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Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 (Android, 8-inch) review:

Affordable Android with a uniquely useful design

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MSRP: $279.99
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The Good The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 has a comfortable, ergonomic design with a useful built-in kickstand. The sharp LED display is paired with booming speakers and a long-lasting battery.

The Bad The heavily modified Android overlay lacks an app tray and customization features. Home screens can't accommodate lots of widgets.

The Bottom Line Practical, portable and affordable, the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 is a great option for casual, everyday use.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

7.3 Overall
  • Design 8.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Performance 7.0

The 8-inch Android version of the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 has two rare features that help distinguish it from other Android tablets: a built-in kickstand and a powerful pair of speakers.

The apex of the notable design is the chunky rounded spine that, when twisted, reveals that small, sturdy stand. It doesn't sound like a big deal, but if you're using the tablet every day, it is. The 8-inch Lenovo can lie down at an angle for easy typing, stand up for Web browsing or hands-free video watching and, if you wish, you can even hang it.

They don't come in as handy as much as the built-in kickstand, but the speakers are still a big deal for heavy media consumers. When used with the preloaded Dolby app, movies come to life, podcasts sound crisp and music richly flows out of the front-facing pair -- an odd sight on a tablet, or sound in this case.

Starting at $229 in the US and £169 in the UK (Australia availability has yet to be announced), the affordable alternative is a smart deviation from the status quo and in its price range, the 8-inch Yoga Tablet 2 is the pick of the litter.

Editors' note: The Yoga Tablet 2 is also available in a 10-inch model , and parts of this review are similar.

Design

The Yoga Tablet 2 is similar in design to last year's models. Coming in 8- and 10-inch sizes, the tablet has an aluminum frame that culminates in a chunky silver spine on the bottom. The rounded edge is home to the front-facing speakers and, on the rear side, the built-in kickstand.

The kickstand is easier to pull out on this Yoga than on the 2013 models -- you simply pull it down by twisting at the spine -- and it securely locks into a 90-degree angle, though you can easily adjust it to your liking. The stand also has a little hole in the middle of it, in case you're the type who likes to hang a tablet.

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The stand itself is thin and easy to adjust. Josh P. Miller/CNET

The Yoga Tablet 2 can sit upright or be set down at a lower angle. I found myself using the tablet propped up, for the most part. It's great for hands-free casual use, especially watching video.

With the exception of the rounded spine, the 8-inch model is rather slim. I found it easy to transport and, even when using the kickstand in public spaces, it didn't take up too much space.

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A slim and sturdy build. Josh P. Miller/CNET

On the left edge, at the bottom of the spine, you'll find the power button, with Micro-USB port and volume rocker located slightly above. The headphone jack is found on the opposite, right end of the spine. The spine is smooth, but the back of the tablet has a bumpy texture, offering some grip support.

Thanks to the chunky rounded spine, gripping it in one hand is rather comfortable -- in portrait orientation. Holding it in landscape orientation took some adjustment; my hands naturally gravitated to the comfier bottom edge, causing me to hold it like a barbell. The awkward positioning motivated me to utilize the kickstand to its full potential.

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The rounded spine is comfortable to hold in one hand. Josh P. Miller/CNET

Features

The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 runs on Android 4.4 KitKat, and it features a regrettably familiar overlay. Just as on last year's models, the Android skin on the Yoga Tablet 2 is simplified to a fault. Mostly notably, the UI lacks an app tray. Instead of all of your app shortcuts being in one organized place, they're placed on the home screens.

You can make folders to organize your shortcuts and choose which home screen to place them on. Organizing everything, though, can be time-consuming, especially if you don't stay on top of it.

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I hope you like looking at app shortcuts. Screenshot by Xiomara Blanco/CNET

I'm partial to an app tray because I download a lot of apps and only make folders on my home screens for my most frequently used ones. It's a different quirk, distinct from iOS, that makes space for a truly custom experience. The UI will disappoint traditional fans of the Google OS, but newcomers may enjoy it as an easy transition to Android from the world of Apple.

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