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Yoga Tablet 2 and Tablet 2 Pro review: Innovative but imperfect

JR Raphael | Nov. 26, 2014
Lenovo's new Android-based tablets have clever designs and unusual features, but there are some troubling flaws.

Displays, speakers and that puzzling projector
And at first, it appears Lenovo has outfitted the Pro to fit that home entertainment purpose: The device's gigantic LCD screen has Quad HD resolution, which promises a stunning and pixel-packed display. When you compare the screen directly with other devices, however, you realize it's not quite as jaw-dropping as it sounds. Remember, resolution is all relative: While Quad HD is crisp and arguably even excessive on a smartphone-sized screen, that same number of pixels is spread out over a much larger surface area here.

As a result, the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro ends up with about 221 pixels per inch (ppi) -- a lower density than what you'll see on many current tablets. When I look at it next to the 323ppi second-gen Nexus 7, elements on the Tablet 2 Pro appear less crisp and sharp, especially in high-resolution images. The Pro's display also looks slightly washed out next to the Nexus 7's and its whites are much more grayish.

That's being picky, though. By itself, the Pro's screen looks pretty good, and for most purposes, it should be perfectly fine, if not exemplary.

The same can't be said for the 10-in. Tablet 2, unfortunately: Its 1920 x 1200 LCD screen is just flat-out disappointing. Text isn't particularly sharp, and images don't look crisp; all around, it's a significant step down from the status quo.

Both tablets do have front-facing stereo speakers, which is a nice touch -- though they're better described as "decent" than "spectacular." The 10-in. Tablet 2's speakers are reasonably loud but mediocre in quality; they're significantly more hollow and tinny-sounding than those on Google's recently released Nexus 9 tablet. The 13.3-in. Pro has an actual subwoofer on its back, which helps to fill out the sound -- but the impact is far subtler than you might expect, and the quality just still isn't great. In a side-by-side playoff, the Nexus 9 again sounds better.

So how about that built-in projector on the Tablet 2 Pro? Well, it works exactly as advertised: When you activate the feature through a menu on the device, an image shines out of the end of the tablet's cylinder base. You then point it at a wall and adjust a physical slider to manipulate the focus. The image quality is adequate; Lenovo says you can make the picture as large as 50 in., but even at small sizes, things are slightly fuzzy and not terribly vivid.

In fact, I'm a bit befuddled at the projector's inclusion: I'm just not sure when or why most people would want to use it. In most cases, you'd get a far more enjoyable experience by simply casting content wirelessly to a higher-quality TV screen using an inexpensive dongle like the $35 Chromecast. You could also plug the tablet directly into a TV via HDMI -- if either Yoga had HDMI-out capability, which they don't. The projector is certainly novel, but I would think including an HDMI-out port would have been a far more practical and desirable solution in this day and age.


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