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Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 with AnyPen review: A stylus-friendly Windows tablet with a tiny screen

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The Good The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 features AnyPen technology that allows you to use any metal object as a stylus. Its rounded spine makes it easy to hold, and the kickstand is a welcome addition. Battery life is stellar.

The Bad The small screen isn't ideal for a desktop-like PC experience, and it lacks a keyboard accessory. There are miniscule port options.

The Bottom Line If you can live with the fact that its screen is too small for the full Windows 8 experience, the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2's comfy build and cutting-edge stylus technology are compelling enough reasons to own it.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

7.1 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 7
  • Performance 7
  • Battery 9

Review Sections

Say goodbye to the anxiety of losing your stylus. The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 features AnyPen technology, which allows any metal object to be used as a stylus. Eight-inch Windows tablets that pack the perk of a stylus are few and far between. Lenovo's implementation, with its cutting-edge twist, makes it stand out even more among its competition.

Starting at $299 (£195 and AU$370, converted) the Yoga Tablet 2 features an ergonomic and useful design that's conveniently compact. Like other Lenovo Yoga tablets, the 8-inch Windows model houses a built-in kickstand for propping it up vertically or on its side, and its chunky rounded spine makes holding it one-handed as comfortable as a well-worn paperback book.

Despite its high-tech stylus capabilities and innovative design, its average performance is less impressive, though typical for an 8-inch Windows tablet in its price range. If you're fan of using a stylus, this is one of the most portable, stylus-friendly tablets out there. However, don't expect it to replace your desktop PC; the screen is just way too small to run Windows 8 comfortably.

Specs compared

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Asus VivoTab Note 8 Acer Iconia W4-820-2466 Dell Venue 8 Pro
Price $299 $329 $349 $300
Display size/resolution 8-inch, 1,280x800 touchscreen 8.1-inch, 1,280x800 touchscreen 8.1-inch, 1,280x800 touchscreen 8.1-inch, 1,280x800 touch screen
PC CPU 1.33GHz Intel Atom Z3745 1.33GHz Intel Atom Z3740 1.33GHz Intel Atom Z3740 1.3GHz Intel Atom 3740D
PC Memory 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 1,066MHz 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 1,066MHz 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 1,066MHz 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 32MB Intel HD Graphics 32MB Intel HD Graphics Intel HD Graphics
Storage 32GB SSD hard drive 32GB SSD hard drive 64GB SSD hard drive 32GB SSD hard drive
Optical drive None None None None
Networking 802.11 b/g/n wireless, Bluetooth 4.0 802.11 b/g/n wireless, Bluetooth 4.0 802.11 b/g/n wireless, Bluetooth 4.0 802.11 b/g/n wireless, Bluetooth 4.0
Operating system Windows 8.1 (32-bit) Windows 8.1 (32-bit) Windows 8.1 (32-bit) Windows 8 (32-bit)

Design and features

It doesn't look unique if you're familiar with Lenovo's line of Yoga tablets, but when compared to the rest of the 8-inch Windows models available, the Yoga Tablet 2 is exceptionally distinct. Its build culminates at the chunky rounded spine on the bottom. It makes holding the tablet in one hand ergonomically comfortable, and it also houses the built-in kickstand on the back. By utilizing the kickstand, you can prop up the tablet for easy hands-free video streaming, lay it down for a comfortable typing angle (or writing, in the Yoga Tablet 2's case), and you can even hang it up if you so wish.

The power button is located at the right end of the chunky spine, with the volume rocker and Micro-USB port above it. Similarly, the headphone jack is on the opposite end of the spine, with the Windows button sitting atop it.

The left edge houses the power button and volume rocker. Josh Miller/CNET

In a weird move, the rear camera is located on the left-rear edge of the spine. Adjusting your hands to grip the tablet while keeping your fingers from blocking the lens is a bit awkward. The good news is that the camera quality isn't half bad. The 8-megapixel photos come out sharp with lifelike colors.

North of the rounded spine, the rest of the tablet is impressively thin at 2.5mm. It's also relatively light, weighing in at 0.31-pounds (426g). Primarily slim and sleek, it's a refined mix of fashion and functionality, but tablet traditionalists might eschew the out-of-the-box concept for a more basic build.

No need to hold onto this tablet in order to use it. Josh Miller/CNET

The Windows 8.1 model of the 8-inch Lenovo Yoga Tab 2 (there's also an Android version ) is the first tablet to boast AnyPen technology. Allowing you to use any metal object as a stylus, feel free to bust out your pocket knife, pen, pencil or house keys to navigate the OS, write notes or create your magnum opus.

The versatility of using any nearby utensil to write with is an unparalleled feature, in comparison to other stylus-bearing tablets. I found pens left small ink marks on the screen, which are easy to remove with a microfiber cloth and a little bit of elbow grease, but I preferred to opt out of the constant screen maintenance and just use a pencil.

Using a pen to utilize the AnyPen technology. Josh Miller/CNET

Writing and drawing with the makeshift stylus worked smoothly, yet every once in awhile I encountered an item that wouldn't respond well to the screen. I also found taps and other gestures inconsistently responsive, so navigating around the Windows 8.1 system is easier using a finger.

Lenovo ships the Yoga Tablet 2 with a free subscription to Microsoft Office 365, and OneNote comes preloaded on the tablet. The AnyPen functionality on OneNote worked well, with fast and consistent response to the stylus. There aren't any other stylus-geared apps preloaded onto the tablet, but you can easily download programs like the free painting app, Fresh Paint, which gives you enough creative tools to reveal your inner Monet.

Propped up or down, the kickstand makes using the tablet easier on your eyes and hands. Josh Miller/CNET

The sharp IPS LCD screen dons a 1,280x800-pixel resolution, average for an 8-inch Windows tablet in this price range. On such a small display, a higher resolution wouldn't make a dramatic difference. It's not a bad-looking screen, but it's also not great. Viewing angles are wide, and HD video looks crisp and colorful enough. However, small text can look pixelated at times.

The Yoga Tablet 2 also houses Dolby-powered speakers. The pair face the front of the tablet -- a useful yet understated design choice -- and audio quality is crisp at medium levels. They can sound a bit harsh at full volume, not to mention lacking in bass, but both of these are common downsides to tablet speakers.

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