On Tuesday night, I went to an event in Los Angeles for Lenovo. I've been writing recently about the growing spate of interesting, low-cost Windows tablets that are upcoming, of which Lenovo has one, but this was to introduce a different of their new products, the Yoga tablet which runs Android 4.2.2.
I haven't had time to really test the unit fully, but it has some intriguing, indeed unique things about it, which is rare for a tablet these days. Most notably, it has an 18-hour battery life, which is remarkable. (To be clear, that number is under ideal conditions.) And with a microUSB plug, this long-life battery can be used to charge other devices, notably your cell phone, so you don't necessarily have to carry an extra battery pack. Also, unlike other tablets, this one isn't completely flat -- it has a sort of rounded "handle" on the side. This makes for a better, more comfortable grasp, and it also can fold down to a tilt stand position for typing, or as a full stand for watching movies.
(I'm not 100 percent sold on it. It does make it easier to hold the tablet, though it adds some weight -- in fairness, I believe that's where the batteries are installed that allow the long-life. But it also means its back won't lay down perfectly flat. It's not problematic at all, though, and some people may love the benefits of it. Most especially if it's what allows the 18 hours of battery life.)
The specs are good, not great. It has 1 GB RAM and 16 GB capacity. It doesn't have the highest resolution, nor is it the most powerful, but the display is very crisp, and the unit is extremely responsive. It comes in both 8" and 10" models.
I like that the two speakers are on the front -- and the volume control "up" button cleverly will be up even when you flip the tablet end for end. And the sound was surprisingly respectable - a bit thin, of course, but quite crisp. Although the capacity isn't great, it has a microSD slot to expand storage. And there's a slot for a SIM card. It uses a lower-end MTK processor, but as I said above, the unit seems responsive, and most importantly this MTK processor allows the price to be impressively low. The 8" model is just $249, and the 10" is only $299.
As for that processor, it ran YouTube clips smoothly, though there was occasionally a bit of issue with caching. I also checked out the "Watch ESPN" app, which lets you watch anything that's on any of the ESPN channels live. After a few seconds getting the initially-pixilated image clean, it ran quite well.
What I'm also intrigued by is an accessory that is available for the 10" tablet: a bluetooth keyboard which doubles as a screen cover. It retails for $70. I haven't had a chance to test this though, so I don't have any reaction to how well it works.
For those who keep tabs on such things (no pun intended), the event was hosted by Ashton Kutcher, who in an amusing video explained that he wasn't just a spokesman, but was hired by Lenovo as a project engineer, complete with name tag and cubicle.
All in all, the Lenovo Yoga is a very interesting entry into the Android tablet world, that offers several features that standout as uncommon. With Windows tablets on their way, it's an interesting time for the market.
Correction: In an earlier version of this post, the author incorrectly stated that the Lenovo Yoga tablet has 1 MB RAM; the tablet has 1GB RAM. The error has since been corrected.
To read more from Robert J. Elisberg about this or many other matters both large and tidbit small, see Elisberg Industries.