The Windows version of Lenovo's 10-inch Yoga Tablet 2 is a solid tablet with a few great productivity features, including a handy kickstand, a snap-on keyboard and epic battery life. I wouldn't recommend using it as your primary work laptop, but it's a lot better for business than your typical tablet.
Unfortunately, the keyboard has a few big flaws that keep this tablet from meeting its potential as a lightweight work machine. But if you want a portable device for basic productivity on the go, the Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows 8.1 is a decent option.
With or without the keyboard attached, the Yoga Tablet 2 is an eye-catching device. That's mostly due to the big battery cylinder along one edge, which reveals a flip-out kickstand when rotated. The textured plastic back feels good and is easy to grip, while the metal hinge and edging give the tablet a lot of premium appeal.
The kickstand is the Yoga Tablet 2's real killer feature. It goes a very long way toward making what would otherwise be an entertainment device into a viable work machine, since it lets you prop your tablet up while you're typing.
The asymmetrical design can feel a bit awkward, but it has some perks. The battery cylinder props the tablet up slightly on one edge, giving you a better viewing angle when the tablet is laid on a desk, and providing a more natural angle for typing with the on-screen virtual keyboard. You can also extend the kickstand while the tablet is laid down for a steeper angle. Additionally, the battery gives you something to grab onto when holding the device in portrait mode.
The big, round power button on one end of the cylinder is easy to press. Maybe a bit too easy, actually. I found myself accidentally pressing it while adjusting the kickstand, which turns off the display.
While the Android version of the Yoga Tablet 2 comes in a shiny silver, the Windows version is black. Personally, I think the minimalist black color lends the Windows slate a more toned-down, professional appearance. That makes sense, since the keyboard-equipped Windows version is clearly intended to be the more productive of the two.
The Yoga Tablet 2's big battery adds a bit of bulk to the device. Without the keyboard, the tablet weighs 1.39 lbs., which is noticeably heavier than your typical 10-inch tablet; the LG G Pad 10.1, for instance, weighs 1.15 lbs. On the other hand, the 11.6-inch Transformer Book T200 tips the scales at 1.76 lbs. Regardless, Lenovo's slate is more than light enough to carry on your daily commute.
The keyboard that comes in the box alongside the Yoga Tablet 2 is decent, but it's too small and cramped to do any serious work on. I found myself committing uncharacteristic typos on a regular basis as my fingers reached past the keys I wanted to press. Users with large hands will have an even tougher time.
But it's a lot better than a touch screen for firing off quick emails. Plus, the keyboard is attractive and has a solid feel. I especially like the handsome metal trim around the edges. The deck, meanwhile, has a matte-plastic finish that looks good and is easy on the wrists.
The touchpad is small but mostly responsive. Mousing around feels good, but gestures like two-finger scrolling can be a bit finicky. The small size of the touchpad is also an issue; it's annoying to have to lift your finger over and over to move from the top of the screen to the bottom.
Still, the keyboard stacks up favorably among competing products. It has a high-quality look and feel, and it's very light, so it doesn't add much extra weight. It has to be charged separately, though.
Unfortunately, the design of the tablet's kickstand can make the keyboard hard to use. While the 13-inch Yoga Tablet 2 lets you open the kickstand with the press of a button, the 10-inch model requires you to grip the cylinder and twist with your palm.
It's not the easiest thing to do when using the tablet alone, but attaching the keyboard makes opening the kickstand nearly impossible, since the accessory latches magnetically to the same part of the tablet you're supposed to be twisting. Get used to putting the keyboard aside momentarily while you set the Yoga Tablet 2 up on your desk.
Once the tablet is standing, folding the keyboard down can also be tricky, since the magnetic connection is so weak. Sometimes, prying my fingers between the keyboard and tablet caused the keyboard to detach and slide awkwardly onto the desk, keys down. The weak connection also causes the keyboard to occasionally slide out of alignment with the screen.
I don't recommend trying to balance this hybrid on your lap, either. The small kickstand, while rock solid on a desk, just doesn't provide enough stability to make the Yoga Tablet 2 a reliable laptop replacement.
Think about it this way: With a typical laptop computer, most of the weight is centered in the keyboard, which provides a firm base for the display. With the Yoga Tablet 2, the superlight keyboard does almost nothing to support the tablet; the small kickstand takes full responsibility for that, and it's just not big enough to be completely stable on an irregular surface like your lap.
When testing the device in my lap, I constantly feared that the tablet was about to detach from the keyboard and tumble to the floor. In my opinion, frequently using this device like a laptop is just asking for an accident.
The Transformer Book T200 has a better keyboard dock that doesn't rely on a kickstand to prop up the tablet, but it costs $100 more than the Yoga Tablet 2.
The Yoga Tablet 2 has a sharp, 10.1-inch display that's roomy enough for basic productivity tasks. Split-screen multitasking feels extremely cramped, but that's always going to be the case on a screen this small. Otherwise, the 1,920 x 1,200-pixel panel produces bright, rich colors and sharp text.
It's bright, too, putting out 366 nits of brightness at its highest setting. That beats the tablet average (279 nits) and the Transformer Book T200 (235 nits), which is good news if you want to use the device outdoors or in direct sunlight.
The Yoga Tablet 2 is more than powerful enough to handle everyday business tasks like creating documents and editing spreadsheets. The slate is equipped with a 1.33-GHz Intel Atom processor, 2GB of RAM and 32GB of flash storage, giving it enough oomph for basic mobile productivity. The slate felt zippy during my testing time, and I didn't encounter any slowdown while streaming a video and editing a large document with nearly a dozen tabs open in Firefox.
On the Geekbench 3 test, which measures overall performance, the $350 Yoga Tablet 2 scored 2,524, which puts it between the $170 Nextbook 10.1 (2.114) and the $450 Transformer Book T200.
Meanwhile, Lenovo's slate completed our OpenOffice test, which tasked the device with matching 20,000 names in an OpenOffice spreadsheet, in 20 minutes and 59 seconds. That's just a half-minute faster than the Nextbook 10.1, and nearly five minutes slower than the Transformer Book T200.
If you want to use your tablet for meeting remotely with colleagues or clients, via a videoconferencing app like Skype, a good front-facing camera is a nice perk. Unfortunately, the Yoga Tablet 2's design makes its camera placement rather awkward. The front-facing camera is positioned in the middle of the left edge. If you're using the device with the kickstand extended, the person on the other end of your call is going to see a low, off-center image of you. Otherwise, the camera offers average image quality; video appeared colorful and not too grainy. On the bright side, the speakers are loud (maxing out at 90 decibels, compared to the 87-decible tablet average), so you'll have no trouble hearing the person on the other end of your call.
The big, cylindrical battery attached to the Yoga Tablet 2 isn't just for show; it gives the device some truly impressive longevity. The slate ran for an epic 12 hours and 3 minutes in our battery test, which involves continuous Web browsing over Wi-Fi at 100 nits of brightness. Outside of the Yoga line, the only slate that can top that is the LG G Pad 10.1, which ran for 13:55. No other 10-inch hybrid comes close. For example, the Nextbook 10.1 lasted just 7:01, while the Asus Transformer Book T200 ran for a 6:27 minutes.
The Yoga Tablet 2 comes with Windows 8.1, which is a big perk for business users since it means the machine can run most of the software you probably use at the office. Any Windows application can be installed, though heavy-duty 3D and photo-editing apps will chug. Lenovo also sells an Android version of the Yoga Tablet 2, but I personally think that Windows is the more versatile productivity platform. Also note that the Android model doesn't come with a keyboard.
You also get a handful of useful apps that come preloaded on the Yoga Tablet 2. Business users will especially appreciate that the device comes with a free one-year subscription to Microsoft's Office 365 productivity suite, which includes Word, PowerPoint and Excel. You also get 1 TB of cloud storage via OneDrive, Microsoft's cloud storage platform, which is handy for keeping your documents and files backed up and accessible from anywhere. Skype, a solid videoconferencing application, also comes installed.
The Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows is a solid productivity device for the price. At $350, it offers good performance, nearly unbeatable battery life and a seriously useful kickstand, all for $100 less than the Transformer Book T200. The Yoga's keyboard isn't as good as the one that comes with the Transformer, but the fact that it comes with a decent keyboard out of the box instantly makes the Yoga Tablet 2 better for work than most competing slates.