Lenovo's new Yoga Book offers a truly novel take on digital note-taking. The device — which is set to launch in October for $499 — looks a lot like a 10-inch laptop, complete with a folding clamshell design, but it lacks a physical keyboard. Instead, that space is reserved for a flat, pressure-sensitive digitizer pad, which can be used in two ways. First, there's a touch keyboard that can be toggled on or off — but more on that in a minute. The more interesting functionality is the pad's ability to capture digital notes written down with a real ink pen.
That's right — the Yoga Book can capture and digitize notes written on any paper pad laid on top of the digitizer. As you write down notes with the included ink pen, your handwriting will be captured and recreated in digital form on the system's display. The idea is that you'll be left with both a paper copy of your notes, and a digital copy — which is backed up to the cloud, and fully searchable using keywords.
It works because your strokes are actually being detected through the paper and picked up by the digitizer. You can't use just any pen, though. It only works with the included Wacom pen. Since it uses real ink, you'll need to replace the ink cartridge periodically. No word yet on the cost of replacement cartridges, though.
If you've ever used one of Wacom's desktop drawing tablets, the process will feel familiar. And no, you can't write directly on the Yoga Book's display, since all the digitizer tech is built into the system's lower half. Users looking to go all digital with their note-taking would be better off with a digitizer tablet like a Surface or iPad Pro.
That brings us to the touch keyboard and touchpad, which can be toggled on with the press of a button, activating a backlight under the surface. From there, you can use the Yoga Book like a typical laptop — well, sort of. It goes without saying that most users will need some time to acclimate to using a flat keyboard without any physical keys to press. Haptic feedback (i.e., vibrations) does help make using the keyboard feel a bit more tactile. Still, I doubt the Yoga Book is a very practical choice for workers who spend a lot of time typing.
Other hardware highlights include a 10.1-inch, 1080p display; an Intel Atom x5 processor with 4GB of RAM; and 64GB of internal storage. Also worthy of note is that the Yoga Book can be purchased running either Windows 10 or Android.
Either way, this is a niche device that's meant for a very specific audience: students and workers who want to have their pen-and-paper notes digitized automatically. For everyone else, it probably presents too many compromises in terms of day-to-day usability.
Check back for a full review of the Yoga Book after we get our hands on it. In the meantime, check out our picks for the best stylus-equipped tablets currently on the market.