In a world in which "innovation" has become a largely meaningless word, Lenovo's new Yoga Book 2-in-1 tablet/laptop - available in both Android and Windows versions - is a true standout device. Eschewing a physical keyboard, it instead sports a revolutionary Instant Halo keyboard, a touch-sensitive surface with haptic feedback that can be used for drawing on as well as typing.
The Yoga Book is a sleek device; its ultra-thin (and ultra-light) 10.1 inch magnesium -aluminium alloy display and keyboard is held together by a watchband-like hinge. Like Lenovo's Yoga laptops, it can be used like a traditional laptop, folded flat to mimic a tablet (at which point it's just 9.6 millimetres thick), or in a tent-like position for presentations and media.
But more about that keyboard, or lack thereof. At the touch of a button, the Yoga Book's black slate lights up with a Qwerty keyboard, allowing you to type away as normal. Deactivate it, and the black slate becomes a Wacom-like surface, which you can write or draw on with an included stylus.
What's even more impressive is the ability to add an ink tip to the stylus and write on a piece of paper on top of the surface, an experience I found much more natural than writing directly on to the panel.
While no doubt innovative, the Yoga Book is an acquired taste. Using it as a drawing surface is good fun, both with and without the paper, although it's hard to see it being used much beyond a relatively small set of artists and creative professionals.
The Instant Halo keyboard will most appeal to those who've grown up typing out emails on an iPad; my fingers got used to typing on it after a day or so, although being a creature of habit I kept on pining for my MacBook Air's physical keys.
At Dh2,199, the Yoga Book is very good value, coming in cheaper than an entry level (and accessory free) iPad Pro. That's especially impressive given that the stylus and special notepaper are both included. If you're looking for a basic 2-in-1 and are happy with the keyboard entry, it's definitely one to consider.
q&a just a couple of tweaks
John Everington expands on Lenovo's new Yoga Book 2-in-1 device:
Is it a tablet? Is it a laptop? Is it a bird? Is it a pl...
Look, stop that. In theory the Yoga Book is both laptop and tablet, just like the iPad Pro and Microsoft Surface Pro. Although these devices try to be all things to all people, usually they perform significantly better in one form over the other.
So what does the Yoga Book feel like? Tablet or laptop?
For my money it feels more of a souped-up tablet. It's usable as a laptop, especially in the Windows version, but feels a bit underpowered, sporting an Intel Atom processor and just 4GB of RAM. Because it's so thin and light, it's understandably a bit thin on connectivity options as well, with just a micro USB port (itself a little out of date given the onset of USB-C), a mini-HDMI port, and a 3.5mm headphone socket.
And how about battery life?
Lenovo claims that you'll get up to 15 hours of general usage off a full charge. "General usage" is of course open to many different definitions, and the 15 hours seemed a little optimistic from my days of using it.
Is this the future of computing, or just a one off?
Lenovo certainly hopes it's the former, and it definitely has potential. The company has confirmed that a Chromebook version will be on its way later this year. If Lenovo beefs up the specs a little and chucks in the odd additional extra port, it could have a winner on its hands.
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