The Yoga Tablet 10 is an interesting tablet. Instead of focusing on things like screen resolution or light-weight design it instead makes a few sacrifices in order to provide better battery life and a useful form-factor.
The end result is not necessarily a tablet that is ‘better’ than the competition, but in boasting a different suite of strengths and weaknesses it’s found a way to differentiate itself, giving consumers a reason to pay attention.
It rocks a quad-core 1.2GHz CPU, 1GB of RAM, Android 4.2 and 16GB of on-board storage for an affordable price tag of just AU$399.
The Yoga Tab 10 sports an impressively thin design. At its thinnest edge it’s a little over 5mm, angling out to about 8mm just before it hits the thicker business-end.
The large cylindrical fold houses both an extended battery pack and the tablet’s built-in stand. At one end is the click-in power button and at the other is the 3.5mm headphone jack.
The stand allows the Yoga Tab to stand upright or lie down at an angle. It’s also semi-adjustable. It lets the tablet lean back to around 45 degrees before tipping over and can be put at any angle between its maximum ad minimum extensions for lying-down use. It’s a little on the stiff-side and usually requires two hands to open. This feels like something that may loosen up with extended use, but for now it’s a small complaint that we feel could be improved on, but didn't hinder our enjoyment.
This isn’t the first tablet to boast a built-in stand by a long way; plenty of others have come before, but who cares? Just because you’re not first doesn’t mean you’re not right. Built-in stands increase the usability of any tablet, especially if you’re a video-watcher, and the Yoga's is classy and compact.
The fold-bulge itself is a useful and comfortable handle. In portrait mode it centres most of the weight right where your hand is, reducing the strain on your wrist. In landscape mode you do feel the weight again, but you can flip the stand out to form a nook to sit a finger in. This also makes it easier to hold one-handed for any length of time.
Flipping your perspective
The side-centric weight the Yoga Tab 10 means it needs to be held fairly specifically depending on how you’re using it. You end up flipping the device at all orientations depending on how you're using it.
With this in mind, Lenovo has also added a nifty volume-rocker feature. The volume rocker adapts to whatever orientation you’re using. That is, towards you (down) in landscape mode will be volume-down and away from you (up) will be volume-up. In portrait mode left is always volume-down and right is always volume-up. Flipping the tablet 180 degrees also flips the rocker.
This intelligent switching round of such a commonly-used button is exactly the kind of small change that really does enhance user experience. Never underestimate the value of tiny luxuries when it comes to gadget use. They can mean the difference between a good and great product.
Lenovo claims that the Yoga Tab 10 sports a whopping 18 hours of battery life. This is about double what the average tablet has and it appears to be a fairly accurate statement.
The Yoga Tab just keeps going. You can game on it, work on it, browse with it and watch videos all day. You barely even have to spare the battery icon a glance if you charged it the night before. It’s a liberating feeling and one that we’re not accustomed to.
Moroever, if you grab yourself a micro-USB-to-micro-USB cable you can use the Yoga Tab as a charging-pack for your smartphone. The cable isn’t included but you can pick one up for super-cheap online. This is another seemingly-small feature that we can see making a big impact on user happiness.
One drawback is that the Yoga Tab can be a bit finicky in standby mode. On a couple of occasions we experienced a large loss of charge even though it was locked and in a bag. This could be either because it was somehow being activated and draining power or because the background applications weren’t being properly managed by the UI.
It wasn’t a common issue, but it did make us much more attentive to clearing out apps from the task manager before we packed it away, which seemed to help.
Other than the standby issue we loved everything about having a tablet with proper all-day battery life. If you’re a light user you can even stretch it out to two. It’s absolutely worth the sacrifices made to screen resolution and the extra thickness of the stand.
Screen and UI
The Yoga Tab 10’s display is not an impressive one. It rocks a sparse 1280x800 resolution across the 10-inch display. We’re not usually pixel-snobs, but the lack of definition was noticeable even in the menu screens.
There was a perculiar issue with loading custom backgrounds. Whenever we tried to grab our own pic and set it as a wallpaper the tab would zoom in on the top-middle of the image and set that instead. What you end up with is a weirdly-cropped and extremely pixelated background that does the already-poor viewing experience no favours.
In terms of gaming and movie-watching it was passable. If you’re more of a casual gamer and YouTube-watcher then it’s a perfectly acceptable display. However, if you want crisp 1080p movies and sexy graphics then you’ll need to do some soul-searching to figure out if you think the extra battery is worth missing out on HD clarity.
The UI is oddly simplistic and also not a strong-suit. The Yoga Tab only has home screens; it doesn’t have a deeper Application Menu. Everything is on the Home Screens, even the default, un-deleteable bloatware that comes with it. It's looks like a grainy iOS with widgets.
We’re not big fans of this approach. We’re more for the minimalist look and like to keep our less-used icons in an out-of-the-way place until we need them. It’s a more relaxing vibe than the cluttered look that clashes with the ‘Yoga tablet’ mantra.
Ultimately what you have with the Yoga Tablet 10 is a tab that sacrifices display quality and (for some reason) UI elegance for form-factor usability and double the battery life. If that sounds like your cup of tea then we can heartily recommend it. If you’re more of a UI and display kind of person then this isn’t your gadget.
We’re still a little torn as to which side of the fence we sit on, but one thing is clear: the Yoga Tablet knows what it’s going for and it does it superbly well. The only thing we’re really disappointed in is the messy UI, which feels like more of an oversight than a conscious sacrifice.