Lenovo Yoga Book review: The laptop of the future?

When Lenovo first announced its fancy new 2-in-1 Yoga Book at IFA earlier this year, I’ll admit I got a little caught up in the excitement. “Hybrid of the future” claims were bandied about the office, and I was in full agreement. After all, this is a device that looks truly different to everything else, and now that it’s here in the Expert Reviews office, I’m pleased to say that Lenovo’s really pulled out all the stops with its new Yoga Book, making this one of the most unique hybrids I’ve ever seen.

For starters, there’s no physical keyboard. Instead, you get a fancy virtual one with illuminated, futuristic-looking keys that look as though they’ve been pulled straight from an episode of Black Mirror. They vibrate when you tap them, too, giving you a reassuring sense of haptic feedback as you type.

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This isn’t a mere aesthetic touch, however, as the Yoga Book’s real party trick is its ability to turn that virtual keyboard into a full-blown, electromagnetic resonance (EMR) writing surface, allowing you to draw or scribble down notes with its bundled stylus at the flip of a switch. Simply press the small stylus button in the top-right corner and the illuminated keys instantly disappear, giving you plenty of room to play with.

Lenovo Yoga Book review

It’s incredibly versatile, and the lack of physical keys means Lenovo has also been able to pare back the Yoga Book’s aluminium magnesium-alloy chassis to a mere 9.6mm when closed, making it the world’s thinnest hybrid. Likewise, at just 690g, the Yoga Book barely weighs more than your traditional paper notebook, making it incredibly easy to slot in your bag and use on the go.

Lenovo Yoga Book review: Halo keyboard

Admittedly, typing is a little awkward to begin with. It feels like you’re learning to type for the first time and there’s just something about it that doesn’t quite feel natural. Stick with it, though, and you’ll get used to it pretty quickly. I wrote this review using the Yoga Book’s keyboard, and while the first draft was riddled with typos and mistakes, I soon wrestled it into submission. Just don’t expect to type very fast, as I found it wasn’t quite able to keep up the pace when I began to increase my overall typing speed.

Theoretically, typing on the Yoga Book should improve over time, as Lenovo’s said it has artificial learning software built in. I didn’t see much evidence of this taking effect during my testing period, but it should be able to learn exactly where your fingers land when you hit certain keys and adjust its active key area accordingly. For instance, if you always hit the spacebar below the defined area on the keyboard, the Yoga Book should remember that and still register the keypress for you.

Lenovo Yoga Book review

Turn the keyboard off, though, and the Yoga Book unequivocally excels as a proper note-taking device. Using the stylus to draw and take notes feels perfectly natural, with near 1-to-1 precision thanks to the pen’s 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity. I much prefer it to writing directly onto glass, and the keyboard’s built-in palm rejection means you can naturally rest your hand on it without making any random marks on the page.

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It’s actually very similar to Wacom’s Bamboo Spark notepad, which also used an EMR surface to track individual pen strokes on a pad of paper before turning them into digital notes to view on your phone or tablet. Here, you get the added benefit of seeing exactly what you’re writing on the screen above.

However, the really attractive thing about the Yoga Book is its bundled magnetic clip. This allows you to clip any old A5 notebook to the Yoga Book and still take notes, giving you both a physical version and a digital copy to share with friends or colleagues. In the Android model I was sent for review, all my notes were instantly saved into Lenovo’s proprietary Custom note saving app, but the Windows version automatically saves everything into OneNote, allowing you to access it instantly from any Windows device via the cloud. This is by far the best way to use the Yoga Book, and is perfect for the frequent minute-takers who need both physical and digital copies of important notes.

Lenovo Yoga Book review: Display

Despite the fancy keyboard and impressive stylus, Lenovo hasn’t done quite so well with its display. It has a 10.1in, 1,920 x 1,200 panel at its disposal, but despite a surprisingly high maximum brightness of 422cd/m2, its overall colour accuracy was a little lacking, covering just 81.2% of the sRGB colour gamut. This makes it a poor fit for serious graphic work, but considering its price of just £450, it seems churlish to be too harsh on it.

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