The Lenovo Yoga Book is a bizarre little machine. It’s unbelievably thin, and hosts a wee 10” display, netbookish almost. Unfold it, like a laptop, to reveal the secret to its thinness – a blank slate where the keyboard should be. Powering the device on, the ‘halo keyboard’, as it is known, glows. It is what it sounds like – a glowing, flat, touch-sensitive keyboard. It is the price paid for a 9.6mm thick, 1.5lb device that still manages a laptop form factor.
Now, I value a good keyboard. My primary keyboard uses Alps switches, my primary laptop is a Lenovo X220 that types rather well. This is neither of those. This is not a good keyboard, it’s a flat slab. But I’ve spent enough time typing on tablets that, a strategy of muscle memory combined with occasional glances down to reorient my fingers means I can type reasonably quick and with reasonable accuracy.
My use case is pretty simple – I spend nearly four hours every day on a train, but I still don’t like carrying a lot with me. I had been taking a Microsoft keyboard which I could sort of, kind of rig up with my iPhone and type nicely into Buffer Editor with. It works well when seated at a desk, but the unadjustable angle and possibility of the phone just flopping out made it suboptimal for the train. Physical keyboards take up space – the Yoga Book manages to be thinner than just that Microsoft keyboard, though obviously larger in the other two dimensions. But it opens like a compact, it can unfold to any angle (including all the way back to just be a really thick tablet), and just has a much more lappable presence. Also, since it’s running Windows 10, I get a real operating system and filesystem (by this I mean WSL or cygwin), I get real USB (OTG), and a solid software selection. An Android version is also available (for $50 less), but even if I didn’t hate Android, that just seems like a bad plan for as much as they have customized it. It does have an autocorrect feature, however, which the Windows version lacks.
I’ll continue using this thing on the train and finding out its compromises. It is obviously compromised. It’s doing strange new things, and it’s really positioned more for people who want to use the digitizer. Which, yeah, the whole keyboard area can be dimmed and turned into a pressure-sensitive digitizer, either with a typical stylus nib or with an actual ballpoint pen on a paper tablet set atop the surface. I guess I should mess with that more. But for my use-case, so far so good. It’s no Matias Alps keyboard, but it’s very typable, it’s very light, and very compact. I wrote this entire post on the Yoga Book, and didn’t feel like I was suffering1. It’s like a tablet where I can type without obstructing half of my screen.
- Punctuation tends to be something I miss. I also don’t hit left shift reliably, and will often also hit ‘a’ at the same time. Also when I enter a capital ‘I’, I tend to get a lowercase ‘i’ next to it, almost like weird keybounce. ↩︎