Lenovo took the wraps off six new Yoga products at an event in London, showing off its high-end Yoga 3 Pro convertible laptop, as well as all the other variants of its Yoga tablet range. Before you stop reading thinking that these are just some boring new versions of the same old products, don't be fooled: Lenovo has done plenty of innovating to make these products fresh, and definitely exciting (even for jaded tech product reviewers).
The Yoga range of products is highlighted by innovative built-in tablet stands and laptop hinges that allow the products to be used in a variety of ways, from tablet mode to upright (stand) mode to hold mode, to tent mode. It's a range that's proven to be so practical, Lenovo even introduced the convertible Yoga functions into its business-class ThinkPad range, with the ThinkPad Yoga offering a hinge that allows the 12.5in laptop to be turned into a tablet in one swift motion.
For the new range of Yoga machines, even more improvements can be seen in the way the products work, with Lenovo saying it has undertaken extensive focus groups to figure out exactly the way people use the Yoga products, and what they want to see in newer models. Here's a breakdown of what's new.
Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro: a new hinge and a new Core M CPU
Starting off with the 13.3in Yoga 3 Pro, you can see how serious Lenovo is about wanting to make the product noticeably better than the previous generation. The official numbers are that it's 14 per cent lighter and 17 per cent thinner, with Lenovo claiming the Yoga 3 Pro as the world's thinnest and lightest product for the 13.3in form factor.
The Yoga 3 Pro sitting comfortably as a laptop.
Most obvious is the new hinge design for this product, which Lenovo said consists of 800 pieces that are put together by hand, and it's part of the reason why the new product is so thin. Lenovo said that the design of the hinge, which is dubbed 'watchband' due to the way it looks, has allowed the profile of the product to be 3mm thinner than the previous design. Six mounting points keep the hinge in place, and it retains all of the Yoga functionality for making the notebook turn into a tablet of display device.
The hinge is strong enough to keep the tablet flat, even in mid-air. And, as you can see, even at 13.3 inches, the Yoga 3 Pro is light enough to hold like this with one hand (while using the other hand to hold a compact camera steady enough to get a shot off).
A close-up of the watchband hinge.
We can't get enough of this hinge.
It's certainly unlike any other hinge on the market, and it puts pressure on the other manufacturers to try and come up with something as functional and unobtrusive for their own convertible products.
Apart from the hinge, what has facilitated such a thin and light profile for the Yoga 3 Pro is the use of an Intel Core M CPU, which is a CPU that has been designed specifically for Windows tablet devices. It's a CPU that's meant to bring long hours of battery life, in addition to Core i-like performance. Lenovo claims up to nine hours of freedom from an outlet with this product.
Pricing starts at $2099.
Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro: a hinge that houses a projector
If that isn't enough innovation for you, the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro is a 13in Android 4.4 (KitKat) based tablet that is specifically designed to be an entertainment tablet. Lenovo said its research shows that up to 80 per cent of customers use their tablets at home only, with 56 per cent sharing it around the home and 52 per cent using them to watch video content.
With the Tablet 2 Pro, then, the focus is to blow your mind with media features that are not available on other Android tablets. In addition to the Yoga hinge allowing the product to be stood upright and held more comfortably in one hand for reading, Lenovo has gone ahead and put in a more powerful sound system that includes a sub-woofer, and it has crammed a projector into the right side of the hinge.
The 13in Yoga Tablet 2 Pro's built-in projector can do a 50in screen from 2m.
It may seem like a novelty, but the quality of the projector from our brief hands-on with the product in London shows that it has the ability to be very useful for viewing videos on a screen as big as 50 inches, with a clear resolution and seemingly good contrast (from what we could see on the lit-up show floor, anyway). Ashton, Kutcher, new father and Star Product Engineer for Lenovo, said that one of the uses of this tablet could be to transform bedtime story telling, but that Lenovo is interested in seeing what other uses its customers can come up with for this feature.
We were tethered to a table and couldn't get it to 2m away, so this is the best we could get. The quality looks to be quite impressive.
A live demo of a line of users projecting from their Yoga Tablet 2 Pro.
Ashton looking through the live feed at the projections from the Tablet 2 Pro.
Audio gets a massive boost, too, with the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro housing an 8W, 2.1 speaker system that includes a 5W sub-woofer. You probably want to be cautious in the way you use that while putting the kids to sleep, though.
Other things to note about this tablet are its 2560x1440-pixel screen, and that it runs an Intel Atom CPU.
Pricing for the Tablet 2 Pro is $799.
Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2: now with Windows
The final products in Lenovo's Yoga range include variants of the Tablet 2. These are available in 8in and 10in models, and the big deal about them is that they are now available with Windows. You can use the 10in Windows version with a keyboard accessory that attaches itself to the table via magnet, and true to Lenovo's heritage, it's a keyboard that is extremely comfortable for typing.
The 10in Yoga Tablet 2 running Windows and an Atom CPU. The keyboard accessory is a must for serious typing, and feels very comfortable to hit.
The keyboard attached to the tablet via a magnetic hinge.
The other thing to note with these tablets is that they also have a more rigid hinge design, and that the hinge now includes a hole that enables 'hang mode'. This is a mode that is apparently quite popular in dorm rooms and other environments where users want to hang their table while they watch a movie.
The 8in Yoga Tablet 2 in 'hang' mode.
The Yoga Tablet 10.1in with Android costs $399, while the Yoga Tablet 10.1in with Windows and the keyboard can be bought for $579.
Lenovo is going to make a huge push with these products in retail stores such as JB Hi-Fi and Harvey Norman from this October, and this is a big leap for a company that is otherwise known for its solid ThinkPad business products. Furthermore, an aggressive marketing campaign helmed by actor, Ashton Kutcher, is hoped to bring more awareness to the company's mainstream offerings by showing the actor in all sorts of Yoga poses and amusing usage scenarios (with one particular spot involving a goat).
The writer of this article travelled to London as a guest of Lenovo.
The Intel bar looked after us.