Even the lightest 10-inch tablet can feel heavy after you've been holding it aloft for several minutes. The Lenovo Tablet HD+ features an adjustable kickstand and hinge, which allow you to stand the tablet up on your desk, tilt it up for better viewing when it's on a flat surface or grip it more easily in one hand. The $349 Android device also features a full-HD, 1920 x 1200 display, front-facing speakers and really long battery life. However, Lenovo has also cut a few corners.
Like its lower-resolution brother, the Yoga 10, the Yoga 10 HD+ has an unusual spiral-notebook aesthetic. The tablet has a long, thin, .1-inch body that tapers into a thick cylindrical aluminum hinge that holds the battery, with a section that flips out to serve as a kickstand. With its silver-colored, polycarbonate skin, the tablet looks every bit like a premium device. I particularly liked the beveled Lenovo logo and the textured surface on the back that made me sound like Grand Master Flash scratching records when I touched it. Placing the power button on the left side of the cylinder and the 3.5mm audio jack on the right is another nice touch.
At 10.3 x 7.1 x .4 inches and 1.37 pounds, the Yoga Tablet 10 HD+ isn't the lightest slate on the market, with the Sony Xperia Z2 (10.47 x 6.77 x 0.25 inches, .96 pounds) and the ASUS Transformer Pad TF701T (10.35 x 7.11 x 0.35 inches, 1.29 pounds) weighing less. However, that extra weight goes into the high-capacity battery and kickstand, which the Yoga's competitors lack.
Unfortunately, only Hercules could dislodge the kickstand from its crevice with one hand. Because the sides of the crevice obstruct the kickstand's edges, I had to grab the cylinder on the bottom of the device and turn with all my might before it popped out even a little bit. When it does pop out slightly, you must grab the exposed edge with another hand and pull it downward. Otherwise, the stand will just snap back in, and you'll have to start over again. I found this process extremely frustrating.
Click to EnlargeOnce out, the kickstand does a great job of propping the tablet up in landscape orientation, a position Lenovo calls Stand Mode. You can also lay the Yoga 10 HD+ face-up on a table, with the kickstand angling the tablet up in Tilt Mode. The cylinder also makes the device easier to grip when you are holding it aloft; Lenovo calls this Hold Mode, though most people would call it "carrying a tablet around."
I found Stand Mode particularly useful because it allowed me to prop the tablet up on my desk and watch video clips while working on my PC. Though the Yoga is not marketed as a second or third monitor for PC users, I can imagine keeping my email inbox, Twitter feed or other glanceable data on it while using my computer.
Title Mode is most useful when you are looking down at the tablet and don't want to crane your neck to view the screen head on. Travelers will probably employ this mode when typing on the Yoga 10 HD+ on an airplane tray table.
The device's cylindrical bottom makes it easy to carry the tablet in one hand when it's in portrait orientation, but it seemed a bit clunky when I gripped it in landscape mode.
Click to EnlargeThe Yoga Tablet 10 HD+'s 10.1-inch, 1920 x 1200 display delivered sharp images, but weak viewing angles and limited color quality. The tablet was able to display only 68.4 percent of the sRGB color gamut in our lab tests, which means that it has a smaller palette to work with than the average tablet (91.4 percent) and even the Lenovo Tablet A10 (72 percent).
More-premium tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 (154 percent) and Sony Xperia Z2 (125 percent) show even more colors than the sRGB spec. The tablet also turned in a mediocre Delta E color accuracy score of 6.6 (0 is perfect accuracy), when the category average is 5.3 and competitors like Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 (3.4), Sony Xperia Z2 (2.6) and Lenovo A10 (1.2) produce images that are much more true to life.
Interestingly, the tablet's UI has different color schemes for its three different modes. However, users must select the mode manually in the software. I found that the Stand Mode setting looked much better than the Tilt or Hold Mode, with the latter sporting a somewhat yellowish tint.
Unfortunately, the poor color gamut score of the Tablet 10 HD+ is an accurate reflection of what you'll see when viewing videos. When I watched a trailer for "The Avengers" on the Yoga Tablet 10 HD+, blues and greens appeared a bit dull, while many objects had a strong red tint. I was shocked when a scene showed Agent Coulson with skin so red that he appeared to have a sunburn, even though his skin was a realistic off-white color when I viewed the same trailer on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5.
A trailer for "Guardians of the Galaxy" also failed to impress. In a scene of Star Lord shirtless, he looked like he had a giant red rash. On the bright side, the high-res display allowed me to make out every hair in Chris Pratt's facial stubble without a hint of noise.
If you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors with your tablet, you might want to look elsewhere than the Yoga Tablet 10 HD+. Its screen managed a mediocre 342 nits on our light test, below the 360-nit category average and miles behind the 502-nit Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5. The 402-nit ASUS Transformer Pad TF701T and the 393-nit Xperia Z2 are also brighter.
When I took the Lenovo tablet out on the roof on a sunny day, I could barely see the contents of the screen. Even indoors, colors washed out considerably when I looked at the Yoga 10 HD+ from angles wider than 45 degrees. It doesn't help that the glossy screen is a fingerprint magnet.
Click to EnlargeThe Yoga Tablet 10 HD+'s Dolby-enabled front-facing speakers provided loud, accurate audio that's good for listening to music. When I played the bass-heavy "Forget Me Nots," the vocals and backing music were rich enough to get me tapping my feet. The guitar- and drum-laden "Metal Health" was a little tinny but good enough to bang my head to.
The tablet is loud enough to fill a small room, measuring 87 decibels on the Laptop Mag Volume Test, well above the 78.9-dB category average. A Dolby Audio app provides fine control over the graphic equalizer, along with profiles for music, movies and gaming.
Custom Android Interface
Click to EnlargeThe Yoga Tablet 10 HD+ comes with Android 4.3, covered with Lenovo's subtle Android skin. Unlike Samsung, HTC and LG, all of which add a ton of functionality and a completely custom look and feel, Lenovo pops in a handful of features to go with a few unique-looking icons and menus.
The software navigation buttons on the bottom are identical to those in stock Android, but the settings menu has a slightly different aesthetic, with a green highlight on top of white submenus. There's also a special menu bar, which appears when you tap an icon of three dots in the lower right corner. The menu bar allows you to add home screens, change the theme, switch wallpaper, and control some of the scrolling and transition effects.
Unlike most Android devices, the Yoga 10 HD+ has no app drawer. Instead, all apps appear on the home screens. For many users, swiping over one home screen to the right will seem more intuitive than finding an app drawer button.
Click to EnlargeThe Yoga Tablet 10 HD+'s most interesting Android enhancement is a multi-window mode that lets you split the screen among up to four apps at a time. Unlike Samsung, which also has a multi window mode on its tablets but only allows certain apps to perform this function, Lenovo ties the feature to its app-switching menu and lets you use any apps you want.
When you hit the app-switching button in the bottom nav, you're presented with a thumbnail list of open apps. If you press on a thumbnail, it opens full screen. But if you drag an app icon up from the menu bar onto the top of the screen, it takes over half, a third or a quarter of the display, depending on how many other apps you have open in windows.
By default, the screen splits evenly among apps, but you can move the borders around to give some apps more room than others. Tapping the circle that appears on the border allows you to close a window. I particularly enjoyed splitting the screen between a movie trailer and a Web browser I could use to look up info about the flick.
Click to EnlargeThe Yoga Tablet 10 HD+'s 1.6-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor and 2GB of RAM allow it to surf the Web and play movies reasonably well, but the device just didn't feel as smooth and snappy as most other tablets I've used. Navigating through the UI, I noticed a fairly significant delay when hitting the home button to return to the home screen. The task-switching menu popped up from the bottom of the screen rather slowly, and transitions, like the one that occurs when you drag an app into multi-window mode, seemed to occur too slowly.
Demanding games didn't work particularly well, either. Asphalt 8 was noticeably jerky. Fast Racing 3D was smooth but suffered from grainy images and flat surfaces. Asphalt 8 was much smoother when I tried it on the Galaxy Tab S 10.5.
On Geekbench 3, a synthetic benchmark that measures overall system performance, the Yoga Tablet 10 HD+ scored a weak 1,483, well below the 2,211 tablet category average and about half as fast as the Nvidia Tegra 4-powered Transformer Pad TF701T (2,712), the Exynos 5-enabled Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 (2,776) and the Snapdragon 801-powered Sony Xperia Z2 (2,685).
The Yoga Tablet 10 HD+ did even worse on the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited graphics test, scoring a pedestrian 4,104. That's less than half the 9,874 tablet average and way behind the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 (13,481), the Sony Xperia Z2 (18,935) and the ASUS Transformer Pad TF701T (15,182).
The tablet isn't the slowest on the block when it comes to crunching video, but it is far behind most competitors. The Yoga took 9 minutes and 14 seconds to transcode an HD video to 480p using the Vidtrim app, which is faster than the 11:25 category average but much slower than the Sony Xperia Z2 (5:49), the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 (4:17) and the ASUS Transformer Pad TF701T (4:18).
Click to EnlargeThe 8-megapixel camera on the Yoga Tablet 10 HD+ captures sharp, reasonably colorful photos. When I shot pictures of a Manhattan skyline, the clouds in the sky and the bricks on a building were detailed. Colors were pretty accurate but muted
A 1080p video of cars rolling down a New York City street was equally sharp. The front-facing, 2-MP camera captured detailed, bright images of my face, which were free from the noise and pixilation I often see when taking selfies with a tablet.
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Click to EnlargeLenovo includes a number of custom apps on the Yoga 10 HD+, and most are pretty useful. The best of these are in Lenovo's suite of "DOit" apps. SECUREit lets you see what apps are running, enable an ad blocker or, better still, control what permissions each app has. For example, we were able to prevent all of our preinstalled apps from reading our location info with a couple of taps.
SYNCit backs up your SMS messages and contacts to the cloud. SHAREit lets you share files directly with other Android devices, PCs and even iPhones via a speedy Wi-Fi direct connection. All three apps are also available for free for anyone who accesses the Google Play store.
Like Samsung, Lenovo has its own email, video player and gallery apps. The camera app doesn't offer many special features, but it does have a few filters and an audible photo mode that pairs a still image with up to 9 seconds of audio. This is similar to Samsung's Sound and Shot feature. Strangely, Lenovo felt compelled to include its own Web browser that looks and feels a lot like Chrome, which is also included.
The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10 HD+'s 9,000-mAh battery allowed it to last an epic 13 hours and 1 minute on the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which involves continuous surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits. That's a lot longer than the 8:20 tablet category average, the Xperia Z2 (9:30), the Transformer Pad TF701T (8:33) and the Galaxy Tab S 10.5 (8:57). You can definitely use this tablet all day long or intermittently for several days without charging.
Lenovo sells a $79 Bluetooth keyboard that can snap onto the top of the Yoga Tablet 10 HD+ or its predecessor, the Yoga Tablet 10, and protect the screen. The keyboard features large keys and a touchpad, making it ideal to use when the tablet is in Stand Mode. For those who don't want the keyboard, the company also sells a $29 black sleeve.
Click to EnlargeFor $150 less than premium Android tablets and the iPad Air, the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10 HD+ is a pretty strong value. The slate sports a handy kickstand, loud speakers, and enough battery life to make it through a full day of work and play. Unfortunately, the tablet's sluggish performance makes it a poor choice for demanding games, while users who are picky about color quality won't like the 1080p display.
For just $10 more, you can get the ASUS Transformer Pad TF701T, which is much more powerful and has a better screen. And, if you're willing to splurge, the $499 Galaxy Tab S 10.5 has the most vibrant display of any tablet this size. However, if long endurance is paramount, the Tablet 10 HD+ is certainly worth considering.