updated 07:20 pm EDT, Sat November 2, 2013
First look at Lenovo's novel tablet design
With few exceptions, modern tablet design follows in the footsteps of Apple's bestselling iPads: the slate form factor, the emphasis always on thinness. Lenovo's new Yoga tablets strike out on a different path, adding a sizable lump that houses a massive battery and enables a built-in kickstand feature. How well does it work? Electronista has taken a quick look at the Lenovo Tablet 8, and we have a few first impressions ahead of a full review.
With the Android tablet segment - indeed, the Android ecosystem writ large - dominated by Samsung, manufacturers have to find novel ways to stand out and attract consumer interest. Lenovo chose the path of battery power and form factor, and the Yoga Tablet 8's slim profile is interrupted by a massive bulge as a result. That bulge houses a large battery, and the device's kickstand is built in. Those that haven't handled the device may see pictures of it and assume that it is unwieldy. They would be mistaken.
It's no iPad mini, but the Yoga 8 is light enough to hold in one hand for a long period of time without discomfort. The battery bulge actually facilitates better handling of the device, as its curve conforms to the hand quite well. It may actually lend itself to better one-handed gripping than other tablets, the ergonomics of the tablet are so good.
As to build quality, Lenovo's tradition of solidly built devices continues with the Yoga Tablet 8. While a little bit cold, the aluminum exterior gives a sense of solidity. Glass facade aside, this is not a device one feels one has to treat gently.
The kickstand is quite flexible, allowing one to position the device upright at a number of angles. This is a largely well-realized feature of the Yoga Tablet, although we do wish Lenovo had put a bit more effort into making the kickstand easier to open. As it is, the kickstand is not as readily engaged as one would hope for such a major feature.
We were also a bit puzzled by the placement of the power/lock button. Lenovo chose to go with a large, depressible button built into the battery bulge. It is a small thing, but we do wonder why the company chose this design.
We were more pleased with the choice of speaker arrangement. While Apple continues to locate the speakers on the bottom end of its iPads and iPhones, the Yoga Tablet 8 has them built into the user-facing end of the device. At the very least, this means the sound comes directly at the user's face, though we'll go more into actual sound quality in our forthcoming review.
We're interested in checking out Lenovo's Yoga Tablet 8 in greater depth, and our initial impression is that this will prove a very suitable budget tablet for families. Its solid construction and form factor make it almost ideal for entertaining children or setting up in the kitchen. We'll post more detailed findings in the near future in an in-depth review.