Edge of Innovation

The Lenovo Yoga Book is a laptop, but not as you know it

Dean Evans Technology Writer Twitter

The Lenovo Yoga Book is no ordinary 2 in 1 laptop. Launched at IFA 2016, its innovative design stood out amongst gadgets content to be safely, boringly iterative. It’s no wonder that critics lauded the Yoga Book (available in Android or Windows 10 versions) as one of the most intriguing gadgets at the show.

For a start, it doesn’t have a traditional keyboard.

Typing on glass that pushes you back

“Lenovo’s two-in-one is something of a puzzle,” wrote Wired. “It’s a laptop without a keyboard. Or a graphics tablet with a laptop attached. Lenovo’s reasoning for removing the physical keyboard? People still prefer paper to scribbling on tablet screens. The keyboard that remains is entirely virtual: you type on a hard, solid surface with the keys marked out in a soft, blue light.”

The Lenovo Yoga Book is half screen, half glassy ‘Create Pad’. On the one hand, the Create Pad acts as a Wacom-style tablet for drawing and note-scribbling. Yet it can also light up to display a QWERTY keyboard when you need to type. Dubbed the ‘halo keyboard’, haptic feedback aims to give you an input experience that mimics the keyboards you’ve been used to.

This futuristic approach, however, might take some getting used to.

Lenovo Yoga Book
Plug the Yoga Book into a screen and use the Create Pad as a keyboard.

“Overall, I found that I could touch type without any real practice,” said Brad Linder on Liliputing. “But my accuracy was less than stellar. The good news is that if you’re using the Android version of the Yoga Book, you can take advantage of auto-correct features to help fix typing mistakes in real-time. I’m also told that it takes the typical person about 2 hours of typing on the Yoga Book to get used to the keyboard. I only spent a few minutes.”

The return of pen-based computing

The Create Pad is the Lenovo Yoga Book’s biggest draw, overshadowing its gloriously thin (4.05mm) and lightweight (690g) design, the neat watchband hinge, and its 10.1-inch Full HD IPS display. On the inside, it features an Intel Atom x5-Z8550 processor, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage, which can be boosted by up to 128GB with a suitable SD card.

It also comes with a dual-use, battery-free pen. This can be used as a typical stylus and as a real ink pen, albeit one that can track your movements and digitise whatever you are writing or drawing. It’s an approach that puts it firmly on a collision course with the Apple iPad Pro and Microsoft Surface.

Lenovo Yoga Book
You can use the Yoga Book as a traditional laptop, a tablet, a digital sketchpad or notepad.

“At [£449.99] for its Android version and [£549.99] for Windows, it’s cheaper than the baseline iPad Pro and the Surface 3,” Engadget pointed out. “Having a scribing tablet directly integrated will likely appeal to an artistic demographic more comfortable drawing on a Wacom-style pad than directly on the screen with an Apple Pencil.”

It’s refreshing to see Lenovo try something a little different from the norm; something genuinely exciting. It harks back to a time when innovation, not iteration was king.

Technology should make you go weak at the knees

True, the world isn’t always ready for some innovations (such as the Apple Newton and Google Glass), while others (like MiniDisc, Betamax and Nokia’s leaf-shaped 7600 phone) fail to find any traction. But that doesn’t mean companies shouldn’t try.

“I want to see gadgets and technology that make me weak at the knees,” said Vlad Savov on The Verge. “I want to be wowed by meaningful innovation. Even if the Yoga Book couldn’t do anything, it’d be a marvelous piece of industrial engineering.”

So here’s to laptops without keyboards, smartphones with foldable displays, self-driving Ubers and VR backpack PCs. Here’s to the Lenovo Yoga Book, innovation and the future of tech!

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