Lenovo's new 8-inch tablet has a few tricks, but taking notes is probably not one of 'em.

Besides catching that wrath of security and privacy hounds worldwide recently, Lenovo is also known to make some interesting consumer devices. One of those is the Yoga Tablet 2 with AnyPen, announced earlier this year at CES.

Luckily, this tablet is not part of the Superfish scandal, which only applied to a few notebooks.

The 8-inch Windows tablet is a port of sorts from the popular Android version, but with a twist in the form of AnyPen. The $250 tablet is now available and I besides the unboxing, I give you a quick tour and some initial thoughts about this exciting consumer tablet.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 with AnyPen specs

  • Intel Atom Z3745 64-bit Processor 1.33 GHz (burst 1.8 GHz)
  • 8-inch IPS LED LCD Touch with AnyPen Technology (1920x1200)
  • Audio: 2x Front large-chamber speakers with Dolby Audio and Wolfson Master Hi-Fi Codec
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 32 GB of internal storage (eMMC) with 18 GB available; micro SD expansion
  • 6400 mAh battery rated for up to 15 hours of power
  • 802.11abgn WLAN
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Camera: Front 1.6MP, Rear 8MP AF
  • Windows 8.1 with Bing (32-bit)
  • Office 365 Personal 

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 with AnyPen back

What makes this device a Yoga though is the adjustable kickstand that wraps around its cylindrical battery. Lenovo boasts that Yoga Tablet 2 now has four different modes with the kickstand, including:

  1. Regular tablet mode (no kickstand) 
  2. Tent mode (ideal for typing at a slight angle) 
  3. Propped up (perfect for movies, media) 
  4. Hang mode (a new hole lets you hang the tablet) 

Although it may seem gimmicky, the kickstand and larger cylindrical battery are great additions. The kickstand does make this tablet much more useful for watching movies or even screen-typing while the cylindrical battery gives you something to grip making it ideal for reading or web browsing.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 with AnyPen camera

AnyPen … However, no pen?

Perhaps the most confusing aspect of the Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows is AnyPen, Lenovo's name for its touch-sensitive glass display. Lenovo argues that the Yoga Tablet 2's display is much more precise than previous versions, letting you use your finger, pencils, pens, scissors and more to navigate the Windows 8.1 OS.

However, the Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows does not come with an actual digital pen or stylus. This missing piece is because although the touchscreen is more precise to touch input, it is not a Wacom or N-trig type display ideal for digital pens. In other words, if you are looking for a genuine note-taking tablet using a digital pen, then the Toshiba Encore 2 WRITE is much better suited for the task.

AnyPen is a welcomed addition to the Windows world, as precise input using objects on the display is always a good thing. Nonetheless, I think the marketing behind it is a bit confusing, especially with devices like the Surface Pro 3 or the 8-inch Toshiba Encore 2 WRITE.  Then again, the Yoga Tablet 2 is $100 less than the Toshiba, and it looks to have better battery life and more versatility.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 with AnyPen hanging

Great consumer device

Lenovo is positioning the Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows towards the consumer market. The tablet features two, relatively loud front-positioned speakers giving a very nice stereo effect for music and movies. The 1920x1200 display at 8-inches looks great. Compared to the Toshiba Encore 2 WRITE (1280 x 800), the added pixels go a long way.

Lenovo claims 15 hours in battery life with the beefy 6400 mAh battery. I am not quite ready to believe that, but I do believe it will do very well in this area. The Toshiba, as useful as it is, has only mediocre battery power so far.

Sample image from Yoga Tablet 2 camera

The cameras are decent depending on lighting (see sample image above). Lenovo claims the rear 8 MP camera has a f/2.2 aperture and a BSI sensor -- all good things for imaging. However, performance is sluggish with the Atom processor and the image quality falls under 'better than average' in good lighting. It's not bad for a tablet, but nothing amazing either. The front-facing camera also does decently in low-light, although expect lower resolution and graininess.

Between the kickstand, long battery performance and an impressive display, the Yoga Tablet 2 seems ideal for the following people:

  • Students 
  • Watching movies, streaming video 
  • Reading on the web or using a reader app like the Kindle  
  • Those who want a 'fun' device for media consumption 

If, however, you were looking for something more professional for work, including notetaking with a digital pen or an excellent audio recorder for meetings, the Toshiba Encore 2 WRITE is a much better choice.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 with AnyPen speaker

Initial thoughts

Overall, I like the build quality of the Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows. It is fantastic. The metal kickstand is stable, as is the hinge. The display looks great, and I adore the cylindrical battery that acts as a grip when holding the device in portrait mode. I could envision reading on this device for extended periods of time due both to the ergonomics and big battery.

However, I was a bit disappointed with the AnyPen technology. Although it is useful, I thought this was more of a stylus type tablet. While you can use any pointy object to draw or use the Windows handwriting tool, it falls short of what a Surface Pro 3 or Encore 2 WRITE can do.

Of course, this is more about expectations than anything.

So long as you are comfortable with the idea that a stylus (that is not included, by the way) is secondary to this tablet, then the Yoga Tablet 2 stands on its own. Plus, it is $100 cheaper than the Encore 2 WRITE and Wacom display.

It will take a few more days to see how the Yoga Tablet 2 holds up, but so far I am feeling positive about using it on the couch. However, putting aside the 'ok' battery life, the Toshiba Encore 2 WRITE has my attention these days.

You can order the Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows direct from Lenovo for $250. It should also be available in Best Buy in the coming weeks. The Yoga Tablet 2 comes with Windows 8.1 but will be upgradeable to Windows 10 for free later this year.