB-C), SIM card slot, miniHDMI port, and speaker grill on the left and a headphone jack, volume rocker, speaker grill, and power button on the right. Obviously, there’s an extreme lack of ports on this guy which I can say bothers me a lot since the version I’m using runs Windows. Therefore, if you wanna connect your phone or an SD card to this device, you’ll have to buy adapters.
Around back, Lenovo included their signature watchband hinge so bending back the display is more precise and smoother (remember, this is a convertible). The company says they’ve tested this hinge to withstand “more than 25,000 open and close operations,” but I obviously didn’t waste my time putting this claim to the test.
When opening the Yoga Book, you’ll be greeted by two surfaces: one is the 10.1-inch HD touch display, while the other doubles as a keyboard and sketching pad. This brings us to the main part of this review: what makes the Yoga Book special?
Regarding the former, the screen on the Yoga Book is pretty nice. It features a resolution of 1920×1200, reproduces colors very well, gets pretty bright in highly lit areas such as outside during the day, and viewing angles remain good (but not great). Yes, you can see some pixels when looking closely at the display, but you won’t notice them while staring at the screen at normal distances.
Regarding the latter, the second surface of the Yoga Book features dedicated backlit sections cut out in the form of a keyboard. Lenovo calls this the Halo Keyboard as it gives off a futuristic appearance and a ‘halo’ effect. It sits completely flat and vibrates when tapped.
Depending on which version you get, the Halo Keyboard features OS-specific keys. On the Windows version you’re getting a more PC-like experience thanks to a dedicated Start key and F keys, while on the Android version, things are pretty different. Look for more on this in our Yoga Book (Android) review coming soon.
I’ll have to say, I was really disappointed with the Halo Keyboard. For one, it’s really hard to get used to (and by the way, I never have), while I have to keep looking down at what I’m about to hit for fear of striking the wrong key. And while there is some resistance, you can’t exactly rest your fingers on the keys as they’re pretty sensitive.
In addition, the vibrations caused by key strikes aren’t individually assigned to different keys. In other words, the entire base of the Yoga Book vibrates when hitting a key, something I’m not fond of at all. You also have barely enough room for your wrists to sit, but those of you with smaller hands than I may have a different experience.
I’m not saying you can’t type on the Halo Keyboard because it’s definitely useful when compared to a giant keyboard on your screen and it gets out of the way when you don’t need it, but it’s really only meant for light typing and not writing something extensive or for a long period of time. I did try typing some of this review out on it, but it didn’t really work out. On the other hand, I did manage to write this entire article on it. Don’t ask me how.
Also found on the second surface of the Yoga Book is a trackpad. I won’t go too far into this, but in a nutshell, it’s too small, the button layout is awkward, and it doesn’t feel very natural to use. Therefore, just use the touchscreen or connect an external mouse.
Oh, I almost forgot. The second surface of the Yoga Book is also a sketch pad. Called the Create Pad, it uses Wacom Feel technology to allow users to sketch, draw, and write with the bundled Real Pen stylus in supported apps thanks to the Anniversary Update to Windows 10. In other words, it’s a Wacom tablet built into a 2-in-1 that’s accessible via a long press of one button.
This is where the Yoga Book shines. While writing in OneNote with the Create Pad, I found that accuracy was extremely on point and the feel of writing was very satisfying. In fact, I almost prefer this feeling over writing on paper with a ballpoint pen.
Doodling, painting, drawing, and more are also a great experience. While some may think the latency between when the pen touches the surface to when it’s transmitted and is displayed on the screen may be a bit long since you’re not directly drawing on the screen, I can confirm that you’ll see what you’re drawing almost instantly as soon as you begin. I find this pretty impressive and overall a pleasure to have.
Something pretty cool you can do on the Yoga Book is write physically on a piece of paper and have it copy over to the Book while you still have the pen in hand. By placing a supplied ink tip into the pen and placing the Book Pad on top of the Create Pad, you can have your creations, notes, letters, and more transmit electronically over to the Yoga Book and have them show up in apps like OneNote. The best part is that you can use whatever paper you want, not just Lenovo’s. Your only requirements are the Book Pad and the pen that the Yoga Book ships with. This has been a really useful feature for me as I’ve taken plenty of notes both physically and electronically at the same, a convenience I feel as though I was spoiled to have.
Oh, and don’t make the mistake of using the ink tip while writing directly on the Create Pad or screen. Just a warning so you don’t get carried away like me.
P.S. There isn’t a dedicated section where you can place the Real Pen while using the rest of the Yoga Book, but since there are magnets inside the stylus, I tend to just attach the pen to the back of the Book. It’s not an official storage method, but it’s better than nothing.
Another interesting feature Lenovo built into the Yoga Book is AnyPen, allowing any stylus to interact with the Yoga Book’s display (but not the Create Pad) regardless of make and model. As I don’t have much experience with other styluses on the market, a good friend of mine who also checked out the Yoga Book can testify to this feature, and he loves it.
Everything that makes the Yoga Book unique is stellar… for the most part. I think the features every user will use are the drawing utilities and the Book Pad. I can’t say whether the Halo Keyboard is a home run or not as while I’m not a big fan of it whatsoever, other users may like it. Even the trackpad is bad, but again, some may prefer it over having to tap on everything on their screen. Nevertheless, Lenovo definitely packs plenty of heat to make their tablet stand out in the crowd. Just don’t use it as your next laptop as it’ll let you down.
Of course, we can’t go through a review without mentioning the specs of the device, so let’s dive into what exactly powers the Yoga Book.
Starting with the chipset, the Yoga Book uses an Intel Atom x5 processor clocked in at up to 2.4GHz. For an Android device, I’m sure this is plenty of speed to get you through all those emails and games you’ll be interacting with, but for a Windows machine, an Atom chip is simply underpowered. I mean, I really shouldn’t complain since the Yoga Book is a tablet a heart, but when you start using it, you’ll notice the lack of performance.
For reference, apps like Office and Chrome work alright thanks to the Atom x5, but run anything more powerful like Visual Studio and you’re bound to be met with some performance issues.
The Yoga Book’s performance also isn’t aided by the installed 4GB of RAM, a value I find a bit too skimpy for a Windows 10 2-in-1. Again, I know it’s a tablet, but I still can’t do much with it regardless.
The integrated Intel HD Graphics 400 are okay for the most part while using multiple applications, scaling the display, and playing a few games, but don’t expect the Windows 10 Yoga Book to replace your Nvidia Shield or your gaming PC anytime soon as graphics tend to come out rather choppy while playing intense games such as Asphalt 8.
The 64GB of storage available is rather minimal for a Windows machine, but it should be plenty for those who buy the Yoga Book as a tablet. I didn’t run out of space during my testing although I have quite a few apps installed, so I found the available 64GB just enough for my needs.
Luckily, for those of you who need more storage, a microSD card slot is available for use, but I didn’t find myself popping in one of my available cards.
Regarding audio, there’s two stereo speakers built into the Create Pad of the Yoga Book, with one facing the left and the other facing the right. I have to say, while watching YouTube videos and streaming Apple Music, audio playback was crystal clear thanks to Dolby Atmos audio being built in. Even at high volumes, no distortion took place. There’s a good amount of detail in the highs and mids, while there could be a little more low-end. In addition, while streaming over Bluetooth and having a wired pair of headphones (yes, that 3.5mm jack did get used) connected, audio also sounded stellar, something I was extremely happy to see (and hear).
In case you were wondering, yes, there are cameras. One is for video chats, and the other is for…
I guess it’s for taking pictures like you would with an iPad or something. The 2MP webcam is fine for a quick session on Hangouts or Skype with decent-enough clarity, while the one mounted into the Create Pad is pretty bad. Sure, it’s 8MP, but it isn’t that great whatsoever. Oh, and it’s even worse in low light.
I can’t really see anyone using the latter sensor more than the former, so I’ll just pretend it’s not there. That said, if you plan on using the Yoga Book to take your next family portrait, you may wanna stick with your smartphone or a good DSLR.
Regarding battery life, Lenovo built in an 8500mAh cell into the Yoga Book, promising all-day use out of one full charge. I have to say, I agree with this statement as I’ve never had to stop what I was doing and charge the device. I can usually get around 7 1/2 hours of screen-on time which I find rather impressive. Of course, battery life will vary based on your own personal usage, but for me, 8500mAh is plentiful.
Finally, in terms of IO, the Yoga Book, as aforementioned, has just three ports: a microUSB charging port that also works with a number of accessories, a miniHDMI port, and a headphone jack.
Regarding the first, this port is used for charging the Yoga Book, but it does so at an extremely low speed likely due to the overall size of the cell inside and the fact that an Intel chipset is being used rather something like a Qualcomm which includes Quick Charge technology. This is also your main hub if you wanna plug in an SD card, your phone, or a flash drive, but you’ll need adapters.
Like, we’re talking MacBook amount of adapters.
Regarding the second mentioned, if you wanna output the Yoga Book to a secondary display, you can. I personally didn’t since this is a tablet and isn’t powerful enough for me to work off of while using a separate monitor, but some will likely find this a major convenience.
Lastly, regarding the third, it’s always nice to have a headphone jack at your convenience. It’s 2017 and it seems that this 100-year-old port is finally fading out, but since the whole world hasn’t made the switch yet to wireless headphones or USB-C, I find it proper to include a headphone jack at least in a product of this nature. Nice job, Lenovo. You didn’t go all “courageous” on us.
The Lenovo Yoga Book is a great, thin, light, ultra-portable, and beautiful tablet. It has just enough power to get you through watching your favorite movies and TV shows in its pretty display, playing your favorite games, and scrolling through social media, while for sketching on the Create Pad and using all the built-in drawing utilities, there’s also plenty of heat. Even the Halo Keyboard offers a nice alternative to a touchscreen keyboard although I practically hate it. But as a laptop, the Yoga Book struggles, and it’s a shame. One of its main goals (especially since it runs Windows 10) is to be a decent secondary laptop, but it by any means isn’t that at all. It’s good at what it does and not what Lenovo wants it to do. Therefore, I give the Yoga Book an 8/10 with points deducted for poor performance while multitasking and little quirks that just irritate me a bit found throughout.
If you have to get a tablet with Windows 10 on it, get this one. Otherwise, you’ll probably like the Android version better. Regardless of which model you get, however, the Yoga Book will definitely stand out as you sit in Starbucks sipping your $6 latte.
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