Ridiculously Long Battery Life
The battery packs inside the cylinders of the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 and Tablet 10 are positively huge in comparison to their peers; 6000 mAh for the 8-inch and 9000 mAh for the 10-inch. Lenovo claims that each tablet will give 18 hours of Wi-Fi web browsing on a single charge and I have no doubt that this claim is accurate. In the test lab we setup the Yoga 8 and loaded up the last season of Breaking Bad. After about 5 ? straight hours of Walter White meandering to his final end the battery had only been worn down to 60%. This was done with the brightness set to 50% and the volume at about 75%. You can see the time lapse of the test on the TechnologyGuide Test Lab’s Facebook page. As further testament to the longevity of these tablets, they were handed to my in-house testing crew (a.k.a. my kids) for the four hour gridlock drive to Connecticut for Thanksgiving dinner. The tablets kept the kids well entertained the entire time and had plenty of juice to spare when we arrived. Basically when it comes to battery life, no other Android tablet on the market comes close to the Yoga Tablet 8 and 10.
Putting aside the innovative Yoga kickstand and the astounding battery life, what we are left with is a pair of fairly average tablets. The central processor in both models is a MediaTek MT8125 which is a quad-core A7 CPU running at 1.2Ghz. This processor isn’t going to walk away victorious from an NVIDIA or Qualcomm throwdown as it places way down in the performance rankings on the community pages for both Futuremark and Passmark. Hardcore tablet gamers drawn to detailed racing games, MMOG’s and first-person-shooters should definitely look elsewhere.
On the flip side, the slower processor will draw much less power than the screaming edge competitors further contributing to this tablets standout feature, longevity. So if your gaming folder is more casual (i.e. Angry Birds, Sudoku, Mahjong, Candy Crush, etc) then the Lenovo Yoga Tablets are worthy of consideration.
Both tablets are equipped with 1280 x 800 IPS displays with multi-touch capability. Off-axis viewing is very good thanks to the IPS technology but color accuracy seems to suffer. This isn?t noticeable when in apps but while viewing video, colors in general seem somewhat flat with a grayish hue. The 8 inch display is relatively sharp with 189 PPI which is on par with most other 7 and 8 inch tablets. However, when the same pixel count is stretched out over a 10 inch display, the PPI drops to 151 with an obviously decreased amount of sharpness. Response also seemed average with slight blurring during high-motion gaming and videos. Individually these flaws are only slightly bothersome but are more apparent in direct comparison to leading edge tablets. Just don?t sit too close to any iPad Retina displays or newer Samsung Notes.
Android? Is That You?
The operating system is a highly customized version of Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean). The biggest alteration is the removal of the app tray which gives the system a WYSIWIG style of app management and makes it feel much like Apple’s iOS. Swiping down from the top left produces the usual Notifications pull down, but the upper right Settings pull down has been changed up a bit. The radio controls; WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS; as well as Airplane mode can be switched on and off with a double tap. There are also two buttons unique to the Lenovo Yoga tablets. One is the Dolby button which will toggle the Dolby Digital Plus sound enhancement effect as well as launch the app in full screen mode if held.
The other unique button is labeled Sound & Vision and it offer three presets labeled Tilt, Stand, and Hold. Tilt appears to be the default with no changes to the display or the sound. Stand mode reduces the brightness a bit as well as flattens the sound a bit. Most confusing is the Hold Mode which gives the screen a beige tint all over. While this effect is annoying in most apps, when using an e-book reader like Kindle, the text background appears more like a paperback and is less straining on the eyes.
There is also a pull-up menu that can be accessed from any Home screen by tapping the lower right menu icon. This menu gives access to features that would usually be accessed through the app tray like adding Widgets, changing the Theme and Wallpaper, and reorganizing Home screens. There is also access to a preferences setting for the animation of the home page transitions.
Lenovo has also put in a Smart Side Bar feature that gives shortcut access to the most recently used apps as well as the photo and books (aka Kindle) sections of the tablet. Shortcuts to the Tilt, Stand, and Hold mode reside along the bottom. The Smart Sid Bar can be set to Auto which brings it up every time orientation changes or Manual that lets you swipe it in from the side Windows 8 style from any home screen. Gratefully there is also an “Off” setting if the feature doesn’t suit your fancy.
Connectivity is the usual array of Wi-Fi b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0. The device was able to connect easily to a variety of networks including our secured office-based system, an internal router using WPS, a few public hotspots and my home network. Bluetooth worked well with a JBL Flip speaker as well as a Jabra headset.
Camera performance, like the rest of the specs, is middle of the road with the 5MP shooter on the back and a 1.6MP HD front-facing camera for video chat. Like most Android cameras, it offers access to pro-style controls like ISO, Exposure, and white balance, though most will just put every setting on Auto and hope for the best.
Camera placement on the back is either ideal or frustrating depending on how you hold the tablet. Grabbing the tablet portrait style with the left hand puts the camera in a good spot, the high corner of the tablet right above your hand. Put the handle on the right side and now the camera is low and inside which can cause problems. Switch to landscape positioning and you need to put the big heavy bulge at the top to avoid covering the camera with your hands making it slightly awkward to hold.
The same problem arises with the front-facing camera. In portrait mode, the camera is right where you expect it, centered above the screen. But flip out the kickstand and put the tablet down and the camera is off the left and makes you look like you are being interviewed for the news. Better hope your left is your good side when doing a video chat in landscape mode.
If you skip Page 3 you’ll miss our conclusions on these two tablets from Lenovo.