Not content with novel design alone, Lenovo’s taking things a few steps further with its latest Yoga Tablet 2 Pro. Equipped with a supersized 13-inch, Quad HD display and built-in projector, Lenovo is positioning the $469.99 (32GB) tablet as an all-in-one media powerhouse. Some lingering complaints remain—like the heavy-handed Android skin and performance hiccups—but the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro is easily Lenovo’s most compelling Android tablet yet.
Design, Features, and Projector Lenovo’s unique multi-mode design remains largely unchanged for this year’s Yoga tablets. You get the signature cylindrical edge with a built-in kickstand and a nice tapered profile. It’s made from a combination of aluminum and gray plastics that give the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro a premium look and sturdy feel. At 13.11 by 8.81 by 0.14-0.5 (thinnest and thickest points) inches and 2.09 pounds, the Yoga Tablet 2 is big and heavy, but the weight feels reasonably comfortable in the hand thanks to the unique design. There are a few new additions to the Yoga design, including a JBL-branded subwoofer around back and a pico projector built into one end of the cylinder.
There’s also a button now that releases the kickstand from its stowed position, which I found easier to use than trying to twist it open manually like on previous models. The stand itself is quite sturdy, but still easy to adjust, holding virtually any angle between 90 and 180 degrees. A cutout in the middle of the kickstand lets you hang the tablet, granted you have a sturdy and appropriately sized peg or nail in the wall.
The 13.3-inch, 2,560-by-1,440-pixel IPS LCD doesn’t disappoint. It’s roomy, tack-sharp, and bright, with a wide viewing angle and solid contrast for an LCD. Colors don’t quite pop like they do on, say, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S, but they still look pretty vivid here. Below the display are two front-facing stereo speakers, which sound mostly good, but still lack bass even with the alleged subwoofer. The speakers also aren’t particularly loud, which is disappointing. It’s good enough for individual binges in small rooms, but falls a bit flat for group viewing in larger rooms.
This isn’t the first tablet we’ve seen with a built-in projector—that would be the Smart Devices SmartQ U7—but it’s the first widely available tablet from a name-brand company. The pico projector touts a native resolution of 854 by 480 pixels and a brightness rating of 30-40 lumens. Lenovo claims that it’s suitable for up to 50-inch projections, but that’s probably pushing the upper limit in terms of picture clarity. The Yoga 2 Pro can mirror anything on its display, but its main purpose is video viewing sessions. I watched a few YouTube videos and movies on Netflix, all of which looked good in a suitably dark room—you don’t need pitch black, but even a weak overhead fluorescent light will start to wash out the picture here. With a nice Bluetooth speaker and appropriately dark room, though, the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro shines as a self-contained home theater.
For connectivity, you get dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. Wi-Fi speeds were strong in my tests thanks to the MiMo antennas and I had no issue connecting to our corporate 5GHz access point. The Yoga Tablet 2 Pro easily connected with a Harman Kardon Aura via Bluetooth.
In a battery rundown test, where we streamed a YouTube video over Wi-Fi with screen brightness set to max, the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro lasted for 4 hours, 35 minutes. It’s a reasonable result considering the big, high-res display, and standby power draw was minimal in my tests.
Performance and Android Powering the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro is a quad-core 1.86GHz Intel Atom Z3745 processor with 2GB RAM. It’s a decent setup, but not nearly on the same level as Qualcomm, Samsung, or Nvidia chips that power other Quad HD devices. The end result is somewhat choppy performance, especially when it comes to graphically intensive tasks. Home-screen animations will stutter at times, and general navigation feels somewhat stilted. Apps still launch quickly, though, and video playback is smooth. Web browsing benchmarks were positive, but scrolling on Chrome produced similarly choppy performance. Likewise, games like Asphalt 8 and GTA: San Andreas struggle to produce consistently smooth frame rates—they’re still playable, but not quite as enjoyable. Lenovo should be applauded for the quality of the display here, but pushing all those pixels appears to test the limits of the Intel Atom chip.
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Performance issues might also stem from Lenovo’s overwrought Android skin, which makes the KitKat (4.4.4) software nearly unrecognizable. The app drawer is gone entirely, forcing every app onto a home screen, and Lenovo employs an obnoxious handholding feature that prompts you to add each installed app to a folder after each one finishes downloading. The notification shade annoyingly takes over the entire screen, while a swipe up from the bottom edge summons a quick settings panel. Does a lot of this sound familiar? It should, since Lenovo shamelessly copies the look and feel of iOS.
Though not quite as robust as Samsung’s implementation, Lenovo’s custom skin allows multi-window multitasking on the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro. That’s an especially useful feature when you have a 13-inch display that can reasonably hold multiple apps side by side without losing functionality. Multi-window is currently limited to just six apps (Email, Gallery, File Browser, Calculator, Video, and Chrome), but it worked well in my tests. Windows appear above the home screen or whatever app you’re running, but while you can drag them around, you can’t resize them—they take up about a quarter of the display.
Projector support is baked into the OS, with easy access in the bottom-oriented, quick-settings shade. Everything on your screen gets mirrored to the projector with very minimal delay. You can set the screen to dim when the projector is on, or you can set it to turn off all together.
Of the 32GB of internal storage, 25GB is available to users out of the box. There’s a hefty amount of bloatware onboard, including a spattering of redundant, no-name apps that can graciously be uninstalled with minimal effort. A microSD card slot hidden behind the kickstand accepts cards up to 64GB.
Camera and Conclusions I can’t stress how silly it looks and feels to try and use the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro as a camera, but the 8-megapixel rear-facing camera is there nonetheless. It’s actually not bad in the grand scheme of tablet cameras, producing sharp and detailed images in a variety of lighting scenarios, though image noise does become an issue under low indoor light. It’ll work in a pinch for capturing candid moments, and 1080p video is suitable for online uploads. The 1.6-megapixel front-facing camera is pretty standard, producing grainy, but ultimately usable video that is perfectly fine for video calls.
Lenovo’s unorthodox multi-mode Android tablets have always boasted striking looks, but middling performance and unnecessarily heavy software customizations usually spoil the appeal. Those issues still remain here, but to a smaller degree—they’re far more tolerable in this iteration, especially considering the unique features you get in the bargain. At $470, it’s pushing into iPad territory, but you’re getting a much larger display and the built-in projector. No, the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro won’t replace your home theater, but it makes for a nice complimentary and portable device for solitary media binges.