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Lenovo Yoga Book review

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Lenovo Yoga Book
  • Lenovo Yoga Book
  • Lenovo Yoga Book
  • Lenovo Yoga Book
  • Lenovo Yoga Book
  • Lenovo Yoga Book
  • Lenovo Yoga Book
  • Lenovo Yoga Book
  • Lenovo Yoga Book
  • Lenovo Yoga Book
  • Lenovo Yoga Book screenshots
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  • Lenovo Yoga Book
  • Lenovo Yoga Book
  • Lenovo Yoga Book

Summary

Our Score:

6

Pros

  • Fantastic build quality
  • Clever writing technology
  • Good battery life

Cons

  • Slow performance
  • No cloud note syncing
  • Buggy software
  • Keyboard is hard to use

Best Deals for Lenovo Yoga Book

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Key Features

  • 10.1-inch FHD IPS touchscreen
  • Keyboard/drawing pad hybrid
  • Wacom passive EMR stylus and ball point pens
  • 8,500mAh battery
  • Intel Atom x5-Z8550 processor
  • 4GB RAM
  • Weight: 690g
  • Notebook included
  • OS: Android 6 (tested) or Windows 10 (£550)
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4
  • Manufacturer: Lenovo
  • Review Price: £449.00

What is the Lenovo Yoga Book?

The Yoga Book is one of the most exciting products of 2016, with a form factor never seen before in a mass-market consumer device. You can type on it, write on it and copy your physical notes into digital form. As a concept, it was a regular note-taker’s dream and something that looked perfect for students.

In practice, it’s still mighty impressive. But its relatively high price and slightly slow performance mean I’d probably wait for a Yoga Book 2 or opt for a Google Pixel C with a Bluetooth keyboard instead.

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Lenovo Yoga Book – Design and Build

The Yoga Book is the most delightfully-built laptop/tablet I’ve ever used. Weighing just 690g and just 9.6mm thick, this 10.1-inch machine is about as close to a paper notebook as you can get. Lenovo Yoga Book

The grey metal chassis with its hard edges, rounded corners and stylish “watchband” hinge make the Yoga Book feel far more expensive that it actually is, and isn’t something I ever thought twice about carrying around in my bag.

The keyboard and drawing area has a slightly glossy layer to it so the stylus rolls around it nicely, but it’s not so slippery that it’s physically hard to type on. Lenovo Yoga Book

You get a single Micro USB port for charging, a 3.5mm headset jack and a microSD card slot that’ll take cards with a capacity of up to 128GB. That’s in addition to the 64GB of built-in storage.

The light-up keyboard induces 'oohs' and 'ahhs' from whoever’s nearby – it looks like it’s from the future – but as you’ll see from the next section, the magic is short-lived when you actually try and type on it.Lenovo Yoga Book

Lenovo Yoga Book – Halo Keyboard

There's a reason why keyboards are still so thick and tactile. We need that feel to them so we know where and what we’re typing. Or, like with on screen keyboards, we need instant visual feedback on the button that’s just been pressed. The Yoga Book can offer neither, and that’s a problem.

Despite haptic feedback that vibrates the entire keyboard when you hit a key, the lack of any proper physical feedback does make for a fairly typo-heavy experience. In truth, this isn’t a massive problem when taking notes because you’re not writing an essay that anyone but you will be reading. But with one misplaced finger leaning on a key you can end up going down a spiral of typos that’s very hard to escape from.

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The pre-installed keyboard (called TouchPal), which handles both the on-screen keyboard and the LED ‘board, isn’t brilliant at making predictions. You can pre-select predictions by pressing the corresponding number on screen, but this works terribly when typing usernames and passwords that contain the numbers one to three. It's almost impossible to do it without having to go back and delete unwanted characters.

Fortunately, you can install third-party keyboard software. I switched to SwiftKey, which knows my typing habits better than I do, and felt more comfortable. It's nowhere near as effective as it is on phone touchscreens because a large part of its prediction technique comes from the exact spot where you place your thumbs on a touchscreen, not just the key you hit.

With the Yoga Book, all it had to go on was each individual letter, not where on each key I physically placed my fingers. Still, after around 20 minutes of practice I was writing this review and only making typos every few words. For rapid note taking I think it’s just about passable, but there is room for improvement. I reckon a fairly major software update would be able to fix many of my problems, but that’ll only happen if Lenovo agrees with my issues. Lenovo Yoga Book

It’s more comfortable than typing with two hands directly onto the screen, but it’s a poorer experience than having a physical keyboard. Lenovo says the keyboard learns as you type, which it may well do, but it won't stop you from occasionally going down a typo rabbit hole that's hard to escape.

The touchpad is a much bigger problem. Lenovo’s tutorial suggested I’d be able to scroll up and down using a two-fingered gesture, but I can say with 100% certainty that it does not work properly and might as well not be a feature. The pad is sometimes fine for tapping around but I found it too inconsistent and frustrating, so I avoided using it at all costs. It was always easier just to reach out and use the touch screen. The touchpad portion, for me, is simply wasted space. This can probably be fixed with a software update, but right now it’s unusable.

Lenovo Yoga Book – RealPen

The killer feature of the Yoga Book is the RealPen. It can be used as a regular stylus, or you can very awkwardly replace the stylus nib with one of the supplied ballpoints instead. You can only used Lenovo’s ballpoints, and a pack of three replacements will cost you £8.49. Right now Lenovo is also charging an additional £15 for shipping, which the company tells me is a mistake. But until Lenovo fixes it, you won’t be able to buy the ballpoints without getting ripped off for shipping. If you lose the entire pen, it’ll set you back £43.

After two weeks of use, I’ve already lost one of the ballpoint ends and I'm frantically searching for the stylus tip as I write this review (Author's note: after this review was published I found the missing ballpoint and stylus. I also bought a lottery ticket immediately after). There’s no good place to store the nibs, even though the pen is hollow, so if you’re even half as forgetful as I am, you will lose at least one of them in fairly short order. An expensive mistake. Lenovo Yoga Book

In use, the RealPen is superb. You get a notebook in the box with the Yoga Book, which clips into a magnetic holder that you then place onto the keyboard tray. You can then write onto it with the ballpoint pen, and everything you write will be digitally transposed into Lenovo’s Note Saver app. It uses Wacom’s passive electromagnetic resistance (EMR) technology to work out where the pen is, and is very similar to Wacom’s Bamboo Spark, which synced notes with tablets and phones over Bluetooth.

The capturing of physical notes is incredibly accurate; the Yoga Book never missed a stroke and even understood how much pressure I was applying. The writable surface doesn’t stretch all the way to the end of the notebook, so you need to pay attention to where on the page you’re writing, otherwise you’ll lose the very edge of what you’re doing.Lenovo Yoga Book

I particularly liked the ability to flip the notepad around to the back of the device and use it for note-taking with the screen switched off. The only thing you have to do is double-tap the note-taking button on the keyboard to tell the tablet you’ve turned to a new physical page. If you forget, you’ll have multiple pages of notes on top of one another.

It’s all very clever. However, it’s where these drawings end up that’s the problem. The only software that works with it is Lenovo's Note Saver app, which doesn’t automatically sync your notes to the cloud. The only way to do this is to share a note via your preferred cloud storage provider, at which point it becomes a PNG image file. For me, cloud backup or third-party app support, such as Evernote, is an essential feature that’s missing. Lenovo Yoga Book

There’s one caveat here: You can use Evernote and other third-party drawing apps with the pen and it will sync to the cloud. However, it only works when the screen is on and when it’s the only app open. This is different to Note Saver, which can take notes even when it’s not open and when the tablet’s screen is switched off.

Best Deals for Lenovo Yoga Book

  • amazon
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MikeJacobs101

September 2, 2016, 6:30 pm

64GB of space. Someone should be fired

AmiRami

September 2, 2016, 7:20 pm

but it does have expandable storage

MikeJacobs101

September 3, 2016, 10:40 pm

Expandable doesn't replace onbaord drive space. And it certainly doesn't help with actually installing any software for doing stuff. Which is why people want 2-in-1 devices.

AmiRami

September 3, 2016, 10:42 pm

if we are talking about windows you can install software on explandable storage

Aussie J

September 5, 2016, 12:26 pm

Umm, can this still work for people that writes left handed?

Bugblatter

September 6, 2016, 1:56 pm

Why would I use the pen on the keyboard when I can write on the screen and see what I'm drawing exactly where I'm drawing it?

If the keyboard were actually a second screen then great, but as it is I just don't see the use cases

andrekibbe

September 6, 2016, 6:32 pm

My main use case would be taking handwritten notes on the digitizer for articles I'm reading on the screen. A second screen would be horrible for weight, battery life, and price. The digitizer also has a more textured surface more greater traction than glass, resulting in a more paper-like experience when using the pen.

andrekibbe

September 6, 2016, 6:33 pm

Yes. I saw a Lenovo video where the digitizer being used on the left side while the screen was on the right.

Bugblatter

September 6, 2016, 7:02 pm

Would you be happy to write without being able to see what you're writing? Ok you can put a sheet of paper on there, but then you have to have paper with you. Besides, there are plenty of smart pens out there which would digitise your hand-written notes as you write.

If you'd prefer this solution that's fine of course, I'm just not seeing it personally.

Regarding the second screen I'm waiting on flexible OLED screens of course ;)

andrekibbe

September 6, 2016, 8:44 pm

You have two options. There's an onscreen notepad that displays what you're writing on the digitizer, which is fine by me (much more palatable than the 1-2mm offset between the stylus and ink registration I endured with old school Tablet PCs). You can also just fold the screen out of sight and write directly on paper. I'm always within arm's reach of paper.

Bugblatter

September 6, 2016, 8:54 pm

Fair enough, if it works for you then more power to you.

I wonder if they're primarily aiming this at students. Cheap, silent keyboard, aimed at note-taking.

andrekibbe

September 6, 2016, 10:25 pm

That's what Levono's marketing rep said in one of the IFA interviews: it's meant for "students of all ages," but in my case, this is the device I'd want to take into a meeting. They plan to expand the concept to larger sizes and more robust specs down the road.

Yohannes Kristiawan

September 7, 2016, 3:12 am

I am a programmer, would love to have it to work when I am on the road. The pen can be used to easily explain something. Of course I am "worry" about many things (keyboard learning curve, speed). But definitely will try.

Logan Merriam

September 19, 2016, 3:53 pm

Digital artists have literally been doing this for decades. Have you never seen a drawing tablet? They sit on your desk, you draw on them, and you see it show up on your screen. This is squarely aimed at artists and note-takers.

When you hold an active stylus near the digitizer, a cursor on your screen shows where the pen point is, even if you aren't touching down yet. Very easy to use.

Bugblatter

September 19, 2016, 4:27 pm

Digital artists have literally been switching to drawing on actual tablets with screens (or at least the Wacom equivalent).

My point is that the technology to draw directly on the screen is widely available so why would I take a big step back to the way we used to do it?

Oflife

September 20, 2016, 9:09 pm

Lack of USB-C is a massive fail. Year old but excellent (I have used one) HP Spectre x2 has two USB-C ports, and either can be used to charge it or drive up to a 4K monitor! And the screen is detachable from the full size backlit keyboard, oh, and it has a stylus for drawing direct on the screen.

Patrick Negus

September 21, 2016, 3:25 am

Yeah, but that's comparing a full-powered Windows 10 PC with an artists tablet. Not to mention the Spectre x2 has a 4 hr battery life, and is $200 more.

This is perfect for those that just draw, draw, draw, and don't need the best performance.

Patrick Negus

September 21, 2016, 3:32 am

This wouldn't be good for any sort of programming on the road. A plastic surface for a keyboard, x5 Atom CPU, gimme a break.

Patrick Negus

September 21, 2016, 3:34 am

It's a novelty, and a somewhat well-conceived one at that. Incorporating the keyboard/Wacom digitizer in a larger deck avoids the issue of having to draw on a screen with your hand (which is quite uncomfortable), and gives more space as your hand isn't blocking the screen. Palm rejection is a bit of an issue as well.

Yohannes Kristiawan

September 21, 2016, 4:32 am

Calm down, Bro. I use NPP to edit some JS and PHP, very light process. Can't talk more until I put my hands on it...

Jon Butler

October 9, 2016, 11:24 pm

I ordered a Windows Yoga book as soon as it was on Lenovo UK web site. I had it for 24 hours before sending back. Why? Well, its a great little machine except for one massive thing. Typing on the keyboard is impossible due to really really loud haptic feedback buzz which is impossible to adjust or turn off. What makes it even worse is that the buzz is about half a second after you press a key!

bakaneko

November 1, 2016, 3:46 pm

thats odd... in settings there was a halo keyboard option and i turned it off day one out of the box.

Jack Jones

November 13, 2016, 7:37 am

I agree. All 4 of the major cloud storage providers (Google, Box, Dropbox and Onedrive) will not sync to removable storage. Very frustrating, and obviously, that's where the bulk of your storage load is going to be! Most people have tens of gigs of data but only a few gigs of apps. The apps can happily go in the measly 64GB that Lenovo give you. And anyway, after O/S and basic apps and stuff, what are you left with? I'm guessing around 40GB if you are lucky.

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