Can a built-in kickstand turn an otherwise ordinary Android tablet into a noteworthy productivity device? I say yes. The flip-out kickstand on Lenovo's 10.1-inch (Yoga Tablet 2 makes it much more practical for work than the average Android slate. For starters, you don't need a special case to prop the device up for typing sessions. Plus, the kickstand gives you a better viewing angle when the device is laid flat on a table. I even enjoyed using the Yoga Tablet 2 as a secondary screen for monitoring my email inbox and social media feeds while I worked at my desk.
Plus, Lenovo's machine offers good performance, a large 10.1-inch (25.7 cm) display, handy multitasking software and very long battery life. But with so many good Windows tablets on the market, is an Android tablet still a good investment for work?
The Yoga Tablet 2 sports the same nifty kickstand as other devices in the line, cleverly tucked away behind a cylindrical battery along one edge. To reveal the kickstand, just grab the cylinder and twist. This kickstand pops out more easily than the one on the original Yoga Tablet, which I appreciate.
Kickstand aside, the Yoga Tablet 2 is a gorgeous device. I love the look of the matte-finish silver paint, and the textured back side allows me to get a good grip. The tablet's slim, slightly tapered profile is pretty slick, too.
The battery cylinder can make it slightly awkward to slide the device into a bag, since it protrudes by about three-quarters of an inch (2 cm). On the other hand, it's eye-catching and actually makes the tablet easier to hold in one hand when I wrap my fingers around it.
The Yoga Tablet 2 might weigh you down a bit on your daily commute, though. It's one of the heaviest 10-inch tablets around at a whopping 1.36 lbs. (0.62 kilograms). That's quite a bit heavier than the iPad Air 2 (0.96 lbs., 0.44 kg) and Asus Transformer Pad TF103C (1.25 lbs., 0.57 kg). Even when I gripped the slate in two hands, it started to feel heavy after just a couple of minutes. This is a tablet that's designed to be propped up on a desk, not held for lengthy periods of time.
The Yoga Tablet 2 is advertised as being able to bend into four different modes, though only two of them are really noteworthy: Stand Mode and Tilt Mode.
Stand Mode solves one of the biggest issues of using a tablet for work: How are you supposed to prop the darned thing up? With the Yoga Tablet 2, it's as easy as flipping out the kickstand and setting it on your desk. This is the most essential mode, since it makes it easy to use the tablet like a laptop screen, especially when paired with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse.
Tilt Mode means flipping out the kickstand while setting the tablet down, so it's propped up at a slight angle. This mode is especially useful if you don't have an external keyboard handy, since it provides a decent angle for typing on the touch-screen keyboard. It's not perfect, but it's preferable to tapping out long emails with your thumbs or index fingers.
The third mode is Hang Mode, which means flipping the tablet upside down and hanging it on a hook via the cutout on the kickstand. This mode could theoretically come in handy for showing a presentation, though only for a small group since the tablet's display is small.
Finally there's Hold Mode, which really just means folding the kickstand in and carrying the tablet around.
The ability to run multiple apps on-screen at once can really boost your productivity, though that feature is still rare in Android tablets. That's why it's so notable that Yoga Tablet 2 offers multi-window functionality, even if it is more limited than similar features on Samsung tablets. Only six apps are supported in Lenovo's multi-window mode: Email, Gallery, Chrome, File Browser, Calculator and Video.
Still, the feature is useful for particular tasks, like using the calculator while viewing a spreadsheet in Google Sheets (accessed via the Chrome Web browser). I also enjoyed using Chrome to perform a Web search while drafting an email. It's a handy feature overall, even if the Yoga Tablet 2's 10-inch screen isn't quite big enough to make split-screen productivity feel truly useful.
The Yoga Tablet 2's 10.1-inch (25.4 centimeters) display gives you plenty of room for basic productivity tasks. It's a bit larger than the iPad Air 2's 9.7-inch screen (24.6 cm), though at 1,920 x 1,200 pixels, it's not quite as sharp as Apple's tablet screen (2,048 x 1,536 pixels). The disparity is noticeable when you're viewing two apps in multi-window mode, as described above, since you can fit less information on-screen at once.
Still, for most users, 10 inches is a good compromise between portability and productivity in a tablet. Slates like Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 and Samsung's Galaxy Tab Pro offer larger, 12-inch (30.5 cm) screens, but those devices aren't quite as easy to fit into the front pocket of your bag as is the Yoga Tablet 2.
Size aside, the Lenovo's slate offers better-than-average brightness, easily beating out slates like the LG G Pad 10.1 and Transformer Pad TF103C. A bright screen is a perk, since it makes it easier to work outdoors or in a bright office.
The Yoga Tablet 2 will easily last through the end of the workday and beyond. It racked up an incredible 12 hours and 37 minutes on our battery test, which involves continuous Web browsing over Wi-Fi. That's more than 5 hours longer than the category average.
In comparison, the Asus Transformer Pad TF103C lasted just 7 hours and 17 minutes on the same test. The Yoga Tablet 2 isn't the battery life king of 10-inch tablets, though; that title belongs to the LG G Pad 10.1, which ran for 13 hours and 5 minutes.
Lenovo's slate provides good performance on everyday business tasks like checking email and browsing the Web. Inside, it has a snappy 1.86-GHz Intel Atom Z3745 processor with 2GB of memory. Apps open and close quickly, and multitasking feels snappy. I did notice some slowdown when switching screen orientations (landscape to portrait mode, and vice versa), which was a bit of a nuisance.
If you've used an iPad before, you'll feel right at home on the Yoga Tablet 2. That's because Lenovo took more than a few cues from Apple's iOS 8 interface on the iPad. For example, most Android devices stow your unused apps inside a separate app drawer, but the Yoga Tablet 2 shows all installed apps right on your home screens — just like an iPad does. This approach feels a bit cluttered to me, though it might be more user-friendly for people who are new to Android.
Then there's the Quick Settings menu, which is accessible by swiping up from the bottom of the screen, also like the iPad. It lets you toggle settings such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS without digging through the tablet's main menu. I love this addition, and wish more Android tablets included something similar.
The Yoga Tablet 2's biggest liability as a productivity machine is its operating system. Android is a great platform for mobile computing, but it might be a hard sell with so many great Windows tablets on the market, including a version of the 10-inch Yoga Tablet 2 that runs Windows 8.1.
That slate, and other devices like the Dell Venue 11 Pro 7000, give you the full power of Windows on a tablet, so you can run the same apps you use at the office when you're on the go. That's a big perk if you rely on a specific piece of software to do your job. On the other hand, Android tablets have one big advantage over Windows devices: a surplus of excellent, touch-optimized apps. Desktop Windows programs were designed for a mouse and keyboard, not taps and swipes. That makes Android the better choice if you plan to do use your tablet on the go more often than on your desk.
The Android version of the Yoga Tablet 2 currently costs $249, making it a pretty good bargain for budget-minded business users. On the other hand, the Transformer Pad TF103C is a similar Android slate that comes with an excellent keyboard dock for $300, though it lacks the Yoga's kickstand and long battery life.
The Windows 8.1 version of the 10-inch Yoga Tablet 2 might be the most compelling alternative, since it offers a nearly identical design and similar performance, and comes with a keyboard that snaps onto the hinge via magnets. But starting at $369, it's a bigger investment.
For business users, the kickstand is the Yoga Tablet 2's killer feature, helping it stand out in a sea of "me, too" Android slates. The feature makes it easy to prop up the device for extended typing sessions, and even makes it a pretty good second screen for monitoring your email inbox. The tablet also offers handy multitasking software that's sure to boost your mobile productivity, and has incredible battery life to boot.
But you'll pay for that extra battery life, since the Yoga Table 2 is one of the heaviest 10-inch tablets on the market. And depending on which apps you need, the Android platform might be limiting on a work machine. Still, the Yoga Tablet 2 is one of the sleekest, most versatile tablets on the market, making it a great pick if it meets your needs.