IT IS DIFFICULT not to be impressed by the Lenovo Yoga Book the first time you see it. This 2-in-1 convertible tablet is wafer-thin and comes with a futuristic keyboard that’s guaranteed to elicit oohs-and-aahs from colleagues the moment you pop the device open.
What makes it even more appealing is its below-P30,000 price tag (P28,999 to be exact for the Windows version), which is considerably lower than say, Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4, which starts at P60,000 — although both may not be comparable in terms of specs.
With the Yoga Book, Lenovo may have succeeded in designing the ideal ultraportable laptop, but its usability and mediocre performance could be the reason it’s still not in the same league as other premium 2-in-1s in the market. Still, depending on the level of productivity you require while on the go, there’s enough to love about this device. Read on.
DESIGN AND FEATURES
The Yoga Book’s design is one of its strengths. Two metal slates made of aluminum and magnesium alloy are held together by Lenovo’s famous watchband hinge, which allows the Yoga Book to fold 360 degrees and transforms the device into four versatile modes: laptop, tablet, tent, or flat/drawing.
On the left side of the keyboard surface, you’ll find the micro-USB charging port, HDMI connector, left speaker grill, a charging/power indicator, and a micro-SD card tray. On the right are the on/off button, right speaker grill, volume buttons, and a 3.5-mm headphone jack.
The thinness of this device — 9.6 mm when closed shut — and its lightweightness (690 grams or 1.52 lbs) earn the Yoga Book high marks in portability. It’s slender body and matte finish also offer a good grip. A case or a sleeve may be unnecessary for the Yoga Book was easy to slip in the handbag (or backpack). It was also thin enough to carry around like a book when rushing to meetings.
My only problem with a laptop so thin, however, is that opening the Yoga Book needs both hands to pry it open. Also, in laptop mode, using your lap for support may not be enough to hold the Yoga Book steady as you type. It also tends to slip or wobble when you move your legs.
Opening the Yoga Book reveals a flat, matte surface that instantly glows, revealing an outline of a full backlit keyboard. The keyboard, called Halo, is a ‘learning’ keyboard, according to Lenovo, and it’s designed to “adapt to the typing habits” of its user thanks to a built-in prediction and artificial learning software.
The Halo keyboard may be ground-breaking but it comes with a steep learning curve. On the first week, it was impossible to type even just a paragraph as I’d inadvertently hit a random key or the I-beam pointer would jump elsewhere on the page whenever my palm slightly brushes the hypersensitive touchpad. I also remember hitting the backspace more often than typing the keys.
It took me a little over three weeks before I became comfortable with typing on the key-less keyboard. And even then, I still had to glance at the surface every now and then to make sure I was tapping the right keys.
The option to turn on haptic feedback on the keyboard helped, but it lagged whenever I type fast and the vibration was felt on the entire keyboard, not on a specific key. Note: the Halo’s “learning” feature comes in the form of autocorrect and predictive text functions. It helped, but only to some extent. There were just too many typos that the software somehow gave up at some point.
Pressing the pen icon at the top right surface converts the keyboard into a drawing tablet. Using the pressure-sensitive Real Pen stylus that comes with the Yoga Book, you can write notes or draw on the surface. Powered by Wacom, maker of drawing stylus and artist tablets, the Real Pen was designed to respond to the surface’s built-in electromagnetic resonance (EMR) film, which enables real-time digitization, according to Lenovo. This means your handwriting or drawing is mirrored on the screen — a feature that students and graphic artists might be drawn to.
Lenovo says the Real Pen can draw with the precision of a pencil or paintbrush, with 2,048 pressure levels and 100-degree angle detection. The 10.1-inch screen, which is made of Gorilla glass, also responds to the stylus but it’s not as responsive as the drawing surface.
For those who like the feel of ink on paper, there’s also an option to plug an ink tip to the Real Pen (it comes with three ink refills) so you can write or draw on the 20-page Book Pad (also included) and save a digitized version of your work on the Yoga Book. You can also use any paper as long as it fits the Book Pad clipboard.
The Yoga Book’s 10.1-inch full-HD display is nothing to write home about, except for its touchscreen capability, which I found more reliable than the touchpad when it comes to scrolling through or navigating the screen. The thick glass bezel surrounding it (about 2 cm wide) may be disappointing to those looking to use the Yoga Book for creative applications and want to draw on as much screen real estate as possible, but for note-taking and other productivity purposes, this feature is negligible.
The unit that Lenovo sent for review was the Carbon black, Windows 10 variant. There’s an Android version, which has some dedicated functions and a slightly different set of pre-loaded apps. For instance, the Android version comes with a nano-SIM tray for 4G LTE connectivity, as well as Google apps like Google Docs and Google Sheets, while the Windows version comes pre-loaded with Microsoft Office Mobile apps like MS Word and also OneNote.
What’s in the Box?
• 1 Yoga Book
• 1 Real Pen
• 1 Book Pad (with 15 pages)
• 3 Real Pen Ink Refills
The Windows review unit features Intel Atom X5 quad-core processor with a 1.44 GHz base clock speed, 4 GB of RAM, and 64 GB storage with a micro-SD slot that supports up to 128 GB. These specs are just about right for the Yoga Book’s price. The premium 2-in-1s — those that retail for above P50,000, usually come with better processing power (1.6 GHz to 2.4 GHz) and a bigger RAM (up to 8 GB) that offer more muscle to drive productivity.
In the course of this review, multiple-tab browsing, word processing, and playing videos worked without lag on the Yoga Book. It was when I started accessing apps such as Adobe Photoshop Express and a pre-installed creativity app ArtRage (Lite) at the same time as switching between multiple tabs on Chrome and Internet Explorer browsers that the Yoga Book became sluggish and, at times, froze some apps into being non-responsive. This goes to show that the Yoga Book is only good for light productivity work while on the go.
The Yoga Book’s note-taking feature was amazing and it’s something students will surely appreciate. A colleague, who’s a graphic artist, also tested the Yoga Book’s drawing surface using ArtRage (Lite), and she said the Yoga Book worked as efficiently as a Wacom drawing tablet.
The Yoga Book is said to last 13 hours of use on a single charge. I brought the Yoga Book with me for a four-day industry conference, which entailed about 8 hours per day of writing articles and browsing the Web. On and off, I’d say the Yoga Book lasted a day and a half without having to plug it for charging.
On paper, the concept of the Yoga Book is great. But in reality, it’s an imperfect ultraportable laptop marred by less-than-ideal typing experience. But I’d like to see what Lenovo can do when it comes out with the next iteration of this beautiful note-taking device. If anything, the Yoga Book is an indicator of good things to come. — Mira Catherine B. Gloria