Lenovo Yoga Book

For my recent trip to Autodesk University, I wanted something small, light, and extremely portable. Something that I could slug along during my very hectic schedule. I no longer wanted pen and paper hence I needed something that I could take notes. The Lenovo Yoga Book fits the bill perfectly.

Lenovo Yoga Book 1

The Yoga Book is a unique take on the tablet design. Lenovo has taken every effort to make this tablet look and feel just like a notebook. This includes the metal rings along the “spine” making it feel like opening a book when opening the tablet. The watchband-style hinge was adapted from the high-end Lenovo laptops to work with the much thinner tablet.

“Mobile productivity enters a new era with the Lenovo Yoga Book, a 2-in-1 tablet like none you’ve seen before.”

“We set out to redefine the tablet category conundrum, namely that consumers no longer separate their activities into productivity and entertainment – it all blends together, and so should the device they use,” said Jeff Meredith, vice president and general manager, Android and Chrome Computing, Lenovo. “The Yoga Book introduces keyboard and handwriting input capability in an elegantly simple, unconventionally slender tablet design. We believe our unique design will offer tablet, 2-in-1 and traditional notebook buyers a first-of-its-kind option for evolving usage trends.”

Refreshingly Unique

The tablet can be used in four modes: tablet, tent, laptop, and what I call book mode. With the push of a button the keyboard turns off and what was the keyboard is now your writing and sketching area for the stylus. As you write on the pad it is captured on the screen.

Lenovo Yoga Book Modes

Interacting with the Yoga book is accomplished in one of three ways: typing, pen, and drum roll please…. paper notes. As mentioned above the keyboard can be turned off converting the area into the “Create Pad.”  Opposed to drawing on the screen with the stylus you draw and write on the create pad.

Lenovo Yoga Book 5

(My wife said I should include a picture of what the Yoga book looks like after 1-adult and 4-kids have used it for a couple weeks… yes, it needs a wipe down!)

A unique option is taking real paper notes. The digital tip of the stylus is replaceable with an ink tip. Putting paper onto the create pad means that as you write with the real pen ink tip your notes are automatically captured as a digital copy.

I had quite a few people coming up to me at AU intrigued by this tablet. It looks cool.

The Details

This thing is thin… only 9.6mm (0.38 inches) when closed. It weighs a mere 690-grams (1.52lbs). Overall the unit is 256mm x 170mm x 9.6mm [10.1″ x 6.72″ x 0.38″].

Lenovo Yoga Book 2

The specs:

  • 10.1″ FHD IPS Display (1920 x 1200)
  • Intel HD 400 Graphics
  • Intel Atom x5-Z8550 (2M Cache, 2.4GHz)
  • 4GB RAM (LPDDR3)
  • 64GB Storage (MicroSD expandable to 128GB)
  • 8500 mAh Battery
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
  • Bluetooth 4.0

Even at this size it still includes cameras, speakers, and a headphone jack. [Question… if Lenovo can fit a headphone jack into the Yoga Book, why couldn’t Apple fit one into the iPhone?].

Ports and buttons are at a minimum. The sides of the unit include the power and volume buttons and the already mentioned headphone jack. There are only three ports: Micro-USB, Micro-SD, and Micro-HDMI.

The sound emanating from the device is surprisingly good. Lenovo included Dolby Atmos enhancements to improve the audio experience

The chassis is comprised of high strength magnesium-aluminum alloy. It’s rigid and there was never a fear of damaging the unit. In fact, at my day job we are actually considering purchasing these for our mechanics to take underground when they go on service calls.

The 8500 mAh battery provides plenty of juice. I used the device all day long at AU, 7AM to 7PM and there was still plenty of power left. I was easily able to go a whole day and just plug it in during the night.

The screen provides Full-HD and is bright and sharp. It supports both touch and using the stylus.

Android for Me

You can have the Yoga Book in either Android (6.0 Marshmallow) or Windows 10 Home. There are a few differences between the versions. The Android version includes:

  • the Book UI taskbar with notification customization
  • support for  multiple windows
  • the Lenovo Note Save App (discussed later)
  • enablement of digitizing when the screen is off
  • TouchPal software for Auto-correct, auto-complete, and word prediction for typing

I am using the Android version.

The Lenovo-i-fied version of Android supports three windows splitting the screen. The apps can be moved about the screen by long pressing and dragging. A pin icon allows for the app to lock into place. This makes the screen seem bigger than it really is. Having apps side-by-side reduces the amount of back-and-forth.

The Keyboard

The Yoga Book’s keyboard is “zero-travel” backlit capacitive touch referred to by Lenovo as the Halo Keyboard. It is non-mechanical as it has no moving pieces and utilizes its own touch panel which is how this tablet can be so thin. The keyboard is covered by Gorilla Glass, so it’s tough. And it is covered with an anti-glare coating with a matte and grainy paint to provide a “feel” for typing.

The keyboard provides haptic feedback and software algorithms that adjust the underlying layer to fit your typing habits. The Halo lighting is perfect for any environment even the darkest of rooms.

Lenovo Yoga Book Halo Keyboard

Although Lenovo markets the Yoga Book with “traditional 10-finger clam shell typing” all the videos I watched regarding using the Yoga Book show two finger typing. We (me and my kids) really struggled with 10-finger typing, not because it is non-mechanical but because of the size. I’m hoping that the more I use the keyboard the more the algorithm finds space to spread out the keys and more it learns what I’m actually trying to type.

The keyboard can be turned off and on. This utilizes the space to its fullest as you can type with the keyboard or turn off the keyboard and write on it like a notepad. When flipped into tablet mode the keyboard automatically turns off so as not to be accidently invoked. The onscreen keyboard is the standard Android keyboard configuration.

The Pen

As much as typing is an issue writing with the digital stylus is not. Opposed to writing on the screen you draw on the pad (called the “Create Pad”). It provides a unique approach, one that doesn’t take long to catch onto. It is difficult for me now to go back to writing with a stylus on a standard tablet screen.

The digital stylus smoothly (and easily) glides across the pad. Using the Create Pad creates a more natural platform for an artist. The proof is my 10-year old daughter who prefers paper and pen to a standard tablet but within minutes of using the Yoga Book she was counting her pennies to see if she had enough to buy one.

Lenovo Yoga Book with Stylus

Lenovo continues their partnership with Wacom. Underneath the Create Pad is a layer of Electromagnetic Resonance (EMR) film powered by Wacom Feel technology. This technology supports up to 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity and 100-degree angle detection. This is way more than I’d ever need for note taking and sketching, but for my daughter who is the artist, it is amazing the various thickness and gradients she’s able to achieve.

A huge bonus is the pen does not require batteries (awesome!).

Stylus with Ink

The digital stylus tip is removable making it replaceable with mini-ballpoint ink tips. By placing paper onto the Create Pad you can write or draw with the pen on the paper and it is transferred digitally to the tablet. The mini-ballpoint tip is standard meaning it can be picked up from any office supply store. The pen does not contain any special technology.

A magnetic book pad is included with the Yoga Book to hold your stack of paper to the tablet. There is nothing special about the pad (or the paper) it just helps hold the paper in place. Any A5 sized paper will fit within the pad.

Lenovo Yoga Book with Paper Pad

I’m assuming because of the small (thin) size of the tablet there is no place to attach the pen. This is a real annoyance. I wish there was a clip or hook or something that I could attach the pen. Fortunately, it hasn’t been lost (yet). Even worse are the small stylus tips. I’m not sure really what to do with them to ensure I don’t lose them. Currently, they are in a small medicine bottle.

The only accessory for the Yoga Book is a sleeve. Which would be ok for storage but to use the tablet it needs to be removed from the sleeve. There’s no storage on the sleeve for the pen either.

The first couple attempts at removing the tips were not overly successful. I’ve actually slightly bent the digital tip. The tip is removed using a hole in the pen lid with slight sideways pressure to pop the tip out. It was hard at first to gauge the amount of pressure required. I’ve got it now down to a science but the first few times were a bit stressful.

The Notetaking App

The Yoga Book includes the Lenovo Note Save app which automatically opens when the tablet is placed into drawing / writing mode. As you start to take notes it is automatically captured in the mini-window that appears in the lower right corner of the screen. You can quickly switch into full-screen mode.

To save battery you can take notes with the display turned off. Just make sure the Note Saver mini-window is open and turn off the display. Rotate the device into tablet mode, align the Book Pad (or any paper) on the Create Pad and start writing.  Double-clicking the pen starts a new page.

Editing with the Note Save app is at a minimum. There is also no text recognition.

Lenovo also includes their Art Tage app and although ok I (and the kids) much prefer Sketchbook. It could be familiarity but Sketchbook seems to be easier to use and offer more features.

Final Thoughts

The good:

  • The size, its light-weight, and its sturdiness
  • Very cool form factor… it looks cool, feel cools, and draws positive attention
  • A digital AND pen tip stylus with no batteries required
  • Paper AND a digital writing pad
  • Window splitting

The bad:

  • The keyboard is hard to do 10-finger typing
  • There is no place to attach the pen nor store the stylus tips

The meh:

  • limited ports
  • the included Lenovo apps (you may want to explore other free apps)

So if you are not looking to spend iPad Pro or Microsoft Surface money I would seriously consider this tablet. Coming in less than US$600 this device is very reasonably priced for what it offers. Who is this for? Artists looking for something that is extremely portable. Business people or students taking a lot of notes and need to capture text, sketches, and other notes. It’s also awesome for running one of my new favorite apps; FormIt 360.




Featured Image: Stickney Brook Yoga 149 by Matthew Ragan