Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 & Yoga Tablet 2 Pro review

December 7, 2014

Views: 6478

Lenovo has made a big impact on the Android world with their Yoga tablets. Most of the attention is paid to the design, where a cylindrical battery occupies a side (or bottom… or top) of the Yoga Tablet. Now that Lenovo has released their second iteration of their funky tablet, the Yoga Tablet 2, is it still worth our praise and admiration? Does a battery/handle/stand straddle the right lines, or has Lenovo fallen victim to malaise in not updating their hardware enough?

Design

There is no denying the Yoga Tablet 2’s unique design. A very prominent cylinder occupies one end of the tablet. No matter how you look at it — or hold it — the Yoga Tablet 2 is a unique experience.

If you look past the side-battery, Lenovo has kept the integrated stand. The Yoga Tablet 2 has a simple pull-out stand that has a few settling points where Lenovo thinks you’d be most comfortable watching media; and make no mistake, the stand is meant for media consumption in landscape mode. It will hold your Yoga Tablet 2 in any position, though.

lenovoTab5

The yoga Tablet 2 Pro is similarly styled with regard to the battery and stand, except the Pro model has a button that releases the stand. It’s a bit more awkward than simply rolling the stand off the side.

If one thing can be said for the Yoga Tablet 2 and 2 Pro, it’s that both have front-facing speakers that shine. For watching a movie, they really come in handy.

On “top” of the cylindrical battery tower you’ll find the power button. On the bottom of the Yoga Tablet 2, you’ll see the audio jack. On the bottom of the 2 Pro, you’ll find a pico projector, which can beam just about anything you want onto a wall. As if the 13.3-inch screen were’t large enough!

light1

Hardware

Neither the Yoga Tablet 2 or yoga Tablet 2 Pro are spec-heavy washouts. What they both offer is respectable hardware that keeps up admirably.

Here are the specs for both:

Yoga Tablet 2
Display: 8-inch, 1200 x 1920 resolution, 283 ppi
Processor: Intel Atom Z3745, quad-core, 1.86 GHz
Battery: 6400 mAh
RAM: 2GB
Memory: 16GB internal, expandable via microSD card (up to 64GB)
Camera: 8 MP rear, 1.6 MP front
Operating System: Android 4.4.2
Speakers: dual front, Dolby Digital Plus

Yoga Tablet 2 Pro
Display: 13.3-inch, 2560 x 1440 resolution IPS
Processor: Intel Atom Z3745, quad-core, 1.86 GHz
Battery: 9600 mAh
RAM: 2GB
Memory: 32GB internal, expandable via microSD card (up to 64GB)
Camera: 8 MP rear, 1.6 MP front
Operating System: Android 4.4.2
Speakers: dual front, Dolby Digital Plus

Software

Both tablets operate on the Android platform, obviously, but they’re not stock. At first blush, the tablet interface looks dated, almost like Android Honeycomb. Though KitKat is the underlying platform, the UI needs work.

To be quite blunt, the UI smacks of iOS; so much so that a long-press on an app brings up the very iOS-like delete option. The included app icons, like the ones Lenovo cobbles in, are also rounded squares, just like an iPad.

That’s not a knock on Lenovo, but it feels much less Android that it could. Android purists may not enjoy the UI here, but I really doubt that’s Lenovo’s core market with the Yoga Tablet 2 or Tablet 2 Pro.

Lenovo’s touch

On the software end, Lenovo has packed in quite a few apps meant to make life easier. Apps like SYNCit let you back up documents to an SD card. That’s something many novices won’t know how to do via a mobile platform, so I consider it a smart inclusion by Lenovo.

SHAREit is Lenovo’s means of syncing files between devices. You can share photos, music, videos, contacts, or files to any other device with the app installed. It’s a great option for Lenovo purists who have a Lenovo Yoga Pro computer or the like.

CLONEit is much like SHAREit, except it lets you copy things to a new device. Maybe the neatest option of CLONEit is the duplication of settings to a new device. If Lenovo had a better market share for their phones stateside, this would be a great feature.

Lenovo’s Security HD app is handy for power users. In the app, you can find which other apps are taking up memory and shut them down, and get a quick look at available memory through the app manager section. In the app manager section, you can also uninstall apps, move them between memory and SD cards, as well as freeze them (that stops them from working). An Ad Blocker feature also kills annoying ads both in apps and in the browser.

Another neat feature on the Yoga Tablet 2 and 2 Pro is the multi-window white-list. A small icon sits at the bottom left of the screen, and in it are apps you want to use in multi-window format. It’s not new — we see this on many Samsung devices — but Lenovo’s take on it is the cleanest we’ve seen to-date.

lenovoTab3

Battery Life

The batteries in these two Lenovo tablets are massive. Battery life is typically a sticking point in a review, but the Yoga Pro 2 and 2 Pro are disgustingly long-lasting. Both offer larger-than-average battery size, and while that’s a trade-off for a super slim tablet, it’s a welcome one. There’s almost no point in showing battery life stats.

One word of caution, keep in mind the SHAREit app is highly consumptive of battery life. In using it a few minutes, it sapped energy in what seemed to be a rapid clip. Even at that, the battery life on the Yoga Tablets are impressive. Lenovo says they can deliver 18-hour-plus battery life in use, and I won’t argue that.

Screenshot_2014-12-02-00-58-52-990

Use

I can’t complain about these tablets much; they’re just that good. While I admit the UI is dated and a bit clumsy, it’s not bad. The touchscreen is also responsive, but better suited for navigating web pages rather than intense gaming.

For someone who likes to watch videos, these are two great tablets. The included stand is incredibly handy, and the front facing speakers are superb. I would go so far as to say the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro could double as a nightstand TV if you didn’t have room for a proper one.

The projector on the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro isn’t wonderful, but it doesn’t let me down. You could watch a movie, sure, but it’s more useful for casting app content or pictures on a wall. If you have a suite of productivity apps you like for Android, this is a really nice option to have for enterprise.

If you’re going to be gaming, or doing some heavy lifting with apps, this may not be the tablet for you. The quad-core Intel processor is underpowered for heavier tasks. I didn’t find the experience lacking, but it wasn’t nearly as smooth as I’d have liked or experienced on other Android tablets. There’s enough RAM and memory to keep things humming along nicely, but the processor doesn’t do them justice.

lenovoTab7

For media consumption or web browsing — no problems. If you’re going to play a heavy FPS game, stuttering and buffering will probably exist.

In the case of using the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro as an actual tablet — you can, but it’s cumbersome. I like it for the enterprise space, because the larger screen would be great for reviewing documents, but for browsing Facebook or Twitter, it’s overkill. The Yoga Tablet 2 is just fine as a "regular" tablet; just keep in mind the battery bulge is always there.

One thing I enjoyed about both tablets was using it in landscape on my lap. The battery bulge provided a nice prop, and the larger screens made typing on-screen pretty easy.

lenovoTab2

Verdict

If you’re a hardcore Android fan who knows what CyanogenMod is all about and gets tucked into long debates on Google+ about the merits of the new Lollipop keyboard, you may not be happy with the Lenovo Yoga Tablet lineup. There is enough change here to dissuade you. While the underlying core is still Android, Lenovo’s overlay is very noticeable.

For the rest of the world, these two tablets are an easy recommendation. Though I’m not a fan of heavy Android skins, Lenovo has done it in a crafty way. Like the easier-to-grasp iOS, everything is right up front on the Yoga Tablet 2 and 2 Pro. I think for the average user, the learning curve here will be minimal.

lenovoTab6

The larger screen on the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro takes a bit of getting used to. I definitely don’t think Android is in a place where it can replace a laptop, but if you use Google Drive as a means to be productive day-to-day, I could see this replacing a Chromebook for many users. With a bluetooth keyboard, this is just about to that point.

The Yoga Tablet 2 is $249. The Yoga Tablet 2 Pro is $499. Those prices are hard to argue as being out of line, or out of touch. For what amounts to two very adequate tablets, the pricing is right, and that’s important for the market Lenovo is after.


Tags: , , , , , , ,

  • Mike Holcomb

    Any word on whether or not Lenovo will upgrade these tablets to Lollipop?

  • rob

    Came hoping for more details about the projector, since that the standout thing about the pro.

  • Deevo

    After the disappointment over the Nexus 9 (too pricy by far) and the Android 5.0 update turning my Nexus 7 2012 into a slow, crashing pig of a device, I went out and bought the 10 inch Yoga Tablet 2 Windows 8.1 edition.
    I bloody love it. Quick, responsive, lots of free apps, 1 year free Office 365, gorgeous screen, included really nice keyboard… I could go on and on. Check it out folks, it’s certainly worth a look.
    There’s definitely something about Windows and an Intel processor – they’re made for each other!

  • Guest

    If You Would like Extra Money in the Range of 50-300 Bucks a day for doing easy work from your couch at home for several h daily then try this