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The Lenovo Yoga A12 laptop looks like technology from the future. A few troubling aspects of the futuristic device should give prospective buyers pause, though. The advertising may not live up to the device’s performance.

To illustrate, watch a video highlighting the primary features of the A12:

If you were to judge a book by its cover, the Yoga A12 looks like one of the best devices ever made. It boasts a razor thin profile of 11mm and 13 hours of battery life. On top of that, it offers superior build quality, incorporating magnesium and aluminum into its chassis. However, don’t let appearances fool you. The A12 won’t fit the needs of anyone interested in productivity.

1. Touch Keyboards (Halo Keyboard) Suck

A touch keyboard dispenses with physical keys and relies on the same touch technology in a smartphone for registering key presses. To date, few manufacturers employ touch keyboard panels. Other than allowing for an impossibly slim profile, touch keyboards offer spill resistance, touchpad capabilities, and mechanical reliability. But that’s where the advantages end and the problem start. In brief, they suck at the one thing they promise to do: typing.

Lauren Goode, of the Verge, reviewed a similar touch keyboard-equipped laptop: the Yoga Book.

While one of the most impressive looking devices ever produced, the Yoga Book suffered from a truckload of shortcomings. Namely, its touch keyboard makes typing difficult.

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But if you’re dying to try the underlying technology, check out the $500 Yoga Book. It may not offer the state-of-art in hardware, but it does double as a functional Wacom for designers.

2. It’s Actually a Downgraded Yoga Book

The Yoga A12 offers similar specs to last year’s Yoga Book. Like the Yoga Book, the A12 features a 360-degree keyboard. Users can flip the keyboard back, turning the device into a tablet. We refer to these devices as 2-in-1 convertible laptops because they can transform from a laptop into a tablet.

If you aren’t familiar with 2-in-1 devices (what’s a 2-in-1? What Are 2-In-1 Laptops and How to Pick the Best One? What Are 2-In-1 Laptops and How to Pick the Best One? 2-in-1 laptops combine the portability of tablets with the ergonomics of a laptop, but are they any good? Is it better to get a tablet and a laptop separately? We explore. Read More ), better options abound. For example, the $250 Asus Chromebook Flip (CA/UK) uses a similar rotatable hinge. But instead of Android, the Flip uses ChromeOS What Is A Chromebook? [MakeUseOf Explains] What Is A Chromebook? [MakeUseOf Explains] Everything is moving towards the web, which is now more commonly being dubbed “the cloud”. As such, your devices should probably be ready and well equipped to make full use of cloud services for your... Read More  — and that means it also runs Android apps.

The biggest difference between the Yoga Book and the A12: its operating system. The A12 comes with Android, instead of Windows 10. And that can prove problematic for those interested in productivity.

3. Android Isn’t a Complete Desktop Operating System

While the Yoga Book offers both Windows and Android, the Yoga A12 includes just Android. Unfortunately, that leaves out many Windows desktop applications. On top of that, Android’s user interface doesn’t scale properly on anything larger than a 5-inch smartphone. To Lenovo’s credit, they included the ability to run some apps in tablet mode. The result? You get a somewhat awkward-to-use, oversized Android tablet.

For productivity, a superior alternative is the Windows 10-equipped Dell Inspiron 15 3000 (CA). It comes with double the RAM, 31-times the storage, and a far more powerful Intel Core i3 processor for $313. It does not include a touchscreen or a rotatable hinge, though.

2016 Dell Inspiron i3558-5500BLK 15.6" Laptop (Core i3-5015U 2.1Ghz, 4GB Memory, 1TB Hard Drive, Windows 10, Black) 2016 Dell Inspiron i3558-5500BLK 15.6" Laptop (Core i3-5015U 2.1Ghz, 4GB Memory, 1TB Hard Drive, Windows 10, Black) 15.6" display, typical 1366 x 768 HD resolution. Energy-efficient LED backlight. Buy Now At Amazon $314.78

4. It’s Probably Never Getting a System Update

There are two reasons why the A12 won’t get a system update (or firmware update): first, Lenovo ranks near the bottom of manufacturers in how often it updates the software of its Android devices, and second, Intel discontinued future Atom processors for mobile, which means a probable end to device updates.

Lenovo’s own Android firmware update table leaves out last year’s Yoga Book — meaning, it never received a firmware update. If Lenovo can’t even update a $500 product, it almost certainly isn’t going to update a $300 device.

On top of that, the Atom processor suffers from compatibility issues with many Android games. Unless a game provides specific compatibility with x86 processors, there’s a good chance it won’t work. For those interested in running Android apps on a 2-in-1, look no further than a Chromebook. Because ChromeOS uses an emulation technique for running games, it suffers from almost none of the compatibility issues associated with x86 hardware on Android. A great example is the $280 Acer Chromebook 14 (CA/UK), which employs an Atom-based Celeron N3160 processor.

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5. The Specifications Are Woefully Overpriced

Perhaps the clearest indicators of its horribleness are the A12’s specifications. Take a quick look:

  • Intel Atom x5 system-on-a-chip
  • 12.2-inch 1200 x 800 touchscreen
  • 2 GB of RAM
  • 32 GB of storage
  • Touch keyboard

These specifications approximately equal the impulse-buy $100 laptops sold at Walmart.

On the other hand, for slightly less money, you can pick up the $200 Chuwi Hi10 (CA/UK). The Hi10 features double the storage and RAM, a Full High Definition (FHD) 1080p IPS display, and the ability to dual-boot Android and Windows 10. On top of that, the Hi10 includes a tablet-optimized version of Android, known as Remix OS. While the keyboard sells separately, all together, the cost comes out to less than the Yoga A12. The Chuwi keyboard costs around $57.

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On the other hand, some might argue that the Lenovo Yoga A12 offers a larger 12.2-inch screen. Even so, you can find cheaper 11.5-inch (only an inch smaller) tablets for around $100.

6. Its Screen Won’t Impress Anyone

If you prefer large screens, the A12 comes up short again. The 1200 x 800 resolution on a large 12.2-inch display won’t impress anyone in the $300 price range. You can find similar or larger screens for much less. For example, the $80 RCA 11.5-inch Galileo Pro offers comparable specifications but at $220 cheaper.

If you love HD-resolution screens, you can find a much better deal in the $300 Acer Chromebook R11. The R11 offers a slightly better screen, along with overall superior specifications to the A12. Most important, it can also run Android apps on ChromeOS All New Chromebooks Will Run Android Apps All New Chromebooks Will Run Android Apps Any new Chromebooks launched in 2017 and beyond will ship with access to the Google Play Store included as standard without the need for an update. Read More , which completely obviates the need for an Android-based laptop.

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7. Lenovo Has a Sordid History With Spyware

Lenovo beats all competitors at spying on their customers. In 2015, users found three different malware suites Now It's THREE Pre-Installed Malwares on Lenovo Laptops Now It's THREE Pre-Installed Malwares on Lenovo Laptops For the third time in a year, Lenovo have been caught shipping customers computers laden with privacy-unfriendly malware, showing that they haven't learned the lessons from the public outcry over Superfish. Read More  preinstalled on low-end Lenovo laptops. The worst of these, the Superfish malware client Superfish Hasn't Been Caught Yet: SSL Hijacking Explained Superfish Hasn't Been Caught Yet: SSL Hijacking Explained Lenovo's Superfish malware caused a stir, but the story's not over. Even if you removed the adware from your computer, the same vulnerabilty exists in other online applications. Read More , allows Lenovo to intercept and decrypt its users’ internet traffic. It also injects ads into browsers. While Lenovo offers a tool for removing its malware, some manufacturers don’t include any unwanted software. For example, Olimex.

For those concerned about security, Olimex announced a mostly open-source, build-it-yourself laptop for around $250. It offers substantially weaker specs than the A12, but with a better screen. Unfortunately, the laptop kit went out of stock immediately after its announcement — but a restock should be imminent.

Who Should Buy a Lenovo Yoga A12?

No one should purchase a Yoga A12. The A12 is best seen as an aesthetic triumph and perhaps a portent of things to come. Unfortunately, its design won’t accommodate the vast majority of users’ needs. On top of that, even at $300, the price falls dramatically short of its competition.

In 2017, $300 buys a lot of machine. The A12 offers little in the way of specifications, value, and functionality. Had it included ChromeOS instead of Android, it might have been salvageable — but as it stands, you are likely to find a better device by throwing a dart inside a used electronics store, blindfolded, and heavily medicated.

Does anyone plan on buying a Lenovo Yoga A12? What reasons do you have?

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  1. unknown
    April 15, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    before you even start calling yoga a12 a lemon, you can start with your crappy website that doesnt work on google newstand. this piece of device is a decent machine that will work for people who wants multitasking wherever they go. Android and Windows are two different OS platforms and you have to choose which will work for you.

    • Kannon Y
      April 15, 2017 at 5:47 pm

      Sorry about the lack of Google Newsstand integration.

      Regarding the A12, it's not an effective multitasker compared to other devices at a similar price point. Basically, Android isn't designed for use as a multi-taking machine compared to Windows. If there's a particular app on Android that you rely on, that might justify its purchase though. Basically, the A12's screen resolution is pretty much garbage for multitasking. If you're looking to multitask, you might want to look into a Windows system that offers better support for using multiple apps simultaneously.

  2. Bo Petersen
    April 10, 2017 at 11:21 am

    I plan to use the A12 in an office enviroment. Parralel task handling and oppotunity based inisiatives regurires a lot of personal notes and following structure in collected information.

    In a engeneering enviroment we need to leave the "Laptop barriers" hideing behind the screens at a meeting.

    A12 is a grast oppertunity to combine "futuristic" looks an intuitive use with applications like microsoft ONE NOTE witch is the only productivity requirement i have.

    • Kannon Y
      April 15, 2017 at 5:43 pm

      The keyboard/touchpad supports hundreds of levels of pressure, which makes it roughly analogous to a low-end Wacom. If you're using it with OneNote, that's an effective usage. I don't think there's a similar device at this price point that accepts multiple levels of pressure. However, if you're just using the touch capabilities, there are better devices on the market for less money.

  3. Jonny
    March 28, 2017 at 3:40 pm

    Whilst I appreciate the highlighting of, admittedly quite a few flaws in the device, aesthetics are quite important to a lot of people - every device that you've pointed out as "superior" looks ugly as hell and if you're looking for a basic device that looks nice and has great battery life, I'm not sure the a12 is actually doing too much wrong here - even if it could have done a few things better.

    If you look for a proper laptop with decent aesthetics (Dell XPS / HP Spectre) you're shelling out lots, lots more even for the base-spec versions, so paying for aesthetics isn't new.

    Also...damn, you just sound plain angry in this article. Feel free to at least try and look at the thing from an actual review point of view, this is a bit of a rant.

    • Kannon Yamada
      March 28, 2017 at 4:36 pm

      Thanks for the critique Jonny!

      You are right to point out that superior build quality and amazing aesthetics at the $300 price-point is UNHEARD of in computing. To get that level of quality, one would normally have to pay around $1,000+. So in terms of aesthetics, you get a heck of a lot for the money.

      My opinion of hardware is purely based on its performance, reliability, and price. Those valuing other features would benefit from reading other soruces, though. Hopefully, if they do make a purchase they take into account multiple opinions and not just mine.

  4. emily
    March 27, 2017 at 3:59 am

    I don't know how I feel about your review. I think the one thing we are taught in school is that reviews showing ones opinion should also support the other side a little. But your review has very few...if not zero good things about this computer. Which shows that you are kinda biased for whatever reason.

    I plan I purchasing this computer as a secondary laptop. My first is a apple macbookpro 2011 and is getting kind of slow and i'm not gonna buy a second $1,000 laptop. For people who want to do basic things like Netflix, email, and basic web searches it's great. My apple (paid $1,200) has the same resolution on a 13inch screen so im not going to have a problem with it. Ill use this for homework too (google docs) and ill carry this to school (apple is 4.something pounds).
    Ive used the keyboard and it's definitely workable for a homework laptop for some people.

    Your review is good in a way but has some negatives I think. One being the above and the second being that you offered super cheap alternatives (or ones without a touch screen, which people obviously want is they are looking into this computer) and said they are just as good. Yes the specs may be the same or better in some areas but you pay for what you get.. and not just in specs. You pay for the look and the materials used (the ones you showed looked ugly). This is made out of metal and is more durable (and from experience plastic computers can crack). And should last a lot longer...a 50$ tablet shouldn't won't last longer than a $300 one. It would start to slow down earlier etc. The metal design is enough to try this computer out ( even going against the $200-$300 ones u mentioned), plastic is one reason why apple's aluminum design is so popular.

    As far as the keyboard...it might be hard to use but people will get used to it.( and it looks cool...like your in a futuristic world (cause the flat keyboards are always seen in those movies).

    Overall I never think a review should end with "No one should ever buy this". cause this does fit some people's needs, and saying that makes people think your biased. and instead of pushing people onto other products just make a pros and con review WITH actual pros. You Barely mentioned the awesome metal slim design they created.
    Overall it's well written and your negatives have a point but doesn't apply to everyone

    • Kannon Yamada
      March 28, 2017 at 4:44 pm

      Hello Emily, thank you for the excellent comment.

      All of the points you've brought up are relevant and accurate. It's true that a balanced review or analysis should take into account both the merits and shortcomings of a device. By focusing mostly on the negatives, I've managed to alienate a large proportion of the readership that may have otherwise found this article useful.

      Here's a quick summary (I've mentioned all of these in the article) of the A12's standout features:

      * Wacom-like functionality
      * Long battery life
      * Low cost
      * Amazing aesthetics
      * Great build quality

      The argument, though, is that you can find all but the Wacom/aesthetics in other laptops for much less money. Because everyone places different value on different components, the A12 might be a worthy purchase -- but only if you place $200 of value on the Wacom and aesthetics. The other features can be found elsewhere for less.

  5. Ron Lopez
    March 4, 2017 at 5:37 am

    Wow! You must hate Lenovo. My hat is off to them for such unique and fully functional Laptop/Tablet. I bought mine when it first came out and I'm truely impressed. Is there a learning curve with the Halo Keyboard? Yes! The only thing I didn't like about the Halo Keyboard and on screen keyboard was the Lenovo TouchPal Software. Once I switched to regular Google Keyboard Software, everything improved. I'm typing this comment on it right now. I average about 54 WPM. Not the fastest, but gets the job done. Learn a few keyboard short cuts and you will do even better. I can do all of my Word and Excel work with the Microsoft Apps you can download from the Play Store. The whole thing is very lite weight and is easy to carry any where. To gigs of ram work fine. If things start to bog down, just close a few apps. Honestly, I don't know why people fuss about having a ton of apps open at once. Most people generally only use one app at a time anyway, maybe two at times. How hard is it to open and close an app anyway. As far as the screen, works for me. i have no problem with wating my shows and movies. The sound is awesome for such a small frame tablet. I love my A12. There are a ton of devices out there and I stick with my A12.

    • Kannon Yamada
      March 6, 2017 at 2:05 pm

      Can I ask what you use the device for? The only feature that you can't find elsewhere is the touchkeyboard converting into a Wacom. That by itself is impressive, but aside from graphic designers, I'm not sure what it would be used for.

  6. Chris
    February 18, 2017 at 9:37 am

    Lenovo, despite people insisting their cheap computer is totally fine and no problems, are utterly crap pieces of electronics.

    Aldi's Bauhn products are hardware wise almost completely identical (aside from half the ram, and literally zero formal technical support) and yet they managed to build a product that is reliable and mostly stable, selling for less than half the price of a miix 310. Meanwhile... the windows based 310, has issues with literally the flakiest wifi you could imagine (Hell it doesnt even do the whole 'no connections available' thing other flaky hardware does at random.... it even keeps the 'wifi connected' logo up.... but the adaptor vanishes from the device manager. Then the keyboard stops working. Then the start menu. Then explorer. Then everything else with it.

    Its all well and good Windows trying to push Win 10 on to all of these cheap devices... but then the second you start getting updates, MICROSOFT starts breaking things as well.

    Between Microsoft and companies like Lenovo making cheap and NASTY overpriced products, more and more previously happy (ish) Windows users are now seriously looking for alternatives.

    Because what is going on is complete and utter bullshit. ITs not fair to the consumer. And it is us that is paying for bad harware and software. $500 of my hard earned utterly down the toilet on a device i bought for work... which isnt even stable enough to browse a couple of websites while im sitting on the shitter in my spare time.

    How dare you push this crap.

    • Kannon
      February 24, 2017 at 4:06 pm

      Thanks for the comment Chris. Fortunately, there are a lot of alternatives out there. I didn't know about Aldi's tablets. Thanks for the info!

  7. Weaver
    February 16, 2017 at 8:19 pm

    I have had my A12 for week and so far I like it. I was going to get the Samsung Chromebook Plus , but it's pretty expensive for a CB and there are some issues with it according to people that own them. You may be right about the Atom processor but I have had no problems. I don't have 10 tabs open at the same time and I use the machine basically for consuming information online, movies, YouTube, casual web browsing. The screen is really not bad. You can notice some pixilation on some text but nothing I can't live with. I'm very impressed with the fact that the bezels are small on the side and you will be surprised at the
    premium build quality of the whole unit. In gunmetal gray it is very impressive. The total surprise is the speakers (Dolby Atmos) which is very nice with great stereo separation. The Halo Keyboard takes some getting use to but once you learn the tricks of scrolling and touch typing it's pretty nice. I use both Word & Excel on this unit and for short input and notes it works great.
    As I said YouTube, and Netflix movies look great and sound very good. I got my unit for $50 off and I think for what I use it for it is much better than spending $449 or more or the Samsung CB+ or the Acer. But again you have remember this is a Tablet with benefits. It is a head turner. When I use it at work someone always asks what it is and how does it work. One last thing I have never like the idea of the keyboard being face down on a table surface so you can use the tablet in viewing or presentation mode. With the A12 the keyboard is a flat surface and I keep a cheap mouse pad that I sit it on and it's perfect.

    • Kannon Yamada
      February 17, 2017 at 9:51 am

      The most important thing is that you enjoy your purchase.

      My opinion on the Atom X5 processor is that it's probably, pound-for-pound, the best mobile processor on the market on a technical level. It may not be one of the Qualcomm's latest and greatest processor, but it shows up on extremely inexpensive devices and beats out the ARM processors from many smaller manufacturers, like Amlogic, RockChip, and a few others.

      Unfortunately, it's the non-hardware factors that can cause users issues. But if you're not having any of those problems, and love the build quality, then the A12 isn't a bad choice. I would have continued to complain about the $300 price tag, but you've managed to get $50 off, so that's less of a point. $250 puts it on par with the Chuwi Hi10 and other 2-in-1s.

      Can I ask how much battery life you've been getting? Most units of this type will advertise a battery life that is impractical.

  8. Dan
    February 16, 2017 at 12:47 pm

    Oh well, ordered one of these then read your review. Although havn't received it yet, so now think i will send it back.
    I wanted a larger tablet than my 10 inch lenovo android A10-30 specifically to watch live sports on. Don't need it for anything else. So was attracted by screen size and fact that it can sit on my lap without having to hold it.
    Should I just get a laptop? Any suggestions which one for under 300?
    Thanks for the review
    Dan

    • Kannon Yamada
      February 16, 2017 at 1:52 pm

      Hi Dan, thanks for the comment!

      I should have mentioned that the Lenovo A12 is designed for designers. The touch keyboard can convert into a Wacom-like device (or a touch pad) for people interested in sketching, illustrating, or what have you. The problem is that unusual extras like that oftentimes run up the price, a bit.

      Streaming video can be done by the lowest of low-end devices. The RCA Galileo Pro 11.5 has an 11.5-inch screen and about the same specs offered by the A12. But it only costs $80 at Walmart. It does, however, have a twisted-nematic screen instead of the standard IPS. That means the viewing angles won't be very great (looking at the screen from the sides will cause screen discoloring).

      https://www.walmart.com/ip/53990867

      While the build quality is trash in comparison to the A12, they both pretty much do the same things. The key selling point of the Galileo is that it can output video over HDMI. So if you want an even larger screen, you can just pick up an HDMI cable and connect it to a television or monitor.

      And if you don't like it, you can always return the thing.

  9. Hayden
    February 16, 2017 at 5:14 am

    I'm buying one from spite of this article. If you hate Android and Lenovo, it probably doesn't make much sense for you to write an article featuring both brands in the same machine.

    • Kannon
      February 16, 2017 at 8:44 am

      Right now one of the best desktop operating systems around is Remix OS, which is based on Android. It's great because it combines Android with a desktop user-interface. While the version of Android used on A12 includes a degree of tablet optimization, it's by no means fully tablet optimized. What I'm saying is that there are better Android devices out there.

      I'd recommend the Chuwi Hi10. It has Remix OS AND Windows in a dual boot configuration for less money.

  10. Oficientes
    February 15, 2017 at 5:51 pm

    Thanks for the analysis!

    • Kannon Yamada
      February 15, 2017 at 6:17 pm

      I hope it helped! Were you thinking of buying a Yoga A12?