Ok so my next admission in this newly minted blog is that i’m a sucker for early adopting. I cannot resist a cool new gadget or technology. I was a fervent adherent to the iPhone when it first came out (you know when apple was a leader not a bloated snake-oil salesman of a company), I leapt at Google Now, and I was (and am) the proud owner of a pair of Parrot Zik’s, as the first wireless noise cancelling headphones.
That’s why I am manfully trying to type this blog on one if Lenovo’s new Yoga Book tablets. Well, I say ‘tablet’ but in all fairness i’m not entirely sure what it is. It isn’t a notebook, it isn’t a laptop, it’s not really a tablet, it’s a…. book, I suppose. That’s what it feels like. A slim metallic book.
I’m trying to move from a 8inch tablet and S6 Edge to this Yoga Book and a Note 7…. yeah, well we know how that ended up for the Note, so this little book is my only hope to move on with my gadeteering. So let’s see how it turns out shall we??
Well, from a shallow perspective it’s awfully awfully pretty. Svelte, slim, a lovely matte grey on the cover and that beautiful Lenovo watchstrap hinge (which is, i’m pretty sure, made of magic and fair dust). It’s something that I enjoy carrying around the house too, using it as a general purpose email, Netflix, Facebook, reddit machine in a way that I used to use my tablet. So far, it does a good job, the keyboard making it easy to dash off short emails and tweets, and the built in 360 hinge allowing a useful multitude of poses that cover most eventualities. It even stays upright on my lap properly in a way that the Surface Pro can’t (that was my last ‘breakthrough machine’ moment).
The weight and size and battery life also suggest this would be a very successful machine for my frequent flights overseas. I travel a lot, and so a machine that I can carry onto a short distance flight and use to consume stored video and play some basic games is something i’m always looking for.
It’s quick enough too. Now, i’m not one for synthetic benchmarks. Geekbench et al are all very well but they can give a false impression of day to day use and frankly it’s lazy reporting – it’s too easy to just dash off a score and label it the be all and end all of the machines speed. Well, not here! So, for a normal person trying to decide if this thing can cope, yes it can. I’ve used it for Netflix, multi tabbed internet browsing, Facebook messenger and word processing – everything that could conceivably thrown at it and its not lagged, slowed or hung up at any point. Games run smoothly and reliably and what more can anyone want?
I really like the operating system too – Lenovo has taken Android and lightly skinned it, and it looks nice and moves fast – it’s the first time i’ve not wanted to download a custom launcher to do the job instead. I particularly like the toolbar and quicklaunch. Yeah it’s windows-esque but since you have the laptop form factor, it works well, with all your open apps visible at the bottom. I do wish here was an easy way to properly maximise the windows so you could work on two side by side, but sadly that isn’t the case. You’re limited to a sometimes useful but sometimes really not fixed size mini-window.
It’s not brilliant for typing or transcribing notes, but then if you need to do that use the Lenovo Notes feature – the way the machine perfectly translates even the worst handwriting into digitised notes is superb and a really valuable feature for the students amongst you looking for a way to avoid carrying tons of paper around with you, and storing it all. I thought not writing on the screen would be annoying but actually the ability to see the screen and not obscure it makes it very worthwhile… Lenovo I bow to your choice there!
The key point here that although you CAN type essays on it, you really wouldn’t want to and I wouldn’t want anyone to go away from the promotional literature thinking that they can.
It’s not comfortable for long prolonged essays and it gets pretty frustrating having to spell check and go back through and amend so many words and phrases. It also has this absolutely infuriating lag on it, whereby if you don’t use it for a few seconds the thing seems to shut down and so the first button press doesn’t register. It feels like there are just a few more bugs to iron out before it becomes a full laptop keyboard replacement, if ever.
The screen is also meh. The bezels are ENOURMOUS (really no excuse in this day and age) and the general sharpness is a little lacking, especially for someone used to a 2K or screen. Disappointing. It’s perfectly serviceable however, and it will translate into better battery life so I mustn’t complain too much I suppose. Still – Lenovo if you’re listening, at least give us some more screen estate to play with next time, eh? Bezels as wide as my thumb all round the screen aren’t cool! It’s also irritatingly reflective in bright sunlight.
The connection selection is disappointing too – one micro-USB, and a micro-SD card slot. When every man and his dog is getting into USB-C, it’s a real shame Lenovo missed that particular boat. On the plus side, it does have a headphone jack so swings and roundabouts eh?
I don’t like the stylus either. Sorry, ‘RealPen’. It’s huge, bulky, and I just know i’ll lose it SO fast. Stylus use died off but they do have utility in many circumstances – Steve Jobs be damned – and Samsung and LG have been proving for a while that you can pack a very good stylus into an on-board housing. Lenovo, Microsoft, take note for this book and your Surface Range please!!! Oh, and make it work on the main screen itself. That’s an no-brainer too.
Well? Whaddya think?
The key point here is that there isn’t really anything else on the market that is the same. Nothing else has the breadth of capability that it does, and for all the niggles, it’s an ok large tablet replacement. It won’t replace a 7 inch tablet or phone – it’s slightly too big for that – but for a 10 inch tablet replacement I’d certainly not tell you not to get it. Lightweight, with that extra bit of capability that means it’ll be an interesting choice every single time. But don’t expect to write anything lengthy on it – for that, you’ll need a proper keyboard. Unfortunately, haptic feedback and a flat screen just doesn’t have the tactile feedback that rapid effective typing requires.
Just don’t try write the Illiad or your next novel on it.