Overview, Design and Features
Capitalizing on its Yoga branding and good fortunes in its notebook lineup, Lenovo brought the Yoga concept to its tablet line-up on 30th October and unveiled not one, but two Yoga tablets - an 8-inch and 10-inch model. Both tablets sport a unique cylindrical battery that has an integrated kickstand that allows the tablet to be used in three different modes (hold, tilt and stand). They also boast an aluminum chassis, which give them a premium feel and also make them strong yet light. The 10-inch Yoga tablet tips the scales at 600g while the smaller 8-inch variant is just 400g.
Is the innovative multimode design practical or gimmicky? Does the tablet really boast an "epic battery life" of up to 18 hours as claimed? Read on to find out more.
Design and Features
At first glance, the Yoga Tablet 8 reminds us of Sony's previous tablets - the Tablet S and Xperia Tablet S - as all three devices sport a unique fold design. While Sony claims that the design is inspired from the curve of a magazine folded back and helps in the handling of the device, Lenovo takes it a step or two further by turning the fold section into a flexible hinge which can be used as kickstand.
The kickstand allows you to use the Yoga Tablet 8 in three different usage modes - hold, tilt and stand modes. Lenovo claims that each mode is optimized for a specific activity:
- Hold mode - best for reading, viewing photos and sharing
- Tilt mode - best for web browsing, gaming and typing
- Stand mode - best for watching movies, music and video chat
By default, the hinge stays flush with the tablet. To use it in tilt or stand mode, you either twist the hinge or pry it out with your fingernails although Lenovo recommends the former method. The stand can be difficult to twist out but that's because of the friction that allows you to place the tablet in any angle facing you for your viewing comfort. As such, it's not like the single-angle kickstand that's integrated within Microsoft's Surface.
It is also noteworthy to mention that the hinge contains a 6,000mAh battery. This helps to keep the main body of the Yoga 8 very slim (3.0 to 7.3mm) with the cylindrical tube section measuring 21.5mm in cross section. The power button resides at the left side of the hinge, and there are also two front-facing stereo speakers located just below the display on each side.
During our time with the Yoga Tablet 8, we found its multimode design to be very useful. Regardless whether you are a left or right handed user, the screen orientates according to your preference in Hold mode although it does take a second or two to detect and change its orientation. It also helps that the weight of the tablet (Wi-Fi edition) is not heavy at 401g.
However, we aren't very sure if viewing photos and sharing in Hold mode is recommended. Since most photos are best viewed in landscape mode, we feel that Tilt Mode is better and it also allows more people to view.
Both the Tilt and Stand modes fulfill the very functions they are designed for. For example, Tilt mode elevates the tablet at a certain angle for a more comfortable typing experience. The elevation also provides a better viewing angle when placed on a flat surface (much better than the tear or wedge shaped original Sony Xperia Tablet S).
The same applies for Stand mode where watching movies and participating in a video chat no longer involves using your hand. However, the front-facing camera is placed at a really odd location on the top left whereas most tablets house the camera in the middle, just above the screen which makes sense for video conversations. Having said that, the rear-facing camera is also located on the left at the bottom side of the hinge.
As its name suggest, the Lenovo tablet is equipped with an 8-inch IPS display. With a resolution of 1,280 x 800 pixels (189ppi), the Yoga Tablet 8 is on-par with most of its peers such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0.
Taking into account the introduction of higher resolution displays in the new iPad Mini and Nexus 7 (2013), Lenovo should have stepped up its game to include a better display panel on the Yoga Tablet 8. In everyday usage, we find the display of the Yoga Tablet 8 to be sufficient for basic usage scenarios such as reading.
The Yoga Tablet 8 runs on Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean and a customized interface which adopts a similar style like Apple iOS and Huawei's Emotion UI. Unlike the standard Android interface with an app drawer, the Lenovo's customized interface has no app drawer and list all your apps (default and downloaded) in the following home screen panels. You can add up to a total of 18 home screen panels on the Yoga Tablet 8, although we doubt the average consumer will download that many apps.
If you've noticed, Lenovo preloads some apps on the Yoga Tablet 8 such as the Navigate 6, ES File Explorer, Norton Mobile Security, AccuWeather, Kingsoft Office and Power Manager HD. Widgets can be added on the home screen panels via a press and hold action.