Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 User Review

*This is a review of a loaned product from Lenovo Malaysia*

I’ve had the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 for more than a couple of months now. Perhaps I don’t want to return it quite yet.  Perhaps I really like how Lenovo has designed such an amazing form factor for a tablet. Perhaps it’s so thin and premium in built. Perhaps many other reasons.

Nevertheless, I am quite happy to be holding the tablet that Ashton Kutcher helped promote, but the Chinese smart device manufacturer is really coming out of it’s shell and designing really good stuff lately.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8

Before I dive into my full review of the 8″ tablet, here’s a quick specification overview of the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8:-

  • 8″ LED IPS display (1280 X 800)(189 ppi)
  • 1.2 GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 processor
  • 16 GB internal storage (expandable up to 64 GB microSD) + 1 GB RAM
  • Powered by Android 4.2 Jelly Bean OS
  • 5 megapixel rear camera, 1.6 megapixel front facing camera
  • 0.3″ thin, weighing only 400 grams
  • 6,000 mAh non-removable battery (up to 17 hours 4G LTE talktime)
  • Connectivity : 3G HSPA+, WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Available in Silver or Black colours

For more info on features and specs, check out the official Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 website at http://shopap.lenovo.com/my/en/tablets/ideatab/yoga/yoga-8/

 

Unboxing the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 - Box Packaging
Box packaging of the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8
Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 - Unboxing
Unboxing the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8

Inside the box pacakaging, you’ll find the device itself, a 2-pin adapter charger, USB to micro USB syncing and charging cable and user manuals.

According to the Lenovo AP Shop website here, it states that the promotion comes bundled with the Folio case. Which looks like this…

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 folio case

As a crazy woman who loves collecting smart device casing, I wish the review unit I have comes with one. It has been a little difficult carrying the tablet around in my handbag without a proper case. And it didn’t quite fit into my other generic casing either. 🙁

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 - Tablet in hand
Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 in my hands

 

Hardware : Design and Build Quality

OK. Let’s get to the design and build quality of the tablet itself.

Because saying Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 can be a mouthful throughout the blogpost, I shall now just call it Yoga 8. 🙂

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 - Front and Back
Front and Back of Yoga 8

The front and back of the Yoga 8 looks really nice and premium. The tablet is built with metal aluminium and has a solid build quality.

Although the bezel around the display screen is quite wide. However, it doesn’t make the device big and bulky, because it’s oh-so-slim.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 - Hardware 2
Hardware,ports and buttons of the Yoga 8

As you can see, the device is at a slim slim 0.3″ at the side. The only bulkiness is the bottom part of it, where it houses the battery and Power On/Off button on the left and 3.5 mm headphone jack on the right.

At the back of the cylindrical bottom on the left, is the 5 megapixel rear camera. Next to it, the “flap” where you can swivel to turn it into a stand. This is a unique design indeed, unlike the kickstand in the Microsoft Surface Pro.

See Also : Microsoft Surface Pro User Review

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 - in hands
Yoga 8 in my hands

In my hands, the Yoga 8 is not huge. In fact, the 8″ display, in my opinion, is the perfect size for a tablet. Not 10.1′ that’s a little shy of the size of a small laptop, or 7″ which is just slightly bigger than phablet smartphones. 8″ is truly the perfect size for a tablet that’s big enough for desktop webpage browsing, and portable enough to put in your bag to carry around everywhere.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 - kickstand
Rear kick stand accessible when you twist the “hump”

The odd design is weird at the beginning. But after less than half an hour, I see how useful it is and start wondering why not all tablets are designed like this.

For the times when you’re watching videos and want some hands-free placement on the table, you no longer need a casing with a stand. Just flip the stand out and place it on a table. Perfect!

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 - stand
The flip out stand lets it sit nicely on a table for movie viewing
Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 - front facing speakers
Front facing speakers

Smart people of Lenovo also built the speakers to face the front, right underneath the display screen. Just like with the HTC One, I feel this should be the default position for speakers, because it makes perfect sense. Obviously, you want to look at the screen and have great sound coming at you, not behind the device?!

When the stand on the Yoga 8 is open, and rested on the table while you watch a video, the audio comes at you with this front facing speakers. Sound quality is not excellent, but works well enough for good sound volume and quality.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 - bump in hands
The bottom hump provides the perfect grip for single hand use

When you’re reading, like me with my news feed reading every night in bed, holding the tablet at the “hump” is so ergonomical. Err… is that a word?

Well, anyways, it feels perfect to hold in your hand for single hand use. The hump fits your fingers perfectly and gives the perfect grip for long use. The fact that it weighs a mere 400 grams, with such a slim profile, really is amazing for reading.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 - micro SIM slot
Hidden micro SIM slot was a little confusing

I feel like an idiot with the micro SIM slot hidden behind the kickstand. There’s 2 slots next to each other – the one on the left is for micro SIM, while the one on the right is for micro SD. There’s a plastic cover placed on the micro SD side, which I assumed was a cover for when the slot was not in use.

I spent a good 15 minutes trying to pop my micro SIM in and felt the spring mechanism, but my SIM just wouldn’t sit in place.

Then, I took the plastic “cover” and used it to push my micro SIM in and it worked!

So, the idiot in me yell, “That’s not a dust cover, stupid! It was meant to be used to push your micro SIM in the slot, where your finger cannot possibly reach this small, slim slot!”

I hope you guys wouldn’t have that idiotic moment like me. Now that I’m telling you how it works, I hope you’re better informed now. *blush*

 

Software and Features

Once my micro SIM was popped in. The Yoga 8 fully charged, it was time I powered it all on and configured it with my Google ID and let Google Play Store automatically download all my pre-installed and purchased apps. Handy!

Yoga 8 is powered by Android 4.2 “Jelly Bean” OS, which is, 2 OS version behind the latest Android 4.4 Kit Kat OS. Some other sites have reported their Yoga 8 is running on Android 4.3 OS, which is a good sign. I suppose the update should be coming soon.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 - Homescreen
Homescreen and navigation

Lenovo has obviously included their theme / skin on top of the Android OS, which is subtle but noticable nonetheless.

Honestly, I am not a huge fan of the Lenovo User Interface (UI) as it  feels a little old school. Like I’m using a device that’s 5 years old. The design elements look a little outdated, eventhough this is a new device, somewhat. There’s certainly more Lenovo can do to make the UI and theme and navigation a lot smoother and more beautiful. Is it the Chinese manufacturer thing?

I certainly hope Ashton Kutcher, now appointed as their Product Engineer, who’s going to deeply influence the design of new Lenovo devices, will make some design influence here.

Homescreen has a nice gradient wallpaper and the usual navigation works. Slide down from the top on the left side, reveals the Notification Centre. Sliding down from the top on the right, is the shortcut toggle for Bluetooth, WiFi and the usual suspects.

There’s no App Drawer (usually shown by dots in a square) on this interface. That’s because the homescreen doubles as one for widgets as well as App Drawer when you swipe to the right.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 - Shortcut
Shortcut menu from homescreen

There are 3 vertical dots on the bottom right of the homescreen, which opens up some quick shortcuts to add homescreens, widgets, change themes and wallpaper and other settings.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 - Browser
Built in browser supports tab browsing
Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 - Keyboard
On Screen keyboard has good auto correct and word prediction

The usual browser and keyboard is good. No major issues here. Fast and intuitive.

Lenovo has included some pre-installed apps on the Yoga 8.  Some of them are the usual suspects like File Managers, Kingsoft Office (for MS Office editing) and Power ManagerHD.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 - Maps & Navigation
Default Google Maps and Navigate 6 (3rd party turn-by-turn navigation app)
Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 - Preinstalled Apps
Other pre-installed apps
Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 - SHAREit
SHAREit allows you to wirelessly share files and photos

Lenovo included a feature called “Smart Side Bar” in the Yoga 8 that showcases the rotate features when you change the orientation of the tablet between landscape and portrait view. By default, this is switched on. You can always turn this off in the Settings menu.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 - Smart Side Bar
Smart Side Bar for when you rotate the tablet between landscape and portrait view

Essentially, when you turn the orientation of the tablet, it shows you (for a few seconds) the mode you’d be using for this view – between “Hold”, “Stand” or “Tilt” and the recommended apps for this view:-

  • “Hold” mode – When the kickstand is closed and you’re holding the tablet in one hand for reading. Best for reading long webpages, messages and e-book reading
  • “Stand” mode – For when the stand is open and it’s sitting upright for video viewing
  • “Tilt” mode – When the kickstand is open but the tablet placed flat on the table with the hump elevated off the surface, for typing email replies
Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 - Txtr e-Reader
Txtr e-Reader pre-installed

One of those apps that works best in the “Hold” mode for single handed use is Txtr e-reader, pre-installed in the Yoga 8. It also comes with a full e-book store for you to purchase more e-books to read on the tablet.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 in hand

Overall, the Yoga 8 is easy to use and navigate. The performance is speedy and is perfect for reading, especially with the “hump” for the “Hold” mode.

The toggle of rotation between landscape and portrait can take a small millisecond for the tablet to adjust though. However, if you turn off the Smart Side Bar shortcut settings, it will reduce that small lag. Once you got used to the different mode to use the tablet, with or without the kickstand, you can pretty much turn that Smart Side Bar off anyways.

For the beginning, you’ll be impressed how Lenovo has designed this tablet to work well depending on your use – for reading, for video watching, for typing. Smart design, from a hardware to a software perspective, very well thought through.

 

Camera and Image Quality

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 - rear camera
5 megapixel rear camera, without flash

The rear camera on the Yoga 8 is a 5 megapixel shooter, without any flash. Which was disappointing. Still, I don’t feel it’s a big mishap, because I really dislike people snapping pictures with their tablet.

In most cases, when you really have no better camera with you than your tablet, which is rare, this would suffice, I suppose.

Here are some sample images taken with the Yoga 8. Images are not edited or resized, so hover to view the picture condition and click to view original enlarged version:-

The rear camera doesn’t exactly take the best picture, in my tests. Pictures come out rather grainy and noisy in my opinion, even in good lighting conditions.

The front facing camera, even just a mere 1.6 megapixel, performed better than I anticipated.

 

Battery Life

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 - Power Manager HD
Power ManagerHD

Lenovo even included Power ManagerHD to help you manage different settings to prolong Yoga 8’s battery life.

My tablet usage differs very much from  my smartphone usage. It’s hard for me to judge the battery life of a tablet. My usual Smasung Galaxy Note 8 can normally last me a couple of days before charging, because I barely use it in the day. The only time I drain my tablet battery is when I go through excessive reading hours at a time.

So, I don’t quite have screenshots of the battery life for the Yoga 8. But compared to my Note 8, it seems to fare much better. In my light to moderate usage, there are days that the Yoga 8 lasted hours longer than my Note 8, even with the usual reading at night use only.

So, I tend to believe Lenovo here, when they say that the Yoga 8 can last up to 18 hours of use. In fact, when you toggle the settings on the Power Manager HD to optimise your battery performance, like turning data off when the tablet is on standby, I am certain it would make the battery juice last really long.

 

Pricing and Availability

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8

The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 is on sale at a Recommended Retail Price (RRP) of RM 999 at authorised Lenovo retailers (list here).

There are currently no telco bundled plans for the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8, but at a low price of RM 999, at the time of writing, and no indication if there ever will be.

 

Conclusion

After reviewing the Yoga 8 for so long, as I mentioned in the start of this blogpost, I really don’t want to give it back. The hump design works so well for single handed use when I read in bed at night. Even when I’m catching up on my YouTube subscriptions, I can just twist the kickstand out and let is rest on my bedside table for perfect viewing angle.

The design of this tablet has everything I love. The thinking behind this form factor, which resonates in the software side of the tablet’s feature makes so much sense. No wonder it’s Ashton-approved!

 

Things I Like

  • The design – the hump is ergonomical for single hand use, and the kickstand is the intelligent in its design
  • Front facing speakers – Every device should have it
  • Price point – come on, all this for RM 999?

Things I Dislike

  • Better rear camera – bump it up to 8 megapixel at least, and add a flash while they’re at it
  • Newer OS and software – no excuse for being 2 versions behind
  • Lenovo UI is not great – I’m not a fan, sorry. Help them, Ashton Kutcher!

 

Overall, I am quite impressed with  the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8. The design and form factor really makes a lot of sense, for most people’s use of a tablet, although not many generic casing would fit this “hump”. Build quality is also impressive, being all metal aluminium and feels premium and solid.

At the price tag of RM 999, I would certainly recommend this to anyone looking to buy a tablet. Already, I completely agree with the 8″ display screen and the design of this twistable kickstand. Yes, go buy it!!!

 

For more info, visit Lenovo Malaysia website at http://lenovo.com/my/en/ and *LIKE* Lenovo Malaysia Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/LenovoMY