I unboxed my Yoga 8” Tablet 2 w/AnyPen three days ago and it’s time to provide some feedback. Being my third 8” Windows tablet in a bit more than a year I wasn’t sure what to expect. But I knew I was no where close to nirvana with my second try, so figured what the hell. Let’s spin the wheel again and see what happens. I can report today that after three days of use I am impressed.
Like most Yoga’s (I also own a Yoga Pro 2) the Yoga Tab 2 is designed to be versatile. Minus a keyboard like its bigger cousins, The Tab 2 has a kickstand that pops out from the back to manipulate the tablet into various configurations. The kickstand has two positions; position one orients the Tab 2 in Tilt or Stand mode, depending on whether you want to prop the tablet for easy viewing/typing (about 15 degrees) or flipping it around to position it for viewing a movie/video (about 75 degrees). When the kickstand is fully extended, you can use the provided hang hole to hang your Yoga Tab 2 on a hook or pin on the wall (about 165 degrees). Under the kickstand is a small door that holds (and protects) the micro-SD card slot and a SIM slot, which is unfortunately not available on the Windows version of the Tab 2.
Another unique feature of the Yoga Tab 2 is its large cylindrical battery along one edge. While it might appear cumbersome at first glance, it’s actually quite comfortable to hold. By comparison, my Asus Note 8 8” tablet weighs 14.0 oz. vs. 15.1 oz. for the Tab 2, but the latter actually feels lighter because most of the weight is centered in the handle/cylindrical battery. To support that contention, the Note 8 measures about 0.46” across its entire surface, while the Tab 8 goes from 0.30” at the outer edge to 0.34” near the battery. (The battery cylinder measures 0.85” across). That’s a full 30% thinner across most of the tablet surface vs. the comparable Note 8, making the Tab 2 easier to hold for long periods. Which has been one of my tablet pet peeves. One end of the battery cylinder holds a round, recessed, power button, which pulsates while charging (stays on when fully charged) but does not light up otherwise. At the opposite end, Lenovo conveniently incorporated the headphone jack. On the power button side of the Tab 2 you will find the up/down volume buttons and a micro-USB connector, which is used to charge the Tab 2. Of course, the micro-USB port will accept any USB device (with the proper micro-USB to USB adapter). On the opposite side of the tablet you will find a Windows button and microphone. The Windows button is not recessed, but it will not wake the tablet. It only toggles between the Desktop and Start Screen when pressed. You have to press the power button to wake the Tab 2 from sleep. The battery cylinder also houses two front facing speakers, which in testing, are the loudest tablet speakers I have yet to hear. Yep, another Jimmy tablet pet peeve addressed. The front facing 1.6 MP camera sits on the left/top edge of the tablet, if you’re a righty and holding the Tab 2 by the battery with your left hand. The front camera lights up when active to let you know it’s on. The rear 8.0 MP f2.2 Auto Focus camera is housed at the top of the battery cylinder, if holding in the left hand. That could be a small problem for left handed users as they can inadvertently block the camera. I don’t use my tablet cameras much, but given the proper lighting, this improved shooter should work quite well.
The Yoga Tab 2 incorporates Dual Band WiFi a/b/g/n, MiMo, and Bluetooth 4.0. It immediately connected to my Anker BT keyboard. The tablet comes with 32GB built in and supports up to 64GB micro-SD. I moved my 32GB micro-SD from the Note 8 to the Tab 2 without any issue. After installing all of my apps, Office 365, Adobe Reader, Webroot, etc. I have 14.0GB free of 23.7GB available. Before I started configuring, I think I had about 19.7GB free. Plenty of space for the way I use an 8” tablet (primarily for consumption). The Tab 2 comes with 2GB of RAM and an Intel Atom Z3745 processor, which is a slight boost over the Note 8’s Z3740 processor. But I can tell you this new tablet is much more responsive, zippier. Can’t explain why. Configuration is almost the same. The Yoga Tab 2 comes with a spectacular 1920 x 1200 IPS display which I have cranked up to 200% magnification (the default is 150%) to help with my bad eyes. By comparison, the Note 8 has a 1280 x 800 display which I crank up to 115% (anything more than that hides part of the on-screen keyboard). The Tab 2 display makes everything appear crisper and a tad easier for me to see. The Yoga Tab 2 includes a single user, 1 year license key for Office 365, and I was almost ready to activate. But I instead added the Tab 2 to my existing 5 user O365 license (still have 1 available user license) figuring that entering the same email address would really confuse Microsoft, and might confuse the Yoga Tab 2 as well. Despite all the recent bad press for Lenovo, the Tab 2 only came pre-loaded with; Office 365, User Guide, Tablet 2 Video Demo and SHAREit, a Lenovo file sharing app, that I have dabbled with before.
OK, enough of all the technical stuff. How does they bad boy perform you ask. I have had enough time to put the Tab 2 through it’s paces. As already mentioned, the speakers are bright and loud, not requiring me to keep then at 100% all the time. Out of the box, Lenovo had the screen brightness set to about 20% on battery and that adaptive brightness thing was turned on, which would dull the screen beyond use. I quickly cranked it up to 55%, but have since toned it down to 40% on battery, and the display is still quite comfortable for viewing. I am not one to sacrifice brightness for battery life, but the 55% bright screen was actually hurting my eyes. I may try to drop down another 5% and see how that looks. Bottom line, you won’t have any problem finding a brightness or volume level to meet your needs.
Battery life so far has been spectacular. Lenovo claims 15 hours of usage and 14 days of standby. We all know that battery usage can vary from minute to minute and these stats are published using optimal conditions (like that 20% screen brightness). I haven’t had enough time to test fully, but my estimate right now is about 8-10% drain per hour of screen on time while browsing, navigating, viewing YouTube, etc. So that’s 10-11 hours, which is excellent. What has really impressed me though is the standby battery loss. So far, my tests are indicating about 6-7% max per 24 hours of standby. That easily meets, and beats, the 14 day claim. And that’s good news for me. Things may change with the Tab 2, but often two or three days can go by without me touching my tablet. I want to know that I have enough juice to get me through an hour or two of fun time. So, if I put my tablet in my bag with 50% remaining and take it out in two days, I don’t want the battery to be dead, which means put it on the charger and go do something else. The Tab 2 will expectedly be at 36-40%, giving me enough power for a movie, or whatever else I might want to do. I’ll take that extra 1 ounce of weight in exchange for a superior, 6400 mAh, battery any day. I took the Tab 2 off charge (its first full charge) Thursday morning at 8:00am, and have used it quite a bit in preparing for this review and some fun time Thursday and Friday night. As of 5:00pm Saturday, I still have 37% remaining, and may not be able to get down below 8% by tonight for its second full charge. That’s amazing. Regarding the first charge, it took under 5 hours to charge from 6% to a full 100%. I placed it on charge at about midnight and saw the pulsing glow of the power button while it charged. When I rolled over in bed at 5:00am the light was on steady. A quick check confirmed that the tablet was at 100%. May have taken much less than 5 hours, but that will take more testing. These new tablets charge slowly to keep cool. I know my Note 8 takes at least 5 hours to fully charge if it’s powered on.
The rest of the Yoga Tab 2 works as you would expect of any 8” Windows tablet. Unless your talking about AnyPen. The Tab 2 incorporates technology that allows any metal or graphite object to work as a stylus on the screen, in addition to your 10 fingers of course. That includes, knives, keys, screwdrivers, pens, pencils. Pretty much anything with a metal point. As I pointed out in an earlier post, being thoughtful as I am, I went the extra step of finding a couple metal pens at Staples and then running them dry of ink, so I could use them on the Tab 2 without transferring ink residue. And sure enough, that was a good idea. When I tried writing across the tablets surface with my Cross pen, it left ink on the surface which was easily wiped away. But who wants ink on the back of their hand or on your micro fiber cloth. I haven’t gone the knife and key route (and probably never will) but I have used pens, pencils and a screwdriver without any issues. My Wacom stylus or other plastic styli do nothing. Although those rubber tipped capacitive styli work just fine. Which is a good thing, as that’s at the opposite end of my (now) inkless Zebra pens. I have been using the rubber tip as an eraser to cover more ground. I’ll have a lot more to report on regarding AnyPen tomorrow when I pair off my Asus Note 8 and it’s Wacom layer with the aforementioned AnyPen tech on the Lenovo Yoga Tab 8 across various various writing/drawing applications. It will be interesting. For now, I will say that it is convenient to use the pen in my pocket, or my Zebra inkless stylus, to tap on small menus or perform other functions that don’t always go that well on a high resolution, small screen. Especially with fat fingers. The accuracy is spot on.
So far, I am really enjoying this new 8” tablet for it’s incredible battery life, great speakers, superior ergonomics, and AnyPen (well, sort of). At $249, it’s a keeper. I’ll hang on to my Note 8 for awhile longer, but don’t think I will be using it much. Sorry buddy. You can find out more about the Yoga Tablet 2 w/AnyPen for Windows on Lenovo’s website here.
UPDATE (Revised – 3/2/15-12:41am): Turns out the Lenovo AC adapter is NOT very special. But the USB cable they provided is. I thought I proved this out the other day, but I was mistaken. The Lenovo USB cable worked with my Asus and my NewTrent 2.0 AC charge adapters. I scoured the entire house and found two other cables that worked. A short 9” cable that I purchased online to work with a portable battery pack so I could walk around with my phone and battery pack in my hand. And a cable I purchased at an AT&T Store (branded ATT) several years ago, which I believe was a charge only cable, for $9.00! Not sure why none of the other cables work, some power & data and some power only. But I suspect it has something to do with the way the cable is grounded. Other cables will get the power button to pulse, but the Taskbar charging icon will indicate, “Plugged in, not charging”. After 30 minutes, available battery will actually drop. Only the provided charge cable, or those I dug up, will indicate, “Plugged in, charging”. By the way, last night’s full charge, after all the power block/wire fiddling, took under 3 hours going from 5% to full charge.
I found this cable on Amazon, specifically designed for charging only. It’s also designed to handle 2.0A+, which may be another potential problem. Hoping that it works. While I was at it I bought a USB cable tester and a bunch of USB A, B,mini & micro adapters. When things like this pop up, I need to understand why. Trust that I will figure it out eventually.