Seldom do we prefer the smaller, cheaper iteration of any product over its larger, costlier version, but that’s the case with Lenovo’s $249-list Yoga Tablet 8. We liked this 8-inch model better than the $299 Yoga Tablet 10 that we reviewed a few days before it. In fact, the 2-inch difference in screen size between these two tablets is the main reason we found the 8-inch unit slightly more attractive than its 10-inch sibling.
That’s because the two tablets feature the same screen resolution, despite the difference in display sizes. Following from that, the compact-class screen on the Yoga Tablet 8 has a higher pixel density, with more elements crammed into each screen inch. Plus, the Yoga Tablet 8 performed a little bit better on our benchmark tests than its full-size big brother. (We classify tablets with 9-inch or larger displays as “full-size,” and slates with screens smaller than 9 inches as “compact.”)
You can buy the Yoga Tablet 8 with either 16GB of flash memory for storage (as in the unit we’re reviewing here) or 32GB, for $249 or $269, respectively. Considering that this is a difference of only $20, the 32GB version seems clearly the better value between the two. However, both models have a MicroSD card slot, which will allow you to expand the storage by up to 64GB, for a total of up to 80GB or 96GB, depending on the version of the tablet you buy. However you slice it, an additional 16GB of onboard storage for just a Jackson seems to us like a good deal.
As you can see in the above image, this 8-inch version really is a miniature version of the larger Yoga Tablet 10. In addition to an identical CPU inside, it comes with the same complement of RAM and essentially the same hardware across the board. Like its larger sibling, this 8-inch iteration is well-built, thin, light, and smart-looking. The Yoga Tablet 8 also has the same round, grip-enhancing hinge-and-kickstand construction, shown in the image below
That cylinder serves two purposes. An oversize battery lives in inside it, and it also houses a hinged stand that allows you to use the tablet in one of three positions, which Lenovo calls “modes.” It’s these modes, of course, that make the Yoga tablets (as well as Lenovo’s Windows-based Yoga convertibles), so different from other tablets and laptops. However, unlike the three Windows-based Yoga convertibles we’ve tested to date (the Yoga 11s and the Yoga IdeaPad 13, as well as the Windows RT-based Yoga 11), which all have permanently attached keyboards and touch pads, the Android-based Yoga Tablet 8 and 10 have only that kickstand. Unfortunately, unlike the Yoga Tablet 10, which has an optional, matching Bluetooth keyboard/cover available for it, an equivalent keyboard accessory was not available for the Yoga Tablet 8 when we wrote this. When we asked Lenovo when a keyboard dock might come available for the Yoga Tablet 8, the company told us it “had no information” about when or if one might debut.
If, however, you can live without a matching keyboard/cover and don’t need the fastest tablet around, we found several reasons to like the Yoga Tablet 8. First, of course, is the clever kickstand. Then, too, there’s this tablet’s performance on our tests. Like its larger sibling, the Yoga Tablet 8 turned in unremarkable scores on our performance benchmark tests, but, for the most part, both slates scored well within ranges indicative of satisfactory performance for most tasks. The Tablet 8 might, for example, struggle with the most resource-intensive games, but it will do just fine with Web browsing, e-mail, and media consumption—what most people use their tablets for. And where the Yoga Tablet 8 lacked performance pep, it made up for it in superb battery life.
As we said about the Yoga Tablet 10, the Yoga Tablet 8 will please low-tech families and first-time tablet users, and most buyers will find the kickstand flexibility interesting. But compared to our current compact-slate Editors’ Choice, Google’s $229 2013 refresh of the Nexus 7, the Yoga Tablet 8 falls short in overall performance and display quality, even with its inch-larger display. To be blunt, unseating the Nexus 7—with its excellent performance, high-resolution screen, and all-around good value—is going to take a very special tablet, and the Yoga Tablet 8 isn’t quite it. In fact, compared to the Nexus 7, the only way this Yoga makes sense for the money is if the kickstand and slightly bigger screen are must-haves for you. Otherwise, the Nexus 7 slate is an all-around better buy.
We’d also be remiss if we didn’t mention two immensely popular, non-Android contenders with the same screen size: the 7.9-inch iPad Minis. Apple’s original iPad Mini (that is, the 2012 model) sells for just $50 more than this Yoga, and the 2013 version, the iPad Mini with Retina Display, starts at $399, or $150 more than the 16GB Yoga Tablet 8. While iPads don’t come with hinges and kickstands for working in various modes, they do tap into the largest repository of tablet apps on the Internet, and they have the largest collection of slate-specific accessories at their disposal. iPad Mini versus Yoga Tablet 8, then, largely comes down to an iOS versus Android choice, seeing as the pricing is so close. (One point in the Yoga 8’s favor: The $299 iPad Mini does have a lower-res screen.)
All told, considering its price, its thin and highly attractive exterior, and the long battery life, the Yoga Tablet 8 provides overall decent value if you’re set on Android. Considering the competition, though, we think $199 to $219 might be a better starting price for that 16GB version.
Read entire review at Computer Shopper.