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Review: Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro

It's hard to fit this giant Android tablet into a conventional slot. The pico projector is a first for an Android tablet and very cool, if a bit difficult to use.
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1 of 13 James Kendrick/ZDNet

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro with pico projector

When Lenovo jumps into a product category it doesn't mess around; it produces a number of products to give buyers a good choice. That's what it has done with the Yoga tablet line, with models of varying sizes for both Android and Windows 8.1.

The newest tablet, the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro, is one of the largest tablets on any platform, with a 13.3-inch display that offers extremely high resolution (2560x1440). It features a premium audio system including a 5-watt subwoofer and two 1.5-watt front speakers. Last but not least, it features a first for an Android tablet, an integrated pico projector that blows up the screen to 50 inches while shooting it to a flat vertical surface.

Yoga Tablet 2 Pro hardware specs as reviewed:

CPU  Intel® Atom Z3745
OS  Android 4.4.2 (KitKat)
Display  13.3” QHD (2560x1440) IPS
Memory/ storage  2GB/ 32GB
Cameras  Rear: 8MP f2.2 Auto-focus, Front: 1.6MP HD
Ports  microSD (up to 64GB), microUSB, 3.5mm audio jack
Battery  9600mAh, up to 8 hours, up to 5 hours video playback with projector
Connectivity  Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n (MiMo, Dual Band), Bluetooth® 4.0
Weight  2.09lbs

The build quality of all Yoga tablets we've reviewed has been good, and the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro meets the standard. It features a thin silver plastic casing with the Yoga cylinder on one side of the screen. This cylinder houses the large battery, power button, and the pico projector.

The Yoga Tablet 2 Pro has a stand that extends out of the cylinder to allow using the tablet at variable viewing angles and configurations. It locks into the unit for use as a tablet, and the cylinder forms a nice handle.

See related: Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 and 10: Unique design on a budget (hands on) | Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro: Very good Ultrabook (review)

Pushing a button on the back releases the stand for use at a low profile for typing and upright for viewing video. The latter is what the tablet is designed to do well, either on the bright display or with the pico projector. Lenovo has put a large notch in the stand for hanging the tablet on a hook, although why you'd want to do that is not easy to imagine.

Underneath the stand is a covered receptacle that houses the microSD memory slot. This will handle memory cards up to 64GB.

There are two cameras on the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro. The front webcam is 1.6MP, and the 8MP rear camera takes decent photos. It does well in low light conditions due to the f2.2 lens. 

The audio system complements video playing nicely, with a 5W subwoofer on the back under the stand's position (when closed), and two 1.5W speakers on the front of the cylinder. These JBL audio components sound nice and are a welcome feature on a tablet. Lenovo has included a Dolby app to tailor the audio playback to personal preference and to the media being played.

Using the pico projector is a mixed bag. It's more of a gimmick than a useful feature. It projects the image out of the left side of the cylinder, and tablet placement is critical to get a level projection on a wall or screen. The stand must be in a low angle position, and tilted just right to get a good projected image.

There is a slider next to the lens for focusing the projected display, which can be as big as 50 inches. This slider is stiff to move, making fine adjustments very difficult. This turns using the projector into an exercise in frustration.

A button on the left side of the tablet toggles the pico projector on and off.

Another problem with using the pico projector is a function of the technology. To project the display onto the wall, the tablet must be placed the proper distance from the screen to get the best experience. That often means the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro must be set up in the middle of the room, something not always easy to do. A TV tray with legs turned out to be the best way to set this up while testing.

When everything is set up just right, the projected display looks pretty good in a dark room. The presence of any light at all quickly degrades the video quality.

In the time I've been using the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro, I've never grown comfortable with it. The tablet is so large that it doesn't feel right holding it in the hand, cylinder grip and all. That means it usually gets set down to use it, and it's so big it needs a decent size surface. The tablet is actually bigger than the Yoga 3 Pro hybrid laptop I recently reviewed.

The Intel processor runs things snappily, and does so for around eight hours on a charge. The battery life drops to about five hours when displaying video over the pico projector. This battery life is made possible due to the huge 9600 mAh battery in the cylinder.

The display is drop-dead gorgeous and a joy to use. Everything looks so vivid and crisp. 

On the left side of the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro (when propped up for viewing video) is the power button on the cylinder, the microUSB port for charging, and the audio jack. The right side houses the pico projector in the cylinder, the focus slider, and the projector on/off button.

Lenovo has put the KitKat version (Android 4.4.2) on the Yoga with a custom homescreen configuration. This consists of three homescreens designed to organize apps for newbies. Experienced Android users may want to replace this with a more configurable option. There is a collection of frequently used features and apps that you can expose by swiping up from the bottom of the display.

The Yoga Tablet 2 Pro from Lenovo is a decent tablet, but it's big. It's hard to find a way to use it comfortably given the size, and it requires a large surface to set it down and use it. Its weight  (2.09 pounds) doesn't facilitate using it in the hand for very long.

Lenovo is pushing the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro as a home entertainment system due to the audio system, high-resolution display, and the pico projector. It would also serve those needing a large display to work with drawings.

The tablet as reviewed has a MSRP of $499, and it's available from Lenovo and major retailers. The price is reasonable for such a high-end tablet for those wanting the biggest tablet they can find.

Pros:

  • Great display
  • Pico Projector

Cons:

  • Huge
  • Heavy
  • Pico Projector

Reviewer's rating: 7 out of 10

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Yoga Tablet 2 Pro typing mode

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Yoga Tablet 2 Pro side view

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Yoga Tablet 2 Pro

The huge 13.3-inch display makes it hard to hold.

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Yoga Tablet 2 Pro

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Yoga Tablet 2 Pro

Note the big cylinder and pico projector on the end.

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Yoga Tablet 2 Pro

Kickstand in action.

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Yoga Tablet 2 Pro

The back of the tablet shows the stand and subwoofer in the middle.

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Yoga Tablet 2 Pro Subwoofer

The 5W JBL subwoofer. The button above is the stand release.

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Yoga Tablet 2 Pro

The microSD slot is under a cover as shown.

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Yoga Tablet 2 Pro

The notch exposing the subwoofer can be used to hang the tablet from a hook, according to Lenovo.

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Yoga Tablet 2 Pro

The pico projector in the cylinder, projector on/off button on the right.

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Yoga Tablet 2 Pro

The pesky pico projector focus slider.

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