Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 review: Unique, sturdy design can't match subpar screen

There’s a custom home screen menu that you access by tapping the three dots on the bottom-right of the screen, where 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.

One unique feature allows you 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 your kids don’t stay up late reading bed, assuming they don’t know how to override it.

Lenovo Yoga 8
The tablet is running a modified version of Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

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 towards the middle of the display to pull it up (or swipe to the right in portrait mode).

Lenovo also includes on the Smart Bar three viewing modes which change the display and audio settings to fit the activity: Hold, Stand, and Tilt. Hold mode enhances the audio for music, Tilt changes the sound and video settings to ones 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.

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 8 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, as 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 four minutes to load the first level, and the graphics in the game were occasionally blurry. It did, however, play Temple Run 2 without any issues.

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.

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.

The tablet’s impressive battery life makes up for its other weak points. There’s a 6,000mAh battery inside the Yoga 8. That should give you nearly all-day battery life and Lenovo says that it will last for around 11 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 8 14.2

Conclusion
Despite its poor screen, weak internal specs, and an unattractive operating system, the Lenovo Yoga 8 is still a good deal at $250. Though competing tablets pack nicer screens and better specs, most can’t match that price, including the $400 Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and the $350 LG G Pad 8.3 .

One exception is the $269 Kindle Fire HD 8.9 (from 2012), which has a better screen, better performance and LTE support. Still, with the Kindle Fire, you don’t get access to the Google Play store, which means you can’t get as many apps and games as you can on the Yoga.

Though I can't recommend the Yoga Tablet 10 , the Yoga 8 is a good choice as a family tablet for playing games and watch videos. Just keep in mind that it's not among our top tablet picks.

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Where to Buy See all prices

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8

Part Number: 59387761 Released: Oct 30, 2013
MSRP: $249.00 Low Price: $218.95 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Oct 30, 2013
  • Wireless Connectivity Bluetooth 4.0
    Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g
    Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
  • Weight 0.88 lbs
  • Type Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
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