Lenovo's Yoga Book is, hands down, the most interesting and innovative gadget that I got hands-on time with at the IFA 2016 trade show in Berlin this week, at an event where everything purports to be innovative. In the same way that the original Microsoft Surface Pro revolutionised the hybrid tablet-laptop world, the Yoga Book is the next evolution of that, with a keyboard that isn't a keyboard but instead an entirely touch-sensitive panel.
Built around Lenovo's now-familiar watchband hinge, the same one that debuted on the 360-degree Yoga 3 Pro, the new Yoga Book can switch between tablet and laptop mode with the flick of a wrist. But, unlike most other 2-in-1s, you'll actually want to use the Yoga Book in tablet mode as much as you will as in laptop. There are three reasons for this.
First is that Lenovo is smart enough to offer the Yoga Book both with Android — that tablet-friendly OS that can double duty as a laptop OS if needed — and with Windows 10 — friendlier as a laptop than a tablet, but versatile in the other direction instead. This is a big dealcl, and it's one that we're only ever used to seeing from Lenovo. Lenovo clearly gets that people use 2-in-1s in different ways depending on whether they're primarily business or leisure users.
The second is that amazing non-keyboard. Lenovo calls it the Halo, and it's a touch-sensitive panel — not an entire second screen, but a flat panel that has a digitiser — that can light up with a LED-backlit keyboard layout if you need it to. It's ridiculous how well it works, too, either for short typing sessions or impromptu drawing. I'm more of a typist than an artist, and I didn't mind dashing off a quick email on the Yoga Book, but I loved an equally quick sketch with the bundled digitiser pen.
The third, but not least, is just the design of the Yoga Book. It just hits all the right points for a casual user to carry around with them all day. It's a 10-inch device, that perfect tablet size that has me so in love with the iPad Pro (I'm sorry for this temporary affair with Lenovo, Apple.) It's less than a centimetre thick when closed. And that hinge makes it genuinely easy to switch between modes whenever the need or want arises. The hardware inside promises over a dozen hours of battery.
The Yoga Book is not a super-premium device, but instead affordable — at $US499 for an Android version and $US549 for one running Windows 10, with effectively the same hardware stack on both running a low-power Intel Atom x5 processor and 4GB of RAM along 64GB of solid-state storage. And that's what makes it so exciting; it's a new and different gadget, but not one priced out of the reach of the masses. I'm looking forward to spending a lot more time with the Yoga Book in the future. [Lenovo]