Android Tablet Final Thoughts
The Lenovo Yoga tablets are budget tablets: they’re priced aggressively, and don’t have some of the features you’ll see on higher-end hardware. You’ll notice this most in the low-resolution screen and camera images, but there are other aspects as well: the MediaTek quad-core CPU and its associated GPU aren’t exactly the fastest of their kind. And it’s easy to prove this by running CPU or graphics benchmarks on whatever portion of the tablet you’re testing.
But although many people may be using tablets as their primary computing devices, nobody’s doing video transcoding or 3-D modeling on them (yet). And for what most people use them for– web browsing, email, social media, and content viewing– the Yoga tablets are more than good enough. In fact I find them preferable to the iPad Air for things like reading Kindle books (because of the ease of holding the tablet in portrait mode) and watching movies or YouTube videos (because of the better audio). Factor pricing in, and you’ve got a real pair of winners.
If you like high-resolution screens, you may be thinking that an Android-based Nook HD or Kindle Fire HD might be a better product for the same or less money. I’ve tried both of these, and while they’re excellent readers, they don’t do well as general purpose tablets. The Kindle Fire limits you to a tiny subset of the Android applications available, and while Barnes and Noble has opened up the Nook HD to full Android tablet status, I found it to be annoyingly slow and laggy to use in that mode, with enough delays in the UI responsiveness to make using it frustrating. The Yogas, despite their humble hardware, were always smooth and responsive. My only real complaint here was that shipping a tablet with Android 4.2.2 in November, 2013 seems a little lazy when other Android tablets were shipping with Android 4.3 in July.
Yes, the low-resolution screens can be hard to get used to if you’ve used a high-resolution display for a few years. But increasing the screen resolution means increasing the amount of RAM (larger screen buffer), as well as beefing up the CPU/GPU to handle more pixels (I think underpowered silicon is one of the main reasons my Nook HD is so slow when used as a general purpose tablet). That said, I do look forward to seeing a “Yoga HD” from Lenovo in the future.
Lenovo Yoga Tablet Conclusion
It’s impressive and refreshing to see real innovation in the tablet computer market, especially when the innovation makes a noticeable, real-world improvement in the use of the product. Far from being a gimmick, the Yoga tablet design, with its battery location, folding support foot, and front-facing speakers, makes a dramatic difference in the usability of the product.
You’ll be happy with the performance unless you’re one of those people for whom benchmarks are the only reason to own computing equipment. That said, it’s objectively slow, if subjectively fast enough.
Tablets aren’t something most people will consider from an aesthetic point of view, but the appearance of the Yoga products is different enough to be striking.
Constructed of polycarbonate plastic for the main body and matte-finish aluminum for the battery casing and foot, the physical quality of the tablet was excellent. The feel of the hinge used for the aluminum foot is very solid and stable, without even a hit of slop.
Functionally, the Yoga tablets suffer only from their relatively low-resolution screens and mediocre cameras, and whatever irritating limitations the Android operating system imposes (should you really have to put the tablet in “developer mode” to connect it to your computer via USB?)
Value is the big win for these tablets. At an MSRP of $249.99 for the 8″ Yoga tablet and $299.99 for the 10″ version (Newegg / Amazon), Lenovo may have hit the perfect sweet spot for price/performance/features.
If the low-resolution screen isn’t a deal-breaker, these are the nicest Android tablets I’ve seen yet.
+ Unique design brings significant operational benefits
+ May have the best tablet audio yet
+ MicroSD card slot for storage expansion
+ Very long battery life
+ Excellent value
– Low resolution screen
– Doesn’t ship with the latest version of Android
– Mediocre image quality from 5MP camera
Final Score: 9.40 out of 10.
Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.
COMMENT QUESTION: Do you prefer a tablet device or notebook computer?