Lenovo’s Yoga Book is for people who have never been content with just a keyboard and mouse to express their ideas. People who prefer to scribble on notepads or napkins. Who draw pictures to illustrate ideas or create art. The $550 Yoga Book facilitates those practices by helping users produce and save that content digitally, taking fuller advantage of the stylus- and touch-friendly Windows 10 than any other device has. (There’s also an Android version with the same capabilities, but different pricing and apps.)
Stylus computing is nothing new, but the Yoga Book’s full commitment to it is. Its defining feature is a large, touch-sensitive surface that converts easily from a keyboard to a digital sketchpad. A proprietary pen, and a special way to use real paper with the digital sketchpad, turn the Yoga Book into a device where typing, drawing, and writing are equally welcome input methods. You can also write and draw on the touch display, of course, but we all know that holding one’s hand in the air isn’t as comfortable as working on a flat surface.
Reviewing a product that’s the first of its kind requires some balance. You can’t just give it five stars for being first. You also can’t slam it for falling short of an ideal, because it can take a few iterations for a good idea to become great. Like most first products, the Yoga Book has some shortcomings. But after a week of using it, I’m more interested in how it lets me be more hands-on and tactile than I am disturbed by anything else. I felt the same way about HP's Sprout, which has a similar goal, tackled in a completely different way.
To show you what I mean, let’s grab the pen and get started.
Writing and drawing naturally
The Yoga Book’s touch surface consists of Gorilla Glass with a matte-painted, anti-glare finish. Tap a small pencil icon along the top margin, near the hinge, to toggle between the backlit Halo Keyboard (which I’ll describe later) and the Create Pad drawing surface, which offers 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity. The pencil icon will light when Create Pad is active.
An electromagnetic resonance (EMR) film underneath the glass, driven by Wacom’s Feel technology, lets the Create Pad work with the Yoga Book’s included Real Pen (a $40 value). Unlike recent stylus models you’ve seen from Microsoft and Apple, the Real Pen does not need to be charged. You just choose your nib and use it—either the digitizing stylus for writing directly on the Create Pad, or the real-ink pen for writing on paper laid over the surface.
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