You might remember that last year, Lenovo hired Ashton Kutcher to be a product engineer for their tablets. Well, Kutcher has been doing a series of videos showing him with focus groups taking about Lenovo’s Yoga Tablets and asserting that yes, he really is doing this product engineer thing, he’s not acting. He’s also been seen holding a tablet, and now we know just what that tablet is capable of. At their event today in London, Lenovo announced that Yoga Tablet 2 Pro—as tablets go, it’s awfully big, but there’s a lot here to make it one of the more intriguing choices on the market.
Probably the most distinctive thing about the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro is that it’s a 13.3″ Android tablet (running 4.4)—you don’t see too many of those. You probably don’t see too many of those because the advantage of tablets is supposed to be portability, but the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro doesn’t seem all that interested in moving around a lot (at 2.09 pounds and 12.6 mm thick, it’s much more bulky than a lot of comparable tablets). Instead, Lenovo is billing it as the ultimate media tablet. The 1.86 GHz quad-core Intel Atom processor with 2 GB of RAM helps with that, but the main attraction in terms of media is a bit of a surprise, and not something you’ll find on many other tablets, if any.
The Yoga Tablet 2 Pro has a built-in Pico projector that can project a 50″ 16:9 854 x 480 resolution image onto any flat surface. To complete the theater experience, Lenovo has also added a JBL speaker system on the tablet, which can hit eight watts of power output and is powered by Dolby Audio. That system includes two 1.5 watt speakers and, impressively, a five watt subwoofer on the back, which is some serious hardware for a tablet. If you want to just enjoy movies on the tablet’s screen, that’s fine too—video looks excellent on the 13.3″ 2560 x 1440 IPS display.
While the projector performs well at both short and long distances (even when pushing or exceeding the 50″ mark), the real star of the show seems to be the sound system. This is one of the first tablets I’ve come across where using an external set of speakers seems unnecessary. The sound is very powerful, thanks in huge part to the addition of the subwoofer on the back of the tablet. Incidentally, Lenovo reps assured me that it was actually Ashton Kutcher himself who suggested the subwoofer, and worked closely with the engineering team to make it happen.
For cameras, the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro has an 8 MP f/2.2 auto-focus rear camera and a 1.6 MP front camera. No 802.11ac Wi-Fi, but the tablet does boast dual-band Wi-Fi and will have 4G connectivity in some regions, which won’t include the United States, unfortunately. Battery life is being put at 15 hours, which is terrific for something that is supposed to be a beast when it comes to media.
As we know, Lenovo is all about their modes. Like the original Yoga Tablet, the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro will have tilt, stand, and hold modes. Those modes depend on how you fold the hinge on the side—tilt mode keeps the tablet closer to parallel with the surface for better browsing, while stand is the more upright configuration, and better for watching movies. Hold mode is when the hinge is tucked away completely, making it more comfortable for eBook reading. That said, the size and weight of the tablet might be prohibitive when it comes to using the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro as an eReader. Unique to the new tablet is hang mode, which lets you hang the tablet from walls and surfaces and might be a better option considering the size of the device. That’s made possible by a square hole on the hinge of the tablet, but that hole is a bit big on the Tablet 2 Pro, and this one is probably too heavy to hang, anyway. It could be a solid addition to the 8″ and 10.1″ Yoga Tablets, though.
This is all made possible with the Tablet 2 Pro’s cylindrical hinge, which returns from the previous model. As it turns out, the extra heft added by that cylinder is what made adding the projector (which is located on one end of the cylinder) and the subwoofer possible in the first place, along with the tablet’s generous battery life. That heft does make the tablet heavier and less mobile, but that might not be a concern. Jeff Meredith, Lenovo’s marketing VP who oversees the mobile division, said that ‘tablets are less mobile than what we anticipated they would be initially’ when talking about the design philosophy behind the Tablet 2 Pro. As it turns out, tablets have primarily become shared home entertainment devices—for Lenovo and the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro, it means that a thicker 13″ tablet might not be such a bad idea after all.
For as robust of a tablet as the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro is, it’s reasonably priced at $500. You’ll be able to get one in silver in a 32 GB configuration (with a Micro SD slot supporting up to 64 GB cards) when the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro goes on sale online through Lenovo later this month.