Performance Benchmarks and Conclusion
Since both the Yoga Tablet 8 and 10 versions are identical apart from size and are powered by MediaTek MT8389 quad-core 1.2GHz processor with 1GB RAM, we decided to drop in the test results for both versions in this article. Besides, they are just S$100 apart. For those who are unfamiliar with MediaTek, it is actually a Taiwan-based semiconductor manufacturer and one of the several ARM licensees.
While MediaTek hasn't made a big name for itself in the industry compared to Qualcomm, NVIDIA and Samsung, it has a huge presence in developing markets such as China where vendors produce low-cost devices. The recently-reviewed ASUS MeMO Pad HD 7 runs on a MediaTek MT8125 quad-core 1.2GHz processor, but does not come with mobile connectivity.
We pit the Yoga tablets against some of the recent 8-inch tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0, Galaxy Tab 3 (8.0) and the first generation Apple iPad Mini.
Quadrant is an Android OS benchmark that evaluates a device's CPU, memory, I/O and 3D graphics performance.
It's not surprising to see both Yoga tablets having the same scores in the Quadrant benchmark, but that's not the key point here. Both Lenovo tablets ranked behind the Galaxy Note 8.0, which has a more powerful processor with a higher clock speed. Since the Yoga Tablet 8 isn't a premium device, if we were to compare against the dual-core powered Galaxy Tab 3 (8.0), Lenovo is just a bit ahead.
As a point of reference, here's the list of Quadrant benchmark scores by recent 10.1-inch Android tablets:
- Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition - 22020
- ASUS Transfomer Pad TF701T - 14278
- Sony Xperia Tablet Z - 7745
- Toshiba Excite Write - 11441
To put it simply, the Yoga Tablet 10 is outclassed by the top-tier 10-inch devices.
Originally developed as a PC benchmarking tool, 3DMark is now expanded to support multiple platforms including Android OS. The Ice Storm benchmark is designed for smartphones, mobile devices and ARM architecture computers.
For an in-depth understanding of 3DMark for Android, do head over to our article, "3DMark - Android Device GPU Performance Review." In a nutshell, 3DMark consists of two test sections:
3DMark Ice Storm is an OpenGL ES 2.0 benchmark test that uses fixed off-screen rendering at 720p then scales the output to fit the native display resolution of your device. Ice Storm includes two graphics tests designed to stress the GPU performance of your device and a physics test to stress its CPU performance.
3DMark Ice Storm Extreme raises the off-screen rendering resolution to 1080p and uses higher quality textures and post-processing effects to create a more demanding load for the latest smartphones and tablets.
While the Lenovo tablets didn't rank last in the 3DMark benchmarks compared, they ain't doing well either. The Galaxy Note 8.0 still takes the lead, followed by the Galaxy Tab 3 (8.0). The one-year-old iPad Mini with a dated A5 dual-core chip almost tied with the Yoga tablets.
What about the 10-inch counterpart? Compared with some of the recent tablets, the Yoga Tablet 10 is woefully lagging:-
- ASUS Transfomer Pad TF701T - Ice Storm Extreme: 9741
- Sony Xperia Tablet Z - Ice Storm: 9156, Ice Storm Extreme: 5943
- Toshiba Excite Write - Ice Storm: 9662, Ice Storm Extreme: 7993
- Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition - 1053.6ms
- ASUS Transfomer Pad TF701T - 637.0ms
- Sony Xperia Tablet Z - 2222.3ms
- Toshiba Excite Write - 869.7ms
Benchmark numbers are just one part of the equation. Disregarding the benchmark results, we found navigation to be a little sluggish at times. While it generally felt smooth, there were unexpected lags when multitasking or flipping between the home screen panels.
Tablets aren't really known for their camera capabilities, although that shouldn't come as a surprise by now. The Yoga tablets are equipped with a 5-megapixel rear camera and a 1.6-megapixel HD front-facing camera and image quality was found to be disappointing.
Our standard battery test for tablets includes the following parameters:
• Looping a 720p video with screen brightness and volume at 100%
• Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity turned on
• Constant data streaming through email and Twitter
Equipped with the biggest battery capacity of the 8-inch tablets compared, the Yoga Tablet 8 is just 6 minutes short of having a tie with the Galaxy Tab 3 (8.0). It lasted 7 hours and 43 minutes in our battery test.
Its larger counterpart, the Yoga Tablet 10, fared reasonably in its class of devices. However, most of the newer 10-inch tablets sport full HD resolutions and that's one reason the competitors actually have a slightly higher power consumption.
We measure the portability of a device by calculating its battery life to (weight x volume) ratio. Based on the Portability Index, the Yoga Tablet 8 fared better than the Galaxy Note 8.0, but not as good as the iPad Mini and the Galaxy Tab 3 (8.0). Both competing tablets have thinner and lighter form factors with comparable battery mileage, which gave them an edge. The 10-inch Yoga Tablet was also equally in the middle ground for its class.
We started the review with two questions in mind - the practicability of the hinge design and whether the claim of "epic battery life" holds truth.
Lenovo took a bet with the multimode design on the Yoga tablets and we think it paid off unexpectedly. Besides helping users handle the tablets better, the hinge also enables them to use the tablet in two other modes for specific tasks. Credits ought to be given to the design team at Lenovo for coming up with this design, which we believe will set the Yoga tablets apart from the competition. Even then, the cylindrical tube design at the hinge area might not bode well for everyone. When we showed the Yoga Tablet 8 and 10 to our office colleagues, some thought it was more of a hindrance, while others found it practical.
Other than the useful hinge design and aluminum build of the chassis, the Yoga tablets do not bring anything new to the table. In fact, we had expected Lenovo to offer a more compelling package such as a higher resolution display, better optimizations and unique software features. As such, there's not a lot going for the Yoga Tablets.
In terms of performance, we've noted occasional sluggishness and while battery life was decent, it wasn't anywhere near "epic" proportions as Lenovo wants us to believe. Without "epic" battery life performance, the Yoga tablets' ability to charge other USB devices via its micro-USB port is limited (unless you seldom use your tablet).
Given its performance and specifications, It goes without saying that Lenovo is targeting the mainstream market with the Yoga tablets. Priced at S$449 for the Yoga Tablet 8 and S$549 for the Yoga Tablet 10, price may not be Lenovo's best asset in view of the available options in the market.
Yoga Tablet 8 vs Other 7 or 8-inch Options
The 7 and 8-inch tablet space has no short of viable competitors such as the S$468 Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 (8.0), S$379 Google Nexus 7, the $249 ASUS MeMO Pad HD 7, and the S$548 Apple iPad Mini with Retina Display.
Samsung is the king of the hill when it comes to offering software features on its mobile devices, and you will get a fair share of the latest TouchWiz tricks such as Multi-Window and Pop Up Play. Its performance is comparable and even better in some aspects, and for an additional S$19, the Galaxy Tab 3 (8.0) is indeed a serious competitor. For those who want to do more on a tablet, look towards the S$788 Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 as it has a stylus (S Pen) which has apps optimized for use with it.
If you are looking for a fast and smooth Android user experience without the bells and whistles, the Nexus 7 (2013) is definitely top of the list. Not only will you get a gorgeous full HD display and a stock Android interface, you are also guaranteed the fastest software updates from Google. Its only drawbacks are the lack of a memory card slot and its 7-inch display if you are looking for something in between 7 and 10-inch displays.
Find the Yoga Tablet 8 a tad too expensive? You can consider the ASUS MeMO Pad HD 7 which has almost similar specs such as a quad-core 1.2GHz processor, 7-inch display (1,280 x 800 pixels) and a microSD card slot. Its affordable price tag does come at the expense of overall performance and battery life, but at half the price of the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8, there's not much to complain either.
For the best tablet user experience, you can't go wrong with the Apple iPad Mini with Retina display. It boasts the sharpest display in its class, and has over 475,000 tablet-optimized apps. The only catch is that the iPad Mini fetches a premium price tag of S$548, which is more costly than many of the tablets in its category. Be prepared to fork out more for the LTE option.
Yoga Tablet 10 vs Other 10-inch Options
There are as many alternatives in the 10-inch tablet category as the 8-inch segment. For example, the S$728 Apple iPad Air (16GB, Wi-Fi) is one of the best 10-inch tablets in the market at the moment as it runs on the latest A7 processor and boasts a sharp display. Its thinner and lighter form factor feels very comfortable in the hands too.
If you want a water and dust resistant Android tablet, the S$888 Sony Xperia Tablet Z fits the bills. It is IP57 certified for dust resistance and water proofing, and enables you to use it almost anywhere from the shower to the pool to dusty environments. The design is also one of the best we've seen so far. However, you have to take note of its subpar battery performance.
For those who are looking for a tablet to meet productivity needs, they can consider the $749 ASUS Transformer Pad TF701T. It runs on the latest NVIDIA Tegra 4 quad-core processor, boasts a super high resolution display (2,560 x 1,600 pixels) and comes with a keyboard dock that doubles as a battery pack. Yet another worthy option is the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 edition with its stylus enabled suite of apps and functions.
However, take note that all of these superior options are much more expensive than the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10 and it really depends on your expectations and needs out of a tablet. Perhaps the most immediate competitor to the Yoga Tablet 10 is the Samsung Nexus 10 that seems to offer a better overall package for just a little more.