2013
11.22

I bought this €229 Android (4.2 Jelly Bean) tablet a few weeks ago and gave you my first impressions of it when it was delivered.  I thought it was good back then, and to quote 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh, I think it is freakin’ mystical now.

This is not a product tablet.  This is a pure consumption tablet.  Lenovo’s designers sat down and decided to produce a lightweight device that was for surfing, social media, occasional emails, and for travel entertainment.  I think that last one was very important to them.

You’ll not that there’s an unusual cylinder along the edge of the device.  This is the battery.  It allowed Lenovo to do several things:

  • Put in a larger battery than usual (more later).
  • A mini kick stand rotates out of the back of the tablet for when you want to watch video or rest the device down.
  • The very thin device is formed to provide a comfortable hand grip for when you hold the device in portrait mode.

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The form factor works perfectly.  I’ve had it resting on the kickstand almost all of the time since I got the tablet.  And it sits very nicely on an airplane tray/table allowing me to watch a movie even when I have a meal in front of me.

The build is an aluminium frame and lower half, and a high quality textured plastic (not tacky Samsung plastic) upper back.  The screen is excellent – 1280 * 800 is perfectly acceptable on an 8” device.  It’s all about pixels per inch rather than pixel counts when you are talking about display, as any professional printer will tell you.  device is solid.

The processor is running at just 1.2 GHz but that’s a deliberate choice by Lenovo to provide better battery life.  It runs Plants VS Zombies 2 perfectly fine and I am not planning on running AutoCAD on this thing.  It is a companion device designed for consumption, which Lenovo got 100% correct in my opinion.

Why did I buy this tablet when I was going to get a Windows tablet for work?  I had no plans on buying it.  But then I saw it on the Lenovo site and saw the battery life: “Up to 16 hours”.  That got me straight away.  Imagine flying to the USA west coast from Europe with a hop through London, without fearing that the battery would die half way there.  No running to find the 3 power sockets in the terminal at Chicago O’Hare.  No squeezing out the last drop of juice at the gate in Heathrow before boarding the 747.  The promise was too much. How did it do?

Last week I flew from Berlin to San Francisco via London Heathrow.  That’s a 1.5 hour hop followed by an 11+ hours flight, with 3 hours in London.  The battery was at 100% when I left the hotel in Berlin.  I used the tablet in airplane mode to watch video for almost every second of the flight, probably around 11 hours of video play time.  I did not go near a power socket on the journey.  I checked into my hotel in San Francisco and the battery was at 54%.  When you do the maths, the tablet would have played video for 23 hours!!!

What!!!!  23 hours of video play potential.  That promised 16 hours is a lie.  A good lie by marketing!!!!  I’ve talked with some of my fellow MVPs about this and we’re in agreement – we think Lenovo played it very safe, promising a still amazing “up to 16 hours” and delivering way beyond this.  Who would believe a statement of “up to 23 hours”?  Does this tablet drain power from dark matter in the cosmos?  By the way, the Yoga Tablet 10 has a bigger battery and promises “up to 18 hours”.

The only downside I can find are the speakers.  Every portable device will suck in comparison with the HTC One (Android phone) on this front.  I have no idea how HTC manage to do what they have done.  The speakers on the Yoga are tinny.  I cranked up the output using the supplied Dolby app.  But to be honest, my Bose headphones are plugged in most of the time, and the laptop’s volume only needed to be on 8/14 during a flight for perfect loudness.

I’ve been using the Yoga during my sleep deprived jetlag zombie hours while over here.  Surfing (Dolphin), social media (Facebook and Tweetcaster), media (Netflix and MX Player), all work superbly.  I’ve checked into flights, used the alarm, and kept up email.  Whatever I want, it’s there in the Google Play store.  And the tablet is siting on the kickstand by the bed whenever I wake up at the wee hours of the morning.

I am blown away by the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8.  It contrasts 100% with my poor quality experience with the Dell Venue 8 Pro.  To me, the Lenovo Tablet 8 has set the bar for a mini consumption tablet.  The form factor, the quality, the build, don’t forget the huge Android app catalog, and the price make this a player in the market that you cannot overlook.

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  1. That seems to be the 1st assymetrical (with cylinder grip) tablet after NotionInk Adam failed. Though Adam also promised a very special screen and replaceable batteries to give you even more time.

    Alas, year ago I said “enough of waiting” and purchased Chinese Retina-based tablet.

    I am glad to know that this “cylinder grip” is really that practical that it seemed. But… it is just not enough in 2014. I wish it also offered sunlight-ready 3Qi-grade or ultra-smooth Apple-grade screen…

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