With a snap-on keyboard packed in, the 13-inch Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows looks like a tablet built for productivity. But, due to its lack of ports and unstable keyboard hinge, the device is hard to recommend to serious business users.
The slate has plenty of good points, including a gorgeous display, truly epic battery life and a nifty flip-out kickstand that makes it a lot more versatile than your typical tablet. But I wouldn't recommend replacing your current business laptop with the Yoga Tablet 2. For the Yoga Tablet 2's $599 asking price — or just a bit more — you can get something a lot more practical for work.
The Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows shouldn't be confused with the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro, a similar 13-inch tablet with two key differences: It runs on Android instead of Windows, and has a built-in projector to beam presentations onto the nearest wall. Unfortunately, Lenovo stripped the projector out for the Windows version.
Like that device, the Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows is sure to turn heads, thanks to its distinctive design that includes a large, cylindrical battery along one edge. The asymmetrical, imbalanced design can feel a bit awkward when you're holding up the tablet, but the cylinder does give you something to hold. Plus, the tablet's textured plastic back makes it easy to grip. I also like the metal hinge and edging, which give the device a premium feel.
This Lenovo slate is one of the heaviest tablets on the market. The device weighs a whopping 2.27 lbs. alone, and the keyboard adds even more weight. It's quite a bit heavier than other large tablets, such as the 12.2-inch Galaxy Note Pro (1.6 lbs.) and the 12-inch Surface Pro 3 (1.8 lbs.). The slate is also really big, measuring 13.1 x 8.8 x 0.1-0.5 inches, compared to the Surface Pro 3's 11.5 x 7.93 x 0.36 inches. If you want a tablet that's easy to carry with you on your daily commute, this isn't it.
The battery cylinder along the Yoga Tablet 2's bottom edge hides a flip-out kickstand, which opens with the press of a button on the slate's backside. The kickstand props up the device while you're using it with the included keyboard, just as you'd use a regular laptop.
Well, at least in theory, it does. In practice, however, the Yoga Tablet 2 feels more than a little unstable when balanced in my lap. It's top-heavy, and the light keyboard and small kickstand just don't provide enough stability; I was constantly worried that the device was going to break apart and tumble to the floor. If you want a hybrid laptop you can actually use in your lap, even infrequently, the Yoga Tablet 2 is a poor choice.
The kickstand also has a few other uses that don't involve the keyboard. If you flip it out and lay the tablet on your desk, it props up one end of the device by a few inches, providing a pretty good angle for typing on the touch-screen keyboard. This feature might sound like a gimmick, but I found it to be seriously useful.
You can also use a hole in the kickstand to hang the tablet on any hook. I'm not sure how useful that feature really is, but it could come in handy for showing a presentation to a small group.
The keyboard feels great, thanks to its well-spaced, full-size keys that provide good feedback when pressed. The keys also have a decent amount of travel, so extended typing sessions are relatively comfortable, and the touchpad is generously sized and responsive. Plus, the accessory is extremely thin and light, without feeling flimsy.
However, the design of the hinge threatens to spoil the whole experience. The keyboard attaches to the bottom of the tablet via a magnetic flap, which is similar to the way the Surface Pro 3 connects to its keyboard. Unfortunately, the Lenovo used weak magnets, and didn't include any guides to keep the keyboard attached and lined up. During my testing time, it was constantly slipping off and becoming misaligned. My biggest issue was trying to pry open the pair, which usually caused the keyboard to become detached and slide onto the desk, keys down.
Ports and connectivity
The other big factor that makes it hard to call the Yoga Tablet 2 a true laptop replacement is the lack of even a single full-size USB port. Instead, you get a single micro USB port, a mini HDMI port and a microSD card slot.
Sure, you can buy an adapter to link regular USB accessories — like a mouse, flash drive or external hard drive — to the micro USB port. But the fact that this single port is also the charging port cripples your ability to link basic accessories without even more dongles and adapters.
I do appreciate the mini HDMI port, though; it's something you don't see on many tablets. The port makes it easy to link the slate to a large TV, monitor or projector for work presentations.
For a laptop computer, I've always thought that a 13-inch screen strikes the best balance between portability and productivity. Smaller displays can make multitasking difficult, and bigger displays are too bulky to carry with you.
That holds true for the Yoga Tablet 2's 13.3-inch touch-screen display, which feels roomy even when you're multitasking. Editing a spreadsheet in Excel certainly feels much more comfortable than on the smaller 10-inch model. Plus, the display is sharp, with a quad-HD resolution of 2,560 x 1,440 pixels. Text looks crisp and readable, and you can fit a lot of content on-screen at once.
The slate's 16:9 aspect ratio makes the screen feel awkwardly narrow when you're holding the device in portrait mode. It works fine for a laptop, but for a tablet, I much prefer the wider 3:2 aspect ratio of the Surface Pro 3, or the extra-wide 4:3 ratio of the iPad Air 2.
If there's one good reason to choose the Yoga Tablet 2 over other devices, it's battery life. The slate ran for an incredible 12 hours and 59 minutes, making it one of the longest-lasting tablets we've ever tested. Only the LG G Pad 10.1 lasted longer (13:55), while the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10 HD+ ran for just about as long (13:01). That's a big plus for people who need a device that can last through the end of the workday and beyond.
Lenovo's slate comes with neither a stylus nor a pressure-sensitive display. If you want to take notes or draw diagrams directly on your tablet's display, the Surface Pro 3 or Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 — both of which come with a pen and digitizer-enhanced display — are better options.
The Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows provides pretty good performance for basic business tasks like checking email and editing documents, thought it can sometimes feel sluggish while multitasking. The slate runs on a 1.86-GHz Intel Atom Processor with 4GB of RAM.
On the Geekbench 3 test, which measures overall performance, the Yoga Tablet 2 scored 2,540. That's a bit better than the tablet average of 2,375, but not great for a work machine. In comparison, the $575 Acer Switch 11 (Intel Core i3 processor and 4GB of RAM) scored 3,459, and the $699 Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi (Intel Core M processor and 4GB of RAM) scored 5,742. On the more premium end, our $1,299 Surface Pro 3 review unit (Intel Core i5-4300U processor and 8GB of RAM) scored 5,665.
The Yoga also really struggled on our OpenOffice test, which tasked the machine with matching 20,000 names and addresses. Lenovo's tablet took 21 minutes to finish, which is more than twice as long as the Switch 11 and five times as long as the Surface Pro 3, which finished in an impressive 4 minutes and 43 seconds.
The Yoga Tablet 2 might seem affordable compared to competing machines; its $599 price tag is a full $200 lower than that of the cheapest Surface Pro 3, and that's before you buy the Surface's $129 keyboard, which is sold separately. But I actually consider the Yoga to be somewhat pricey for the hardware you get.
For example, the 11.6-inch Asus Transformer Book T200 can be had for just $460. It offers slightly better performance, plus a ton of ports, including two full-size USB ports and an Ethernet port. Then, there's the 13.3-inch, $699 Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi, which doesn't have more ports than the Yoga does but offers much better performance and comes with a much more stable keyboard dock. It's a bit more expensive but a lot more capable of handling a heavy workload.
If you don't really need a detachable display, Asus' ZenBook UX305 is an excellent, affordable option. The superthin 13.3-inch Ultrabook starts at just $699.
At a glance, Lenovo's 13-inch Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows has a lot going for it. You get a big, beautiful display, a handy kickstand and truly epic battery life.
Unfortunately, the awkwardly designed keyboard hinge, the lack of a full-size USB port and middling performance make it a subpar work machine. If you must have a detachable hybrid, there are more capable machines in its price range. It might be worth a purchase for those with only basic computing needs, but most business users should skip it.