With low-cost and simple-to-use Chromebooks already threatening Windows 10 laptops in the education market, Windows PCs now have a new challenger: budget Android 2-in-1s.
Lenovo is trying to change the perception that Android machines are solely devices for consuming content, first with last year's Yoga Book and now with its new $299 Yoga A12, 2-in-1 tablet/laptop.
The A12 comes with an attached keyboard, allowing the device to be used as a laptop, which can also be folded behind the screen so the A12 can be used as a tablet. The machine is essentially a cheaper version of the Android-powered Yoga Book that Lenovo released in 2016, but with more modest specs.
Billing the machine as being "made for all-day productivity", Lenovo has made a budget tablet/laptop that challenges premium Windows ultrabooks when it comes to portability. The A12 offers up to 13 hours battery life and is lighter than the $1,200 Dell XPS 13, as well as being just two mm thicker.
However, as well as lacking the ports you'd typically find on a laptop, there are plenty of other indications this is not a top-end device, such as the choice of Intel's low-end Atom processor and the A12's low resolution screen and limited memory relative to more expensive laptops.
While the consumer-focused Android OS isn't typically associated with work software, Lenovo said the bundled Google suite includes Chrome, Drive, Docs and other office apps. Android Nougat also introduced support for running two apps side by side in split screen, although Lenovo doesn't specify which version of Android the A12 runs.
The keyboard is also likely to be divisive, rather than including a physical keyboard, the A12 has a flat touchscreen 'Halo' keyboard that provides haptic feedback and uses predictive software to improve typing accuracy. Unlike last year's Lenovo Yoga Book, the keyboard doesn't convert into Wacom sketchpad.
But the A12 is a surprisingly cheap for an Android tablet/laptop hybrid. Whereas the Android-powered Google Pixel C tablet can be paired with a keyboard, the Pixel C and the keyboard together sell for double the price of the Yoga A12.
Perhaps conscious of the threat posed by the growing number of non-Windows budget PCs, Microsoft is rumoured to be readying a new lightweight version of Windows that would be simpler to use and could compete with Chrome OS, and maybe Android, in the low-cost laptop space.
The Yoga A12 will be available starting February 8th via www.lenovo.com, with prices starting at $299.
- 12.2-inch 1366x768 resolution touchscreen
- Intel Atom x5 processor
- 2GB RAM
- 32GB storage
- Two speakers
- 360-degree hinge
- 5.4mm thick
- < 1kg weight
- Up to 13 hours of battery life
Read more about Android laptops
Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.