NEW YORK—Lenovo unveiled two new Yoga tablets, low-cost Android slates that take a bit of a departure from the familiar, flat-as-a-board form factor that has ruled the device class.
Taking the stage at the Helen Mills Theater at a press event in New York City, Jay Parker, Lenovo's North American president, took aim at the tablet competition. "When you think about it, they haven't really changed much," he said. Noting that most tablets essentially look and work the same, there is "not much differentiation with the absence of some OS choices," Parker added.
Lenovo's new Yoga tablet, available Oct. 30, is the company's stab at adding a unique twist, and an unconventional profile, to the Android tablet market.
Recalling Apple's svelte Bluetooth keyboards when viewed from the side and reminiscent of Sony's tapered design for its Tablet S in 2011, the new Lenovo Yoga tablet features a rounded "bump" at the base, which houses the hinge for the kickstand and a cylindrical battery that helps push battery life to 18 hours in reading mode, according to the company.
The bump also provides room for power button (along the right side when viewed in landscape mode from the front) and the rear 5-megapixel camera. Along the front are two speakers that produce Dolby Digital Plus-compliant audio.
In a company remarks, Liu Jun, senior vice president of Lenovo and president of its Business Group, echoed Parker. "Watching and discovering that people frequently use tablets in three main ways allowed us to break the mold on the current 'sea of sameness' designs, giving them a better way to read, browse, watch and interact with content."
Lenovo Brand Ambassador Ashley Rodrigue took a few moments to show off how the Lenovo Tablet's kickstand, which covers the Micro SD port when closed, can be used to improve ergonomics by angling the device while using on-screen keyboards or enable hands-free content consumption by keeping the tablet upright. The modes, "hold, stand and tilt," further help set the tablet apart from its rivals, she suggested.
The Lenovo Yoga Tablet, available in both 8- and 10-inch versions, runs Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) and is powered by a 1.2GHz MT8125 Quad Core ARM-based processor from MediaTek. Both models, the Yoga Tablet 8 and Yoga Tablet 10 as they are branded, house 1GB of RAM, feature 16GB of on-board memory and sport multi-touch screens with a resolution of 1280 by 800 pixels. They support up to 64 GB of additional capacity via Micro SD cards.
Other ports include micro USB, micro SIM and a 3.5mm audio jack. The Yoga Tablets connect to networks via WiFi 802.11b/g/n and select peripherals using Bluetooth 4.0. The thin and light devices weigh 0.88 pounds (Yoga Tablet 8) and 1.33 pounds (Yoga Tablet 10). Accessories include a colorful array of covers and a Bluetooth keyboard that doubles as a screen protector.
As revealed by Lenovo's Twitter account (@Lenovo) on Oct. 29, the company is banking some star power to help its new tablets make a splash. Actor and tech enthusiast Ashton Kutcher appears in a new video ad for the device.