Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10 review: Sturdy design can't make up for subpar screen

There's a custom home screen menu that you access by tapping the three dots on the bottom-right of the screen; here you can change the wallpaper, quickly jump to settings, and add widgets.

The tablet comes with a handful of custom apps from Lenovo, several third-party titles, and the typical Google apps suite. There's a maps-and-navigation app called Navigate 6, a voice recorder, and a power management app, which changes settings to keep your battery alive longer. There's also Norton Mobile Security, Kindle, AccuWeather, and Skype.

Lenovo Yoga 10
The tablet is running a modified version of Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

One unique feature allows you to schedule when the tablet turns on and off in the settings menu. That means you could watch a video in bed at night and schedule it to shut off at 11 p.m., then turn back on at 6 a.m. so you can read the news in the morning. You could also use it to ensure that your kids don't stay up late reading bed, assuming they don't know how to override it.

There's a media shortcut menu called Smart Bar, which gives you quick access to books, movies, music, and apps. You can turn it on in settings and then, starting with your finger on the screen bezel, swipe left toward the middle of the display to pull it up (or swipe to the right in portrait mode).

Lenovo also includes three viewing modes, Hold, Stand, and Tilt, that change the display and audio settings to fit the activity. Hold mode enhances the audio for music, Tilt changes the sound and video settings to the ones that are best for gaming, and in Stand mode, the settings adjust for playing video. When you turn on any of those modes, the Smart Bar changes its layout to highlight certain apps. For instance, in Hold mode the Kindle app takes the top spot, while in Stand mode, large tiles for videos and photos appear. You can switch between modes in the Smart Bar.

Hardware
Inside, there's a quad-core 1.2GHz MT8125 MediaTek CPU, 1GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal storage.

The tablet's 5-megapixel back camera with auto focus does a decent job of snapping both close-up and wide shots. It's not a major selling point, but the performance is commendable.

Device CPU GPU RAM OS tested
Lenovo Yoga 10 1.2GHz MT8125 MediaTek CPU PowerVR Series5XT 1GB Android 4.2.2
Google Nexus 7 (2013) 1.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro Adreno 320 (single-core) 2GB Android 4.3
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 (8-inch) 1.5GHz quad-core Exynos 4 Dual (4212) Mali T400MP4 (quad-core) 1.5GB Android 4.2.2
LG G Pad 8.3 1.7GHz Snapdragon 600 processor Adreno 320 (single-core) 2GB Android 4.2.2

For video chatting, there's a front-facing 1.6-megapixel camera on the left screen bezel. It's actually one of the better front cameras I've seen; the image looks clear and there are minimal lighting problems.

Other features include an e-compass, accelerometer, GPS, and an automatic brightness sensor.

Performance
The Yoga's performance doesn't blow me away, but it's not bad either. Moving through menus and opening apps feels snappy, though applications that require a lot of processing power can be sluggish.

The tablet struggles to handle graphics-heavy games like N.O.V.A. 3; it took more than five minutes to load the first level and the graphics in the game were often blurry. It did, however, play Temple Run 2 without issues, though the colors looked oversaturated.

N.O.V.A. 3 Level 1 load time (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

3DMark (Normal)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

The speakers have Dolby Digital Plus DS1 technology, which is meant to enhance the overall audio quality. There's an option in the quick settings menu (which appears when you swipe down on the right side of the screen) to toggle the Dolby sound enhancement off and on, and there's also an app where you can select sound profiles for gaming, watching movies, or playing music.

Lenovo Yoga 10
The front speakers use Dolby Digital Plus technology to boost audio quality. James Martin/CNET

Despite all this, the sound quality isn't impressive. The speakers sound very loud at the highest volume, especially with Dolby Digital Plus turned on, but the audio sounds flat with weak bass. With Dolby Digital Plus turned off, voices sound more prominent, but music sounds faint and, again, flat. With headphones plugged in, the sound gets better, but not by much. I also didn't notice any dramatic differences in sound quality between the aforementioned audio profiles.

Lenovo Yoga 10
The Yoga 10 has a silver polycarbonate back. James Martin/CNET

The Yoga 10's long battery life helps makes up for its other weak points. It's sporting a 9,000mAh battery, which is on par with the batteries you find in laptops. That should give you nearly all-day battery life and Lenovo says that it will last for 13 hours while browsing the Internet on Wi-Fi with 50 percent brightness. Here are our official CNET Labs-tested battery life results. More tablet testing results can be found here.

Video Battery life (in hours)
Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10 12.4

Conclusion
Given that most 10-inch tablets are used as at-home entertainment devices for watching videos and playing games, it's hard to recommend the Lenovo Yoga 10. Though its kickstand makes it really easy to prop up the tablet on a table so you can sit back and watch a movie, the awful screen and poor speaker quality really put a damper on the whole viewing experience.

Really, the tablet's only two redeeming qualities are the 13-plus hours of promised battery life and its $300 price tag, which is lower than its competition. If cost is crucial for you when picking a tablet, the Yoga is at least a better value than the equally priced Toshiba Excite Pure , which has an even lower-resolution display.

However, for $100 more, you can get one of our top picks for a 10-inch Android tablet, the Nexus 10. The Nexus 10's screen is far superior to the one on the Yoga, it has much better performance, and it's running a pure version of Android. Another highly recommended choice is the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 , which costs $379 and bests the Lenovo Yoga in both screen quality and performance. If either of those tablets are in your price range, I suggest you pick them over the Yoga.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Oct 30, 2013
  • Resolution 1280 x 800
  • Operating System Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean)
  • Installed Size 1 GB
  • Color Silver
  • Weight 1.33 lbs
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