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Review: Lenovo’s Yoga 3 Pro Windows 8.1 Hybrid PC

Lenovo has unleashed the IdeaPad Yoga 3 Pro, and it is positioned to possibly be the world’s best laptop. The company whose motto is to propel “#Doers” has laid out all their cards with the latest and most expensive iteration of their Yoga hybrid thus far. Is the latest iteration all hype and show, or has Lenovo truly created the best PC on the market? Read on to find out.

For those of you who have yet to pick up a Lenovo Yoga machine and try it out, the principle behind the machine is a specially designed hinge that allows the screen to fold back 360 degrees; this allows a user to utilize the machine in a number of modes. Lenovo categorizes the Yoga as having four forms, tablet mode, stand mode, tent mode, and laptop mode.

The Watchband Hinge

Of course, those who have been paying attention know that the most dazzling feature of the latest Yoga Pro iteration is the new Watchband hinge. You heard right, Lenovo has dumped the conventional laptop hinge as we know it and replaced it with a watchband fashioned from 813 individual pieces of aluminum and steel.

Lenovo Yoga Pro 3 - Hinge

When we first received the unit, we were a bit worried about how well the hinge would hold up compared to past iterations. That being said, our fear dissipated as soon as we opened the unit itself. It is almost a feat of awe; the hinge looks like a watchband, you can’t possibly imagine how it keeps the screen up, but it does.

While the stability of the unit’s hinge leaves us with little worry, it should be noted that the screen can move a bit. The hinge itself doesn’t budge, but the point at where the screen connects to the unit can show a bit of give, although nothing to worry about.

The biggest question, is how does the hinge itself actually look? Does a watchband look funny on a laptop or is it a dream come true? The truth is that the beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. I’ve asked quite a few people about what they think of the hinge, and answers have varied greatly. Some are simply amazed by the design and its beauty, while others think that the hinge looks like exposed gears that should be covered up. One person even noted that the machine looked damaged.

Lenovo Yoga Pro 3 - Flat

The unit we received is an orange unit, and all watchband hinges are grey, so it is a bit of a stark contrast. We believe that the hinge looks a bit nicer on the silver model as the unit blends in as one single color. In the beginning, I was in the “it looks unfinished” camp, but as time has moved on, I personally have come to see the hinge as a thing of beauty. I cannot help but to wonder if the orange unit would look nicer with a black hinge color though – my own perception.

The Overall Design

Moving on to the rest of the unit, Lenovo has done quite a job making the Yoga 3 Pro much thinner and lighter than its predecessor. The new Yoga weighs in at only 2.6 pounds and measures half an inch thin. While my constant repetition seems to be asking “how light and thin do we really need a laptop?” – It makes sense here. Since the unit is positioned as a hybrid, we would like a decently light unit to use in tablet mode.

In comparison to the Surface Pro 3 with attached Type Cover 2, the Yoga 3 Pro comes in at only 0.2 pounds heavier and a surprising 0.5 inches thinner. It is safe to say that the Surface Pro 3 and Yoga 3 Pro are now within competing ranges when it comes to form factor. Screen sizes do vary of course, as the Yoga 3 Pro houses a 13 inch screen, while the Surface Pro 3 comes with a 12 inch screen.

Lenovo Yoga Pro 3 - Ports

On the subject of screens, we cannot convey exactly how much Lenovo has improved in this department. At one time, Lenovo was at the bottom of the barrel for screen quality, now, they are delivering stunning Quad HD+ display (3200 x 1800), that delivers superb 10-point multi touch, along with dazzling colors. In fact, Lenovo’s IPS Yoga 3 Pro screen has a higher DPI than that of the Macbook Pro (take that Retina display!).

The Port Selection

Using the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro almost feels surreal at times, it feels much thinner than its actual dimensions. You would think that a laptop this thin would sacrifice ports and connectivity, but Lenovo had no plans to do anything of the sort. The right side of the unit houses an always-on USB 3.0 port, along with a headphone jack and array of control buttons. These controls include two volume buttons, a rotation lock button, OneKey recovery button, and LED lit power button.

The left side of the unit houses the majority of available ports including a full SD card slot, Micro-HDMI port, a second USB 3.0 port, and a port that doubles as a USB 2.0 port and charging port. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Lenovo has managed to develop a USB port that not only functions normally, but allows you to charge the device itself. The front and back of the unit contains no buttons or controls.

The Hands On

When first pulling the device out of the box, it does feel as a premium product should. The lid and bottom are made of a lightweight aluminum that feels great to the touch. It is worth noting that because the unit is much thinner than the last iteration, it does not feel as robust, but we can’t say anything for its actual durability.

Lenovo Yoga Pro 3 - Logo

The premium feel continues when you open the lid and feel the entire palm rest and surrounding keyboard area; it is covered in a textured soft-touch finish that feels great under the hands. The keyboard is spacious and each key press provides enjoyable feedback. It is worth noting that the keyboard has a shallower feel to it than the Yoga Pro 2, due to the new unit’s thinner body. We personally welcome the thinner body and lighter frame, but some may miss the previous model’s feel.

As usual, Lenovo continues to provide one of the best touch pads we have seen on any Windows PC. The surface is comfortable and allows your finger to easily glide across it, while being able to pick up even the subtlest touches and gestures.

The 13.3” QHD+ display with 10-point multi touch is our new favorite laptop display on the market. The display delivers beautiful and vibrant colors with a pixels per inch ratio that beats out Apple’s Macbook Pro Retina offering. We found the display to be responsive, although the Windows capacitive button below is not very sensitive and requires quite a bit of force to activate.

Lenovo Yoga Pro 3 - Keyboard

The Internals

Heading inside the unit, we find an Intel Core M processor, Intel HD Graphics 5300, up to 8 GB of RAM, and an SSD up to 512 GB. The model we specifically received housed 8GB of RAM and the 256 GB SSD. Intel’s latest generation M processor, is aimed at ultra slim and portable devices. Intel states that the Core M processor is up to two times faster than its original Core i5 CPU. We found the processor to deliver a cool, reliable, and efficient experience during use.

We tested a number of applications including Adobe’s Lightroom, Photoshop, and Premiere. While Lightroom and Photoshop ran very well, you may want to seek a more powerful machine if you plan on doing a heavy amount of video editing, as Premiere did tend to lag.

One of the most positive aspects of the Intel Core M processor is its energy saving abilities. Lenovo’s website rates the Yoga 3 Pro with up to 7.2 hours of battery life. In our own tests, we found that 5-6 hours is a very healthy estimate. It may even be able to exceed Lenovo’s own expectations if you take full use of the machine’s power saving software features.

Lenovo Yoga Pro 3 - Settings

The Software

Speaking of software, we have to say that we are a bit disappointed in Lenovo this time around. Lenovo has continued to serve as a brand that doesn’t shove bloat ware onto your machine. The Yoga 3 Pro on the other hand is filled with software you will want to uninstall as soon as you boot it up.

Some pieces of software did improve our experience including Lenovo’s OneKey Optimizer and Veriface Pro login, but we could do without McAfee, Lenovo SHAREit, YOGA Chef, Lenovo Photo Master, and many other applications that the company pre-installed. Please Lenovo, do not become HP and shove our computers full of content that you “think” is useful.

Overall

Lenovo Yoga Pro 3 - On Desk

The Yoga 3 Pro is an excellent improvement over the last iteration. We welcome the improved body design, innovative port selection, and mind boggling hinge. On another hand, the preinstalled bloat ware, shallower keyboard, and Intel M processor are factors that we could do without.

The Yoga 3 Pro isn’t a cheap machine and starts at $1,299 with the top configuration going for $1,499. That being said, the Yoga 3 Pro is by far the number one hybrid style machine we have tested. If you don’t care for a machine that flips into a tablet, there are probably better and cheaper options, but if you are looking for the best of the laptop and tablet worlds, you won’t be disappointed by Lenovo’s Yoga 3 Pro.

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