Lenovo just announced two new Android Tablets (4.2.2), called Yoga Tablet 10 and Yoga Tablet 8. They are very affordable tablets ($249 and $299) designed around large battery capacities of 6000mAh and 9000mAh (for reference the iPad 4 had around 11000mAh, and the Nexus 7 2013 has 3950mAh), thanks to their very particular design. The battery is housed into the circular section at the top of the display, which allows Lenovo to use standard cylindrical batteries instead of custom flat ones which are much more expensive. Lenovo then sought to make the best use of that volume by turning it into a stand and an effective grip. That’s also where the very large (and easy to find) Power button is.
I’ve had the opportunity to play with one briefly. I was surprised to see that the body is made out of aluminum and polycarbonate. The battery housing and the kickstand feel very solid and have that metallic noise if you tap into them with something hard. The Yoga 10 can receive an optional magnetic hard cover that doubles as a wireless keyboard. It will wake up as soon as the keyboard has been detached. In the back, both devices have microSD ports that can be used to extend the storage by another 64GB.
Lenovo has selected MediaTek as the chip provider of the Yoga Tablet, but the exact reference and performance is unknown at this point, but I wouldn’t expect it to be a horse race or a gaming machine. The tablet seemed to respond well to regular user input, but we will have the usual benchmarks to see just where it stands in terms of performance, especially when compared to the Nexus 7 tablet from Google. Both displays have a 1280×800 resolution, which is most definitely not impressive in terms of specs, but the trade-off is understandable to reach the price point that Lenovo wanted. A lower resolution is perceptible when reading text and looking at photos, but less so when watching movies or playing games.
Overall, this new design from Lenovo is a very interesting addition in the mid-range Android tablet market. Its value-proposition is simple: if you want an affordable large-capacity battery, this is it. Lenovo was smart to build something different from the Nexus 7 because Google sucked out the profits in that particular market segment.
Update: my own tests show a 14 hours battery life while streaming movies on Google Play over WiFi. Call me impressed.
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