Besides having celebrity product engineer Ashton Kutcher’s mark on it, this Yoga tablet’s claim to fame is its status as the Yoga line’s first multi-mode tablet.
Designed for the person on the perpetual go, the Yoga Tablet’s unconventional form allows it to be used in no less than three positional modes, intended to make it suitable in any situation. Besides that, portability comes in the form of a lightweight design and purported 18-hour battery life, apparently negating the need to lug around additional battery packs.
But is this enough for the Yoga 10 to rise, wheat-like from the rest of the tablet chaff? Or is it simply a flashy suit on an otherwise ordinary gadget? We spend some time with the flexible device to see if it's able to bend and break its competition.
Build: does my bum look cylindrical in this?
The cylindrical bottom of the Yoga Tablet 10 is the most obvious point of difference between it and every other tablet out there. The device tapers from a mere 3mm to 8.1mm to accommodate its barrelled bottom. At its thinnest, it gives even the iPad Air a run for its money. It also brings to mind memories of the elderly, ergonomically sound Sony Xperia Tablet S.
In terms of appearance, the Yoga Tablet 10 is hard to fault. The bezel could afford a little trimming to up the sleekness factor, but overall it looks more premium than its asking price might suggest, with a subtly textured back and sleek aluminium finish. And that nicely cushy power button built into one end of the cylindrical bottom is a nice touch that makes the best of its design.
Tucked away at the back of its cylindrical bottom is a built-in kickstand - a handy feature that could save you the money you might otherwise spend on a stand-integrated cover. To pull it out you’ll either have to work your finger into a thin groove, which is a frankly nail-breaking process, or you could wrap your hand around the cylindrical bottom and twist it out. The latter is probably the wiser choice, but as the barrel is completely smooth it can still prove rather tricky. A textured grip would have been sensible.
Modes: the triple threat
Its built-in kickstand means the Yoga Tablet 10 can be used in three different modes: the usual tablet mode, stand mode, and tilt mode. That cylindrical bottom makes a world of differencewhen you're holding it, providing a better grip than the thin edge of the usual tablet. Again, some texturing would make for an even steadier grip, but the size of it is just right and it feels very natural in the hand.
In stand mode you’ll have to mind how hard you tap the screen as the narrow kickstand doesn't provide a very stable lean-on. We managed to knock it over a couple of times in our furious email typing.
While tilt mode largely solves that problem, it also puts the tablet at a non-adjustable height. So like it or not, you’ll have to make do with it. There’s also the small niggling problem of the Lenovo logo being upside down, which could pre-empt a panic attack in the obsessive-compulsive. You can’t even ignore it as it’s right above the display.
Display: HD, but only just
Wrapped in a multitouch HD display, the Yoga Tablet 10 spreads its 1280 x 800 resolution over a considerable 10.1in of viewing space. While it offically meets the requirements for high definition, the viewing experience falls a fair way short of the best tabs in town.
When spread across 10.1in of screen space, that resolution equates to a distinctly unspectacular 149 pixels per inch, making it one of the smudgier displays around, especially when compared to the iPad Air’s 264 ppi or the Nexus 10’s 301 ppi. While it’s not like everything is a blur on the screen, you simply don't get the crispness that we've come to expect in 2014, even at this price. If you fancy the design but want added sharpness you could go for the Tablet 10's 8-inch sibling, which offers up a slightly better ppi of 189.
Performance: The little engine that would if it could
With its 1.2GHz quad core processor, the Yoga Tablet 10 is floating among the bottom of the 9-11 inchers available, which tend to come in around the 1.9GHz mark these days. That relative lack of power means starting-up apps is a bit sluggish at times, but once they’re up and ready there’s basically no lag, even if they’re pretty intensive games.
There's only 16GB of internal storage, but a slot for memory cards up to 64GB means that if you want you can store a whole bunch of multimedia files without relying on cloud storage. This feels like a tablet more suitable for work use than entertainment, though, as that less-than-average screen will definitely get in the way of you savouring Breaking Bad reruns, and you'll have to produce some seriously bonkers spreadsheets to fill up even 16GB.
Battery Life: Redemption is here
It may lack something in the screen department, but the Yoga Tablet 10 does deliver on its battery longevity. While we weren't able to test its full 18-hour WiFi web-browsing limits during our alotted testing time, we did loop YouTube videos for almost an entire workday and still had enough battery to last the commute back home and an evening on the sofa.
To make it last even longer, the Yoga comes preloaded with an energy-saving app so you can tweak settings to squeeze as much juice as possible out of the 9000 mAh battery.
With the average battery life of other tablets hovering around the 10-hour mark, this puts the Yoga Tablet 10 in good stead with those who can’t be fussed to lug around additional battery packs or locate power sockets on the go.
Camera: Eye see you
Tablets never take good photos, and the 5-megapixel snapper on the Yoga Tablet 10 is certainly not going to capture anything worthy of National Geographic. It will suffice in those that's-amazing-and-this-is-the-only-camera-I've-got moments - there's not a lot of detail in shots, but colours are true and vibrant when the lighting allows for it.
You've got to give props to Lenovo for doing something a bit different with its new tablets, and even more for coming up with a design that's both unique, premium, and mighty affordable.
You can't help but wonder how much those quirky embelishments and fancy materials have increased costs, though, and it's meant that corners have been cut in vital areas such as display quality and power.
It's a big tablet for little money, though, and that distinctive design and excellent battery life will make it appealing to many - just don't let the premium aesthetics fool you into thinking the innards are equally high-end.
Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10
Situationally flexible, uniquely designed and pleasantly affordable, the Yoga Tab 10 is just let down by display and power disappointments