avatarby Andrew GrushNovember 29, 20160 comments
7.5

The Lenovo Yoga Book is certainly an innovative product, but at the same time the Halo keyboard means quite a few compromises for those that find themselves typing regularly. On the other hand, if you are the artistic type or in need of a great note taking platform, this is certainly one to consider.

Positives

High Quality Screen
Great Battery Life
Excellent Pen Tracking
Slim, Premium Design
Decent Android implementation

Negatives

Keyboard isn't for everyone
Quiet speakers

While we’ve already reviewed the Lenovo Yoga Book’s Windows-powered variant, there’s an entirely different flavor up for your consideration and it runs Android!  So what’s the big difference between the Android and Windows variants? Great question.

The most obvious difference is that the Android version doesn’t run Windows (duh?), but there is actually more to it than that. Which version is actually the better choice, and how does the Android version perform overall? Let’s jump right in and find out!

Editor’s note: for certain aspects like design and display, we’ll go a little less granular than we would in a normal review, only because if you want to dive deeper on looks, hardware, etc, you can always check out the Windows review for more details.

Lenovo Yoga Book Windows vs Android model – what’s the difference?

While the core specs and the design are in fact the same on both models, the Windows version is only offered in black and isn’t capable of stylus input on the actual screen. It also doesn’t digitize your notes when the display is off. While we will go into more details later, it is also worth mentioning that the specs offered by the machine are much better matched for Android than Windows.

On the plus side, the Windows version supports running traditional Windows (.exe) programs and has two-finger scrolling.

Design

As already noted, the design here is essentially identical to what was found in our Windows version review. The only real difference is that the model here was gunmetal gray, with the Android version also offering a black and champagne gold model (the latter of which is pictured a few times here as well) — versus the black only configuration for Windows users.

The Yoga Book is made up of two rectangles of carbon black metal that are held together by a watchband-style hinge. The design stands out positively against the competition, offering an industrial look while also maintaining an almost minimalist approach.

The hinge also has the bonus of giving users multiple ways of using the machine including tent (upside down V), stand, tablet mode, and the standard laptop setup.

Opening up the laptop you’ll find a ton of bezel, as well as a 10.1-inch screen with a resolution of 1920 x 1200. Below is the Halo Keyboard, a touch-sensitive input area that ditches traditional keys in favor of something very differentThe new design isn’t just different for the sake of being so, it actually doubles as a drawing and note-taking surface. 

As for the ports found? There’s not a lot here, just a microUSB for data and charging, a microSD card slot for memory, a microHDMI port, and a headphone jack. Honestly while USB Type-C would have been a more logical choice, the ports here are pretty much what you’d expect from an Android tablet/laptop hybrid.

Halo Keyboard

Okay, let’s get this out of the way: if you are a touch typist like me, this keyboard will drive you nuts. Sure, you can get used to looking at the keys and can eventually become “okay” at typing but if your use-case requires a lot of typing — the Yoga Book probably is going to be quite frustrating for you.

The biggest problem is that there is no real feedback. Sure, you get slight buzzing when you hit a key, but it’s just not the same as feel physical feedback from a traditional key. There’s also no bumps or anything on the F or J keys to help your hands automatically place themselves.

That said, if you are just using the keyboard for writing some messages in Hangouts, email, and other basic/occasional use, you’ll find it is usable enough once you get past the learning curve. It’s also worth noting that Lenovo’s autocorrect functionality is actually pretty good, but again, not enough to make this a great typing experience.

As for the touchpad? Like the keys here, it is built into the bottom surface but fades away when not in use and therefore isn’t of the traditional type. It functions okay enough, but certainly not as good as typical (read: normal) trackpad. The good news is that, being this is an Android device, you’ll likely end up using the screen more often for navigation anyhow.

The pen experience

Okay, so now it’s time to talk about where the keyboard section really shines: as a drawing surface. Formally dubbed as the “Create Pad” in this mode, the functionality here is powered by Wacom technology and supports 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity and can detect 100 different angles.

The pen itself isn’t just a stylus, it also has a mini ballpoint ink tip that can be used to digitize your manually written/drawn notes and scribblings. The tablet package comes with three extra ink replacements in the box, with refills sold for $15 from Lenovo. You can also buy the ink from just about anywhere and replace it manually. Lenovo even includes a magnetic paper booklet that keeps paper in place for note taking and other tasks.

It’s also worth noting that, unlike the Windows version, you can even take notes when the main display is off and yet everything will still be fully digitized.

As for digital drawings? While I’m not artist, I found the ArtRage app did a great job of capturing everything I attempted to draw. And honestly, it did it just as well as a pen would on traditional paper. If you are worried about your hands ending up in your drawings, don’t be, as the palm rejection is solid as well.

While the stylus is obviously meant more for usage on the Create Pad surface, it is worth noting that in the settings you can find an “AnyPen” mode that lets you draw on the actual screen as well. Considering how good of a job the Create Pad does though, we have a feeling few will actively use the screen for this.

Display

The 10.1-inch display found on the Lenovo Yoga Book is actually pretty solid, offering a resolution of 1920×1200 with support for 16.7 million pixels and a color Gamut of 70%. It’s also plenty bright, measuring out 396 nits of brightness, though it’s worth mentioning hte Pixel C does better than this at around 500 nits.

The colors here are vibrant, with the screen covering 100 percent of the sRGB gamut. This might not be the ‘best display I’ve ever seen’, but it certainly fits within the category average, and in some ways exceeds expectations.

Speakers

While David found the Yoga Book’s speakers to be pretty solid, my experience was different. Unfortunately, the two small speakers just aren’t very loud. Why the difference? It more than likely comes down to the Android drivers or something, because after doing some digging I found that David and I weren’t the only ones out there in tech writing world to find contrasting experiences when using the Windows or Android versions of the Yoga Book.

Performance

Performance was one of the areas that David was most disappointed at when it came to the Windows version. Unfortunately, the 2.4GHz intel Atom x5-Z8550 CPU with its 4GB of RAM just didn’t handle Windows all that well. David noted lag was a regular thing, and even Chrome struggled with more than just a few tabs open.

But what about with Android onboard? Thanks to the fact Android isn’t as resource heavy, the experience was actually really good. I found that it would take ten to twelve tabs in Chrome before I’d notice any real lag. I also found that most casual or even slightly more intensive Android games ran just fine here.

The Benchmarks told a similar story, scoring a 3,250 in Geekbench 4. While that wouldn’t be amazing for a PC, this kind of scoring actually puts the Yoga Book above devices like the Pixel C, which averages around 2800 or so. Bottom-line, you’ll find that with Android, the experience is reasonably snappy. Obviously Android won’t be able to run the same kinds of programs as Windows would, but at least the overall experience is more enjoyable when it comes to performance.

Display10.1 inch FHD IPS panel (1920x1200)
ProcessorIntel® Atom™ x5-Z8550 Processor(2M Cache, Quad-Core, Up to 2.4 GHz)
GraphicsIntel HD Graphics 400
RAM4 GB LPDDR3
Internal Storage64GB SSD
Operating systemAndroid Marshmallow with customizations
WebcamRear : 8 MP Auto-Focus
Front : 2 MP Fixed-Focus
Connectivity optionsMicro USB, Micro SD, Mini HDMI, 3.5mm headphone jack, 3.5mm microphone jack, SD card reader,Gigabit Ethernet port, Wireless n/a/ac 1535 (b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.0, Proprietary charging port
Battery8500 mAh Li-ion Polymer
SpeakersDolby Audio Premium
Dimensions & weight256.6 x 9.6 x 170.8 mm, 1.52 pounds

Camera Quality

Let’s be honest, no one is going to buy this thing for the camera. That said, there are two cameras if you want to use them: one 8MP shooter on the keyboard and a 2MP above the screen.

How well do they perform? Okay. Basically they are more than good enough for video conferencing or for that quick random pic. That’s about it, but again — that’s really all we’d want or expect from such a device. Below is an example taken from the Windows version, but considering its the same camera, you get the idea:

Lenovo Yoga Book Windows

Battery Life

The Yoga Book offers a sizable 8500 mAh battery. But how does it actually perform when it comes to  battery life? Good question.

With Windows being more resource heavy, you’d think that would mean that the Android version would see better battery life. Funny enough, this isn’t the case. While David was able to get around 10 hours or so, I actually found that usage tended to be around the nine and a half hour mark. Not a massive difference granted, and still more than enough to get through a typical work day.

Heat/Noise

Just like with David’s experience with the Android version, we found the laptop stayed cool and quiet the whole time. The only time we got any heat at all was when doing slightly more intensive stuff, but even then, it was low enough that we wouldn’t consider it beyond comfort to use.

Software

While the Windows version relies on a ‘stock’ Windows experience with a few special programs to bring it all together, the story is a bit different when it comes to the Android version of the Yoga Book. While the laptop/tablet hybrid runs on Android 6.01 Marshmallow, it is certainly a very different looking take on it.

At first glance, the setup is almost Chrome OS-like, feeling more like a laptop desktop than a typical tablet workspace. There’s even improved multi-tasking that lets you run three apps at a time in a phone layout.

As for the apps included? Lenovo’s Note Saver app starts automatically when you switch to the stylus, and it works pretty well. Then there’s ArtRage which is great for drawing, though perhaps a bit simplistic compared to the kinds of artistic tools you’d find if this tablet/laptop ran Windows like its brother.

Other included apps are a tutorial app and app with accessories from Lenovo’s partners. Overall, there’s not a lot of bloatware here, and that’s great to see.

Pricing and final comments

At $500, the Lenovo Yoga Book is reasonably priced considering all the unique features afforded by its Halo keyboard and pen. That said, there are plenty of solid competitors in the tablet arena, including devices like the Pixel C over in camp Android or the iPad Pro for those who prefer iOS.

At the end of the day, the main reason we’d recommend the Yoga Book is if you are the artistic type that is drawn in by the pen’s useful drawing features, or you are a constant note taker that needs something to keep up with your scrawlings.

Performance and spec wise? For an Android tablet, things aren’t half bad and just about everything you throw at it will work just fine. It’s just that there are plenty of other competitors, many of which offer traditional keyboard accessories that are much better suited for typing.

Lenovo certainly deserves plenty of applause here for trying something new. However, the Halo keyboard does feel a bit like a first generation product (which it is..), and so it might not be everyone.

As far as how this performed when stacked against the Windows version? While we didn’t do a full versus, based on David’s experiences when compared to mine, the Android version seems like the better performer. Basically that means if you are looking for the best performance and don’t mind the sacrifices that come with a mobile OS, the Android variant might be the better deal. Alternately, if you absolutely need the broader application support that comes with Windows, the Windows version will better fit you — just remember that this broader support comes at the expensive of overall experience. 

What do you think of the Lenovo Yoga Book (Android)? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments.