The idea of having a tablet and a laptop in one is nothing new, but so far it’s mostly been a hit or miss affair with some manufacturers pulling it off and others failing miserably.
Well, Lenovo’s Yoga 3 Pro aims to correct that, and be the perfect little ultrabook when you’re in the boardroom and a fantastic tablet for when you are lying in bed and other places where ultra-portability is important.
The question is, does it hit the mark? That’s what we set out to answer.
The Yoga 3 Pro makes that 20mm thickness look downright chunky: measuring just 12.8mm at its thickest point, this little Ultrabook is thinner even than a rather short paperback novel. Add to that the 13.3-inch form factor, and you have a very small laptop indeed, albeit 0.5mm thicker than the Asus Zenbook X305.
For that extra 0.5mm you are getting a hybrid device which offers the full flexibility – pardon the pun – of a tablet as well the comfort and function of a full-blown laptop.
The name Yoga is well-chosen given that this ultrabook’s screen folds all the way back. It sports incredibly well-engineered hinges spread across its entire length that ensure the screen stays where you leave it, and that hinge is of such high quality that it will likely last for years and years without losing strength.
It’s incredibly useful for bending the Yoga into the required shape, whether that’s a tent, folded flat or folded back completely on itself.
It’s honestly a miracle of modern engineering; the PR schtick says it’s been hand-assembled from 813 individual pieces of aluminium and steel and inspired by watchstrap design, and that’s entirely believable given how good it is. Here’s a quick YouTube video on it:
Weighing in at 1.18Kg the Yoga 3 Pro is almost triple the weight of Apple’s iPad Air 2, so it isn’t the perfect tablet, but considering the hardware contained inside this tight little Ultrabook, that’s hardly a major issue.
As previously mentioned the Yoga 3 Pro is powered by an Intel Core M processor, specifically the Core M 5Y70 which has a default clock speed of 1.1GHz. But when you are pushing it to its limits, the CPU dynamically adjusts clock speed and will hit speeds of up to 2.6GHz, providing a significant boost in processing power.
Intel’s latest chip architecture is not only capable of actually delivering on the promise of performance, but manages to do so while only kicking out 4.5W worth of heat. That means there is no need for noisy fans which take up space, and a light, passively-cooled heat sink is all that is needed to keep this little chip purring away.
The lack of significant heat is due to the fact that this CPU doesn’t use a lot of power, which in turn translates to very good battery life.
Complementing the CPU is 8GBs of DDR3 memory and a 256GB Samsung solid-state disk. The 8GB of memory means that it will able to handle more resource-intensive applications and let you browse the internet with 2 857 tabs open.
We are glad to see Lenovo making use of a Samsung SSD, since the South Korean manufacturer has earned its place as one of the top SSD makers globally.
The keyboard is small, however it is still comfortable to type on. The short travel distance means that keys can be struck quickly and won’t hamper those who are capable of touch typing thanks to the well-spaced keys.
One gripe we have with the Yoga 3 Pro’s keyboard is the lack of an End key, which did cause a bit of annoyance while this review was being written. The other gripe is that to turn on the keyboard backlighting you have to open up the Lenovo Settings application. A better solution would have been to have a hotkey that could let the user turn it on or off.
The touch pad is well-placed, and thankfully does not get in the way when typing. During use the touchpad is responsive and requires only the lightest of touches to move the cursor, however the left and right clicks do require a fair bit of force to register. This isn’t the end of the world, and in fact will ensure that no accidental clicking takes place which is a good thing indeed.
Rounding out the Yoga 3’s connectivity are two USB 3.0 ports, a mini HDMI port for output to an external monitor/TV/projector, a multicard reader and Bluetooth, which should prove enough for the average road warrior.
57.6 million pixels; that’s what you get with the Yoga 3 Pro’s 3 200×1 800 Quad HD+ display, and what a beauty it is. The screen is crystal clear and easy to read with Windows 8.1 scaling everything spot-on perfectly.
The Intel Core M processor’s HD Graphics 5300 GPU is what pumps out all those pixels, and it does a fairly decent job at general use and productivity, but it’s not designed to be used for gaming.
Due to the Yoga’s dual-purpose nature (or should we call it schizophrenia?), the screen is touch-sensitive allowing users to take full advantage of all of Windows 8.1’s touch-specific advances.
The only problem we can foresee is the inevitable deluge of fingerprints that will have things resembling a Jackson Pollock painting if you have even the slightest bit of dirt on your digits while jabbing at the screen.
In our time with the Yoga 3 Pro, we did not see the battery reach the coveted 8 hour mark, but it came very close. At a little over seven and a half hours, the Yoga 3 Pro managed to deliver enough useful battery life that the charger could be left at home.
Cranking the screen to its maximum retina-melting brightness level caused battery life to plummet to just six. At 75% brightness, retinas and battery life are both saved, and everything remains highly visible.
The charger is a point of contention, however. Lenovo has opted to use a cable with a normal USB connector on one end and a keyed USB connector on the other. This gives the user the impression that it could be powered using a normal USB charger, but since the Yoga 3 Pro requires 20V/2A to charge there is no way your iPhone 6 charger will be able to cope.
It is easy to understand the idea of using connectors and ports that are familiar, but in this case it just causes confusion.
Overall the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro is a potent little package. The processor packs enough punch to take care of daily business tasks and the battery, if properly nursed, will deliver almost a full eight hours of power. As an Ultrabook the Yoga 3 Pro is the perfect little package, while its tablet functionality is really just the cherry on top.
The only real problems with the Yoga 3 Pro are its R24 999 price tag and disappointing battery life. At a hair below R25k and sub-eight hours of up-time, the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro is a hard sell if you’re just looking for an Ultrabook, but if you are looking for the perfect little hybrid device then those caveats could possibly be easier to live with.
Thing is, if you have the cash and are interested in buying one of the thinnest and lightest hybrid laptops around with easily the best hinge to be found anywhere, the Yoga 3 Pro will serve you very well indeed.