MSI has long pushed the boundaries of invention with its ever-evolving range of laptops but it has now pulled off a world first with the new MSI Creative 17.
Lenovo Yoga 8 Android tablet
Lenovo's 8in Yoga tablet has been designed to stand on its own, and to be comfortable to hold
- Comfortable to hold
- Built-in stand
- Light weight
- MicroSD card slot
- Screen could be better
- MicroSD card slot a little difficult to access
- Some of the software might be annoying
Lenovo's Yoga 8 Android tablet is a good one to go for if you want an 8in device that's easy to hold and which has a built-in stand.
Price$ 349.00 (AUD)
Consumer research has been openly acknowledged by Lenovo as being the driving factor behind the design of its Yoga 8 Android tablet. The company’s users wanted something easy to hold, and also something that could stand on its own for display purposes. The result is a tablet that doesn’t look or feel like a standard Android slate, and this is a good thing.
As the name suggests, this tablet has an 8in screen, and it features a native resolution of 1280x800. Like most consumer tablet screens it’s glossy, and it supports multi-input capacitive touch. It’s a thin unit with an alloy back that offers good grip, and it doesn't get warm, even after prolonged periods of usage. Only a 3.5mm audio port and a micro-USB port are present on the unit, as well as volume buttons. The whole thing tipped our digital scales at 397g, and it felt nice and light to hold.
Easy to hold, able to stand
There is one thing that will make the Yoga 8 tablet stand out immediately from most other tablets on the market, and that’s the cylindrical spine that’s located along the bottom edge of the tablet. This cylinder gives the tablet a comfortable gripping point that can be used when you want to hold the Yoga up while reading e-books or Web sites. All of the heavy parts of the tablet are located within the cylinder, which helps to give the unit good overall balance when it's held up.
The second aspect of this cylindrical spine is the stand that it houses. When closed, this stand sits flush up against the rear of the tablet, and you hardly know it’s there. You can extend it simply by turning the cylinder a little. It’s an elegant design that works well, and you don’t need to put too much pressure on your turn to make the stand pop out. When we say ‘pop out’, we really mean that it just slides out. It’s only about 30mm wide, and it acts as a base, rather than a picture frame-like leg.
Ideally, this stand can be used when you want to rest the Yoga 8 on a table to watch some videos, either streaming over the Internet or stored locally, and it’s a stiff enough stand to allow you to adjust the tilt a little bit to suit the way you are sitting (or standing). The stand doesn’t work on soft surfaces such as beds or couches, so you can only use it on a hard surface. The tablet will just topple over if you rest it on a soft surface.
Because of the cylinder along one edge, the tablet never really sits flat on a desk, and it will always have a bit of a tilt angle to it. This tilt can be made greater by extending the stand, too. What this is good for is typing, and we used it quite a bit to compose Tweets and emails using the on-screen keyboard. It’s perhaps the most comfortable we’ve ever felt using a tablet for typing, sans any extra accessories to aid the task.
That’s almost all there is to the Yoga 8 in terms of its physical design. The cylindrical spine is the big deal about it, and we think it offers better usability than a simply flat-on-all-sides slate device. In particular, we used it a lot for displaying video in different scenarios: we could stream basketball games using the NBA’s Android app while we were in the kitchen (being careful not to place it somewhere it could get wet), and we could leave locally stored videos playing in the background while we worked at our desk. How you use it is up to you, but if you’ve ever pined for a slim Android tablet with a built-in stand (and if you’re anything like the consumers in Lenovo’s research, you have), then the Yoga 8 is a must-have item.
Features and performance
Built-in storage capacity for the tablet is 16GB, but when you extend the stand you will find a microSD card slot through which you can add more storage. As we are users who like to store a lot of local music and videos, this is one of the features we always look for in a tablet. However, due to the location of the slot under a lip, and the stand on the opposite end, we had a bit of trouble initially inserting a microSD card — long nails would be beneficial in this instance to help push it in. This won’t be a problem if you’re just inserting a card that will stay in the tablet for a long period of time.
Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean) is the operating system of choice for the Yoga 8, and it’s standard apart from some Lenovo add-ons. Primarily, Lenovo has installed launch software that pops up from the side every time the tablet is rotated while in the main screen. This launch software provides shortcuts that suite the orientation of the tablet. For example, if you rotate the screen to portrait mode, the software will display the Txtr e-book app in the main part of the launcher, and shortcuts to other apps, such as Chrome, Play Music, and others, under it. In landscape mode, the video player gets prime position in the launcher.
There is also a utility called Sound & Visual installed, which changes the intensity of the screen depending on the orientation of the tablet. It includes Tilt mode, Stand mode, and Hold mode. These modes change automatically as the accelerometer detects changes to the orientation of the tablet, but they can also be changed manually. If you select Hold mode, the screen will take on a softer, orange tinge that is more suited to when you want to use the tablet for reading, (it assumes that’s what you want to do when holding the tablet in a portrait orientation). If you select either of the other two modes, the screen will look brighter and whiter so that the contents of the screen, especially videos, really stand out.
We found the overall quality of the screen to be adequate, especially its viewing angles and brightness, but we think sharpness is lacking. Images and graphics just looked a little ill-defined at times. The automatic brightness sensor was also a little too sensitive; we preferred to adjust the brightness level manually from the quick system drop-down settings, which offers four intensities.
Connectivity is by way of single-band, 802.11n Wi-Fi module, and Bluetooth 4.0 is also available. We’re used to running a 5GHz network in our home environment, so we are disappointed that this model only comes with a single-band Wi-Fi module. The Bluetooth function worked reasonably well to stream music from the tablet to our Bluetooth-enabled stereo, but because we used Google Play Music to stream music over the Internet and then over Bluetooth to the stereo, we sometimes had to contend with buffering issues to the stereo. The Bluetooth connection wasn’t always reliable, though, and we had to re-pair our device regularly, which was frustrating.
As for overall performance, the Yoga 8 features a 1.2GHz ARM Cortex A7 quad-core processor, and it has 1GB of RAM. It felt responsive overall as we used the device to browse Web sites, watch videos, listen to music, and swipe through photos, but there were some instances where the interface felt a little bit sluggish (mostly when accessing settings), as if it were catching up to our previous inputs. However, those instances were few and far between.
Battery life was tested by looping a standard definition video file while the screen brightness was set to high and the Wi-Fi module was enabled and connected to our router. In this test, the Yoga’s 2-cell li-polymer battery lasted 12hr 24min. Lenovo claims a healthier 18hr in its marketing material, but we’re not sure of the circumstances of this claim. Certainly, if you lower the brightness and use the tablet for simple Web browsing or reading e-books, then it will last longer.
Other features of the Lenovo Yoga 8 include speakers that are located at the front rather than at the sides or at the back, a rear-facing 5-megapixel camera, and a front-facing 1.6-megapixel camera. The sound from the tablet isn’t great, so for serious listening you will have to plug in some headphones or stream to a Bluetooth speaker. The rear camera is located in the bottom-left corner and is easy to cover with your finger when holding the tablet in landscape mode. Its quality is adequate if you ever need to take a photo of something in a pinch and you don’t have another camera lying around.
At $349, we think the Lenovo Yoga 8 represents good value and should definitely be considered if you’re in the market for an Android tablet. We really like its design, which makes it easy to hold and also capable of sitting upright on a table without the need for a third-party accessory, and it’s light and well made. We think its screen could be a little better, and that’s our only gripe about this tablet. It is a minor one, though. The pre-installed software might be annoying to some people, too.
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