Category Archives: Lenovo

Lenovo-Miix-320-review

Two low-cost (really!) tablet PCs for drawing in 2017

cheap tablet pc for drawing

Cheap tablet PC for drawing in 2017? Acer Spin 1 and Lenovo Miix 320 fill the bill

Are you looking for a lightweight, powerful, low-cost digital-sketchbook with a pressure-sensitive pen that runs Windows? Now, a cheap tablet PC for drawing and general use can be had.

These affordable tablet PCs in 2017 are filling the recent void. Both have active pen support and use Windows Ink to keep you inking happily. These are perfect for commuting, taking to class, or backpacking.

These two art-capable PCs are actually both economical and decent. Usually, a cheap tablet PC has a low-res display, but these both have HD. Don’t expect these to become your main computers, unless your demands are not that high.

 

Lenovo Miix 320

Lenovo-Miix-320-review

Lenovo Miix 320. Photo courtesy Lenovo

Lenovo is aiming this at “millennials” who have “side hustles”–well, they’ve gotta have an angle. The Miix 320 is for anyone who wants a low-priced Windows tablet with active pen support, via the optional Lenovo Active Pen. The PC is a 2-in-1 detachable with a full keyboard,

While it’s not ideal for professional or resource-intensive use, since it’s not that powerful, you can still do a lot on it.

The Miix 320 has an Atom x5 Cherry Trail processor, Intel HD graphics, up to 128 GB storage, and full FHD touchscreen.

It’s nice and light–the tablet sans keyboard weighs just 1.2 lbs (550g), and 2.25 lbs (1.02 kg) with the keyboard attached.

The Miix 320’s battery life is up to 10 hours, only 17.5 mm thick. Dolby speakers pump up the volume.

This package is petite at 9.8 x 7″ (249  X 178 mm) and only .68″ (17.5 mm) thick. So you can easily put this in a backpack or small travel bag.

It’s got Windows Hello login capabilities and comes in Platinum Silver and Snow White.

Download the spec sheet.

See the Miix on Amazon (U.S.)

Amazon international shoppers

 

Acer Spin 1 (new version)

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Acer Spin 1. Image via Acer

The Acer Spin 1 has been updated and is coming out July 2017. It’s still a really affordable convertible notebook that takes the Acer Active pen, which has a Synaptics digitizer. This new and improved Spin 1 has an all-metal chassis unusual in this budget category, and has a full HD display.

Its processor is Intel Pentium or Intel Celeron. Weight is 2.76 lbs or 1.25 kg, not that extremely light, but tablet PCs do tend to be heavier because of the digitizer layer. It’s thin at .55 in. (14mm) and has 4G DDR3 memory. RAM options are 32, 64, or 128 3MMC storage. IT has antimicrobial Gorilla Glass 5, with embedded ionic silver to slay germs forever.

It’s full size at 11.6″, not a mini computer. Its battery life is not bad, up to 10 hours. It can be posed in laptop, tent, display, or tablet modes, with the wide-view IPS screen offering 178-degree viewing angles.

Notably, its precision touchpad supports Windows 10 gestures. This kind of touchpad is usually found on much pricier devices, such as the Surface Pro.

You can turn on a Bluelight shield, which will make the screen look pinkish, but save your eyes and melatonin.

It’s also got fast Intel Wireless-AC. Its ports are Bluetooth 4.0, a USB 3.1, a USB 2.0, and HDMI, and a microSD card slot.

OK, it’s a cheap tablet PC, so it’s not the fastest, nor does it have the best keyboard. But it has its good qualities for art. Best for students and sketchers.

See it on Amazon (U.S.)

Amazon international link

Art software

Because these are not that powerful, I don’t suggest running full Photoshop on them. Though you can put it on, chances are it will lag if you try to do much. So use smaller apps such as ArtRage, Sketchbook Pro, Photoshop Elements, or Windows mobile apps like Fresh Paint or Sketchable.

See also See also Mytrix/Cube i7 review, a cheap tablet PC for artists

See our post on the best tablet PCs for digital artists

Learn how to pick the best drawing tablet.

yoga 720

Lenovo Yoga 720 review: 13″ and 15″ 2-in-1 with all the trimmings

Lenovo Yoga 720: 2-in-1 is loaded for art

 

yoga 720

Lenovo Yoga 720

The Lenovo Yoga 720 2-in-1 goes where no convertible tablet PC has gone before. It combines a pen that gets 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity with a 4K screen and NVIDIA graphics. This noteworthy hybrid is more proof that Lenovo is forging ahead with innovative art devices. The  Yoga 720 tops the Yoga 710, which also had the dGPU.

 

Type of tablet

Convertible hybrid laptop (nondetachable)

Digitizer: Wacom ES, 4096 levels of pressure

Pen: Lenovo Active Pen 2 or any pen that works on Wacom ES

Features

360 degree “flip-and-fold” design
Models go from 13.3″ to 15.6″ HD screen (1920×1080) to UHD (4K0 screens, i5 to i7, 256GB to 1TB storage, Intel HD Graphics 620 to NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 2GB

15.6″ weight starts at  4.41 lbs (2kg)
13.3″ weight 2.9 lbs.
.07″ wide
Two USB Type-C with Thunderbolt
The higher-end one has micro HDMI and an SD card reader.

13″ model comes in Platinum Silver, Iron Grey, and Copper. The 15″ comes in Iron Grey and Silver.

Lenovo states that on the models with the NVIDIA GTX 1050 card, you can edit photos, play advanced games, and render multiple videos at once.

The HD versions have 8GB RAM and the 3840×2160 4K models have 16. The memory is upgradeable if you DIY.

lenovo yoga 720 multimode

The Yoga in all its poses.This is the 13″ mode.

At the bottom of the post is a downloadable spec sheet with more detail.

The Lenovo Yoga 720 (YOGA 7200 151KB) has  up to the latest Intel Core i7 Kaby Lake processors. The 15″ Yoga 720 at the moment is the fastest in its class, which is convertible laptops. Like many Lenovo products, there’s a dizzying array of configurations, so I’m summarizing them here rather than writing each one out.

The highest-powered and largest one will probably excite digital artists the most. That would be the one that’s 15″ and has discrete NVIDIA graphics, suitable for rendering Photoshop filters and for gaming.

The fact that you can add your own memory is a plus. Many PC hybrid laptops have the memory soldered in and don’t let you upgrade.

The fast processor also lets you boot up quickly.

Unlike some thinner and less powerful ultraportables, this laptop does have fans, and it can run warm. The vents are in the back.

 

Yoga 720 vs. Yoga 520

The Lenovo Yoga 520 is a more entry-level option with only has Intel i3 and 15 and HD. It has a 14″ screen that also has the Wacom digitizer. It also has the option of the NVIDIA GeForce 940 MX graphics card. It’s a good even more affordable option if you’re not a power user; you can use Photoshop and other Adobe software on the i5, and on the i3 too but we suggest the i5 if you’re going to get the Yoga 520. The 520 will be for sale in July 2017.

Want a detachable instead? Try the Miix 720

If you’re looking for a powerful detachable, the Lenovo Miix 720 is not quite as strong as the Yoga 720 but it does let you take off the keyboard.

Pen and drawing

The Active Pen 2 isn’t available yet, but the Active Pen 1 is smooth and accurate.

The Yoga 720 and 520 work with the not-yet-shipping Pen 2 or with any Wacom ES pen, so it won’t be difficult to find a pen. Some product info says the “new release” Active Pen 1 is capable of getting the whole 4096.

Though Wacom ES is lower resolution than EMR, there’s practically zero parallax (distance from pen to line). The pressure sensitivity and palm rejection work well, and I can’t tell the difference between 2048 and 4096. The Lenovo Active Pens do not have tilt sensitivity.

A 15″ surface is a great size for drawing, and there are few portable tablet PCs around this size, besides an older Dell Inspiron 7568 and the MobileStudio Pro 16 by Wacom. The 13″ screen is a good drawing size, too. The Yoga 520 has a 14″ screen.

When the computer is in tablet mode the keyboard will be facing the surface but will be recessed. The keyboard will be disabled, so you can’t use keyboard shortcuts. The clamshell design does let you open the laptop up flat, so you could keep it open.

Portability

The larger, 4.4 lbs. model of the 720 is pretty good for a 15″ screen. You should carry a sleeve to keep the pen in, as there’s no silo. The 13″, at 2.9 lbs, is not the lightest laptop, but still carryable. Since it’s a clamshell, there’s more protection than you’d find in something with a soft keyboard such as the Surface Pro 4.

Screen

The IPS screen is antiglare but still glossy. Viewing angles are pretty good.

Brightness-wise, at about 280-300 nits it’s bright enough, but colors are not as vibrant as some laptops, but it’s not bad.

This nondetachable laptop has a 360-degree hinge, letting you bend the Yoga to poses of laptop, stand, tent, and tablet. “360 degrees” may sound like you can also rotate the screen; you can’t. It bends on hinges, like other Lenovo Yogas.

The screen gets over 100% of sRGB, better than most laptops, but it’s not wide gamut, so those who need Adobe RGB coverage will have to look elsewhere.

Design

The large lower bezel on the bottom is an odd design touch but I think it’s to make it easier to pick up the device in tablet mode without getting fingerprints on it. The other 3 sides have a very thin bezel. Designwise, the Yoga 720 doesn’t stand out. It doesn’t have the distinctive watchband hinge of some Yogas. One cool thing is the fingerprint reader to the right of the trackpad.

Keyboard

The island-style keyboard has keys with key travel not as high as the most comfortable keys, which are deeper, but the keys are fine. They are about 1.2 mm, and I prefer to type on 1.4, yet 1.2 is OK. The keyboard is full-size and backlit. Since the keys are recessed when the laptop is in tablet mode it makes sense for them not to be taller.

lenovoyoga720review

Yoga 720 keyboard and hinge

Pros

value
13″ and 15″
NVIDIA card option
up to 4096 levels of pressure (depending on pen)
4K option
can use any Wacom ES pen
choice of colors
127% of sRGB
boots quickly

Cons

Not amazing battery life
USB ports only USB-3, may be a difficulty for some users
colors not super-vibrant
no Adobe RGB
some fan noise

Battery Life

Lenovo claims 9 hours battery life for the HD and 8 for the UHD (4k), but this would depend a lot on use. A 4k screen and graphics rendering is going to take up more power and drain the power faster.

User Lenovo Yoga 720 reviews

Lenovo Yoga 720 reviews have been positive, though the product is still new.

The lower-spec model is OK too, but without the dGPU it doesn’t differentiate itself a lot from others in the same category.

The lack of Adobe RGB may be a sticking point for some.

The verdict

This is not the fanciest-looking tablet PC, but the one with NVIDIA is high-performance. Lenovo is not not adding a premium to the price for the art capabilities. The specs of the higher -end model compete with the Wacom MobileStudio Pro, which of course has more specialized art features. The 720 is a good value for a powerful art PC.

The large size alone is enough reason to appreciate this release. It fills a gap that’s been missing since the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14 1st gen, namely that of discrete graphics. This Lenovo  Yoga 720 review is a thumbs-up, and we’re adding it to our top list of tablet PCs because of its dGPU and Wacom pen.

Yoga 720_15 inch_Spec Sheet (PDF download)

See the Yoga 720 at Best Buy

See it at Lenovo.com

See the Miix 720 at Amazon

The Lenovo site has descriptions of each model.

The Yoga 520 14″ has a release date of July 2017 in hues of Mineral Grey, Metallic Gold, and Onyx
Black.

Here’s a short video by Lenovo.

 

Here’s a Lenovo Yoga 720 review from Lisa Gade of Mobile Tech Review.

 

Compare:

HP Spectre 360

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1
Lenovo Miix 720
Surface Pro 4

More about top tablets for artists at homepage

See our top 10 best tablet pc’s for art

end of Lenovo Yoga 720 review

lenovo-active-pen-2

Lenovo Active Pen 2: the mystery deepens

novo-active-pen-2

Lenovo Active Pen 2, where art thou?

Many of us have been waiting anxiously for the Lenovo Active Pen 2 with 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity to hit the shelves. Shown first at CES along with the Miix 720, the pen was scheduled for Feb. 2017. To this day it remains unseen on U.S. shores. But is it hiding in plain sight?

lenovo-active-pen

Lenovo Active Pen “new release”

At a brick and mortar store, I asked about the Active Pen 2, and their system only had the Active Pen, the old one (version 1), same part number.

Lenovo Active Pen “new release”

(photo coming, WordPress uploading not working at the moment!)

But it was marked “new release,” in the store’s online catalogue. This store, which I trust, says that means the item has come out within the past month.  Lenovo’s online info about THIS pen now states that it will get 4096 levels on some systems. I purchased the pen with the intention of using it on the Miix 720, but I doubt I will be able to discern the difference between 2048 and 4096 levels.

It’s a Wacom Active ES pen that takes AAAA batteries. It’s for the Miix 510, 520, 700, 720,, and Yoga 900s, but many report it works on the 2nd-gen Lenovo Yoga ThinkPad 14.

(I will have to try it on other AES systems too. They’re not always cross-compatible, even if they seem like they should be. Lenovo is only mentioning the Miixes and 900s as working with this pen, not their myriad other AES tablet PCs.)

The Lenovo Active Pen 2 is mentioned on non-US sites as shipping with the Miix 720, but the Active Pen 2 is not currently mentioned at all on the US site, which says Active Pen 1 on the Miix 720 page.

When I asked Lenovo reps, I was told that they have no idea about any of this, and they’ll get back to me. (It’s not their fault at all–Lenovo is rarely forthcoming with such info).

They did assure me that the Active Pen 2 would not have the same part number as the Active Pen 1, but they did not assure me that the entity known as Lenovo Active Pen 2 would ever be available in the US at all. They also expressed surprise at the “new release” info and asked me what store this was at (it was B&H Photo).

There are some internal Wacom photos of the Active Pen 2 here. It looks pretty much the same as the 1, though the clip may be slightly different, but that doesn’t mean much. The barrel may be a little shorter too (hard to say) but this could be a prototype.

I don’t see definite differences in the photos on the non-US Web sites, as the pen pics are not that close up.

Perhaps there will be two pens in the US, but they will look different but do the same thing, getting the full 4096 levels. Or perhaps those other countries are getting something different-looking or different in some other way, but the one in the US will be like this new release one and do what the 2 does. That would be fine. As with people, its what’s inside that counts.

What’s annoying is the announcement about a Pen 2, then not having any info about it.

Another possibility is that there is wrong info on the Lenovo site or that the “new release” info on the B&H site is wrong and this pen does not really get 4096. It is very difficult to confirm just by testing, as added levels, especially just one jump, are somewhat of a placebo effect.

If the new release Active Pen 1 gets the 4,096 levels on the tablets capable of doing that, it would indicate the pen has had an update. The box says 2048 levels, so it’s backward-compatible that way. Either way, either pen will work on the Miix series and the Yoga 900s.

It certainly is a mystery, but one likely to be resolved in coming weeks. Watch this space.

Got a capacitive (non-pressure sensitive) tablet? Read our post on finding an iPad or Android stylus for drawing.

lenovomiix720review

Lenovo Miix 720 review: 4096 is the new 1024

miix720review

Lenovo Miix 720

Lenovo Miix 720 goes to art studio and office

Lenovo has put out several Miixes with active pens–the Miix 510, 520, and IdeaPad Miix 700. The Miixes have been somewhat quiet competition to the Surface Pro. Now the Miix 720 has come.

Lenovo has gone on a listening tour, and is trying to deliver what people want. The Miix 720’s assortment of varying USB ports makes it so you can use your existing peripherals without dongles.  

Download the Miix 720_Spec Sheet (PDF)

This tablet is aimed at artists, designers, writers, business, and general use. Its integrated graphics can handle 4K video. It has the latest Kaby Lake processor. And it has fast memory.

Storage goes all the way up to 1TB. That way, you can be choosy about what you save to the Cloud. As well, you can work offline.

Lenovo Active Pen 2

The new Lenovo Active Pen 2 now has 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity. It’s not hiked to the 8,192 of the newer Wacom Pro Pen 2 for the art-specific Intuos Pro (2017) and MobileStudio Pro, but it’s plenty. Even 1,024 wasn’t bad. 

 

Lenovo-Miix-720-review

Lenovo has long used Wacom digitizers in its PCs. Lenovo went from using Wacom EMR to Wacom AES in laptops and 2-in-1s. It switched back to EMR in the Yoga Book (which is really a graphics tablet with a separate screen), but is continuing to use AES on the Miix.

Lenovo’s Pro Pen and Active Pen 1 and 2 are both AES. The Active Pen 2 has raised the pressure levels to 4,192.

The Miix 720 comes in two colors, Champagne and Iron Gray.

Lenovo Miix 720 vs. Microsoft Surface Pro 4

Though it’s certainly thin, the computer part is a hair thicker than the Microsoft Surface Pro 4, at .35″ to the Microsoft’s skinny-Minnie .33.” There is little weight difference. The 12″ screen is a bit smaller than the SP4’s 12.3, but the Miix’s resolution is higher. The Miix, as far as I know, will not have a version with dedicated graphics the way the Surface Pro 4 does.

The Surface Pro 4’s pen is the less-sensitive N-trig, but the Surface Pro 5‘s pen also has 4096 levels as well as tilt, shading, and a soft eraser.

The dual watchband hinge on the Miix’s kickstand is adjustable up to 150 degrees, as well as aesthetically appealing.

Features

Type of tablet: detachable 2-in-1
Display: 12″ QHD (2880 x 1920)
400 nits with Gorilla Glass
Digitizer: Wacom AES, 4,096 levels
Processor: Intel up to  i7, Kaby Lake
Graphics: integrated
Build: one-piece metal alloy
dual-watchband hinge
RAM: Up to 16 GB DDR4
Dimensions
inches : 11.5″ x 8.27″ x 0.35″
mm: 292 x 210 x 8.9
With Keyboard
inches : 11.53″ x 8.5″ x 0.57″
mm): 293 x 216 x 14.6

One USB 3.1 (Type-C1)
One USB 3.0
One USB 2.0
microSD
Audio Combo Jack
Cameras: front 1MP, rear 5MP

Storage: up to 1 TB PCIe SSD
Dolby speakers

Weight: tablet starts at 1.72 lbs (780 g). With keyboard, starts at 2.42 lbs (1.1 kg)

Full-sized Backlit Keyboard
Lenovo Active Pen 2

WIndows Hello
Colors: Champagne Iron Gray

What’s included:

Miix 720
Keyboard
Power supply
Documentation

The Lenovo Active Pen 2 is listed as a separate purchase in the US from Lenovo.

Battery Life:
Up to 8 hours of mixed use

Portability

It’s very thin. At a little over half an inch thick and a little under 2 1/2 lbs. including the keyboard, it can fit into bags and backpacks without a bulge. The penholder keeps the pen where you can find it.

It has Windows Hello, the somewhat creepy facial-recognition program that keeps you from the sweat of typing in a password. It’s optional. Here’s some privacy info about Windows Hello if you’re concerned.

Here’s a neat factoid from Lenovo: 20% of 2-in-1 users use a pen every day.

With the Thunderbolt 3 has a download speed of 40 GBps, you could attach this to a 4K monitor for video feed, and download stuff at the same time.

Keyboard

The keyboard is full-sized and has 1.5″ of key travel, just a shade (.1″) over the Surface Pro 4’s detachable keyboard. Unlike the Surface Pro 4’s bouncy slab, the Miix’s keyboard is rigid, and fully backlit.

Kickstand with dual-watchband hinge

miix720kickstand

The kickstand goes up to 150 degrees, which is almost upright, so you can watch movies or videoconference. Or you can adjust it down to draw on.

Drawing on the Lenovo Miix 720

Update: I tested the Lenovo Active Pen, the one that says it gets 4096 levels of pressure, yet lives in the body of an Active Pen 1. I can’t quite tell from the feel how many levels it’s getting, but it was smooth and sensitive, and performed as it should. There were no blobs; it’s the standard Windows interface, with plenty of power to run Photoshop. The screen is not that slippery.

Multimonitor

You can use this in a multi-monitor setting, connecting up to two displays.

If this is as it sounds, if the price is right it could be pretty appealing.

Lenovo Miix 720 review: the verdict

Right now the Miix 720 is a bit ahead of the Surface Pro 4 on most counts but has some competition in the Surface Pro 5. Still, if you like Wacom, you may want to go with the Miix. As pens are starting to have similar specs and that Wacom-Microsoft pen is finally here. So now the pen and digitizer may still be important, but there may be more factors to look at.

In the past, I’d be wiilling to compromise on other things in favor of a positive pen experience. Now, since tablet PCs are getting more and more drawing-friendly, the other features become more important. Companies should start adding dGPUs to more of them if they really want to get the Photoshop crowd, and ways to attach the pen, and Adobe could do a few things better too, such as maybe fixing icon scaling.

4096 seems to have become the new 1024. Things get ever more interesting.

End of Lenovo Miix 720 review.

 

Lenovo Yoga_Book_review

Lenovo Yoga Book review

Lenovo Yoga Book Review: Windows and Android

lenovoyogabookreview

A while back, I wrote a fairly detailed Lenovo Yoga Book article when the product was announced, including specs. So here I’ll focus on my experience with it.  I have to say that it was as expected, and in some ways better–it’s a cool and very portable device that delivers in the art area. It comes in both WIndows and Android versions.

lenovo-yoga-book

Lenovo Yoga Book and Real Pen

See the Lenovo Yoga Book on Amazon

The Windows version comes only in black, while the Android Yoga Book’s hues are black, gray, and gold. Perhaps that’s a clue that they expect to sell more of the Android.

Specs

Wacom digitizer, 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity
EMR pen
100 degrees of tilt sensitivity
Screen: 10.1″ IPS LCD with Lenovo Anypen, multitouch,  HD1920×1200
OS: Android or Windows
Dimensions: 10.1″ × 6.72″ × 0.38″ (256.6 × 170.8 × 9.6 mm)
Build: Magnesium aluminum alloy
Processor: Atom X5, 2.4GHz
Weight: 1.52 lbs (.69 kg)
RAM: 4GB, 64GB storage, microSD can be added
Memory: LPDDR3
Dolby speakers

Comes with:

Yoga Book
Charger
micro USB cord
Documentation
Real Pen
3 ink-cartridge refills
Paper pad with 15 sheets of paper (refill pads have 75 sheets)
Book Pad (metal clipboard accessory)

On Feb. 8, 2017, he A12, a lower-specced, Android version of this was released but it does NOT have a digitizer.

Design

Needless to say, the Yoga Book is really cool-looking and the hinge is beautiful, with a bit of Steampunk sensibility. Lenovo is known for its utilitarian style. Here, the design has lightened and become whimsical.

As with all Yogas, the device bends into myriad poses. The smallness of it makes posing it easier and more fun than with the large ones. The large bezel lets you hold it without touching the screen, and visually sets off the display from its surroundings.

yogabookmodes

Tent pose would be great for showing your portfolio, letting an art director finger-scroll through your work. Or you could prop it on an airplane tray table and watch a movie.

yogabooksize

Ports

There’s a micro-USB and micro-HDMI, a conventional mic-headphone jack, as well as a microSD slot for a card up to 128GB. There’s no USB-C. To use USB peripherals, you will need to provide your own adapter, such as a USB to Go. You won’t be able to simultaneously charge the computer and use a peripheral unless you use a USB hub.

While some people are wishing for more ports, they wouldn’t fit into the skinny tablet body that gives the Yoga Book such great portability.

Display

It’s a bright 400 nits. It’s just HD, but I think at a small size, that matters less than it would at a large size. It also makes the battery last longer. Lenovo reports 70% of Adobe RGB though some places are finding up to 90%. It doesn’t have professional-level color accuracy, but is fine for a digital sketchbook.

You can write or draw on the multi-touch Lenovo AnyPen touchscreen with the stylus tip of the Real Pen, or with anything conducive, from a fork to a banana, because the screen uses Lenovo AnyPen. The one thing that will not work is pure plastic. No matter what, though, you won’t get pressure sensitivity or palm rejection on the screen.

Portability

At about 1.5 lbs., it’s very light and easy to carry in a small bag. The Yoga Book feels more like carrying a paperback book or Kindle with a protective cover. To compare, a 13″ MacBook Air weighs about twice as much. I find my MacBook Air starts to feel heavy after a while so if I have to cover a lot of ground I leave it at home.

Since the Yoga Book is a clamshell, the screen is protected. This means savings, as with an open tablet like an iPad, you have to invest in serious armor or padding.

Comparatively, the large iPad Pro weighs about the same as this, and the small one less than a pound. But then you have to figure in the weight of a case, and the Apple Pencil adds about 3/4 ounce.

Light as the Yoga Book is, though, you also have the paper pad, pen, and additional nib to carry around. There’s no silo for the pen. So having a sleeve that holds everything, and closes would be a good solution.

Lenovo Real Pen

lenovo yoga book pen tips

Yoga Book Wacom EMR Real Pen with stylus tip (top) and ink pen tip

The Yoga Book Real Pen is a batterlyess, Wacom EMR pen with 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity and 100 degrees of tilt. Lenovo tried over 200 pen designs to get one that fulfilled the Real Pen’s dual functions. While on the large side, the pen is light and comfortable to hold. There’s no eraser tip, so you’ll need to use your program’s eraser brush.

lenovo yoga book pen styluses

If you want to draw for a while on the Create Pad, then change to drawing on the screen, you switch out the nibs, from the digitizer nib to the real ink nib. To switch them out requires using a little hole in the cap to pry out one nib. It’s reminiscent of the hole in the top of the Intuos that you use to pull out nibs.

Notice the fine tip of the top pen, which is the stylus to use on the AnyPen screen. The tip is coated with conduction polyoxymethylene (POM).

yogabookrealpen

Yoga Book Real Pen interior

If you’re a frequent switcher, getting an extra pen isn’t a bad idea. If you don’t like the nib remover you can use a ring one that comes with a Wacom pen. (photo illustration by Lenovo) Or, you can use just about anything to draw on the screen.

 Drawing on the Yoga Book

Here is a super-short pen demo. You can see how the line appears with my pen strokes with no lag. This is just one layer, though. If you have a very large file, you could get some lag as the Atom processor catches up.

Yoga Book Create Pad

The Create Pad is the black drawing tablet. Pushing a button switches it to stylus mode from keyboard mode.

Drawing is where the Lenovo Yoga Book shines. The Creator Pad is very responsive, perfectly mimicking what you draw or write. The Wacom digitizer works great, offering 2,048 levels of pressure and 100 degrees of tilt. There are no hotkeys.

Create Pad with paper pad (right) and color art on the screen (left)

It would be nice if the EMR pen offered nibs other than a ballpoint, but it has to conduct electricity.

There is something nice about getting back to paper.  I found myself keeping my eyes on the paper, whereas with a graphics tablet you have to look at the screen. (Though the new Intuous Pro includes a paper option). If the paper or just the novelty of it inspires you to draw more, than that’s a good thing. You can use any normal paper. To get retro, you could use tracing paper to build up your drawing on paper.

If you didn’t bring paper, you can draw straight onto the Create Pad with no paper. TheCreate Pad is actually the surface of the drawing tablet, not the paper pad. Then you can wipe off the ink. Similarly, you could use the ink pen on the AnyPen screen then wash it off. But I don’t like washing off ink, so I stick to the paper and Real Pen tip.

The ink refills are regular ink refills. You can buy them at stationery stores or from Lenovo or other places.

yogabookkeyboard

Halo keyboard

The keyboard is cool-looking, but difficult to type on, not a whole lot better than texting or typing on an on-screen keyboard. There’s a vibration when you hit the keys. It’s not good ergonomics to type on a flat keyboard. The haptic vibration may help you reflexively not strike as hard, but I’d still be careful and use this just for emails or short items. The size of the keyboard is also challenging to type.

I asked Lenovo if they considered adding more keyboards, such as those for other languages, but they said that wasn’t a possibility right now, since the keyboard is etched in.

Battery Life

Lenovo estimates 12-15 hours, which is really long; realistically, using art apps,. 9 for Windows and 11 for Android. The device doesn’t get very hot.

Art Software

Since the processor is Atom, there’s no point in trying to run heavy-duty programs such as Photoshop or Gimp. You can use them but only in the lightest way before you run into problems.

The Yoga Book comes bundled with a trial of ArtRage Lite, a versatile art program with loads of realistic brushes and effects, even glitter and impasto. It’s a very affordable program to purchase.

Lenovo Yoga Book Windows vs. Android

lenovo yoga book keyboard

Lenovo Yoga Book, Android version

The hardware for both are the same. The one difference you can see is that on the Android, you can’t see the touchpad as well because it isn’t outlined; there are just markings on the corners.

With the Android version you can use any app in the Google Play store, such as Procreate. With Windows, you could use ArtRage desktop, Photoshop Elements, Sketchbook Pro, Mischief, Krita, Sketchable, and other art programs that are not too resource-intensive.

Which is best? If you’re used to Windows, you might want to stick with the familiar. But the Android actually has more going for it. The Yoga Book is a tablet-first laptop. Its specs are low for a Windows machine, but high for an Android tablet.

The Android version lets you use anything in the Google Play store, including Procreate, Sketchbook Pro, Photoshop Express, and tons more. The Android apps are smaller, hence run faster. In the Android you can turn off the screen to save battery while you draw on the Create Pad, with the image still getting digitized.

In the Windows version, there is two-fingered scroll. You will also get Windows Ink and handwriting to text. And you can use Microsoft Office or Open Office. However, if writing is your main thing, I doubt this can replace a full-size laptop.

lenovo yoga book review

Converting handwriting to text on the Yoga Book.

All in all, the Android is  bit better, but there’s not a huge difference, so get whichever one you’re more comfortable with. Just realize that large Windows applications aren’t going to work well. There are Windows mobile apps (the apps formerly known as Metro) in the Windows Store, but nowhere near the amount for Android.

User Reactions

A lot of people are enjoying this tablet. Some Lenovo Yoga Book reviews say the Dolby speakers are louder in the Windows version. Some are also reporting problems with pressure sensitivity in full Photoshop and Corel Draw, but I think those are too large to run on this tablet anyway. The device seems to be sort of “comfort food” for some users.

The biggest sticking points are the trackpad and keyboard.

Pros

Lightness, portability
Multi-positions
Multi-functions
Display
Responsiveness of tablet
Touchscreen
Pen refills are affordable and easy to find

Cons

Typing is difficult
Processor and storage not very high
Create Pad limited to ballpoint pen

The Verdict

The design of the Lenovo Yoga Book is excellent, the hinge is beautiful, and it’s fun to tote around and show off. It’s a neat digital sketchbook, and nice to have a graphics tablet that’s already connected without dealing with cords.

You could get a Wacom Spark for less money if your main goal is to digitize your ink drawings as you draw.  If you want a very portable device to draw and do light typing on, the Book is a fun, versatile digital sketchbook. The main draws for me are the si

What the Yoga Book has done is combine a bunch of functions. Some call it gimmicky, others just enjoy it. I think there’s a bit of that old Apple charm going on here–though it may not give you a ton of power, it’s got a certain charisma and ease of use that’s getting it a lot of fans (and some detractors).

This functions somewhat better with Android, but go with your needs and preferences.

This artist, Arthur Walker, has created this great time-lapse video of drawing on the Yoga Book. He has even mastered touch typing.

See the Lenovo Yoga Book  (Android and Windows) on Amazon

 

Optional accessories include extra paper, ink refills, carrying case.

 

End of Lenovo Yoga Book review