Sometimes you run into a product that redefines a segment. In cars it was things like the 240Z and Miata, in Smartphones the BlackBerry and then the iPhone, and in PCs there was the ThinkPad clam shell laptop and, more recently the MacBook Air. Then there are even more rare products that blend segments. The Areal Atom and CanAm Spider blend cars and motorcycles in different ways, the fascinating WaterCar a powerful car and boat, and the Yoga Book blends a tablet and a laptop into something very different but, strangely enough very compelling.
It is one of a number of products that attempt to blend a laptop and a tablet. But these are often out of balance, either more of a tablet playing at being a laptop – like the iPod Pro – or a laptop playing at being a tablet – like the Microsoft Surface and Surface Book. The Lenovo Yoga Book is almost a perfect blend of the two. Let me explain.
It is hard to get balance right. Your typical amphibious car tends to both suck at being a car and at being a boat with the WaterCar above the closest thing to being a vehicle in balance. Yes, you do have to sacrifice in both areas. A single product can’t be great in two conflicting aspects, which is why the existing blends of laptop and tablet suck in one area. The iPad Pro sucks at being a laptop and while it has good battery life and is light for its size, it tends to be too big for a tablet – even though that’s its primary function. The Microsoft Surface tablet makes a pretty good notebook. But as a tablet it is heavy and lacks battery life. The Surface Book is an even better laptop, but to make the tablet form light it abandons adequate battery life. Neither product is truly in balance though they rightly favor their individual strengths over weaknesses.
As noted, the Yoga Book is in near perfect balance. It has the weight and battery life of a tablet, the keyboard and functionality of a notebook, and does all of this in a thin design that is almost unbelievable in a tablet, let alone a laptop computer. It gets there with something called a “Halo Keyboard”: a keyboard with fixed keys and haptic feedback; similar in use to a really big Smartphone keyboard.
It comes with 64GB of flash memory and you can add another 128GB with a fast SD card giving it decent total capacity for either a laptop or a tablet all in flash. Its one rather unique option, you can attach a paper pad magnetically to the keyboard, then write on the keyboard and the computer will capture your writing which appears on the screen. I’ve played with products like this before and they are generally too big, heavy, and lack the battery life needed for use as a note taking device. With 13 hours of battery life and 1.5 pound weight this could be your perfect note taking device if you like pen or keyboard.
One of the other fascinating things is the reviews by users typically follow the format of being amazed at how useful and great this very unusual product is. Granted they have a wish list of being able to turn down the haptics or have the pen switch between ink and stylus more easily but generally folks just rave about the device and typically, with something as unusual as the Yoga Book, folks get really messed up by the differences and hate the device as a result, which certainly isn’t the case here, where they gave it consistent 4s and 5s on a 5 point scale. Apparently, users simply love this thing particularly those that like to sketch.
The Yoga Book is an amazing product. You can order it with Android or Windows (I’d recommend Windows myself but think it would be cool if this device could run both); costing $500 with Android and $550 with Windows. It showcases one of those rare cases where a blended product is nearly in perfect balance. It will function well as both a tablet and as a notebook only giving up a little in performance in the process (it uses an Intel Atom processor). For the right person, someone that equally needs a laptop and a tablet and particularly for those that like to sketch or take notes with a pen, this could be the exact product they didn’t know they’d always dreamed of.
For the right person, even you, this could make one hell of a gift. And it is that time of year.
Oh, and one more thing (yes, I am channeling Steve Jobs) it has that amazing Yoga watch band hinge that just adds that extra touch of cool. Check it out, as this may be the closest thing to a perfect true 2-in-1 that has ever been created. Let’s call it a LapLet.
President and Principal Analyst, Enderle Group
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