Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 with AnyPen review

No stylus required for this Windows 8 tablet

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 review

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Priced more expensively than competing 8-inch slates, the Yoga Tablet 2 commands a premium price for its unique features. Lacking a full-sized USB and display-out port, the tablet feels less productive than Dell's $429 (£280, AU$550) Atom-powered Venue 11 Pro.

The Venue 11 Pro is less portable than the Lenovo, but the 11.6-inch display gives you more screen real estate. You also gain the versatility in being able to transform the tablet into a desktop by connecting a display, keyboard, and mouse, or into an Ultrabook form factor with an optional keyboard dock accessory.

The main reason to choose the Yoga Tablet 2 over Apple's iPad mini 3 at the same price is for the ability to run a full desktop OS. Given Apple's large touch-friendly catalog of apps compared to small menus designed for keyboard and mouse input on Windows, the Lenovo's advantage becomes less clear.

We liked

A gorgeous display, long battery life and ergonomically slim design helps to keep the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 with AnyPen a competitive tablet. Lenovo added some useful tweaks to differentiate its slate, but those OEM customizations make the tablet more expensive than other seven-to eight-inch Windows tablets.

A unique barreled edge houses a large battery to give the Tablet 2 long battery life. Rated for 15 hours, we got close to 13 hours of real-life usage on a single charge. The built-in kickstand and crisp display make the tablet a joy to consume videos while traveling.

We disliked

The lack of a full-sized USB port and a video-out port keeps the Yoga Tablet 2 limited to its 8-inch screen, as you won't be able to output to a larger HDTV beyond Intel's WiDi solution. Users will need to rely on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to connect peripherals like keyboard, printers, and hard drives to the tablet rather than plugging in a cable.

While innovative, Lenovo isn't first to market with AnyPen. Rival Sony implemented the technology in its Xperia Z Ultra phablet. The technology offers users the ad-hoc convenience of having a stylus, but the drawback is that your screen can become scratched over time if you use a sharp metal object as a stylus replacement. Furthermore, AnyPen does not offer the pressure sensitivity that digital artists need for sketching or drawing on the tablet.

And though the lack of apps is more an issue with Windows 8, Lenovo's choice of Microsoft's desktop OS makes the tablet a little cumbersome to use. Users will be able to tap into legacy apps on the desktop, but text-driven menus are small and difficult to press, making it less than ideal.

Final verdict

The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows is a solidly-built tablet. Though the hardware design offers a lot of ergonomics, the software choice makes it clumsy. The lack of touch-centric Modern UI apps for Windows, coupled with a less than ideal experience of navigating text-driven menus in the classic desktop mode, negates the benefit of having long battery life to be more productive.

With the Yoga Tablet 2, Lenovo aims to differentiate itself in the tablet market with AnyPen, but the solution feels unpolished. Unless you've got your heart set on using any metal object as a stylus replacement for input, you can find cheaper 8-inch Windows tablets elsewhere. Buyers should choose the Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows for Lenovo's excellent hardware design, ergonomics and lengthy battery life.