Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro Review: The Best Tablet You Could Buy for $500

When the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro was announced in early October, it was immediately clear that this was a new kind of tablet with an entirely new design philosophy behind it. Lenovo’s mantra for the release event was that tablets are being erroneously billed as mobile devices—in reality, they’re used by most people primarily as home entertainment devices. The Yoga Tablet 2 Pro is the result of that observation—a 13.3″ Android tablet that makes no pretense about being a mobile device. It’s a home entertainment device, and it shows with the subwoofer and projector that have been included in the tablet, made possible partly because of the larger size and partly because of the cylinder hinge design. It’s packed with features that no other tablet has, and at $500, it’s an excellent value, so it should come as no surprise that it has also made it onto the coveted Oprah’s favorite things of 2014 list.

The Yoga Tablet 2 Pro’s design is the same as the rest of the Yoga Tablet line. Rather than the usual rectangular slate with uniform thickness, the Yoga Tablets have a large cylinder on one edge, which serves a few functions in the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro. First and foremost, it’s the home of the tablet’s built-in stand, which can rotate 180 degrees, giving you four modes of use that we’ll look at later. The cylinder also holds the battery, which allows Lenovo Yoga tablets to boast more battery life than their competitors—Lenovo promises a 15-hour battery life for the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro. Finally, just for the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro, the cylinder houses the projector, which is located on the opposite end of the hinge from the power button.

Lenovo suggests four use modes for their entire Yoga Tablet 2 line—hold, stand, tilt, and hang, the latter of which is new to the line. Upon using the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro, it becomes immediately clear that you’re only ever going to use two of those. While the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro is comfortable enough to hold (the cylinder makes for a more ergonomic grip), it’s too large and heavy to use it to read or walk around with for a prolonged period of time. Hang mode, lets you rotate the hinge 180 degrees and hang it on the wall. The square hole that you would use to hang the tablet is a bit too big and is probably a little heavy to be hanging from the wall by a nail, anyway.

The Yoga Tablet 2 Pro is far more useful in stand and tilt mode, and chances are you’ll probably use it mostly in stand mode to watch movies or play games. Tilt mode, which props the tablet up closer to parallel with the table, is nice for when you want to get a bit of work done or if you need to type a series of messages, but considering this thing has a subwoofer, a projector, and an excellent display, chances are typing isn’t going to be the main thing you want to do with this tablet.

In stand mode, as an entertainment device, the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro is stellar. The 2560 x 1440 IPS display puts it up there with the best tablets, including the iPad Air 2. The only problem with the display is that it’s very reflective—it’s not really meant to be taken on the go anyway, but if you wanted to use it in your backyard, it wouldn’t be a great experience. The 1.86 GHz quad-core Intel Atom processor and 2 GB of RAM do provide ample horsepower to handle mobile gaming an high-resolution video streaming—both went off without a hitch. Like most Android tablets, you can use a gamepad with the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro if you have a USB-to-USB Micro OTG adapter, which makes this probably the best gaming tablet available by virtue of the screen size alone.

The Yoga Tablet 2 Pro scored a 4202 on PCMark’s work performance benchmarking test, which beats most competing high-end Android tablets, save for the 10.1″ Asus Transformer Pad and the Kindle Fire HDX 7 from last year. The Yoga Tablet 2 Pro scored particularly well in video playback (4641) and photo editing (5435), which is in line with what this tablet specializes in.

The tablet runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat out of the box. We don’t know yet if it will get the most recent 4.4.4 update, or if it will get the upcoming 5.0 update, but we’re confident that it will eventually.

The 5-watt subwoofer and dual front-facing speakers make for impressive sound—I can assure you that you’ve never heard any tablet come even close to sounding this good. With the volume turned all the way up, the speakers and subwoofer can nearly (but not quite) fill up an entire room by itself, and the audio comes out clear without being skewed towards lower notes.

The projector is no gimmick. It can project an 854 x 480 50″ image onto a wall, and in darkness, it looks fantastic for a projector. It’s easy to use, too, with a button on the side to turn it off and on and a small slider bar on the back of the cylinder hinge for adjusting image focus. If you’re at home, you probably won’t use it much, especially if you have a high-definition television, but if you’re taking this tablet with you on the road for a weekend cabin trip or something along those lines, it’ll be great for watching movies with large groups. If nothing else, it’s a bonus feature that doesn’t detract from the rest of the tablet. It’s not necessarily something that should sell you on the device, but it’s a nice feature to have, and it’s far above tacked-on quality.

There is an 8 MP camera on the back, which takes good enough pictures. There is also the more useful 1.6 MP front camera which gets the job done.

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