Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 and 10: Unique design on a budget (hands on)

Summary:Lenovo is heating up the Android tablet space with the introduction of two tablets aimed directly at the Nexus line. The Yoga Tablet comes in 8 and 10-inch models similar to the budget friendly Nexus slates, but the Yogas get 18 hours of battery life.

Yoga Tablet 8 and Yoga Tablet 10
L-R: Yoga Tablet 8, Yoga Tablet 10 Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet

Lenovo unveiled the Yoga Tablet in an online event featuring Ashton Kutcher in its new BetterWay campaign. There are actually two Yoga Tablets, an 8-inch model and a 10-inch slate. Both tablets are essentially the same with the exception of the size. We've had both models in our hands for a short period and are impressed with what you get for the price.

When you unbox either Yoga Tablet you are immediately impressed with a hardware design that is unique in the crowded Android field. Each tablet has a cylindrical grip on one side of the device that houses a battery that Lenovo claims gets better life than any tablet on the market.

Yoga Tablet 8 and 10 stacked
Yoga Tablets stacked Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet

The cylinder also has an integrated stand that folds out to support the tablet in two modes, a low profile typing mode and an upgright configuration for watching video. The stand can support the tablet in various viewing angles to fit the situation. The short stand is made of aluminum and supports the tablet securely.

Yoga Tablet 8 and 10 hardware specs as reviewed:

  Yoga Tablet 8 Yoga Tablet 10
CPU MTK Quad Core, 1.2GHz 8125 Same
Display 8" HD (1280x800) IPS 10.1” HD (1280x800) IPS
Storage 16GB eMMC storage + MicroSD slot Same
Memory 1GB LP DDR2 Same
OS Android 4.2.2 Same
Ports microUSB, Audio in/out Same
Cameras 5MP Auto Focus rear, 1.6M front Same
Connectivity 802.11bgn, Bluetooth 4.0 Same
Battery Li-Ion polymer, 6000mAh Li-Ion polymer, 9000mAh
Dimensions

0.88 lbs.

8.39 x 5.67 x (.12-.29) in

213 x 144 x (3.0-7.3) mm

1.33 lbs.

10.28 x 7.09 x (.12 - .32) in

261 x 180 x (3.0-8.1) mm

Price $249 $299

Both the Yoga Tablet 8 and 10 are very thin on the side opposite the cylinder grip. Surprisingly, the tablets are comfortably balanced when holding either the grip or the other side.

Choosing to design the Yogas with the cylinder grip allowed Lenovo to include unique features:

  • Small kickstand

  • Front-facing stereo speakers

  • Rear camera on the back of the cylinder

  • microSD slot under the kickstand

The only port on the Yogas is a microUSB port that is used for charging the tablets. It can also be used to charge other devices while the tablet is being used.

Yoga Tablet 8 and 10 tilt mode
Yoga Tablets in tilt mode Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet

Lenovo has included Dolby technology, including an app to tailor audio to the user's taste, to drive the stereo speakers on the front of the cylinder grip. These speakers sound fantastic, easily the best we've heard on any tablet. The Dolby app can optimize the audio for movies, audio, and for voices.

Yoga Tablet 10 speakers
Yoga Tablet stereo speakers

Performance

Yoga Tablet 8 hold mode
Yoga Tablet 8 Image: Lenovo

The MTK processor used in the Yogas is intended as a budget chipset for lower-cost devices, but in our testing it's a very good performer. Tablet operation sees things happen very quickly, and can rival that of premium tablets.

Two different Galaxy Note 8.0 owners were impressed with how fast the Yogas run apps and how fluidly the interface moves. One Nexus 7 (original model) owner also noted how fast the operation is on the Yogas. 

After a day of heavy testing, both the Yoga Tablet 8 and Yoga Tablet 10 have impressed us with the speed and performance of this hardware configuration. This testing did not include gaming, which may be a different story.

Battery life

The ability to use bigger batteries in the Yogas due to the cylindrical housing gives both tablets impressive battery life. According to Lenovo, web surfing can be done for 11.2/13 hours on the Yoga Tablet 10 and 8, respectively. The batteries will last a whopping 12.2/14.5 hours on the 10 and 8 inch tablets respectively, watching HD video. Reading ebooks with the backlighting turned down to 20 percent sees the batteries last for 19/21 hours for the Yoga 10 and 8, respectively.

Optional cases

Yoga Tablet 10 Keyboard Cover
Yoga Tablet 10 Keyboard Cover Image: Lenovo

The unique shape of the Yoga Tablets requires special cases from Lenovo. We have tested a sleeve case for each of the Yogas. These protective covers are $29.99 each and are fitted for each Yoga. There is a magnetic flap that seals the tablet inside the case for transport. This case is available in several colors.

The Yoga Tablet 10 has a keyboard cover (not tested) that has a keyboard and trackpad for use with the bigger tablet. It is priced at $69.99 from Lenovo.

Conclusion

Lenovo has taken aim at the Nexus tablets with the Yoga Tablet 8 and Yoga Tablet 10. The Yogas have a design like no other Android tablet currently available, which comes with advantages over the competition. Long battery life, ergonomic design, and a reasonable price point will keep the competitors up at night.

Our testing of both the Yoga Tablet 8 and 10 has impressed us. The outstanding build quality is better than any Samsung tablet we have used, and the low price point makes these tablets a good value proposition.

Yoga Tablet 8 kickstand
Yoga Tablet ports and features Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet

Related stories:

Topics: Mobility, Android, Lenovo, Tablets

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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