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Lenovo Yoga Book: What's it like to type on?

If I had to pick one stand-out feature on the Lenovo Yoga Book, I'd likely pick its futuristic "Halo Keyboard" that replaces a physically keyboard for a full touch panel with light-up key outlines. In fact, it's one of the reasons the Yoga Book has been getting so much attention, because this keyboard is something we've not ever seen before on a 2-in-1.

Because it's a touch-based surface, meaning there's no physical keys to push, many have been wondering how well the typing experience is when compared to, say, a Surface Touch Cover or an actual normal laptop keyboard. I've been using the Yoga Book for several weeks now, and I thought it'd be a good idea to write up my thoughts and opinions on what it's like to type on the Halo Keyboard.

First and foremost, the typing experience was never going to be "as good" as typing on a real, physical laptop keyboard, it was just never going to be the case. Since the Halo Keyboard is spread out on a flat surface, there's no physical feedback when pressing a key, which can be off-putting for many people. Lenovo has done some work to improve that feedback, however.

For example, pressing a key on the Halo Keyboard will invoke a vibration from within the device, like what a lot of Android smartphones do. There's also an audible sound that plays out from the speakers when a key is pressed, which again can help with giving the user feedback when typing. Both these functions are on by default, however the audible sound that outplays from the speakers often struggles to keep up when typing fast.

I mentioned this in my review, and as far as I'm aware it only affects the Windows version of the Yoga Book. It's an annoying issue which can distract someone when typing. Luckily, there are options for the Halo Keyboard, which allow the user to turn off both the haptic vibrations and audible noises when typing. Honestly, the haptic feedback vibration is loud enough on its own, meaning there's no real need to the audible noise that gets output from the speakers anyway.

It took me about a week to get completely comfortable with the Yoga Book keyboard. "Comfortable" doesn't mean the experience is perfect, however, because of course it isn't. Remember, this is a flat surface, and it will never be able to completely replace an actual laptop keyboard, but Lenovo hasn't done a bad job at all at optimizing the experience here.

I can get about 80-90 words per minute typing on the Yoga Book keyboard, and that's after a few weeks of usage. Of course, you are going to mistype a lot of letters and words, especially if you like to type without looking at the keyboard, which I and likely many of you like to do. On the Android version, the OS can auto-correct a lot of the mistakes you make, but on the Windows version, there is no such functionality built in.

Typing on this thing is way better than typing on an actual screen

Any mistakes you make are there for you to correct yourself, unless you're using a program that does auto-correction for you of course. There's no system-wide function for that, however, so keep that in mind. The keyboard, for its minor frustrations, has some neat software tricks. For example, since you can't possibly touch type with this thing, Lenovo built in adaptive key area positioning software — the light for the keys can't move, but the area defined for each key will dynamically adjust to your typing patterns to compensate.

I personally find some of the keys to be oddly shaped, and in odd positions. Lenovo likes to switch the FN and CTRL keys on keyboard, which I personally don't like. I've tried looking for a way to switch these keys within the BIOS, as Lenovo usually allow you to do that, but on the Yoga Book there's no such function. This, nearly all the time, causes me to mistype keyboard shortcuts such as CTRL+Shift+C, as I'm always accidently hitting the FN key instead of CTRL.

I've typed on both the Yoga Book and Surface Touch Covers, and I can confidently say that the typing experience is better on the Yoga Book, if only because of the haptic feedback, which is super useful when typing. The Surface Touch Cover featured no vibration haptics, just noise emitted from the speakers, which didn't help much.

What's more, the Touch Covers were somewhat soft, which means when typing, your finger would travel the smallest amount. You'd think that's a good thing, but it actually made the experience worse. The key travel (if you can even call it that, it was more just the material giving in slightly as it was soft) wasn't enough to warrant it being useful, and instead ended up being distracting as your brain thought you were not typing hard enough, when there was no force even needed in the first place.

I think that's what makes typing on the Yoga Book better, since there's no soft-material you're typing on, the keys don't actually give way, and your brain quickly adjusts as if it were typing on a tablet screen. In comparison to tablet screen typing, the Halo Keyboard is worlds better. If I had to rank the Halo Keyboard amongst touchscreen typing, the touch covers and physical keyboards, I'd rank the Halo Keyboard above both touchscreen typing and the Surface touch-covers.

All in all, the Yoga Book is a capable device that you can actually type on if needed. Admittedly, the experience won't be perfect, but it's also far from terrible. If you're willing to learn and adjust your typing habits, you can actually have a good time with the Yoga Book, but you must be willing to allow that. Many people who I've had try the Yoga Book immediately say they can't type on it, and that's because they don't give themselves enough time to learn and adjust.

Zac Bowden
Zac Bowden

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

30 Comments
  • You have to try it yourself to know how does it feel like :D
  • Windows does have universal autocorrect in UWPs... it's in the settings app.
  • It's not system wide (It could be, but it's not, the same way W10 could already have speech to text as an input, and swipe in the virtual keyboard).
    And some apps like Outlook/Mail, have their own autocorrect that cannot be switched off, and makes typing multi-language difficult. At least it was this way when I gave up using it because the archive function doesn't work for Gmail.
  • First, let me say this about the haptic feedback while typing.  The sound from the feedback is about as loud as a standard keyboard.  I'm typing this on a MacBook Air (shhhh, I'm at work) and every key press produces an audible click.  Even in a room with the TV on, people would still hear me typing.  However, I think there's one big difference between a standard keyboard and the Halo keyboard - the type of sound produced.  Maybe after years of listening to people type, we've become use to the soft click of a standard keyboard.  Or maybe the sound is just easier on the eardrums.  Either way, the sound doesn't bother people as much.  But with the Halo keyboard, there's just something that's unpleasant, unnatural about it.  It's fine in isolation, when there's no one else around.  As noted, it's much like typing on a phone with haptic feedback.  But when using the Halo keyboard around others, you know the vibration bothers them (or at least you perceive it will).  It's like a vibrating phone that you wish someone would pick up so it will stop.  That self awareness leads to discomfort and I think that's a big part of why people are complaining about the haptic feedback.  That said, in my short time with the keyboard, I've come to appreciate it more.  Touch typing is slower, and does require you to look at the keys more often.  However, it still feels great to type on and it can be faster than using the onscreen keyboard.  I can't directly compare it to a Touch Cover since I've only used one on display units, but the more I use the Halo keyboard, the more I appreciate it.  I often find myself switching between the various input methods without complaint.  I use the Halo keyboard for longs posts, onscreen keyboard for quick posts that also require accuracy, and handwriting recognition (AnyPen) option for really quick posts. I'm really enjoying this device and I'm glad I bought it.
  • Should have had you to do the review.
  • Thanks for your feedback about the Yoga Book and you made my decision to buy one all that much easier. Will be picking one up next week.
  • dp please ignore
  • The Ctrl vs Fn thing is a deal breaker for me. I've been subjected to 'alternative' layouts or supposedly "useful" extra keys located too close to normal layouts a few times. It's never a happy experience.
  • Yeah, if you're big on keyboard shortcuts, this might be a nightmare, especially if this isn't your only PC with regular use (meaning your never fully adapt to the change). Me, I'm using shortcuts and the Ctrl and Windows keys like crazy, so I don't see how I'd ever get by with this.
  • Considering the size of the tablet hybrid, It's a shame that the keyboard is etched in instead of having the ability to be able remap the keyboard layout. I've grown accustomed to using the split keyboard on my Surface and find the traditional layout diffcult to touch type with.
  • What I think would be awsome would be just to make them two seperate screens.  Then EITHER screen could double as screen or keyboard, or you could use it in text book mode or you could stand it up in double portrait mode and use an external BT keyboard with TWO screens.   Since this device is only $499, maybe they could add this for $100 more?
  • Can you not rest your fingers on the keys?   On a 'real' keyboard my fingers rest on the keys...assuming that's not possible on this one?
  • I'm assuming the person in the video does not know how to type...
  • lol...yeah, that could be it too!
  • why would you assume that?
  • Keyboard is detachable??
  • It is not.
  • Do any of your journalist actually know how to type? Every article i read about this Yoga and the typing experience, the author is 2-4 finger pecker that doens't know how to type.
  • I don't think people realize that you can rest your palms on the sides like a standard laptop.  Every video I've seen has people hovering over the keyboard, and sometimes that's fine for quick posts.  However, people can save themselves a lot of frustration by just resting their palms on the pad.
  • Thanks for clearing that up HeyCori.
  • at least in the gif on this article it looks like the author is standing up and bending forward typing, thus it makes sense that he isn't at the angle to be resting his palms like on a regular laptop. I haven't seen other videos of him/other people typing it though. However, it's still good to know that it's possible to do that.
  • that's still typing, even if it's a less efficient way of doing so. 
  • Excuse me?
  • Just give two screens and make it multifunctional.
  • A solution looking for a non-existant problem.
  • Well in your opinion maybe migi2015, I have a Lenovo windows tablet with a Bluetooth keyboard cover, the time it takes to get the keyboard working is not worth it so I peck away at the on screen keyboard or even go to my full PC to write emails.
    so this seems like a solution to my problem, I don't want a laptop or even a surface type keyboard as I only use it perhaps 5% of the time, I can happily peck at this keyboard when I need to rather than the screen keyboard and all its limitations, at other times it still can have the tablet form factor I prefer
  • Is the surface touch covered different from the surface type cover? ?
  • Yes.  The Type Cover has physical buttons on it.
  • So slightly better than the ZX81 and Atari 400 keyboards then.
  • Sounds like: Softer touch to press, but lacks the ridges that separate the keys. Maybe a wash? :-) But definitely better than the Time Sinclair 1000. Progress! Seriously, I think this is cool, because it's different. I don't think I'd like it (especially because for real typing I use Dvorak keyboard layouts), but I'm always glad when someone tries a new approach. Every once in a while, some seemingly fringe idea turns out to be the future, so always glad to see different companies pushing in new and different directions like this. And even if this doesn't catch on, sounds like there are some users who prefer this style.