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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.
But if you’re dying to try the underlying technology, check out the 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?), better options abound. For example, the Asus Chromebook Flip uses a similar rotatable hinge. But instead of Android, the Flip uses ChromeOS — 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 i3558. 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.
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 Acer Chromebook 14, which employs an Atom-based Celeron N3160 processor.
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 Chuwi Hi10. 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.
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 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 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, which completely obviates the need for an Android-based laptop.
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 preinstalled on low-end Lenovo laptops. The worst of these, the Superfish malware client, 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.