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Lenovo Yoga Book: It’s unlike any laptop you’ve seen before
Lenovo Yoga Book, is unlike any laptop you’ve seen before. Because, it isn’t a laptop in the literal sense. It is, in fact, a tablet masquerading as a laptop. The Yoga Book, by principle, is like the Surface-range of productivity tablets from Microsoft which means that it is a 2-in-1 designed to offer the best of both worlds. And yet, it is miles apart. For better or for worse.
The Yoga Book is no plain Jane tablet. It isn’t a powerful laptop (equivalent) either. It’s something in the middle, something very different.
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“We are not trying to replace a particular device (like the Surface) with the Yoga Book. This will either become your second or third device if you also include a smartphone into the array,” a Lenovo spokesperson explained to me.
“If you look at the device, it is an attempt to change the fundamental consumer behaviour and how they interact with technology. It’s a big bet that we have taken.”
The Yoga Book is drop-dead gorgeous
Not that the Surface isn’t. But, there’s something very eye-catchy about the Yoga Book that sets it apart from other convertibles, including the Surface. For one, it is trademark Yoga which (in 9 out of 10 times) means it ought to be beautiful. The name Yoga, for your reference, implies that the device can be twisted and turned in a way that makes it suitable for 2-in-1 use.
The centre of attraction, here, is Lenovo’s characteristic Watchband mechanism where the hinge resembles a long section of the strap of a wrist watch. In the case of the Yoga Book, it’s a “custom-made three-axis hinge, with 130 different mechanical pieces comprising five different materials,” according to the company. The single-hinge mechanism allows you to easily rest the device flat on a surface with both the keyboard and screen facing up (not that it’s any useful, but at least you know the option is available).
Moreover, the 2-in 1’s weight is distributed evenly across its multiple hinge points adding to the device’s overall sturdiness. And it shows while deploying the various modes, namely browse, watch, create and type. Switching between the various modes is easy and there’s no considerable wobbling unless you’re holding it in your lap.
The Watchband hinge, without a doubt, gives the Yoga Book a distinct edge over counterparts especially in the style department. At the same time, weighing in at 9.6mm and 690 gram, it also doesn’t compromise (at all) on portability considering that it comes with a pre-attached keyboard as opposed to a Surface that adds this functionality via a separate accessory.
It is equally well-built as well. The magnesium-aluminum alloy chassis of the Yoga Book screams out premium from every nook and corner. The pre-attached keyboard has (also) been designed with the same level of craftsmanship.
The Yoga Book is straight out of the future
The Watchband hinge is just a drop in the ocean, if you were to talk about the Yoga Book. This is because we’ve all seen the hinge before. The Yoga Book has another ace up its sleeve, the one that is the 2-in-1’s ultimate USP. It’s called the Halo keyboard. Lenovo is very clear about the Yoga Book. It is looking to tap into a consumer’s behavioral pattern with the device. As such, human interaction and involvement occupy centre-stage. The first step was getting rid of (any) wonky physical keyboards. Lenovo, still, wasn’t satisfied. What did it do then? It got rid of physical keyboards altogether. It, still, comes with a keyboard, you know. Only, it is completely touch-based and offers tactile feedback.
There’s something very eye-catchy about the Yoga Book that sets it apart from other convertibles, including the Microsoft Surface
“The ability to type words (on a laptop) actually goes down (when you’re on the move) because your hands start trembling. You need a stable surface. By making the Yoga Book dependant on (touch-based) typing or handwriting, we are actually increasing the mobility quotient of this device. We are looking to target people who are fairly mobile and don’t rely on a specific work place to work on.”
“The big playback of this device is how it takes inputs and that is what we want people to experience and push for.”
The Halo can be seen as a capacitive screen, only it works like a keyboard and a full backlit one at that. At the touch of a button, the Halo keyboard on-board the Yoga Book transforms into an open canvas. The possibilities are thereon, endless, literally and figuratively. This is made possible through the Yoga Book’s Real Pen stylus and Book Pad accessories.
The Yoga Book, in a nutshell, allows two types of interactions. One involves the more traditional typing (there’s also a track-pad), while the other lets you jot down notes, or draw and doodle stuff which is then digitised (and stored) using Lenovo’s own note-taking app or even third-party solutions. At the heart of this is Lenovo’s Create Pad, a Wacom digitiser, which converts analog feedback into digital format. It supports up to 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity with 100-degree angle detection.
The keyboard performance is comparable with an actual physical keyboard, claims Lenovo. Moreover, its performance can improve within 2 hours of usage, as it (quickly) adapts to your typing pattern. It also learns with time, and offers auto-correct and typing suggestions, similarly.
The Create Pad, additionally, allows for two types of interactions. One involves the more traditional doodling, while the other lets you digitise hard-copies. For the latter, the Real Pen stylus comes with real ink refills that you can use to write stuff on the Book Pad accessory. The device supports any paper, but, the papers inside the Book Pad are perfectly designed (in shape and size) for the purpose.
“I think the appeal of this device is fairly generic. It’s not specific to a very narrow set, that only an illustrator would use it, only a person who makes a living out of design would use it. Whether it is a young student, whether it is a young professional, whether it’s an illustrator, anybody who has felt the limitation of a normal laptop is someone who will ideally be appealed by this device.”
The Yoga Book is a tablet first & a laptop for occasions
The Yoga Book is a tablet first. It mustn’t be confused with a laptop. Else, you would be grossly disappointed. The tablet comes with a 10.1-inch 1080p IPS display and is powered by a 2.4GHz quad-core Intel Atom x5-Z8550 processor clubbed with 4GB LPDDR3 RAM and 64GB of internal memory. The tablet supports 4G LTE (single SIM) and expandable storage of up to 128GB via a microSD card slot. It comes with the usual set of sensors like G-Sensor, Ambient Light Sensor, Hall Sensor and GPS. While globally it is available in Android 6.0 Marshmallow and Windows 10 versions, in India, only the latter is available for now.
The tablet sports an 8-megapixel rear-camera with auto-focus and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera with fixed focus. It is backed by an 8,500mAh battery which is claimed to offer up to 13 hours of usage on single charge.
One look at its spec sheet, and it’s pretty clear, the Yoga Book is a very standard affair. A basic tablet which may (or may not) seem to be a one-trick pony — ala the Halo keyboard — depending on how you look at it. Being a standard tablet on paper means, it must also be dealt like one in actual usage. It’s safe to say the Yoga Book does well — as a tablet — as long as you’re aware of its limitations.
“Are we looking at it as a replacement for somebody who is using an i5 processor or a Surface? No. The Surface has positioned itself at what a laptop can do. Yes, it’s better. But we are positioning the Yoga Book for mobility and productivity together. It is not in the same league as the Surface, in terms of all-round performance. It’s just meant for a different audience. But, it’s not that it lags behind.”
The screen is bright and produces mostly accurate — if a little washed out — colours. Viewing angles are good, but, the screen because it is very reflective is prone to glare when you’re out and about in direct sunlight. The performance is good for a basic tablet which means basic tasks are handled well. So are basic games. For your reference, it is possible to do light Photoshop alongside four or five active Chrome tabs running in the background. And it runs mostly cool as a cucumber, so that’s a big plus. The speaker setup (aided with Dolby audio) gets loud with little or no distortion at peak olume.
Battery life is good (by basic tablet standards) but is nowhere close to what Lenovo claims. Battery life goes for a toss, even further, when you’re using the Yoga Book in laptop mode. All in all, it can last for up to 10-12 hours on more generalised usage but the iPad still remains a gold standard to beat in this regard.
The Yoga Book is a hit or a miss as a laptop & that can be a problem
“I don’t think that there is any other device quite like this, whether you look at the dimensions of the device, whether you look at the weight of the device, whether you look at the thinness of the device and then what the device does in terms of taking inputs on handwriting and drawing.”
The problem is, the Yoga Book is a hit or a miss as a laptop and that’s not necessarily a good thing. The Yoga Book — as a 2-in-1 — works well as long as you stick with the Real Pen stylus for input. It is actually quite fast at taking input via this method, which means scribbling notes and doodling stuff on it and seeing them come to life in Lenovo’s note-taking app is a pleasure that one would understand only through experience. The 2-in-1 is also pretty quick at digitising notes using real ink.
A different world awaits you as soon as you activate the on-screen keyboard, however: a world that kills the Yoga Book’s sole purpose of existence. First and foremost, typing on an open canvas (with no key press and key travel) is not your everyday cup of tea. It’s going to take a lot of practice (and determination) to get used to it. Secondly, the Halo keyboard feels like a work in progress. Every key press (pun intended) is accompanied with an odd lag or two, so much so that each time you think you’ve gotten used to it, it breaks your momentum making you start all over again. Every physical keyboard (even the one that Microsoft builds for the Surface) has (a) some key travel and (b) no lag, and the two when combined give you a seamless typing experience. You become aware where each and every key is (after sometime) and your fingers start to move like clockwork. You start typing even without necessarily looking at them. Such is not the case with the Yoga Book. In fact, the main USP of Lenovo’s new 2-in-1 is also its weakest link.
Should you buy it?
Lenovo’s Yoga Book, at this point of time, feels like a laboratory experiment. It’s not a failed experiment though. The Yoga Book works well as a tablet and not so well as a laptop. It is slightly better than a regular tablet — even though its battery life leaves a lot to be desired — and still far from being an ideal laptop. It is in the middle of it all and Lenovo is well aware of its limitations. At Rs 49,990 the Yoga Book is a lot about the experience, even though it doesn’t give you the best of it.
In a way it is like a periscope that gives you a slight peek into the unseen future. Hopefully, the next-generation — should there be any — would be better. For now, the Yoga Book is for early adopters: the geeks who love futuristic technology the way they love Star Wars. For everyone else, you’re better off with a Surface or anything that comes with an actual physical keyboard. If you’re looking for a 2-in-1 that is.
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