Pros

A unique design that stands out (literally) from the crowd
High quality front-facing speakers
Solid graphics performance

Cons

Sluggish UI
Oddly placed rear cam with less-than-great image quality
The lack of an application drawer will be a turn-off for some users

Bottom Line

While the Yoga 2 has a solid design and plays games quite well — a sluggish UI, poor camera and uninspired OEM software add up to an experience that is somewhat frustrating to use.

7.1
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In recent years, we’ve seen Lenovo grow into a more consumer-friendly, mobile-focused company. Perhaps to help relate to users, the company joined forces with Ashton Kutcher to work on the original Yoga tablet line. The product of their collaboration created a unique Android tablet that helped users move away from the somewhat bland route most tablet makers were going. Jump ahead to 2014, Lenovo has a few new tablets under their belt. The Yoga 10 HD+, the TAB S8, the Yoga Tablet 2 Plus, as well as 8 and 10-inch variants of the Yoga Tablet 2.

Today, we’re taking a look at the Yoga Tablet 2 10.1-inch, not to be confused with the recently-reviewed Yoga Tablet 2 Plus. How does this tablet stack up against Lenovo’s recent high-end offerings? We find that out, and more, in our comprehensive review of the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 10.1-inch.

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Straying away from the familiar slab-of-glass tablets we’ve seen in the past, the Yoga Tablet 2 features a unique design, similar to what we’ve seen in past Yoga tablets. The bottom portion of the tablet is a bit more bulky than the other three edges, thanks to the built-in kickstand.

The Yoga 2 is made from both plastic and aluminium, allowing for a premium in-hand feel. It measures 10.04 x 7.20 x .28 inches and weighs 21.38 ounces, so it’s not the biggest tablet out there, but for those looking for something a bit bigger than a 7-inch tablet, we think 10.1-inches is the sweet spot.

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The front bezels are black, tapering off to the silver edges of the tablet. The back of the device has a grooved texture to it that gives the tablet a unique feeling in-hand. Also around back, you’ll find a camera module tucked away towards the lower portion of the back panel. Around the right side, sits the microphone and 3.5mm headphone jack. The top is completely bare, and the left edge has a Micro USB port, volume rocker and power button. Both the volume rocker and power button are very clicky, and are both textured, which makes them easy to find.

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There are two main hardware aspects that make this tablet stand out from the competition, the first of which being the built-in adjustable stand. At first attempt, the stand may be a bit difficult to detach from the tablet, but after a few times, it gets much easier. The stand can be adjusted in a few different angles, and no matter which you decide to set it on, the tablet stays pretty sturdy the entire time. The stand itself feels very sturdy, and we have no reason to think it won’t last just as long as the rest of the tablet’s hardware.

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The second unique feature the Yoga 2 brings is front-facing speakers. Thanks to the blown-up bottom section that houses the stand, Lenovo had more room to fit bigger speakers. These are Dolby Audio stereo speakers, and they sit on both the bottom right and left portions of the front panel. We know what you’re thinking, “but… they’re no BoomSound speakers.” To be honest, these speakers are very high quality, and feature low, prominent bass and clear high tones. Overall, the speakers are really great.

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The Yoga 2’s display is crisp, clear and offers an interesting resolution that we don’t see on most Android tablets. It features a 10.1-inch IPS LCD display with a 1920 x 1200 resolution with a pixel density of 224 ppi. The colors are vivid and the saturation levels are close to perfect, making for a beautiful display. Unfortunately, when it comes to text, there seems to be something wrong. Text isn’t as clear as we would have hoped, and every once in a while we can see a ghosting effect under the text. We’re not sure if the odd pixel density is causing it, but we just know that the text isn’t as clear as it should be.

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Outdoor visibility is good, but not great, similar to most other tablets on the market. If it helps in daylight, the screen can be switched to a matte color profile, though it tends to alter colors a bit when switched to this mode.

As for holding the tablet, the bezels on the left and right sides are big enough to hold it comfortably in your hands without accidentally touching the screen. If you were to touch the screen, though, it’s not the end of the world, as the tablet does a pretty good job at hiding fingerprints on the screen. You’ll still need a cleaning cloth to ensure the screen isn’t too dirty, but compared to other tablet screens, it seems like we don’t need to wipe it off as often.

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The Yoga 2 features an Intel Atom quad-core 1.33GHz 64-bit processor, 2GB of RAM, a non-removable 9600mAh battery, 16GB of on-board storage, as well as Micro SD card expansion for up to 64GB. The Micro SD card slot is tucked away underneath the kickstand. This is a great location for the card slot, as it helps make the appearance of the device look much more clean. Still, we’re sure many users will overlook it since it’s tucked away so well. The Yoga 2 is also using an Intel HD graphics card. We’ll talk more about that when it comes to performance.

Using a relatively unproven processor is risky thing to include in a tablet, and unfortunately, performance on the Yoga 2 isn’t all that great. The Yoga 2 struggles with everyday tasks like scrolling through web pages, switching tasks, and even unlocking the device. Performance is all-around laggy, and we find ourselves unable to scroll in web pages more than we’d like. We found the webpage lag to be consistent with multiple browsers, even after both soft and hard resets. Not to mention, we really struggled with the lock screen. More often than not, when we unlock the device, we hear the device’s unlock sound, but nothing happens… the screen is stuck on the lock screen.

For those who would like to see how the Yoga 2 performs in benchmark tests, take a look at the gallery below. We know benchmark tests aren’t the most reliable tests out there, but they can be helpful in some situations.

Where the performance gets even more interesting is with gaming. Thanks to the Intel Graphics GPU, we had quite a smooth time playing graphic-intensive games like Dead Trigger 2. In fact, our experience with Dead Trigger 2 was one of the smoothest we’ve ever been a part of on an Android tablet.

So, the user interface is quite sluggish, even though graphics performance and gaming is smooth. It seems like Lenovo needs to work something out when it comes to software optimization, because that doesn’t really make much sense to us.

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The Yoga 2 comes with an 8MP rear-facing camera and a 1.6MP front-facing camera. The front-facer is placed dead-center on the top bezel, making selfies super easy and comfortable to take. However, as we explained before, the rear-facer is in an odd spot on the back of the device. It’s on the bottom left near the kickstand, and we found ourselves having to move our left hand to a more uncomfortable position to take a picture. Honestly, most rear-facing tablet cameras are in the top middle portion of the device, because that’s the most convenient place for them. We would have liked to see the camera in a different location, but from a hardware standpoint, it makes sense why Lenovo placed the camera where they did.

When it comes to image quality, the Yoga 2 doesn’t perform that well. Most images we took on the camera, whether we were using the front or rear-facer, came out grainy, missing intricate details, and lacked color. Picture quality even suffered with indoor studio lighting. Low-light images are bad as well, and we would suggest pulling out your phone instead of trying to take a picture with the tablet when it comes to low-light. Outdoor shots are a bit better than low-light, though they’re nothing to brag about either. Both cameras are extremely sensitive to light, making each and every picture we took blown out.

We’re seeing more and more tablet photographers every day, whether we like it or not. If you’re looking for a decent camera on a tablet, you may want to stray away from the Yoga 2.

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The Yoga 2 is running a heavily-skinned version of Android 4.4.2 KitKat. Compared to the last iteration on a Yoga tablet, not much has changed. The look is generally still very flat, colorful, and reminds us a lot of iOS. Speaking of iOS, there is no application drawer on the Yoga 2. You’ll need to rely heavily on folders and grids of icons for your home screen organization.

Much like we said in our Yoga 2 Pro review, Lenovo didn’t really include many software features to take advantage of the big 10.1-inch screen. The notification shade is stretched across the entire screen and the Recent Apps screen is limited to only three apps at a time. We would have liked to see many more large screen optimizations in this tablet.

There is, however, one multitasking feature we welcome to the Yoga 2. You’re able to place four apps on the screen at once, just like this tablet’s Samsung counterpart. It works basically the same way as Samsung’s Multi-Window, allowing you to place multiple apps on the screen and resize them to your desired size. However, the multiwindow feature is limited to only 6 stock Lenovo applications. We’re hoping an update from Lenovo can expand its compatibility, but at the time of this review, it’s still extremely limited.

The stock Lenovo apps could use quite a bit of work. They’re a bit boring and uninspiring, and we’ve found alternative apps in Google Play that look and run much better than the ones included on the tablet. This may be true on many other tablets we see on the market, but it seems like Lenovo didn’t even try to achieve any form of originality in their applications.

In all, the software isn’t the most original we’ve ever seen, and lacks quite a few enhancements we’re used to seeing from other OEM’s. If Lenovo can get a bit more creative with their software overlay, we think this will be a more worthy competitor to other tablets on the market.

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A couple things come to mind when it comes to tablet battery life – screen-on time and standby time. For all of you road warriors out there, you’ll be pleased to know that the Yoga 2 has exceptional battery life. Standby time will last multiple days, and screen-on time can last up to 5+ hours. We put the Yoga 2 through a benchmark battery test, and finally died after about 13 hours of constant use during the test. It’s one of the best batteries we’ve seen on a tablet to date.

You can find the Lenovo Yoga 2 10.1-inch for $269.99 from either Amazon or directly through Lenovo. This is actually a really great value for a tablet this size compared to the other offerings on the market.

In a world with a ton of different tablets to choose from, standing out is everything. Just based on the size, build quality, screen, and speakers, we’d say that Lenovo does just that. However, you need to know what flaws the tablet brings before making your purchase. The software is largely unoriginal, the cameras are almost unusable, and the entire UI runs a bit slow. If you can get over those negatives, you’ll have one heck of a well-built tablet.

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