Review: Lenovo 13.3-inch Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows 8.1, a cheaper Surface Pro 3 alternative

Review: Lenovo 13.3-inch Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows 8.1

Lenovo has a wide range of products to choose from and most recently, the company released their Yoga Tablet 2 family of devices. Not only are these devices available with Android as their operating system, but there are Windows variants too. So what does this mean? Simple. Lenovo is offering a wide selection of Yoga Tablet 2 devices in various screen sizes, with the choice of Android or Windows.

“The YOGA Tablet 2 comes in three screen sizes and two operating systems so users can choose the model that’s right for them. For those who like the familiarity and productivity of Windows, Lenovo offers the YOGA Tablet 2 with Windows in Ebony-colored 8-in and 10-in models. They come with Microsoft Office 365 preloaded (1-year subscription) and with optional 4G on the 10-inch model,” Lenovo explains in a press release.

A Lenovo 13.3-inch Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows 8.1 recently landed on our doorstep for review and this neat tablet offers a selection of modes, a kickstand, fast specifications, and a vibrant display. So how does it stack up? Is this tablet worth purchasing? Let’s dive in and take a look.

Review: Lenovo 13.3-inch Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows 8.1

Hardware

The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 features the first ever subwoofer on a tablet.

The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 (13.3-inch) with Windows features an Intel Atom Processor Z3745 (2M Cache, 4 cores, up to 1.86 GHz clock speed), 4GB LPDDR3 RAM, 64GB of storage supporting Micro SD card up to 64GB, 13.3-inch QHD (2560 x 1440) IPS display, and a 12800 mAh battery. The device also features a 1.6MP HD front camera, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, MiMo, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Dual Band connectivity, and Bluetooth 4.0 support. There is also a Micro HDMI, Micro USB, 3.5 mm audio jack, and Micro SD card slot.

The device weighs 2.27 lbs and comes with a Bluetooth wireless keyboard that you can magnetically attach to your tablet device, doubling as a cover. The tablet features two large-chamber speakers, JBL subwoofer, Dolby Audio, and Wolfson Master Hi-Fi Codec. The integrated 8W sound system offers a rich, immersive audio experience. 

The device features a kickstand and battery cylinder on the side of the device, which shifts the center of gravity and opens up a wide variety of uses. There are four modes in which you can use the device — Hold, Tilt, Stand, and Hang. 

Review: Lenovo 13.3-inch Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows 8.1

“Our second generation YOGA Tablets give users the freedom to do more – go hands free and hang the tablet from the wall with the new Hang mode; get unparalleled sound on a tablet with loaded audio features; and choose the operating system that’s right for them – Android or Windows,” said Jeff Meredith, vice president, Marketing, Lenovo Mobile Business Group. “Also for those who crave multimedia on a bigger screen, we’ve created a new 13-in model with the YOGA Tablet 2 Pro. So all in all, the tablets give you more modes, more performance and more choice.”  

The Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows features a vibrant 13.3-inch QHD (2560 x 1440) display offering stunning high definition visuals with a wide 178 degree viewing angle thanks to the display’s in-plane switching (IPS) technology.

Impressions

When I unboxed the device, I was amazing at how the device was designed. The majority of the device is thin, except for the “battery cylinder” at the bottom of the device which looks like an elongated roll of nickels. Now, this contributes to the weight of the device (close to 2.3lbs without the keyboard) but it also helps you balance the device in your hand or on your desk.

I had no idea where the power button was so I could turn on this beautiful device. I eventually discovered the power button was located on the left side of the “battery cylinder.” Once you press the button (and hold it for a few seconds), the device immediately booted up Windows 8.1.

Review: Lenovo 13.3-inch Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows 8.1

I also had a hard time figuring out how to use the kickstand (the device’s manual wasn’t clear enough). Eventually, I figured out that you had to press the button on the back of the device to detach the kickstand from the body. Then, you can manually adjust the kickstand to your liking. The kickstand takes a bit of pressure to adjust, likely contributing to the stability of the device when you use the kickstand — so I forgive Lenovo for making it a bit hard to adjust. 

The wireless keyboard which doubles up as a cover could use some work in my opinion. It latches on to the bottom of the battery cylinder magnetically and just seems super flimsy when used as a cover. In fact, the only time I felt a nice use for the keyboard was when I decided to use the tablet in a laptop configuration on my desk. All I had to do was place the tablet on top of the keyboard and it just worked — unlike the Surface Pro 3 where the keyboard clicks into place, this keyboard just sits under the tablet. However, if you flip the device over and use the keyboard as a cover, I continually found the keyboard sliding off. The magnetic mechanism is just not that secure without some sort of locking or clicking mechanism.

The keyboard itself worked without any hitches and I loved the design of it. It features a small layer of shiny chrome around the sides of the keyboard and a soft padded black material on the keyboard itself, giving it a professional and elegant look.

Review: Lenovo 13.3-inch Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows 8.1

Review: Lenovo 13.3-inch Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows 8.1

My biggest gripe is the lack of a full-sized USB port. Instead, the tablet offers a micro-USB port. This doesn’t cut it and I would rather opt for a tablet that has a full-sized USB port. This is a bit of a deal breaker for me, since I want to be able to take my tablet around the office, at home, or while on travel. I want to be able to connect my external portable USB hard drive with ease and I’d rather it be as easy as “plugging and playing” without having to go out and buy an adapter.

Software

The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows comes with Windows 8.1 pre-installed, as well as a one month trial of Office 365. The tablet comes pre-installed with no bloatware apps, which is a huge plus. There is an app called “Yoga Tablet 2 Demo” which gives you a virtual tour of your new device and the wide array of positions you can use the device — hence the name Yoga.

Review: Lenovo 13.3-inch Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows 8.1

Performance

I have to admit — I am quite impressed with the performance of the Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows. It’s snappy, feels fast, and allows me to move around the operating system quickly and efficiently. In this day and age, it’s quite easy to become spoiled with the quickness of the latest technology in your home, especially when your work office operates on older technology. The tablet is blazing fast and performs exceptionally in my opinion.

“With consumers being increasingly tech-savvy with tablets, they require more choices to meet their different needs.  We are proud to support Lenovo in fulfilling these varying needs by providing lightning fast performance and long battery life through our Intel Atom processor, whether it is an Android or Windows-based tablet, or what the screen size and special features the tablet offers.  Our Intel XMM 7160 modem is also providing consumers the option of ultra-fast 4G connectivity for their tablets,” said Erik Reid, vice president of Intel Mobile and Communications Group and general manager of the Tablet Business Unit.

Watching HD video on this device offered a smooth experience with no stuttering or slowdowns. I experienced no slowdowns or performance related issues when watching a 1080p video and performing other tasks – like launching another program. This device can definitely multitask!

We ran PCMark 8, a computer benchmark tool developed by Futuremark, which gave us a Home Conventional score of 1042.  The test lasted close to one hour. In comparison, this score doesn’t even compete with the average Office PC score of 2498, Gaming laptop score of 2521, Ultralight notebook score of 2633, and High end gaming PC score of 4908. This Home Conventional test measures the performance of the CPU, GPU, RAM, and more, offering a well rounded score of the device.

The PCMark Work test gave us a score of 1274. The Work benchmark test measures the system’s ability to perform basic office work tasks, such as writing documents, browsing websites, creating spreadsheets, and using video chat. Since this device is targeted towards these capabilities, this score is important.

We also ran 3DMark RT, an app from Futuremark available in the Windows Store, and achieved a score of “maxxed out” for the Ice Storm test. The Ice Storm test is used to compare mainstream smartphones/tablets, and is a test that includes two 720p graphics tests to measure GPU performance and a physics test to stress its CPU performance.

The Ice Storm Extreme test, a test for high performance mobile devices, gave us a 9444 score. Running the test a second time gave us a score of 9410. Comparatively, the Surface Pro 3 has a 47191 score for the Core i5 model. The Asus Transformer Book T100A scores 7630 and the Dell XPS 10  scores 3036. The Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 has a score of 3266. The first-generation Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10 has a 2530 score.

Review: Lenovo 13.3-inch Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows 8.1

Battery Life

“Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows keeps going over the long haul with its off-the-charts battery life. Its battery lasts up to 15 hours so you can go all day – and into the night – without recharging. The secret: Yoga Tablet’s unique, cylinder-shaped side chamber allows more room for battery storage – and more time between charges,” Lenovo claims.

As you can see, Lenovo claims a 15 hour battery life. I was able to utilize the device with moderate usage and was able to keep a decent 12 hour battery life. I started the day with a full charged battery, used the tablet for light web browsing, moderate app install and uninstalls, as well as launched and tested a few applications. I checked my email while sitting on the couch and even in bed with the device propped up on my stomach. I easily went the entire day without having to plug the tablet into the wall outlet. Heavy usage for three hours straight reduced the battery from 100% to 50%.

Review: Lenovo 13.3-inch Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows 8.1

Surface Pro 3 alternative

In my opinion, this tablet is a great alternative to the Surface Pro 3. For $200 cheaper, you can get a 13.3-inch 2560×1440 display (vs the 12-inch 2160×1440 on the Surface Pro 3). Both devices offer 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM. The Lenovo option offers an Intel Atom CPU clocked at 1.86GHz vs the Intel Core i3 clocked at 1.5GHz on the Surface Pro 3. Although the Surface Pro 3 is thinner and weighs less, the Lenovo option features a better battery. The Surface Pro 3 offers a full-sized USB port and a stylus, while the Lenovo option does not.

This is completely subjective, but if you are looking for an alternative to the Surface Pro 3, I firmly believe the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 for Windows is the device you are looking for. However, if you can manage to cough up $200 extra dollars, go for the Surface Pro 3 instead.

Final Thoughts

The model we reviewed was the 13.3-inch Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows. Lenovo offers an 8-inch Yoga Tablet 2 (Android), 10-inch Yoga Tablet 2 (Android), 13.3-inch Yoga Tablet 2 Pro (Android), 8-inch Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows, 10-inch Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows, and 13.3-inch Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows.

I really like that this device feels good when you hold it. The battery cylinder looks weird at first but it works — it shifts the weight to an area that needs it. I personally don’t have a use for using the device is various modes, but if you want flexibility this tablet has it. The display and hardware specs are fantastic. My only two gripes are the keyboard “cover” and the lack of a full-sized USB port. If you do not mind these two issues, then this tablet is perfect.

You are probably wondering, “gee this tablet is quite large, I don’t have much room for it in a purse or backpack.” This was intentional. Lenovo determined that 80% of tablet users are using their devices at home, therefore, this device was offered in a larger screen so you can enjoy it on the couch, on the kitchen counter, or where ever you need it.

You can purchase the device for $599.99 — which is actually quite a decent price tag for such an amazing piece of hardware. If you are looking for a Surface Pro 3 alternative that doesn’t hurt your budget, buy this device.

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