We take a look at the Yoga Book, a unique play on the 2-in-1 craze in both Windows and Android flavors.

If you look at the current 2-in-1 notebook market, it is clear that the single greatest influence is the Lenovo Yoga. Despite initial efforts to differentiate convertible Notebook-tablet designs, newly released machines such as the HP Spectre x360 series and the Dell XPS 13" 2-in-1 make it clear that the 360-degree "Yoga-style" hinge is the preferred method.

Today, we are looking at a unique application on the 360-degree hinge, the Lenovo Yoga Book. Will this new take on the 2-in-1 concept be so influential?

The Lenovo Yoga Book is 10.1" tablet that aims to find a unique way to implement a stylus on a modern touch device. The device itself is a super thin clamshell-style design, featuring an LCD on one side of the device, and a large touch-sensitive area on the opposing side.

This large touch area serves two purposes. Primarily, it acts as a surface for the included stylus that Lenovo is calling the Real Pen. Using the Real Pen, users can do thing such as sketch in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator or takes notes in an application such as Microsoft OneNote.

The Real Pen has more tricks up its sleeve than just a normal stylus. It can be converted from a pen with a Stylus tip on it to a full ballpoint pen. When paired with the "Create Pad" included with the Yoga Book, you can write on top of a piece of actual paper using the ballpoint pen, and still have the device pick up on what you are drawing.

While an artist working on an intensive sketch likely wouldn't want to keep switching out the physical paper as they continued to draw, the ability to use a tangible piece of paper for stylus input is a benefit for note taking.

If you were taking notes in class or a meeting, you would be able to use a standard piece of paper (you don't need to use Lenovo's special notebook, although it's the perfect size) on top of the touch area of the Yoga Book, and your notes will be transcribed into whatever application you are using.

I think the ability to use see your drawing can help users bridge the gap between something like a Microsoft Surface Pro where the entire screen is the digitizer for the stylus, as opposed to the traditional tablets where you are relying on the coordination of your hand gliding across a separate device from your display.

The other function of the touch area on the Yoga Book adds more notebook-like functionality to the tablet. The touch area can serve as a virtual keyboard and mouse input device. When you put it into this mode, you'll find the outline of a standard QWERTY keyboard overlayed, as well as a small notebook-style touchpad.

As you might expect, using the Yoga Book in this mode isn't an ideal input method. Since you are just typing on a large capacitive touch area the keyboard, as well as the mouse buttons have zero travel (you can however, enable a haptic-style vibration when you press a button.) While I managed to get used to the keyboard after a while, I think the mouse was the bigger deal breaker. Trying to navigate Windows with actions such as clicking and dragging were almost impossible with a mouse button that has zero feedback. 

It's impressive to have any sort of keyboard and mouse in such a thin device, but it's really a last resort in case you have to do some more intensive work than just the touch screen will allow, rather than a device you would look forward to doing work on.

« PreviousNext »