Every once in a while, a manufacturer will risk innovation to develop an idea with the hope it will disrupt the market. I believe the Lenovo Yoga Book is such a device.
Like many other 2-in-1 devices which allow the keyboard to swivel a full 360 degrees, the screen is attached to a flat surface which become a drawing pad or keyboard when required. When closed, the result is very thin for transport.
Tactile Touch Typing
The big question about the design language is the keyboard. Is it a different typing experience? Yes. Is it a bad typing experience?
It turns out folks have studied tactile touch typing at the Haptic Interface Research Laboratory, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA.
They identified two problems.
- The inability to feel the locations of keys causes frequent gaze
shifts between the keyboard and the text display area on the
touchscreen and is a major source of degraded typing performance.
- The second problem associated with typing on a flat keyboard
is the lack of confirmation for when a key has been pressed.
Without the physical movement of keys on an on-screen keyboard
or an external flat keyboard, there is no haptic confirmation cues
for a typist to know for sure when a key press has been registered.
On a traditional keyboard, the first problem is solved by adding a small bump to the “f” and “j” keys. On a tactile keyboard, a slight vibration when your finger moves across the “f” and “j” keys accomplishes the same result. But some folks argue this is not required as we can accomplish the same result with training. A trained pianist knows where to find middle “C” without looking.
The second problem is solved with the same physical vibration when a key is pressed. Again some say this is not required. They cite we went through the same evolutionary cycle in the early PC days when click sounds were added to the key press event to mimic a typewriter. Over time folks learned they didn’t need it.
When it comes to keyboards Lenovo is a leader and I believe if the overall experience is compelling folks will adapt to the keyboard.
Techradar had this to say in their review.
For those of you doubting whether an entirely digital, capacitive keyboard can cut the mustard, stop right now. In our time with both versions of the Yoga Book and its Halo Keyboard, we were surprised by just how accurate we found typing without any sort of physical buttons or feedback.
Sure, there’s haptic feedback and audio cues that signal when typing, like on a smartphone, which can be toggled on or off. But, neither completely account for how accurate we are typing on this backlit digital keyboard, behind a sheet of Gorilla Glass with individually lit keys.
Yoga Book Chrome OS Tablet or Chromebook?
Jeff Meredith, who is General Manager and Vice-President of Lenovo’s Android and Chrome Computing Business Group, confirmed in an interview with Tom’s Guide Innovation Award Lenovo will be offering a third variant of the Yoga Book running Chrome OS in 2017.
This begs the question; will this unit be a Yoga Book for Chrome OS or will it be a Yoga Book Chromebook?
According to the following from Lenovo, the current model is the first.
Mobile productivity enters a new era with the Lenovo Yoga Book, a 2-in-1 tablet like none you’ve seen before. Make notes or sketches using a stylus with real ink. Type on the Halo keyboard that appears when you need it – and vanishes when you don’t. Get things done on our custom version of Android that lets you be productive like never before. Thin, light, and stylish, Yoga Book sets your imagination free – anytime, anywhere.
The following specifications also support the definition of a tablet.
- Up to Intel® Atom™ x5-Z8550
- Android™ 6.0
- Windows 10 Home Edition
- Dolby Atmos®
- RAM: Up to 4 GB LPDDR3
- ROM: Up to 64 GB
- Card Slot: microSD™; Supports Up to 128 GB
- Type: Li-ion Polymer
- Capacity: 8500 mAh
- Standby Time: Over 70 Days
- General Usage: 15 Hours
Dimensions(W x T x H)
- (inches) : 10.1″ x 0.38″ x 6.72″
- Starting at 1.52 lbs (690 g)
- Size : 10.1″ IPS LED Touch (1920 x 1200)
- Color Depth: 16.7 Million
- Color Gamut: 70%
- Brightness: 400 nits
- On Screen: Capacitive Touch with AnyPen Technology
- Create Pad: Capacitive Touch and EMR Pen Technology
- micro HDMI
- 1 USB Ports
- Carbon Black
- Gunmetal Grey
- Champagne Gold
- Rear: 8 MP Auto-Focus
- Front: 2 MP Fixed-Focus
- Ambient Light Sensor
- Hall Sensor
- 11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi wireless
Verge Video Review
Some rumors have stated what Jeff Meredith was really referring to is a new device using the same design language marketed as a Chromebook.
If this true, what new features should it have?
It will be difficult to market a Chromebook in 2017 which is priced at $500 or more which does not achieve a 9000 or better Google Octane score. To achieve this result requires an Intel Skylake Pentium or a mobile m3 – m7 or a high-end ARM processor.
A ten-inch screen is absolutely adequate for a tablet but a little small for a general purpose Chromebook. Most of the ten-inch Chromebooks available today are targeted toward education and $499 is pricey for this market. A 12/13.3-inch screen would be better and if you are going to bump the size of the screen you might as well bump the resolution to 3200×1800.
Bigger Keyboard / Drawing Tablet
It goes without saying if you increase the size of the screen the keyboard/drawing tablet will follow suit.
Add Finger Print Scanner
With the additional space on the keyboard/drawing tablet, there should be room for a fingerprint scanner.
One or more USB C ports is a must. Some folks are not thrilled using a micro HDMI port and maybe customers will accept its exclusion with integration with Chromecast.
Jeff Meredith did not allude to a date when this product will be available and the Chromebook landscape is changing. There are several products on the horizon which may include some of the features described above.
However, no other products are predicted to include a digitizer and Techradar liked the Wacom.
It’s fine enough that the Yoga Book is the first laptop or tablet to include a keyboard that doubles as a full-blown Wacom digitizer. It’s even better that the tool is a joy to use, not to mention that it has one super-neat trick up its sleeve: taking scrawlings in pen on paper and digitizing them for later access, editing, and backup.
All told, the Yoga Book’s Create Pad and Halo Keyboard are wowing tools that separate this tablet from the majority of 2-in-1 devices. Even more so, they stand to see Lenovo spur yet another standard in dual-purpose computing devices.
The news Chrome OS was coming to the Yoga Book sparked excitement in the press with posts from the likes of the Verge, Engadget, and more. Just how this will shake out remains to be seen but kudos to Lenovo for having the vision to try something truly new.
With a few design tweaks, a Yoga Book Chromebook may achieve exactly what they hoped for.