As phones keep getting bigger, 8-inch tablets are quickly becoming the sweet spot for shoppers. And Lenovo's Yoga Tablet 2 is one of the best slates you can buy. This device boasts an improved kickstand design and houses a long-lasting battery in its cylindrical side. While it's heavier than competing tablets, the Yoga Tablet's combination of performance, display quality, loud audio and endurance make it a top choice.
Thanks to its cool, sleek coating, the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 feels luxurious. Although its body is plastic, it feels more like metal with its brushed silver finish and slightly textured back. Designed just like its 10-inch brother, this 8-inch Yoga tablet sports a cylindrical hinge and metal kickstand.
In addition to Stand, Tilt and Hold, you can now use the tablet in Hang mode, thanks to an oval cutout in its metal kickstand. This lets you hook the tablet around, say, the knob of a kitchen cabinet, which saves counter space and keeps the tablet safe from spills.
Moving the kickstand to any of these positions is easy once you get the hang of it, although you have to apply a fair amount of pressure. Tucked away beneath the kickstand is a small inset for a microSD card.
I found myself using the Yoga Tablet 2 in stand mode most often, sitting it beside my laptop at work with Spotify or YouTube playing. Tilt is best for typing, while Hold is standard when using the tablet in portrait mode. The cylindrical side of the device makes it easy and comfortable to grip.
The thin, smooth sides of the Yoga Tablet 2's body are bare, save for the raised and slightly textured volume rocker on the left side. One end of the cylinder holds the power button, and the other houses a headphone jack.
Due to its bulbous side, the Yoga Tablet 2 weighs a hefty 14.72 ounces, making it significantly heavier than the Asus MeMO Pad 8 ME181c (11.36 ounces), the Dell Venue 8 3000 series (11.84 ounces) and the Acer Iconia Tab 8 (12.6 ounces).
The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2's 1920 x 1200 resolution display produced sharp images, although its colors were a little dull and skewed warm. When I watched the music video for AFI's "17 Crimes," skin tones and highlights glowed in a yellowish tint, and blues, reds and greens weren't as bold as they appeared on my iPhone 6.
But the tablet measured a stellar 497 nits on our brightness test. That's much higher than the tablet category average of 340 nits, and higher than the Acer Iconia Tab 8 (1920 x 1200p, 290 nits), the Dell Venue 8 3000 series (1920 x 1200p, 352 nits) and the Asus MeMo Pad 8 ME181C (1280 x 800p, 376 nits).
According to our colorimeter, the Yoga Tablet 2's display is able to reproduce 88.2 percent of the sRGB color gamut scale. That's slightly better than the category average (84 percent) and it outperforms the MeMo Pad 8 (72 percent), the Venue 8 (73.4 percent) and the Iconia Tab 8 (78.8 percent).
Even though the display can produce many colors, they're not very accurate. The panel's lackluster Delta E score of 10.2 (closer to 0 is better) places it behind the Venue 8 (3.8), the MeMO Pad 8 (7.2) and the Iconia Tab 8 (8.7).
The front-facing speakers on the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 were strong enough to fill a small room with sound. When I listened to "Time of Our Lives" by Pitbull featuring Ne-Yo, the vocals hovered above the track and sounded defined, while the instruments boomed.
However, as I cranked the volume up to the max, quality suffered. Listening to "FourFiveSeconds" by Rihanna, Kanye West and Paul McCartney, vocals were clear but the guitar sounded tinny.
On the Laptop Mag Audio Test, which involves playing a tone at max volume and measuring it from 13 inches away, the Yoga Tablet 2 measured a whopping 92 decibels. That blasts away the category average of 80 dB, as well as all of the competition, including the Acer Iconia Tab 8 (79 dB), the Asus MeMo Pad 8 ME181C (80 dB) and the Dell Venue 8 3000 series (83 dB).
The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 remained cool even during our testing. After streaming a 1080p video on YouTube for 15 minutes, the tablet measured 89 degrees Fahrenheit at its hottest point, which was on the back in the middle, to the right of the Lenovo logo. That's slightly cooler than the Acer MeMO Pad 8 ME181C (91 degrees), and the edges of the Yoga Tablet 2 were even cooler, hovering around 86 degrees.
The Yoga Tablet 2 runs Android 4.4 KitKat, with some modifications from Lenovo. Lenovo added Bottom Switch, a custom quick-settings menu that you can access by swiping up from the bottom of the screen.
Bottom Switch is particularly useful if you go back and forth between videos and reading, because it allows you to quickly adjust the brightness to your liking and access Lenovo Smart Switch, which lets you change display and audio properties.
While I typically kept my screen in Vibrant mode, I enjoyed the yellowish tint of Matte mode when I was reading in the Kindle app. Bottom Switch also lets you easily toggle Wi-Fi, GPS, Sleep Mode, Auto-Rotate and MultiWindow.
MultiWindow lets you open a few apps at once on the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2's display. You can have up to three apps open at one time; each appear as small windows, whose size you can change and move around the display.
Unfortunately, this isn't as useful as it sounds, as it only works with Email, Chrome, Gallery, File Browser, Calculator and Video. I would have liked to see apps such as YouTube, Gmail, Evernote or Skype supported to make it a more practical tool.
I also found the 8-inch display cramped when I had three app windows open at once. I much preferred to use MultiWindow with just two apps open side-by-side, similar to Samsung's Multi-Window split-screen feature.
Lenovo stocks the Yoga Tablet 2 with some bloatware, but it also preloads a few useful third-party apps. While I used Kindle for reading and File Browser to quickly search for screenshots and documents, I would forgo Navigate for Google Maps.
Lenovo-branded apps include Security HD, which lets you block ads in apps and recommends permissions for your tablet; Shareit, which lets you share files via Wi-Fi Direct with another device that has Shareit installed; and Lenovo eFrame, which turns your tablet into a smart photo frame, scrolling through your saved pictures.
I was happy to see Skype, Facebook, Twitter and Evernote already installed and ready for me to log in. There's also a folder of Google apps, including Gmail, Play Music, YouTube and Drive.
The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 is powered by a 1.33-GHz Intel Atom Z3745 processor and comes with 2GB of RAM. There's 16GB of onboard storage, which you can expand via a microSD Card. I streamed music from Spotify, watched back-to-back YouTube videos and played games such as Boom Beach with little to no lag. However, I noticed a delay of 2 seconds when switching screen orientations.
On the Geekbench 3 test, which measures overall performance, the Yoga Tablet 2 scored 2,282. That's slightly lower than the MeMo Pad 8's score of 2,398 (with 1.33-GHz Intel Atom Bay Trail CPU) and the tablet category average of 2,668. However, it did beat out the Venue 8 (1,470, 1.8-GHz Intel Atom Z3480 CPU) and the Iconia Tab 8 (2,260, 1.33-GHz Intel Atom quad-core CPU).
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On our VidTrim test, in which we transcode a 204MB, 1080p video to 480p, the Yoga Tablet 2 completed the test in a speedy 4 minutes and 28 seconds. That's faster than the Asus MeMo Pad 8 ME181C (5:22), the Acer Iconia Tab 8 (5:27) and the Dell Venue 8 3000 series (6:33).
The tablet also delivered good graphics performance, scoring 15,321 on the 3D Mark Ice Storm Unlimited test. That's more than twice the category average of 7,082. It crushed the Venue 8 (9,666) and the MeMO Pad 8 (13,754), but couldn't beat the Iconia Tab 8 (16,729).
The 8-megapixel rear camera on the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 is positioned awkwardly on the bottom left corner of the cylindrical side. My fingers often covered the lens when I tried to take landscape photos.
A photo taken of my fuzzy toy desk monster lacked detail, and it appeared more blue than purple. Outside in natural light, the rear camera took crisper photos, but the colors remained dull.
A video of the streets of New York City looked slightly blown out, but details in the passing cars and sidewalks were clear.
The tablet's front 1.6-megapixel camera wasn't much better. While my skin tone looked accurate, my hair wasn't well defined, and some details in my sweater appeared blurry.
The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2's 6,400 mAh battery will last you all day, and then some. On the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which involves continuous Web surfing at 150 nits of brightness over Wi-Fi, the Yoga Tablet 2 lasted a stellar 9 hours and 40 minutes.
That trumps the category average of 8:26, and it beats the Acer Iconia Tab 8 (6:53), the Dell Venue 8 3000 series (7:57) and the Asus MeMO Pad 8 ME181C (9:02).
Yes, it's heavier than other 8-inch tablets, but the $229 Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 makes the most of its bulbous design. The handy kickstand design let me use this slate more often and in more places, and its battery outlasts all of its competitors. I also like the powerful speakers.
There are cheaper Android options with the same size screen. For example, the Asus MeMO Pad 8 offers more than 9 hours of endurance and costs $45 less with comparable performance. However, it has a lower-res 1280 x 800 display and weaker speakers. The Dell Venue 8 3000 is a great value because it gives you a full HD screen for just $199, but it doesn't last as long on a charge as the Lenovo and isn't as speedy.
If you're looking for a tablet that has what it takes to get you through a day of work and play, the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 is a very compelling and versatile choice.