Too many manufacturers churn out tablets that look like iPad knock-offs, but Lenovo usually forges its own path. Its Yoga Tablet 10 HD+ debuted an exciting, lop-sided design that enabled several different positions, and the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro builds on that foundation.
The stand has been refined and improved, the screen has grown to 13 inches and the older machine’s 1920 x 1200 resolution makes way for more pixels – now at 2560 x 1440.
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The Yoga’s cylindrical side defines its style and functions. It houses a hinge that enables the Yoga to switch into four different positions, and it also contains a couple of features we’ve never seen on a tablet: a subwoofer and a pico projector.
The stand props the Yoga into shallow and steep angled positions, with the former ideal for typing and the latter better for watching films. The stand can be tweaked for precise angle adjustments, and it’s sturdy enough to stay put once positioned.
It’s been improved since the last iteration of the Yoga. It used to be fiddly to unfold, but Lenovo has installed a button that pops the stand open. The stand also has a hole that enables its third position – hanging. It’s the mode we see getting the least use, but it could be handy for presentations.
The whole machine exudes high quality. One end of the cylindrical unit houses the circular power button, and the other reveals the projector’s glass-covered lens. The stand and its button are made from solid aluminium, and the rest of the unit is hewn from similarly-sturdy metal and plastic. The Yoga costs £449, but you never forget it’s a premium product.
The cylindrical side unit makes a useful handle, but it means the Yoga is larger and heavier than rivals. It’s 23mm thick at its bulkiest point, the main tablet section is 9mm thick, and it weighs 948g. Apple’s iPad Air 2 is less than half the weight at 437g and just 6.1mm thick, while the Google Nexus 9 is even lighter at 425g and is over a millimetre slimmer.
The weight doesn’t make the Yoga particularly comfortable to use in one or two hands, and the off-centre hinge hinders its ability to fit inside cases, too. That’s not the only ergonomic issue we've encountered – the sheer size of the 13.3in screen can make the panel difficult to navigate, with controls in games and apps sometimes tricky to reach.
There are no surprises when it comes to connectivity. We’re pleased to see dual-band 802.11ac wireless, and there’s Bluetooth 4.0 and a microUSB slot. GPS and an accelerometer are included, too, but there’s no sign of mobile broadband.
Lenovo has increased the resolution, but the larger screen means that pixel density actually sees a small decrease – the old Yoga had a density of 224ppi, while the new tablet sits at 221ppi.
That figure doesn’t stand out when compared to the wider market, either. The iPad Air’s screen serves up 253ppi and the Nexus 9 is even better, at 288ppi.
The Yoga’s density may not stand out, but it’s still enough to ensure a sharp image – we only saw individual pixels by squinting, and the resolution is ample for Full HD media playback.
The Yoga’s panel ticked most of the quality boxes, too. Colours are consistently punchy without straying into oversaturation, and bright colours are particularly dazzling. Backlight bleed is absent, and it’s IPS, so viewing angles are excellent – you can watch media on this screen even if you’re off-centre.
The brightness level of 389 nits is fantastic, too – better than the previous Yoga, and beyond most laptops. The black level of 0.59 nits is reasonable, but other tablets have deeper blacks. It might be noticeable during darker scenes in games or films but, for the most part, it’s a minor problem that won’t interfere in daily use.
Lenovo has used the hinge to install serious audio kit – two 1.5W stereo speakers and a 5W JBL subwoofer. They provide volume comparable to Apple’s latest iPad, and the subwoofer serves up punchy bass. Those deep notes, though, hinder audio elsewhere, with mid-range and high-end notes not as rich or as pleasing as we’d like.
The Yoga’s speakers certainly aren’t bad, with enough volume and quality for movies and music, but the iPad is still superior.
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The Yoga Tablet 2 Pro arrives with Android 4.4.2 installed – an iteration of the OS that’s more than a year out of date. The latest version of Android, 5.0 Lollipop, appeared at the end of 2014.
The older Android version means the Yoga misses a few features. Lollipop’s new 'material' design language, the revised notification area and improved lock screen are absent, and developments under the hood to improve performance and battery life are also missing
Lenovo has made up for the lack of Lollipop with its own changes, but these aren’t always successful. The settings bar is stuffed with options, but it’s unfurled from the bottom of the screen, which differs from virtually every other Android device. The visual design isn’t exactly Android – it seems to draw just as much inspiration from iOS.
There’s no app drawer, either; instead, apps are installed to a couple of home-screens or dumped into a selection of categorised folders. The folders can’t be deleted or edited, though, and the Yoga often interrupts apps to ask where freshly-installed software should be kept – irritating if you’re playing a full-screen game.
Lenovo has augmented Google’s OS with a few apps of its own, but quality is varied. The Security HD tool is placed front-and-centre from boot, but it’s hardly the sort of all-conquering business app we expect from Lenovo; it’s got options to free memory by closing apps, or to block ads by scanning software, but the only real security feature on offer involves altering permissions for dozens of different components and usage scenario. It’s a good feature, but it noticeably stands alone.
Lenovo’s business credentials are more obvious elsewhere. Accounts, settings, applications, media and other files can all be encrypted with passwords or PIN numbers, and administrator settings can be altered from the settings menu. A power management tool can dial down the GPU and screen to save power, or disable apps when the screen is turned off.
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The Yoga makes an attempt at multi-tasking by using separate windows, but only a few apps can be loaded into a new window, including Chrome, the file browser, video player and email. It’s useful, but we can’t help but think that Lenovo could have gone further.
A Dolby app is included to beef up the audio and has a custom equaliser as well as modes for movies, games and music, and the bundled software is rounded off with apps for synching, sharing and cloning files.