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Ah Lenovo. A company that’s ripe with innovation and blossoming ideas. Having unveiled a slew of new devices in Las Vegas at CES 2015 earlier this month, the company’s European and African division took to Johannesburg earlier this evening to launch the new line of YOGA tablets and ultrabooks to the South African market.
To boast growth figures of 45% year-on-year in the Middle East and Africa is quite an achievement, especially when other companies are seeing declining sales during a similar period. But other device manufacturers don’t really innovate and jump into the deep end unabated like Lenovo. Well, not many.
The new YOGA line pretty much symbolises this gung-ho approach to research and development and the results are pure technological theatre.
Let’s begin with the more traditional stuff.
Lenovo YOGA 3 Pro
Yes, you’ve probably seen our unboxing of this metal swan before, but the laptop is now finally available in South Africa.
Read more: Unboxing the Lenovo YOGA Pro 3
Its watchband hinge, the company proudly boasts, houses more components than the entire laptop itself (we imagine), and my it’s gorgeous. Over-engineered, but gorgeous.
It also adds a certain degree of function to its form, allowing this remarkably thin and lightweight laptop to transform into a tablet, folding its legs behind its head. It can also stand in an upside-down V (à la downward dog), allowing the user to watch multimedia on its 3200×1800 screen or gander through websites with a swipe of the finger. It’s an odd resolution but it’s colour reproduction and contrast ratio makes it worth it.
The 12.8mm machine also, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, boasts more “wantability” and sex appeal than Apple’s Macbook range. It also slaps the Macbook range across its face with its price tag — R24 999 — which means you can either purchase this piece of art or a reasonable second-hand car.
Internally, we find an Intel i7-M series, 8GB RAM, up to 512GB of SSD storage and battery life topping seven hours.
Lenovo YOGA Tablet 2
I found the YOGA Tablet 2 to be less inspiring and rather infuriating actually, at least the Windows variant. But the Android version should be quite a seller.
It really is possible to shove too many pixels into a screen, and the YOGA Tablet 2 is the perfect example. Reading anything on the 1920×1200 8-inch display is close to impossible and navigating Windows 8.1 with a much-too-large pointer finger is cumbersome. This is a tad bit better when using the Android sample, but I’d love a stylus with the machine.
Instead, users get a battery roll reminiscent of laptop hinges from the Ninteties, which pushes battery duration into the high teens (the company quotes 18 hours on one charge).
Apart from that, the YOGA Tablet 2 is powered by an Intel Atom Z-series chipset which gives it the muscle needed to drive dense multimedia, and that’s essentially what Lenovo’s marketing this device as — a portable, practical entertainment centre.
Featured also is a nifty kickstand which can be used to prop the tablet up in a number of ways. This also means hanging it up is an option turning the tablet into a recipe book in the kitchen, a picture frame in the hallway or small wall-hanging screen for movies. And this essentially fits in well with Lenovo’s Africa GM, Graham Braum’s understanding of South African’s tablet habits.
South African customers want a better way to read, browse, watch and interact with content. The new YOGA line-up gives you the freedom to do it the way you want. It adapts to your needs and takes the experience one step further by offering technologies never seen before on tablets and laptops.
Prices begin at R3499 for the 8-inch and another grand for the 10-inch. It will be available in Windows 8.1 and Android, so expect a price difference there too.
Lenovo YOGA Tablet 2 Pro
In the big launch of the night, Lenovo was billing this thing as the pinnacle of tablet entertainment and it’s largely right. It’s obviously a niche product (just like the YOGA Pro 3), but you can also sense its appeal from yards away.
A 13-inch tablet isn’t something one usually comes across on the daily but Lenovo’s on the “home entertainment tablet” tangent. And with that tangent we gain the first projector fitted to a mainstream tablet. Considering that it’s bolted to a device it isn’t usually bolted on to, the little projector is rather satisfying. It’s not a device you’ll purchase exclusively for the projector, but it’s a nice add on in case you’d fancy broadcasting the screen onto a wall for multimedia viewing or a quick fire office presentation. And it provides any flat surface with a 50-inch equivalent screen. Not bad.
With that, buyers get a 2.1 sound system courtesy of JBL and Dolby witchcraft, and yes, it does has a subwoofer. It may be 5W but it’s rich and dynamic.
Like its smaller counterpart, the YOGA Tablet 2 Pro also boasts the kickstand, but differs on the 2560×1440 IPS screen, Intel Atom chipset and up to 15 hours of battery life.
To criticise, the tablet is hefty at 900g (slightly lighter than the YOGA 3 Pro, amazingly) and a bit awkward to use professionally with any conviction but as a multimedia suite in a picture frame-sized slate, it’s probably unbeatable in its market segment at the moment.
Available this January, the Lenovo YOGA Tablet 2 Pro will set users back around R9000, but there’s an optional keyboard attachment. In that sense, it’s not a bad little ultrabook.
So, what does this all mean?
Lenovo is clearly pushing the boundaries of what was and is possible with ultra portables and tablets, often combining the best of both into once machine. Shoving a subwoofer and projector into a tablet that boasts a 13-inch screen is a clear push towards larger, home entertainment-based tablets — a sector that doesn’t quite exist just yet. Could we see more manufacturers crafting larger tablets? That’s possible, but a very select group of people would buy this device. For R9000, I don’t quite believe that the YOGA Tablet 2 Pro appeals to a mass audience.
And that’s the issue with the YOGA 3 Pro too. It’s a work of art if not a piece of technological pornography, but its price tag is a massive mole on its otherwise perfect face. Sure, it can boast internals to match its exterior but other laptops (albeit not laptops that boast a 12mm profile and 1.2Kg displacement) undercut it for value for money.
What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments section below.