Lenovo’s Yoga Tab range has come a long way in a year

29 October 2014

Last year Lenovo brought out the original Yoga Tab. It was a new design that focused on battery and form-factor usability over hardware and UI. We liked it overall, but it was more an indication of what Lenovo might be able to do, rather than something we’d choose to take home.

This year that might have changed with the Yoga Tab 2 line. Our initial impressions from the specs and some hands-on time is that Lenovo has made significant steps towards completing its Yoga vision.

Basically, everything we liked about the first tablet; battery life, built-in stand, solid build, affordable price (for the basic unit); are all still there. Just about everything we didn’t like; rubbish UI, poor resolution, stand stiffness; have all been addressed.

There are also two new types of Yoga tab. The first is a bigger PRO version of the Yoga 2 Tab with a built-in laser projector, the second is an almost identical copy of the basic tab that runs Windows 8.1 instead of Android 4.4 KitKat.

All the new tablets have a re-designed kick-stand that is easier to open and now extends to a full 180 degrees. The stands also now have a hole in the middle so that you can hang it on a hook while you’re cooking, or simply to save space on your desk.

They also all sport front-facing stereo speakers, 8MP rear and 1.6MP front cameras, 2GB of RAM, a microSD slot for storage expansion, WiFi a/b/g/n (but not ac), and the same Intel quad-core CPU.

Yoga Tab 2 PRO

This is the front-runner for Lenovo, coming in at a cool AU$799 RRP. At this price it needs to be no slouch. The 16GB iPad Air 2 is just $619, and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 is $749, which includes 4G support.

The 2 PRO won’t give you cellular connectivity, nor is it a slim, lightweight slate like the Air 2. That’s ok. Just like last year, Lenovo is aiming for a different end user experience than you’d get on a traditional tablet.

The Tab 2 PRO has a huge and incredibly-crisp 13.3 inch 2560 x 1440 display. That makes it one of the biggest tablets on the market, and definitely something for home-use rather than a portable entertainment station for your daily commute.

With such a big screen and high res, combined with its own stand, you’d expect the 2 PRO to be aimed at users that take their video content seriously. You’d be right. Along with its dual front speakers, the 2 PRO is the first consumer tablet to house its own built-in subwoofer.

Still not enough? On the side of the battery housing is a laser projector capable of putting out a 50 inch display from 2 metres away.

Lenovo estimates up to 15 hours of usage from the huge 9600mAh battery before you need to recharge. There is 32GB of on-board storage which can be expanded using the microSD slot.

Yoga Tab 2 10”

The standard Android tablet has a 10 inch screen with 1920x1200 resolution, which is just a tad above 1080p. It’s making its debut at an affordable AU$399 RRP.

Storage is only 16GB but you do have that microSD for expanding it up to a further 64GB.

Battery life is up to 18 hours from a single change and it should last in standby mode for up to 16 days.

Eventually there will be an 8 inch version of the Tab 2, but it’s not hitting Down Under just yet.

Toga Tab 2 10” Windows Edition

Lastly, there are the Windows 8.1 Yoga 2 Tablets. Like with the Android version, there will be an 8 inch eventually, but for now it’s just the 10” for AU$579.

It’s almost identical to its Android sibling but for a few minor differences. Firstly, it’s only available in black, where the other two are silver.

It also has 32GB of storage, which is double the 10" Android version. However, Windows 8.1 has a lot more heft to it than Android, so the operating system will take up a lot more room on your hard drive so 32GB is more of a necessity than a perk.

Finally, there’s a micro HDMI port, which is not shared by the 2 Tab or 2 Tab PRO. This is an interesting addition, but we can’t see it being a make-or-break. These days there are plenty of WiFi and Bluetooth-based streaming services to choose from that don't require messy wires.

Battery life is up to 15 hours and standby up to a crazy 20 days.

The Yoga way

Lenovo’s tablets are one of those things you need to hold and play with for a while before you really get the point. At first glance they’re so different, even silly. But there’s method to this madness.

Throwing all of the battery and some of the hardware components in to the bulge on the side actually makes it easier to hold for long periods of time. Whichever hand you prefer, use it to grip the thicker edge and you’ll find all of the weight distributed closer to your wrist. This means there’s less pull on your muscles and tendons. It makes the tablet feel lighter than it is, and makes one-handed operation easier.

Placing it on a table is also all good. There are very few times where you want a tablet to sit flat on any surface, so the unavoidable tilt isn’t often an issue.

If you want to do a lot of typing you can flip the stand out. If you want to watch it you can stand it up. Thanks to the new range, if you want to hang it you can do that too.

Finally, taking such a strange design and building an entire experience around it means that Lenovo isn’t restricted by the usual thickness taboo. The by-product is bigger batteries, which is something everyone can get behind.

Whether or not the tablets will actually sell is anyone’s guess. HTC and other manufacturers have proved year after year that making a great product isn’t simply enough. That’s probably why Lenovo is ramping up its media profile in Australia, so you might start to see the new Yoga Tabs being advertised around the place in the near future.

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