Lenovo Yoga Book Review: Great Android 2-in-1 for Notetaking

by Reads (13,174)
  • Editor's Rating

    Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

      • Software & Support
      • 7
      • Upgrade Capabilities
      • 8
      • Usability
      • 8
      • Design
      • 10
      • Performance
      • 9
      • Features
      • 10
      • Price/Value Rating
      • 9
      • Total Score:
      • 8.71
      • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10
  • Pros

    • Dedicated writing/drawing area ideal for taking notes
    • Modern, flexible design
    • Good value
  • Cons

    • Virtual keyboard not well suited for long typing sessions
    • Limited side-by-side multitasking
    • No biometric security

Quick Take

The Lenovo Yoga Book’s dedicated Wacom drawing pad and active pen is ideal for handwritten notes. However, those looking for a general-purpose laptop alternative will find its lack of a physical keyboard frustrating.

There are many tablets and two-in-ones, but the Lenovo Yoga Book really stands out from the competition with a design like no other. It’s not a typical clamshell, because its keyboard is virtual. So that space serves double duty for note-taking and drawing.

This Android device boasts high-end specs like a 10.1-inch screen, 2.4GHz Intel Atom X5 processor, 4GB of RAM, and Dolby sound. How does this $500 laptop alternative stand up in real world use? Read the TabletPCReview Lenovo Yoga Book review to find out.

Build & Design

No question, the Yoga Book draws attention. The virtual “Halo” keyboard, along with the sleek industrial look, magnesium alloy casing, and flexing hinge, gives it a head-turning appearance.

With the clamshell closed, this computer is 10.1 x 6.7 x 0.4 inches, so it’s very, very small in comparison to most laptops, and comparable in size with many traditional tablets, even non clamshell devices.

Lenovo Yoga Book Review

Lenovo Yoga Book in Clamshell Mode

It tips the scales at 1.5 pounds, so it’s heavier than most tablets with equivalent displays. That said, it’s a featherweight for a laptop-alternative, and is light enough to make a good ebook reader, if just barely.

The “watchband” hinge on the Yoga Book is so flexible that the keyboard can rotate 360 degrees so that it’s hidden behind the screen, allowing this device to function as a true tablet. Many hybrid two-in-ones can do this, but it works better with this Lenovo model because it doesn’t have a physical keyboard.

This device can also be set up like a tent, or with the keyboard/drawing section folded under to prop up the screen. Either is a good option for watching video.

The hinge holds the screen up firmly, and the clamshell is well balanced so it won’t fall over backward, even with the display tilted back almost 180 degrees. The Yoga Book is easy to type on or write on when held in the lap.

Display

The 10.1-inch screen has a 1920 x 1200 resolution, giving it pixel density of 224 ppi. This is quite a respectable number of pixels per inch, just lower than some more expensive competitors. The 9.7-inch iPad Pro has 264 ppi, for example.

The display on the Yoga Book looks great, offering vivid colors and wide viewing angles, with no pixilation of fonts or images. It offers 400-nit brightness so it is quite usable outdoors in the shade, but direct sunlight washes it out.

Lenovo Yoga Book Review

Lenovo Yoga Book in Display Mode

Screen bezels are relatively huge, though, making the display appear smaller than it really is.

This is one of Lenovo’s AnyPen screens, so objects that conduct electricity can be used as a stylus. We tested our Lenovo Yoga Book review unit with a random collection of five pens, and found that the display wouldn’t respond to any of the cheap ones, but did function with two expensive pens. A metal flashlight and a screwdriver also worked.

Just so there’s not any confusion, the screen doesn’t include Wacom technology so it’s not pressure sensitive. All that type of functionality is built into the writing/drawing area.

Ports, Speakers, & Buttons

The Yoga Book has a microSD card slot, so its storage capacity can be increased by up to 256GB. The card is held in a tray that needs something like a needle to eject, so it’s not going to come out accidentally. On the other hand, it’s not conducive to being easily swapped out.

There’s a speaker on each side of the keyboard/drawing area, and that’s enough separation for stereo effects to work. Even better, Lenovo built Dolby Atmos technology into this computer, increasing the quality of the sound. Our tests showed that the speakers are more than loud enough to enable someone to hear a TV show played in a moderately noisy environment, or there’s a 3.5mm headset port. Bluetooth headphones are also an option.

Lenovo Yoga Book Review

Lenovo Yoga Book micro-USB, microSD, and micro HDMI ports, plus a speaker

There’s the usual power button and volume rocker, as well as a button just above the Create Pad to toggle between the Halo keyboard and a drawing area. All other buttons are on-screen, virtual ones.

Lenovo Yoga Book Review

Lenovo Yoga Book power button, speaker, volume rocker, and headset port.

Lenovo put in a micro HDMI port in the Yoga Book. Unlike many of its competitors, there’s no biometric security system built into this computer.

Halo Keyboard & Trackpad

Instead of the physical keyboard that’s so integral to typical laptops, the Yoga Book includes a virtual one that can be turned off to free up the space for a drawing area, called the Create Pad. While this is the most innovative feature of the Yoga Book, it’s not without drawbacks.

The key area has standard layout, and is 9.5 inches wide, slightly smaller than a typical desktop keyboard. Most keys are 0.6-in. square, with about 0.1 in. of space between them.

Lenovo Yoga Book Review

Yoga Book with Halo Keyboard

Across the top of the keyboard is a row of function keys with convenient controls for media volume and backlight adjustment, as well as buttons to open the application launcher the app’s menu, and toggle Wi-Fi.

Typing on the Halo Keyboard is quite similar to doing so on a touchscreen. While this makes it a familiar experience to tablet users, laptop aficionados should be aware that touch typing is quite difficult without a significant amount of practice, so “hunt and peck” is probably the best option for most. Naturally there’s no key travel, but the device can be set to vibrate when a key is pressed, which somewhat simulates movement.

We asked a wide range of people to type on our Lenovo Yoga Book review unit, with very mixed results. No one was enthusiastic about the Halo Keyboard, but several said “I could get used to this after a while” or the equivalent. Responses went down from there, to one who flat-out hated it.

We wrote this review on Lenovo’s latest, and found the typing process to be slower than using a typical clip-on keyboard designed for tablets, with more mis-keying. That said, speed and accuracy improved over time.

Below the virtual keyboard is a virtual trackpad, so that those who are accustomed to having one on their laptop aren’t forced to use the touchscreen in laptop mode. Support for mice and trackpads is built into Android, and these can be used systemwide. The sensitivity of the trackpad can be adjusted in Settings.

We found this to be a welcome addition, and one missing from too many clip-on keyboards.

Create Pad & Real Pen

Many tablets can use a pressure-sensitive active pen as these make drawing and note-taking easier. The Yoga Tablet comes with one of these, but it’s not designed to be used on the display–it’s for the drawing area.

Hiding the virtual keyboard frees up a 9.5 x 6.2 inch space for handwriting or drawing. This uses Wacom technology and supports 2,048 levels of pressure and 100 degrees of angle detection. Although no one on our staff is an artist, our tests of the Create Pad and Real Pen found it to be quite useful for note-taking and drawing.

The pen that comes with the Yoga Book can be switched — with a bit of effort –between a rubber tip and one that includes an ink cartridge. We found the rubber tip to be best for painting, while the ink one is ideal for notetaking, as it can be used to create both paper and digital versions of notes. Lenovo includes a pad of paper with built-in magnets designed to hold itself in place on the drawing area. That said, the rubber tip can also be easily used to take digital notes, with the user writing directly onto the Create Pad.

Lenovo Yoga Book

Lenovo Yoga Book with Wacom Real Pen

Because the Yoga Book’s display doesn’t include Wacom tech, the rubber tip can’t be used on the screen, which can be somewhat frustrating. However, the ink pen tip can be used on the display. And only a Wacom stylus like the Real Pen can be used with the Create Pad’s drawing area.

The main drawback of the ink tip is that it includes a short cartridge, so heavy use is going to use up the ink. Lenovo included multiple replacement cartridges, but even these only total up to about the same amount of ink that’s in one regular pen.

The Real Pen really feels like a real pen. It’s comfortable to hold, and not too slick. No battery is required, so it’s lightweight.

Magnets on the left and right sides of this computer allow the Real Pen to attach to the Yoga Book, but functionally these are more of a gentle suggestion than a firm hold–they’ll come apart with the slightest bump. Realistically, it’s up to the user to keep them together.

Performance

The Lenovo Yoga Book is built around a quad-core Intel Atom X5-Z8550 processor (1.44 GHz, 2.40 GHz burst, 2M cache), with 4GB of RAM. This is a fairly powerful configuration for an Android computer. We experienced no slowdowns or glitches in our extensive testing of this device, and found the generous amount of RAM to be especially useful, allowing us to keep many applications running in the background.

It comes with 64GB of built-in storage. Our Lenovo Yoga Book review unit had 52GB available out of the box. That’s a decent amount for the average user, but video or music fans are going to want to invest in a microSD card for up to 256GB of additional capacity.

Specs

Lenovo Yoga Book Review

Yoga Book Review Watchband Hinge

Our Lenovo Yoga Book review unit has the following technical specifications:

  • 10.1-inch FHD IPS AnyPen touch display (1920 x 1200 resolution, glossy surface), capacitive touch Wacom digitizer
  • Create Pad with EMR pen technology
  • Android 6.0.1 (Marshmallow)
  • Intel Atom X5-Z8550 processor (1.44 GHz, 2.40 GHz burst, 2M cache)
  • Intel HD 400 integrated graphics
  • 4GB LPDDR3 RAM (non-expandable)
  • 64GB internal capacity, expandable via microSD
  • 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Built-in 2-megapixel front-facing webcam, 8-megapixel rear
    Dimensions: 10.1 x 6.72 x 0.38 inches
  • Weight: 1.52 pounds
  • Price as configured: $499.99

Benchmarks

Geekbench 4 is a cross-platform benchmark measuring overall performance. Higher score is better.

Lenovo Yoga Book Review

Geekbench 4 Compute is a cross-platform benchmark measuring graphical performance. Higher score is better.

Lenovo Yoga Book Review

Software

Our Lenovo Yoga Book review unit shipped with Android 6.0.1 (Marshmallow), but it is also available running Windows 10. Android is a serviceable operating system for a device like this, which is probably going to be paired with a more capable desktop or laptop. It’s certainly up to running Microsoft Office, as well as email and social networking software.

Like many companies, Lenovo uses a modified version of Android. Unlike some of its competitors, though, the changes made to the system software in this two-in-one are significant improvements. Most notably, a task bar has been added to the bottom of the screen, so Windows users will feel more at home with Google’s OS.

In addition, multiwindow support has been added, albeit in a very limited way. The smartphone versions of some applications can be displayed in floating windows, so that Gmail and Chrome can be displayed side-by side. However, these windows can’t be resized, and only a handful of applications support this feature. These are quite useful apps, including the aforementioned Gmail and Chrome, as well as OneNote, Evernote, File Manager, and Google Maps but just about everything else isn’t supported, even Google’s Calendar and Contacts.

Lenovo Yoga Book Review

Yoga Book Side-by-Side Multitasking

Evernote supports the Create Pad, as well as multi-window mode. Surprisingly, so does Microsoft OneNote. However, when drawing in OneNote, lines don’t appear on screen until after the pen is lifted from the drawing pad, which can make drawing complicated figured challenging. Lenovo has also included its own Note Saver app for combining handwritten and typed content; this is somewhat basic but still can be useful.

Battery

The Lenovo Yoga Book has a 8500 mAh battery. We put it through our torture test, streaming Netfilx over Wi-Fi with the screen brightness set to max. Our Lenovo Yoga Book review unit lasted 7 hours and 20 minutes. indicating that this two-in-one should last a typical workday under more normal usage.

And if it doesn’t, this computer supports fast charging. In our testing, a half hour of plugged in with Lenovo’s own power brick and micro-USB cable added 25% to the charge (39% to 64%).

Lenovo Yoga Book Review

Lenovo Yoga Book in Clamshell Mode

Value

The Yoga Book with a 10.1-inch screen, 64GB of storage, and 4GB of RAM is priced at $499.99. A comparable model is Apple’s 9.7-inch iPad Pro, an iOS tablet which costs $599 when configured with 32GB of capacity, no microSD card slot, and 2GB of RAM – and an Apple Pencil adds a further $99. Or there’s the Windows 10-based Samsung Galaxy TabPro S two-in-one, which has a 12-inch display, a physical keyboard, 128GB of storage, 4GB or RAM, and an $899 price tag.

Lenovo Yoga Book Review Conclusion

The Lenovo Yoga Book’s dedicated writing/drawing area makes it ideal for the user that wants a two-in-one for frequent note taking. Its virtual Halo Keyboard is fine for light email and word processing, plus this is a fine computer for casual games, ebooks and watching video. It’s very competitively priced.

On the other side of the coin, someone looking for general-purpose light and inexpensive laptop alternative will likely find its lack of a physical keyboard frustrating.



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  1. Ozgecko

    Nice review, really helpful that you differentiated how the stylus is used on the two surface.
    I was just interested as to where you got the pricing info, lenovo/au is advertising it for sale at $799 android and $999 windows 10.