Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab hands-on
“Finally, a smart display that's not tethered and can go anywhere.”
- Integrated Google Assistant Ambient Mode
- Hinge stand offers added versatility
- Gaming performance will be a challenge for the Snapdragon 439
If you’re not a fan of the Alexa-powered Lenovo Smart Tab P10 just because you’re more of a Google believer, you’ll be happy to know that the company’s next Android tablet will be running a full-fledged Google Assistant experience instead. It’s also ditching the dedicated speaker dock and opting for a more integrated design.
Instead of building upon the aforementioned P10, the Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab draws inspiration from the company’s previous Android slates. Harnessing the power of Google Assistant, combined with dual JBL hi-fi speakers, it consolidates what we saw with the previous Alexa-enabled offering into one singular device.
Familiar design, an emphasis on speakers
If the Yoga Smart Tab looks familiar, it’s because it doesn’t deviate from the designs of other slates in the series, namely the Yoga Tab 3 line of tablets. It flaunts Lenovo’s signature, pop-out kickstand, which allows the tablet to stand upright by itself or at an angle for typing. It’s also solidly constructed and features a handful of sturdy metal components that complement the tablet’s matte rear casing. Thanks to the circular-shaped hinge, it’s comfortable to hold because it feels more ergonomic than, say, a flat-sided edge.
Since there’s no dedicated speaker dock this time — which made the Smart Tab P10 a bit more notable compared to other slates — Lenovo modified the design to include a more powerful speaker array. Rocking dual JBL hi-fi speakers and Dolby Atmos support, it should deliver more compelling audio than most tablets. Due to how the room was set up when we checked it out, however, it was tough to gauge the audio performance because of how the sound was being amplified and bouncing off our surroundings. Still, it seemed to us that it was undeniably more pronounced, but only time will tell if it’s better than some of the dedicated smart speakers out there.
As for the display, the 10.1-inch 1080p IPS screen looks sharp and detailed, producing punchy colors and viewing angles that distort very little. Brightness output seems reasonable, too, but the true test will come when we see how it handles outdoor settings.
Performance and software
One of the biggest complaints we had about the Smart Tab P10 was that it was slow and underpowered. Even though our quick assessment about the latest tablet’s performance when navigating around is that it seems to deliver fairly responsive actions, we’re not holding our breath that it’s going to be marginally better than its predecessor. The Yoga Smart Tab runs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 439 processor with 3GB of RAM, and we can only imagine graphics-intensive titles will push it to its limits. And don’t be surprised if framerates drop during gameplay.
On the software front, Lenovo hasn’t made any dramatic changes to the stock Android experience with the Smart Tab, which currently runs Android 9 Pie. There’s no indication when or if it’ll get treated to the Android Q update, but we’re crossing our fingers that it will get it eventually. On one hand, the mostly stock Android experience is preferred and recommended over other iterations that are heavily customized. On the other hand, it does seem rather generic. To be fair, it’s currently running unfinished software, which may change before the final release.
Above all, the Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab functions like many other smart displays on the market that are powered by Google Assistant, including the Lenovo Smart Display. Unfortunately, this preproduction model wasn’t fully operational or capable of showcasing many Google Assistant-specific features. The only related thing that was demoed was how you can instantly access the dedicated Google Assistant interface by turning on the tablet and popping the kickstand open so that it’s in the standing position.
We’re told that in this mode, it’ll perform all the same tasks and functions you’d get from a Google Assistant-powered smart display. It’ll activate when the “Hey Google” phrase is spoken, allowing you to ask questions, get traffic conditions, and even control some of your connected smart devices at home. Since it doesn’t require a dock, you can use the Yoga Smart Tab just about anywhere. Whether you’re using it for a recipe in your kitchen or at the office checking to see who’s at your front door, it’s nice to know that this smart display can go with you anywhere.
Tablets and taking pictures? You’ve got to be daring to try snapping a photo or video in public with one, but hey, you’ll have that option with the Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab. The tablet sports an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front-facing one, though neither are worth writing home about. They’re there if you need them, but we wouldn’t be shocked if they’re downright abysmal when it comes to performance. As a comparison, the 3rd-gen iPad Air and Samsung Galaxy S5e also feature 8-megapixel rear cameras.
Stuffed with a 7000 mAh, you can expect some generous usage out of the Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab, especially if it’s going to be used as a dedicated smart display. Based on the rating, it should deliver roughly 11 hours of web browsing or up to 10 hours of video playback. Even with the hefty battery, it doesn’t seem to contribute a whole lot of weight to the total package. The device comes in at 1.27 pounds, which is still light, but just for comparison, the 3rd-gen iPad Air weighs a mere pound.
Price and availability
It’s hard being an Android tablet in 2019. There’s little room to be noticed and you’re always in the shadow of other, more notable offerings, namely the iPad and Samsung’s Galaxy tablets. The Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab will retail for $250 when it launche ssometime in September.
The price makes it attractive to some degree, given how it technically functions like a Google Assistant-driven smart display. In that regard, it’s great that it offers a sense of portability — traditional smart displays or speakers are often tethered to one location. It has all the necessary ingredients to be a proper smart display-tablet hybrid, but the jury’s still out as to whether it can function well as both.
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