When Lenovo announced the Yoga Book in Berlin at IFA it was certainly something different, I’ve been keen to take a closer look and see just how useful and practical the concept really is.
When I spent some time with the device in Berlin, I was shown the Android version, and walked through a bunch of features.
The Windows version I’ve been testing just doesn’t seem to have the same complete hybrid capabilities.
What we’re talking about here is a tablet, and a laptop, it’s not the first convertible device – but it’s so innovative that it stands out from the crowd. The Lenovo Yoga Book is much more tablet than laptop, but it’s the laptop configuration that is so striking.
A 10.1 inch screen doesn’t disappoint but it’s down on the “keyboard” surface that the real attention is. This flat surface could be one of three things at any time.
Firstly, folded behind the screen to create a traditional tablet the touch surface is inactive. Opened out as a laptop by default it’s your keyboard. And because those keys are not physical the surface can also be used as a touch surface for the included stylus.
It’s that stylus that makes this a double convertible. Not only is the device folded around itself to switch from tablet to laptop or “design” configuration (more on that shortly), but the stylus can be both stylus or a pen.
The tip of the stylus pulls out and you can insert a pretty standard ink tip. This gives two options for the “design” configuration. The first with the stylus allows you to sketch and draw on the touch surface with the results visible on the screen above.
Remove the tip, insert some ink and lay down some paper, the included note pad or otherwise, and you can take notes, draw, sketch as you like and the results are shown on your paper as well as the screen.. Some kind of black magic frankly but I love it.
More than many other devices the assessment of this one really depends on your use-case. If you’re a designer, artist, take a lot of notes with pen and paper but are frustrated by lack of digital support for that then this may well be the device style that would suit you.
As a laptop or tablet though, it falls short. As a tablet the extra “flap” simply gives you a built-in stand for helping when you want to watch movies. It is – to Lenovo’s credit, still remarkably thin when folded back on itself as a tablet.
In Laptop configuration it’s a big learning curve to get used to. The keys light up beneath the touch surface and are easy to find, and you do get a small vibration as you tap each key, but it’s so very different that it will take more than a short time to get used to.
To be frank, it’s Windows which lets this device down. I’m now desperate to try the Android version, because when I saw it at IFA it just seemed there was a lot more integration between hardware and software available.
On the Windows version I struggled to find any use for the stylus other than Microsoft “OneNote” and while the accuracy of the stylus is sensational, it didn’t feel like it was offering me much more than a touch-screen stylus might on any other tablet. Yet you lose the physical keys which you would normally get on a laptop/convertible.
As someone who has used Lenovo’s Yoga laptops for some time, there’s no doubting they’ve nailed the hinge, the convertible concept and this is a strong approach to hitting the tablet and laptop market – but I just don’t think Windows supports the theory enough to make it viable. At $999 for the Windows version, I’d take the Android at $799 any day.
Top marks for design, top marks for innovation. I just think Android offers more to this product than Windows ever will – time will tell.
Trev is a Technology Commentator, Dad, Speaker and Rev Head.
He produces and hosts two popular podcasts, EFTM and Two Blokes Talking Tech. He also appears on over 50 radio stations across Australia weekly, and is the resident Tech Expert on Channel 9’s Today Show each day and appears regularly on A Current Affair.
Father of three, he is often found down in his Man Cave.