The strangest device I’ve used this year is Lenovo’s Yoga Book, specifically the Android variant, which costs $499. Without question, the two-in-one tablet is worthy of praise for being distinctive. But what makes it different also makes it impractical.
This is why I was not particularly excited to hear that Lenovo will come out with a Chrome OS version of the device in 2017, as Laptop Mag is reporting. (Hat tip to the Verge for reporting on the news.)
Arguably the most significant feature of the Yoga Book is the way that the keyboard and trackpad are mere regions on a flat surface of the tablet’s base. And while testing it over the past few weeks, I’ve found the keyboard very hard to type on. There is literally no travel on the keys, and the F and J keys have no ridges to let you know your fingers are where they’re supposed to be. When I type on it, I reserve time to correct errors afterward. (Reviewers at Engadget and Wired, among others, were not impressed with the keyboard, either.)
To be fair, the device’s impressive thinness is at least partly attributable to the lack of a real keyboard. And when the keyboard isn’t on, the flat surface can digitize notes written on paper with a special “Real Pen,” which is neat, even if it isn’t something I’m trained to look for in a tablet. And the tablet’s hinge, which is functionally the same as what you find on Lenovo’s Yoga-series convertible laptops, looks great and feels sturdy.
That said, the Yoga Book is an imperfect laptop alternative, primarily because its keyboard isn’t easy to use, and a real Chromebook will probably be a better choice for those who are interested in Chrome OS. For now, that is — should Lenovo improve the typing experience on the Yoga Book, it may turn out to be a more viable option for computing, on Chrome OS as well as on Windows or Android.