New Lenovo, Acer art tablet offerings for Fall 2016
Create on the Lenovo Miix 510 in your private art studio
Active pens are becoming pretty much de rigueur these days, since the technology has become less expensive, and hey, it’s a nice option for everyone. This Fall 2016, Lenovo and Acer showcased several new art tablets at Berlin’s IFA tech show.
These have pens (sometimes included, sometimes not), pressure sensitivity, palm rejection, and draw-on screens. These offerings are all draw-on-screen with those features; the Lenovo Yoga Book is covered in this post and lets you draw on a non-screen tablet.
Acer unveiled its Spin line of 2-in-1s at the show. The spotlight is on the lightweight 14″ Spin 7 convertible notebook, but as the Spin 7 lacks drawing features such as support for an active pen, artists will be more interested in its siblings, the 13.3″ Spin 5 and the Spin 1, which comes in 11.6 and 13.3″ options.
Both the Spin 5 and the Spin 1 will feature support for the Acer Active Pen, which will be sold separately. The Acer Active Pen supports Windows Ink. All run Windows 10. The Acer Active Pen Stylus, as it has been called in previous Acers, uses a Synaptics digitizer.
The Spins, true to their name, will turn on a dual-torque, 360-degree hinge. They will have a blue light filter to ease eyestrain, and Color Intelligence, which maximizes color saturation.
Acer Spin 5 features
The Spin 5 has up to a 7th-generation Intel processor, a full HD IPS screen, up to 16GB DDR4 memory, and up to 512 SSD storage. Battery life will last up to 10 hours. It will have a textured, fabric-like finish to make it harder to drop.
Acer Spin 1 – affordable and comes in two sizes
Acer calls the Spin 1 ideal for “students or as a second computer,” meaning its performance will be less than speedy. Its two screen sizes are 13″ or 11.6″ HD IPS, and it will carry Intel Celeron or Pentium processors and antimicrobial Gorilla Glass to keep out those classroom germs.
The Spin 1 will also support the optional Acer Active Pen and Windows Ink, and will be very affordable, which is rare in a pressure-sensitive tablet. It could be a decent-sized portable digital sketchbook that won’t break the bank.
Lenovo launched no less than four 2-in-1s at the show. The attention-getter is the Lenovo Yoga Book, but for those who want something where you can draw on the screen with pressure sensitivity, there’s the new Lenovo Miix detachable.
The company is offering a “backlit keyboard or pen with Windows Ink,” so prepare for confusion over specs. There may be an option to purchase a backlit keyboard if you get the model with the pen.
The Miix 510 weighs in at 880 grams (almost two lbs., without the keyboard) has a 12.2″ screen, up to 1TB SSD (now that’s good!) and optional LTE. It will have Core i7, 7.5 hours of battery life, a metallic finish, and a 16:10 aspect ratio, which we prefer over 16:9 because it’s less long and thin. The keyboard and pen will be included. Though they haven’t been specific, Lenovo uses Wacom AES in their other pressure-sensitive tablets.
As for their other 2-in-1s coming out, the new Yoga Book is an art tablet (more like a graphics tablet with separate screen), but the other newly announced devices do not seem to be. However, the company has been known for being unclear about these details from their initial information, so I will monitor the situation, so to speak.
These new art-tablet offerings ensure it’s going to be a bountiful Fall 2016. These babies will be out in September and October.
Lenovo Yoga Book first look: keyboard and tablet meld into one
Yoga Book in Create Mode
Lenovo, which was once IBM, has never been known for being artsy. Despite the fact that a lot of their laptops, such as the ThinkPad Yoga line, are tablet PCs with Wacom pressure sensitivity, the computers are still marketed largely at business.
So this Chinese company’s upcoming release, the Lenovo Yoga Book, is a pleasant surprise. It’s super-slim and light–right now, it’s the world’s lightest, thinnest 2-in-1 of the major 2-in-1s. It just debuted at IFA, a consumer tech-convention in Berlin, and has not yet been released to the public. I’ve gone over the available info to present all I can about this new art tablet.
Perhaps Lenovo is following the zeitgeist that has brought us the paper-to-pixel Wacom Spark and iskn Slate. Whatever they’re doing, they’ve created a versatile digital art and writing tool. Their focus was on mobile productivity, and they asked many users what they wanted in a mobile device.
The two Lenovo Yoga book pen tips, one with real ink and the other a stylus
Lenovo product developers spent 18 months working out each detail, listening to focus groups, conducting studies, and testing different components.
As a computer, the specs are nothing special. It sports an Atom X5 CPU and 4GB RAM, so it’s more of a kitten than a beast. The Atom probably keeps the price low, and it is quite affordable. It’s discouraging that it has only 64GB of on-board storage, but it has a micro SD slot to go up to 256GB.
Digitizer (on keyboard/drawing surface only, not on screen): Wacom EMR with 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity
100 degrees of tilt sensitivity
Screen: 10.1″ (diagonal) Capacitive touch IPS LCD with Lenovo Anypen tech
IPS display (1920×1200)
OS: Android and Windows model (hardware is the same on both)
Build: Magnesium aluminum alloy
Processor: Atom X5, 2.4GHz
Brightness: 400 nits
Color Gamut: 70% of sRGB
Colors: Champagne Gold, Gunmetal Gray
Battery Life: 8,500mAh battery. Android 15 hours, Windows 13 hours
Dimensions: 10.1″ × 6.72″ × 0.38″ (256.6 × 170.8 × 9.6 mm)
Weight: 1.52 lbs (.69 kg)
Micro SD slot up to 256GB
LTE (AT&T, T-Mobile)
Ports: micro USB, HDMI out, microSD card slot
Cameras: 8MP rear, MP front
Software: comes with Windows Mobile Microsoft Office apps, OneNote, trial of ArtRage Lite
Optional Accessories: Sleeve, ink-cartridge refills, paper refills
It’s compact and goes well with this hand model.
What’s in the Box:
Quick Start Guide
3 ink-cartridge refills
Book Pad (metal clipboard accessory with paper pad, the whole thing clips into the cover)
Very portable at a little over a pound and a half and a slim .38 of an inch. Its clamshell design protects it, so you can use a sleeve and put the pen in the sleeve if you want, but you don’t have to add weight with a hard-shell case the way you do with, say, an iPad Pro.
Photoshop CC and other Adobe CC programs will run sluggishly; the Atom is not made to handle them. But smaller art programs such as Photoshop Elements and Sketchbook Pro should work fine, and their file-saving options are compatible with Photoshop CC. So you could open your art on a more powerful computer with CC.
The tablet comes with a trial of ArtRage Lite, which is very inexpensive even in the full version. I can see why they picked ArtRage because of its many simulations of real-world brushes, including oil paint, rollers, and glitter–it’s a fun and well-made program.
The Google Play store has plenty of Android art apps, some of which are good such as Procreate, but given that the hardware is the same here for either OS, if you’re trying to choose between the Android and Windows version, I’d go for Windows since its environment allows for desktop programs as well as Windows apps.
Like the rest of the Lenovo Yoga line, the Book takes various poses, including Tent, Stand, Tablet. and Laptop. It’s a clamshell design, and can open fully flat.
The Book comes in both Android and Windows version, with the Android lasting an impressive 15 hours on a single charge, and the Windows a long 13 hours. That’s quite a bit of stamina.
The Create Pad offers 100 degrees of tilt sensitivity, giving a natural look and feel to drawing and handwriting.
Yoga Book dual-use Real Pen uses real, custom ink
The batteryless, Wacom EMR pen gives feedback so you can tell the difference between a brush, crayon, or pencil. It sounds like the sensors respond to assorted digital brushes and trigger haptic feedback.
The Real Pen has no buttons or eraser end. The cap is metal and attaches magnetically to the Book or to the metal Book Pad accessory. The Real Pen uses real ink for when you want to place real paper over the digitizer surface and draw or write. The Book comes with three ink cartridge refills, and you have to use that kind of ink, but you can use any paper. The Real Pen comes with a white digitizer tip to use on the Create Pad as well as on the touchscreen. When you want to use the real ink, you put in a Real Ink cartridge.
By the way, it seems they’ve bumped up the levels of EMR from 1,024 to match the 2,048 of the more recent Wacom AES digitizers. EMR is smoother and more natural-feeling than AES, and better for small writing. AES is really not bad, but EMR is the gold standard, and I’m glad they’ve brought it back, because it has been getting phased out in favor of the less-expensive AES.
Using digitizing ink isn’t anything new, but your work appears immediately on the screen rather than having to sync. There are integrated note-taking, sharing, and annotating abilities for writing. The pen does not convert handwriting to text. The company explains that the use of multiple languages and characters is problematic with such conversions, and they want you to use the Halo Keyboard for text input.
You can also draw on the LCD screen but, apparently, without pressure sensitivity. The screen has AnyPen tech, but lacks the EMR digitizer layer. The company gives you two pen tips, one that compatible with the screen and one with the digitizer. You can also use your fingers on the touchscreen.
AnyPen does not offer pressure sensitivity and thus is not very different from a normal touchscreen, except you can use non-pens on it–metal or organic things–such as a banana, or fork–anything not fully plastic.
Since the Book has an HDMI port, you can attach a larger monitor to it.
Using the Yoga Book with a larger monitor
The Halo Keyboard is only there where you need it, brought to life by a ghostly membrane that comprises one of the inner layers. When you’re not typing, it takes on its alter ego, the Create Pad, where you draw on the pad or on paper, with your handwriting or drawing immediately showing on the screen.
You can use art programs, OneNote, or other programs to write or draw. To avoid accidental keystrokes, touch is disabled when you type, except at the center. There is no key travel, which saves time. Key-travel distance means the distance the key has to be pressed down to be recognized, and is zero, because it’s flat.
Lenovo says because they honed the design so much and added haptic feedback, typists typed 66% faster than other touch keyboards. Not only that, but slower typists can used a fixed layout, while touch typists jog along on a “virtual moving layout.”
Perhaps we’re looking at a future with changeable, customizable keyboards for different programs, such a as Photoshop hotkeys.
Halo Keyboard: now you see it, now you don’t, and when you don’t, it’s the drawing surface
People tend to whack at touch keyboards as if there are keys there, but there’s nothing to absorb the blow, causing the force to bounce back onto your fingertips, which can be uncomfortable and make for poor ergonomics. The haptic feedback may help in not overstressing your digits.
Resting your palms at the bottom will not disturb anything; this keyboard has palm rejection where needed. Not only that, but the keyboard measures the strength of each finger tap and can tell the difference between an accidental slip of a fingertip and a real keystroke. Haptic vibrations make you feel like the comforting clackety-clack.
The whole touch panel is semi-transparent, with Lenovo considering over 100 samples to get the best anti-glare coating.
Lenovo Yoga Book Pad included accessory (right)
The top layer of Gorilla Glass has an anti-glare coating and a matte/grainy feeling to give the bite of paper, with the EMR layer underneath. The Create Pad has a decent-sized area to draw, something near a regular sheet of paper, and the metal pen cap attaches to the Yoga Book and the Book Pad notepad–since there’s no bezel, it’s good there’s something to stop the pen from rolling off should you have the Book at an angle. Since the Gorilla Glass Create Pad surface has texture, it won’t slip like on glass.
Right side shows artwork on the Create Pad, left side is after coloring using digital tools.
The Create Pad goes into, what else–Create Mode, when you draw or handwrite. The pad is a flush, flat, active area, hence there’s a good-sized workspace; painted borders show you the active area, the inactive area is a fairly small margin.
There are no hotkeys, it’s just one continuous piece. It’s hard to compare this to a regular drawing tablet; its simple form is reminiscent of the basic tablets just used for signatures, but this one has lots of pressure levels and tilt as well.
Thoughts on the Lenovo Yoga Book
It’s sort of like using a graphics tablet along with a screen, but the screen is a lot closer, and you can see what you’re doing when using ink. But since you’re using an art program with various colors and brushes, what you end up drawing won’t necessarily look like what’s on paper. I have more to do to learn exactly how this works.
The custom, watchband-style hinge has three axes, and is made of five materials, and 130 mechanical pieces. A touch of Steampunk, no?
The sheer lightness and user-friendliness, and its novelty make this a fun and useful device if it fills your needs. Those who want a powerful computer will not be satisfied. Those who want something similar in concept but that works across devices might check out the iskn Slate, which lets you use real markers, pen, and pencils.
If you want a handy, light, on-the-go, art-writing-journaling bringalong with a cool design may like this as a productivity tool. It should be out in Fall 2016.
Lenovo’s AnyPen is an enticing idea. Available on the Yoga Tablet 2 with AnyPen and some other of the company’s small, general-use tablets, this technology allows you to use just about, well, anything, as a stylus, except something made of pure plastic. Lenovo recommends using a pen or wood-and-graphite pencil.
This article isn’t about the tablet, but a look at AnyPen as an example of advancement in pen tablets. AnyPen tablets do not have pressure sensitivity or palm rejection.
Rather than using Gorilla Glass, a strengthened glass is used to protect the screen from scratches inflicted by the writing implements.
Lenovo AnyPen demo by cbutters
You can get a fine point with these implements, making it easier to get precise input. On a non-Pro iPad, to use a fine point you need to trick the screen, as with those stylii that have a plastic disc around the tip.
With AnyPen technology, no such trick is needed. You can use a stylus, a real pencil, a real pen, a carrot, a banana, a hammer, your finger, a screwdriver, or a stick as an input device. Just as long as it’s not pure plastic, most materials will work. Lenovo has said it’s not expensive, and they added it to the Yoga Tablet 2 without hiking up the tab a whole lot.
It’s a capacitive touchscreen, not a resistive one. A carrot has skin and thus is not all that different from a finger. But getting a stick or graphite pencil to work is a feat on Lenovo’s part. The company can be maddening with its confusing product releases, but they are doing some real R&D.
You can use a carrot as a stylus.
They aren’t the only company doing something like this; the Panasonic Toughpad FZ-M1 can also be used with a pencil or metal implement. (see this article for more info)
The touch controllers in these have a very high signal-to-noise ratio, making them recognize objects as small as 1mm, whereas most capacitive screens require at least a 5mm stylus. The non-Pro iPad, with its low signal-to-noise ratio, cannot recognize a fine tip unless it has a plastic disc around it.
With AnyPen devices, you don’t have to press down hard at all to get a mark. On the downside, one user reported it was recognizing the entire tip of the pencil, skewing the line.
Tablets with Lenovo AnyPen are not art tablets per se, since there’s no pressure sensitivity or palm rejection. But for those who geek out on pen tech, it’s a fun concept.
Lenovo’s Yoga Book portable has a pressure-sensitive digitizer in the graphics tablet part, and uses AnyPen in the screen part.
It would be great if a pressure-sensitive tablet came out with this feature, especially with a larger screen; it would be a tough job to incorporate such a feature. But imagine how good life would be if you could still be productive on your tablet after dropping your digitizer pen down a storm drain.
Lenovo has released AnyPen on Windows tablets, but also has demonstrated it using Android.
If you want to read more about the tech, check out this post on the Lenovo blog.
Display 14″ diagonal, 1920 x 1080 IPS
Processor: 6th-gen. Skylake Intel Core i5-6200U
Graphics: dedicated NVIDIA GeForce 940M graphics with 2GB dedicated video memory
Folds 360 degrees, into laptop, stand, tent, tablet modes
8GBDDR3L RAM 256GB SSD
Ports: 4-in 1 media card reader
Three USB 3.0 and two 2.0, though some say they got three 3.0 USB ports. The 3.0 ports are backward-compatible with 2.0 devices, at 2.0 speeds.
Weight: 3.85 lbs
Touchpad and ThinkPad red TrackPoint button
Dimensions: 13.31″ width x 9.37″ x .75″ (depth)
It is the same as the Lenovo Yoga 460, so you could read this as a Yoga 460 review as well. The 460 actually does have an i7 model. That listing is lacking in further detail.
As of April, 2016: the Yoga 460 now on the Lenovo site does not have the discrete (separate) graphics card, only integrated graphics. That 460 features up to a 6th-gen processor.
Windows 10, comes with Home edition
This Lenovo Yoga 14 has an i5 processor, powerful enough to run Photoshop and all the Adobe programs. The dedicated graphics card offers a speed boost, and the Skylake i5 is the equivalent of an i7 from the previous generation. That being said, it would be nice if there were an i7 model.
The RAM and SSD on this ThinkPad Yoga are both upgradeable, though there is just one RAM slot, so you can take out the 8GB stick and put in a 16.
Thanks to the dedicated graphics, you’ll be able to do moderate gaming and video editing, and get better results in Photoshop operations that use a lot of rendering, such as filters. This is still not a heavy-duty gaming monster machine, but a general overall Ultrabook with wide capabilities.
While it’s HD, 1920 x 1080p is not that high-res compared to a lot of computers coming out. However, the fact that it’s not 4K makes battery life last longer. The resolution is fine for looking at artwork, reading text, and watching video. The colors are clear and bright. It’s not overly glossy. The IPA screen supplies good viewing angles.
You can add two more displays, such as a monitor or TV to it via the HDMI and miniDisplayPort.
At 3.85 lbs., it’s not bad to carry around for short periods, but feels heavy holding in one hand or resting on the lap.
The ThinkPad Pen Pro Pen is a Wacom AES active capacitive pen with 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity. It comes included in a silo in the left front edge of the chassis. The pen requires an AAAA battery (replacements found at hardware stores and online). It charges in its silo, taking 15 seconds to charge, which powers it for a couple of hours of use.
The pen is not miniature or very short, but it’s skinny and not optimal to draw or write with for long periods. You can purchase a more normal-sized pen (both thicker and longer) if you prefer. This pen needs a battery, but the one included with the tablet PC does not, because it charges from the computer.
Wacom ES has excellent accuracy and pressure sensitivity, second only to Wacom EMR in terms of sensitivity (ES requires a little more force to get a mark). Its accuracy exceeds EMR, with no parallax and no jitter around the edges as Wacom EMR gets. I did notice a little more jitter when drawing slow lines than with traditional EMR. Palm rejection works well. The pressure curve is smooth, no blobs, no little “tails.” You will not be able to use a traditional EMR pen on this.
The backlit, chiclet-style keyboard is comfortable and easy to type on. If you type a lot, but also want an art tablet, this is a good choice. The keyboard is Lift and Lock, so when you have it folded into Tablet mode, the frame rises around the keys and the keyboard is disabled. So you won’t be able to reach back for keyboard shortcuts. Instead, you could use an external keyboard, either Bluetooth or USB. The ThinkPad red TrackPoint nub lets you move the cursor long distances with a small finger movement. Its sporelike top with tiny bumps gives your fingertip traction (and a little massage).
6-8 hours, depending what you’re doing.
Most users have been very happy with this computer, feeling it’s a great value with its many features, bright screen, speed, and build quality. A few got ones with glitches but managed to address them. Aside from irregular complaints, this has been a successful release. I haven’t seen any complaints about overheating or battery problems, though some wish the battery lasted longer.
solid, durable, well-built
pen is included and fits into a slot in the body
on the heavy side for drawing
single RAM slot (upgradeable, but would be nice if there were two slots)
pen that comes with it is thin
some have reported touchscreen glitches
This new Lenovo Yoga 14 review is a drawing-hand thumb’s up. It doesn’t have the issues of the last release, which included some that shipped with bad batteries. It’s a solid, portable, and versatile machine.
Weird facts: did you know the ThinkPad’s design was inspired by the Japanese Bento box? This post on Lenovo’s blog explains.
I think the simple design is one of the main appeals of the ThinkPad. The box shape offers protection. The ThinkPad has a utilitarian look. It’s easy to not notice it much at first, but the details show a great deal of thought, and the many poses add new uses. You can also open it flat if you wish to draw using the keyboard shortcuts without a spare keyboard.
The Yogas have more Penabled devices than anyplace else and continue to offer them.
This is a great choice for an art tablet that’s an all-around tablet. It’s not super duper powerful, but powerful enough to run Photoshop and do moderate gaming. You can add more RAM and a faster hard drive. This computer can be your whole office and art studio.
In some ways I prefer the previous ThinkPad Yoga 14, which had a discrete GPU and superior color gamut. This is one is more of a general-use machine that’s suitable for drawing.
Here’s a detailed drawing test by Shogmaster.
end of New Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14 / ThinkPad Yoga 460 review
The ThinkPad X1 Yoga 2016 was released at CES this year. I’s a business laptop very similar to the X1 Carbon but with a touchscreen and active pen. It has several innovations. One is that one model sports an optional OLED display. That model will be released in April, 2016. OLED offers richer colors and deeper silky blacks. The second innovation is that the pen, which is battery-free and has 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity, can be charged in the chassis. This is already done with the iPad Pro using their digitizer, but it’s new for a PC with a Wacom digitizer. The third “first” is that at release time, it’s the thinnest and lightest 2-in-1 out there. Preliminary feedback has been positive for both the computer itself and the drawing experience. You don’t have to worry about pen batteries, and the laptop is plenty powerful enough for Photoshop and more. Like other ThinkPad Yogas, it bends into the traditional ThinkPad Yoga’s four modes and has the 360-degree swiveling hinge.
The computer is lightweight and downright skinny with a .66″ profile, and the The ThinkPad X1 Yoga could make artists very happy, if they can afford the price tag.
Display: 14″ screen, IPS (OLED option coming in April, 2016), 2K display (2560 x 1440), antiglare touchscreen
Dimensions (width, depth, height):
16.8″ width x 13.11″ x 9.01″ x 0.66″
mm: 333 x 229 x 16.8
OLED Version 17 13.11″ x 9.01″ x 0.67″
mm : 333 x 229 x 17
OS: WIndows 10, Home and Pro versions available
Weight: 2.8 lbs
Dockable Wacom ES active pen included
pen: 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity
Intel HD Graphics 520
Memory: Up to 16GB RAM and 1TB NVMe storage (that’s storage designed for SSDs). RAM not upgradeable after purchase.
Processor: i5 to i7
3 USB-3 ports (no USB-C)
full HDMI displayport
Graphics: Intel HD 520
360-degree hinge turns around; hinge opens and closes to 180 degrees (can open flat)
Retractable Lift-n-Lock keys (auto-retracts when folded to tablet mode)
Pen stored and charges in laptop body
WRITE-IT software understands and corrects your handwriting across apps
MicroSD and SIM card slots
optional 4G LTE
optional wireless dock
Lightweight, very portable weightwise at 2.8 lbs. and .66″ depth. Sizewise, the 14″ screen takes up more space.
Going back to earlier ThinkPads, the pen, with 2,048 pressure levels, gets stored inside the laptop body. But differing from earlier ThinkPads, this pen does not have a battery, but a tiny capacitor. To charge the pen, you can insert it into a port in the laptop (as with the iPad Pro’s Apple Pencil) and it only takes 15 seconds to get a charge that lasts up to 100 minutes. So you’ll never need to worry about pen downtime or pen batteries. AES pens do have a bit of jitter, as you can see in the video below, but it’s manageable. They do not suffer from the bad jitter around the edges of the screen that plagues traditional Wacom EMR. There is less parallax than EMR, and a slightly lower hover distance, the distance at which the pen causes anything to happen. It’s high enough to still have good palm rejection. The initial activation force is low–even though AES is similar to N-trig, to me it feels more on the Wacom side even when compared with the new Surface Pen.
Like other ThinkPad Yogas, this one has 4 modes, or positions: Laptop, Stand, Tablet, and Tent.
Because the ThinkPad X1 Yoga 2016 has Lift-n-Lock keys that disable the keyboard when folded into tablet mode, you will probably want to use an external USB or Bluetooth keyboard to access keyboard shortcuts when drawing in tablet mode. You could open the whole thing up into an open clamshell, since the hinge opens to 180 degrees, but it’s awkward to draw that way. The keyboard is full-size and backlit.
You might not want the OLED model, because the screen can burn in.
The pen that comes with the Yoga skinny, though the length is decent. You might want to buy a thicker pen if you prefer to draw with one. (I’m searching for a link to that pen).
Traditionally, Ultrabooks have exchanged power for portablity, but this one has plenty of power.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga can run full desktop programs such as Photoshop, Illustrator, Manga, and all that, as well as Metro Apps such as Fresh Paint.
The poor laptop was put to military-grade endurance tests against moisture, drops, fungus, and more. The full-size, backlit keyboard is spillproof. Speaking as one who once fried a motherboard with lemonade, I appreciate that.
Here’s Lisa Gade’s video Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga 2016 drawing demo. As you can see, the Wacom pen settings are pretty much the same as for traditional EMR Wacom pen settings.
Update, Spring 2016: There is a newer version, the 20FY0002US. I have written a separate review of it you can read here. Click to see it at Amazon. This newer one doesn’t have the battery issues some of the units from the earlier model did, and this one comes with the Wacom ES pen in a silo in the body. Recommended.
Type of Tablet
Convertible Tablet PC (Laptop that turns into a tablet via a hinge. Keyboard is not detachable).
The rumored 15″ version that works with the pen never happened.
UPDATE: This computer in Windows 10 is now available at Best Buy.
NOTE: There are several versions of the Yoga ThinkPad 14 and some do not have the Wacom digitizer. The ones that do are: the 20DM008UUS, which has Windows 8.1, and the 20DM009GUS with Windows 10. It is confusing, the salespeople aren’t informed, and the info doesn’t appear in the product info.
Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14
The computer, made of magnesium alloy with a plastic keyboard, is solid and good-looking, as well as slim. The display is bright and clear with deep colors. The hinge works well in all the positions. The trackpad is large and responds well. The extra screen space is a great addition for drawing. The ThinkPad Yoga 12 weighed 3.5 lbs., and the 14 weighs in at 4.2 lbs. The 12 actually had a brighter screen at 324 nits, but to me it did not look as bright, maybe because the 14 has a smudge-and-fingerprint-resistant coating that adds to the glossy sheen, whereas the 12 was matte. Glossy as it is, the surface is not too slippery for drawing, though I prefer drawing on the matte. So there is a tradeoff here between brightness and texture.
It boots up and shuts down quickly. Programs open quickly, too. There is just a single slot of RAM, and the 8GB is not expandable. But 8GB is plenty to run Adobe CC and other graphics programs. Bootup and shutdown are quick.
The Yoga 14 can open to a flat position, so you could draw on it like this and keep access to the keyboard.
Or you can push the screen down so it’s flat, with the keyboard on the bottom. Keys will be locked, so it’s helpful to use an external keyboard to access keyboard shortcuts.
IPS display with 10-point multitouch, screen size 14″
Screen resolution 1920 x 1080 (Full HD)
brightness: 267 nits
1 TB hybrid hard drive with 16GB solid state drive
360-degree design to fold into 5 settings: laptop, tablet, tent, table, stand
Intel 4th Generation Core i5-4210U processor
8 GB RAM, non-expandable, soldered in (possibly could be expanded with some difficulty)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 840M graphics that will switch on automatically when you open a program that uses it (or you can change options in the NVIDIA settings)
keys that retract when in tablet mode
backlit keyboard (user turns on backlighting when wanted)
Dolby Home Theater audio
3 USB ports: two 3.0 and one 2.0
No Ethernet port
1 full HDMI output
What’s in the Box
Thinkpad Yoga 14 2-in-1 14″ Touch-Screen Laptop
4-cell lithium-polymer battery
Power cord, AC adapter
The Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga 14 has military-grade protection for shock, vibration, sand and dust. The computer is solid and should be a brawny travel companion.
The PC’s weight, while light for its size, it’s a lot to tote around for long periods of time.
Wacom ES Digitizer
The 14 uses Wacom ES, which is sort of like a marriage between Wacom EMR and N-trig. The pen takes batteries. The ThinkPad Yoga 12 uses traditional Wacom EMR technology, so you could use a regular Wacom pen such as the type you use for the original Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2, and attain 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity. You cannot use that kind of pen with the 14.
Wacom ES feels somewhere in between N-trig and traditional Wacom EMR. It has the 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity of Wacom, with the better edge accuracy of N-trig. It’s the same tech used in the Toshiba Encore 2 Write. (That does not mean that all the pens will work on all of them.) The drawing/painting experience won’t be quite as fluid as Wacom EMR, but it requires less initial activation force (amount you have to press down to get a mark) than the Surface Pro 3, which is N-Trig, so you won’t have to worry about having to press hard. ES (also called AES) tends to have a lower hover distance.
If you go to see this computer and want to see that it actually has Wacom, simply type the word Wacom into the Windows search box and the Wacom settings will pop up in the search results.
To get pressure sensitivity, you must use the ThinkPad Active Capacitive Pen, also called the Lenovo ThinkPad Pen Pro. (Since this is multitouch, you can use any old capacitive stylus–such as for the iPad–on this, but with no pressure sensitivity).
The pen takes an AAAA battery. It has two programmable buttons. It also has a holder that attaches to the laptop via a USB port.
On Amazon and other sites, there is something called the Lenovo ThinkPad Active Digitizer Pen. Do not buy that. That is a traditional Wacom pen and will work on the ThinkPad Yoga 12 2-in 1, but not on the 14. The name is very confusing. To make things even more confusing, there is an earlier version of the 14 that has no active digitizer. So be sure you are getting this 2nd-generation model. There is also a Yoga 15 without the digitizer. Best Buy and Lenovo are not much help with providing info on what pen goes with what. The Lenovo Web site contains very little info. Lenovo’s Helix pens will also not work on the ThinkPad Yoga 14.
Drawing on the ThinkPad Yoga 14
Wacom ES is not too big of a compromise from traditional Wacom. If you’d rather have an all-in-one than a Cintiq13, and a Cintiq Companion isn’t affordable or what you want, and you want something larger than most options, this is a reasonable choice as far as drawing. The 8GB of RAM lets you easily multitask and use Adobe Photoshop and all the CC programs. In Photoshop CC, you can select to run the NVIDIA dedicated graphics GPU (watch the video below)–actually, it will go on by itself but some people choose to control the settings more.
The Lenovo’s screen is bright, and images look crisp. Using keyboard shortcuts on the Yoga 14 is tricky because the keys retract once out of laptop mode so you’d have to unfold the tablet or use the on-screen keyboard, or, better, use a Bluetooth keyboard. In Photoshop CC, you can create Photoshop Actions to avoid keyboard commands.
Watch this video to see a drawing demonstration, and see how to run the dedicated NVidia graphics GPU in Photoshop CC for better performance.
As far as typing, the keyboard is comfortable and well-made, and the ThinkPad little red button nested in the keys can be used as a pointer. The trackpad is large and has buttons on it than can be used as selection and right-click tools.
The 1080 IPS High Definition screen is bright and cheery with excellent viewing angles, good contrast and a smudge-and-fingerprint antiglare coating. It’s glossy, but not too slippery to draw on. The colors are rich and contrast is deep.
The Dolby sound can get very loud, but it has a bit of tinniness.
As you can see, the screen is pretty glossy and bright. Photodon.com has screen protectors especially made for this computer. You can try one that’s not too matte, such as the 25% anti-glare one, to preserve image sharpness.
Here you can verify that it has a Wacom driver–when in doubt, just type Wacom into the search box.
around 6.5 hours
The battery life is a good 90 mins. less than the ThinkPad Yoga 12s.
There are serious concerns with the battery beyond that it doesn’t last a full workday. Many users had battery problems, causing inconsistent brightness, power drain, and random shutdowns. The Lenovo forums contain a long thread by stressed-out users. One person figured out the issue and the fix, but it’s not something everyone can do themselves, plus the method may void the warranty. These complaints are not showing up a lot in the Lenovo Yoga ThinkPad 14 reviews so far, so I don’t think this is incredibly widespread, but it’s hard to say because the release of this model is relatively recent as of this writing. Lenovo is aware of it and perhaps they will do something about it. We will follow the issue and add updates. A couple of commenters here and elsewhere have said that they got ones with no problems and really like them. Still, pay close attention to any return policies.
Tip: disable adaptive brightness and power management to get more consistent brightness.
2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity with pen
glossiness of screen not ideal for drawing
have to buy pen separately, lack of information from dealers
not as fluid as traditional Wacom
battery life of 6.5 hours relatively short
weight of 4.2 lbs. hefty to carry
risk of getting one with bad battery
Many people are really happy with the Yoga 14 because it’s fast, the pressure sensitivity works well, and it can run Photoshop and other programs breezily. One Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14 review described it as “amazing.”
This is it in tent “pose”:
This laptop is a very good choice for an artist, if you get one without the battery issues. So it’s hard to give a clear recommendation in this Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14 review, because as an art tablet it’s pretty great, so it gets a qualified “Namaste” (recommendation). If you feel life’s about taking risks, it may be worth it. The ThinkPad Yoga 12 (also called the ThinkPad Yoga 2 in 1) has a smaller, 12.5″ screen, but these battery issues haven’t been reported and it has traditional Wacom. As far as the 14, the price is great for the features it offers.
NEWER VERSION WITH WINDOWS 10
BUY ON AMAZON — The one for sale on Amazon is model 20DM000VUS, which is the Windows 8.1 version. You can easily upgrade for free to Windows 10. As with all the models of this computer, it does not come with the pen, you have to order the pen from the link right below.
See more info/buy the Lenovo Active Capacitive Penhere (Lenovo).
Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 2 in 1: a business laptop with an arty bent
by Tablets for Artists
(Note: also called 2nd-gen. Lenovo Yoga ThinkPad 12)
Type of tablet
Convertible (or hybrid) laptop/tablet PC Ultrabook that comes with Windows 8.1 Pro, 64 bit.
The Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 2 in 1 is business in the front, arty when bent back. By appearances, it’s a business machine. “Suits” shuffling spreadsheets would be happy working in Office Suite on this unremarkable-looking black rectangle.
But use it as a tablet, and artists can get real mileage out of it. It’s a definite rival to the Surface Pro 3 (read our Surface Pro 3 review) for creatives who want a real laptop while still getting art features. The ThinkPad Yoga offers a Wacom digitizer with 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity, and Windows 8.1 allows you to run full programs such as Photoshop as well Metro apps. The screen flips 360 degrees into four positions: laptop, tablet, tablet with stand, and tent.
12.5-inch Full HD touchscreen
Intel Core i7-4500U (there is i5 model too)
8GB memory/256GB SSD
12.5 in Full HD IPS (1920 x 1080)
10-finger multi-touch support
4-in-1 card reader (SD/SDHC/SDXC/MMC)
2 USB 3.0 (1 charge)
Lenovo OneLink dock port (dock not included)
Dimensions: 12.46 x 8.70 x 0.76 in (316.48 x 220.98 x 19.30 mm)
Weight: 3.49 lbs (1.58 kg)
It’s a laptop, so “handedness” is the same as on any laptop.
The pen that comes with the ThinkPad Yoga 2 in 1
The pen, which fits into the side chassis, is pretty flimsy and you would probably want some others. Several artists and note-takers recommend the Fujitsu T5000 pen for use because its hard tip meets well with the screen, it has two buttons and an eraser, and is solidly built.
Most tablet PC pens will work with the ThinkPad Yoga. The N-trig pen for Surface Pro 3 will not.
The screen connects to the keyboard via a stiff hinge that feels more durable than a lot of convertibles that swivel instead of bend into the four “poses.” (With other tablet PC laptops, the keyboard gets sandwiched into the middle in tablet mode.) In tablet mode, the keyboard ends up on the back. Its innovative “lift and lock” mechanism makes the keyboard retract and lock, so pressing it by accident while you’re holding the tablet won’t do anything. The trackpad doesn’t lock, so you might click on it if you’re holding the computer in your hand. At 3.5 lbs., you probably won’t hold it in one hand all that much.
While it’s a boon that the screen is slightly bigger than the Surface Pro 3, the widescreen of the Yoga with its 16:9 aspect ratio (1920 x 1080p) isn’t always welcomed. The SP 3 has a 2:3 “golden mean” ratio, more like a piece of paper or an iPad. (The Surface Pro s 1 and 2 are also widescreen).
I’m nearly always zoomed in when drawing, or else I’m drawing something smaller than the screen, so I tend to forget the screen size while I’m drawing, but aesthetically I prefer the 2:3 aspect ratio. The widescreen can feel awkward when drawing in portrait mode. The 16:9 size has some benefits–it’s the perfect proportions to watch a movie.
At 3.5 lbs., this is portable, but for those of us who feel weighed down by that much, it may be something that you don’t want to carry over your shoulder for long periods. Still, as far as travel, its dimensions are pretty compact, and you can watch it on a plane (even in economy class).
The Corning Gorilla Glass is comes installed with a matte screen protector that is supposed to stay on. While I’m uncertain if removing it would void the warranty, it might, and you should consult the warranty co. if you want to remove it. But I and other artists think it provides a nice “bite” or resistance which benefits drawing.
The screen is not as bright as the Surface Pro 3. The matte surface, being less reflective than glossy gives better visibility when outdoors or near a window. While looking at art on a bright screen is great, while working, keeping the brightness lower not only saves battery, but saves your eyes. But if you like a really bright display, this might not be for you.
The keyboard is nice and is backlit.
One drawback of the Yoga is that in tablet mode with the keyboard on the back in a locked position, if you’re using Photoshop or some other program with keyboard shortcuts, you’re going to have to open the keyboard to unlock it, or use a Bluetooth keyboard or the onscreen keyboard (these can be a pain when there are key combinations you have to press). It’s an issue with any convertible tablet PC, but with this one it’s a bit more of an issue.
There is some edge jitter, and some parallax (space between the cursor and pen) as with any Wacom digitizer. One Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 2 in 1 review said that the calibration of multitouch and pen was off. I don’t use multitouch much and prefer to shut it off while using the stylus, but this has 10 points of multitouch and you can do gestures.
Drawing on the Yoga is a much better experience than on my Lenovo ThinkPad X201 tablet, where any stylus I use leaves sort of a thin trail coming off every line (though the computer itself is a workhorse that has been going for four years). So it seems Lenovo has worked out this digitizer issue.
No more ghosts. They also say they have solved previously reported screen ghosting issues as of July 2014, so you can check your manufacture date on the box or bottom of the computer to see if you got an updated one.
The Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 2 in 1 has a rugged exterior. It weighs about a pound more than the Surface Pro 3 (.36″ thick) and is thicker (.75″ thick), but still under an inch thick.
The Yoga is probably a better choice than a detachable-keyboard tablet like a Surface Pro if you do a lot of typing. Using a Bluetooth keyboard that connects via a hinge, like on the Surface Pro, can lead to issues such as the cursor skipping around, so heavy typing can be a headache. A full laptop is more versatile all around-work machine, though heavier to carry around.
Though Lenovo says up to 8, it’s more like 5. 30-day standby.
Wacom digitizer and pen, 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity.
Solid state drive gives fast bootup.
Durable magnesium alloy frame.
Nice, backlit keyboard.
Linux-friendly, according to a review.
Comes with port to OneLink Dock.
Rear-facing heat vents blow heat into your lap if you hold it in your lap. One Lenovo Yoga 2 in 1 review called it a “heat sink.” But putting any laptop on a soft surface isn’t a good idea.
Can’t use keyboard in tablet mode.
A bit heavy to carry at 3.5 lbs.
Battery life not that great, about 5 hours, longer if just light use.
Trackpad a bit noisy/flimsy.
Most reviews are really positive. One Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 2 in 1 review said it was the best laptop the writer had ever used (and they had used a lot), others said though imperfect, said it’s the best of the convertibles, while another complained of the heat blowing into his or her lap. Many praised its solid build. Some prefer the matte screen while others don’t. See more reviews on Amazon.
This is a good, durable overall computer that can last for years and act as a main typing computer as well as nearly a Cintiq. (The difference between 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity and 2,048 are not perceptible). We think it’s a good choice for those who want to both draw and type, who like a matte screen and don’t mind that the laptop weighs 3.5 lbs. and isn’t exactly a looker. The pressure sensitivity works well.
The Thinkpad Yoga 2 in 1 doesn’t heavily improve on other tablet PC laptops with Wacom digitizers, but it’s one that’s out now, has no major known problems, will receive updates, has plenty of storage, and the 4 positions it yoga-bends into are pretty useful at times. The upside of this is that when you carry a laptop, it’s much more protected than a plain tablet is, you don’t need to buy a fancy case or keyboard, and you can run full programs such as Photoshop.