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Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 (Windows, 13-inch) review: A good tablet undone by a cumbersome keyboard

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The Good The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 offers a useful kickstand, great battery life and attractive high-resolution display.

The Bad Weak magnets and an awkward edge design make the connection between tablet and keyboard dock a tenuous one. The tablet is heavier than most of its competitors.

The Bottom Line The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2's 13-inch high-resolution screen delivers a great viewing experience, but its cumbersome keyboard keeps it from greatness.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

7.0 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 7
  • Performance 7
  • Battery 8

Review Sections

The 13-inch Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows is the larger, chunkier version of the 10-inch tablet we reviewed a few months back. It, like its sibling, pairs an attractive display with a clever kickstand, but is bundled with an awkward keyboard.

I was willing to give the 10-inch model a pass, because of its compact size and low price. That doesn't hold true for the larger 13-inch model. The problem is that the magnets connecting the keyboard to the tablet are too weak to keep them attached. The same thing happened with the 10-inch model, but it's also smaller, and less cumbersome in your lap. The 10-incher is also just $369 (about £248 or AU$478) -- that makes a flawed bundled accessory easy to overlook.

The $599 (about £402, or AU$776) price tag on the 13-inch model puts it the same range as the Microsoft Surface 3 . The Surface 3 is a better performer, and its keyboard doesn't fall off on a whim. You will see better battery life from the Yoga Tablet 2, however.

The Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows isn't a bad device. The screen is sharp, and the battery life is long. But the Surface 3's price is so close ($630, after adding the optional $129 keyboard), that spending a little bit more will get you a far less frustrating experience.

Design and features

The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows comes bundled with a detachable keyboard. Josh Miller/CNET

This Yoga Tablet 2's 13.3-inch display has a 2,560x1,440-pixel resolution. It looks good: colors remain true no matter what awkward angle I turn the screen to, and it holds up reasonably well in a well lit office environment. Reflections can be come troublesome in direct light and outdoors -- as expected -- but you'll be fine in most environments.

Like the rest of the Yoga Tablet 2 lineup, the built-in kickstand spins out from the cylindrical battery: just push the button on the back and the hinge will pop out. It will lock into a 90-degree angle, but it also adjusts to whatever angle you'd like rather easily. There is, once again, a hole in the kickstand for a hook. I still have no idea why you'd want to hang your tablet, but it doesn't get in the way, so I'm sure creative folks will dream up some uses. At 2.27 pounds (sans keyboard) it's not exactly cumbersome, but certainly heavier than competitors.

lenovo-yoga-tablet-2-windows-0375-006.jpg
You can hang your tablet, if you'd like. Josh Miller/CNET

Lenovo makes great keyboards, and the one bundled here doesn't disappoint -- at least, not at first. It connects via Bluetooth, and is light and thin. The roomy, spacious keys make for fast, comfortable typing, and the keys actually offer a fair amount travel distance with every press, so my typing was generally accurate, too. There's also a touchpad: it's accurate and works well enough, but I found myself reaching up to the readily accessible, responsive touchscreen. That said, I also spent a lot of time with the keyboard and display separated, so having the touchpad as an option is nice.

The separation between tablet and keyboard is, once again, where things fall apart. Like the 10-inch variant, the keyboard connects to the tablet by way of rather weak magnets on the lip. But both the tablet and keyboard are far too heavy for the magnets to maintain any sort of connection, which results in the pair separating with the slightest jostle or movement.

This was easy enough to deal with for the 10-inch version, but the 13-inch screen and complementary keyboard are massive by comparison, which makes wielding the two separately really awkward. The keyboard technically doubles as a cover, but those weak magnets means the two parts will slide about and readily come off if you stick them in a bag or try to carry them about.

The Yoga Tablet 2 runs Windows 8.1, and it's a good example of how awesome Windows 8 can be, given the right hardware. The tablet end of it does typical tablet things, and is great for checking out movies and general Web browsing. When you need to get things done, just slap on the keyboard: you're getting a proper Windows 8 experience, so all of your regular apps are welcome. The high-resolution display looks great, and an HDMI port on the right side lets you plug it into a larger display if you need a bit more room to maneuver. The 10-inch version of this device could make for a handy travel companion, but I find the 13-inch model -- particularly thanks to that troublesome keyboard -- is a little too cumbersome to juggle.

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