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Hands on with Lenovo Yoga 3: Snappy performance and Superfish-free

This 14-inch Windows laptop is ready for both the office and home. We put it through its paces to see how it fares.
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1 of 12 James Kendrick/ZDNet

Lenovo Yoga 3

Lenovo has a large line of Yoga devices, both tablets and laptops of all sizes. The Yoga 3 is one of the largest with a 14-inch touch display. The screen rotates 360 degrees to support the four standard configurations of the Yoga line.

The black matte casing on the Yoga 3 is reminiscent of Lenovo's ThinkPad line. It is smooth yet slightly textured so it is secure in the hand. It is heavy by today's laptop standards at 3.5 pounds, although not too much for a 14-inch notebook.

Yoga 3 specs as reviewed:

  • OS: Windows 8.1
  • CPU: Intel Core i5-5200U, fifth generation
  • Display: 14-inch, IPS, 1920 x 1080, touch
  • Memory/ storage: 8GB/256GB
  • Ports: 2-USB 3.0, 1-USB 2.0, HDMI, 4-in-1 card reader (SD/MMC/SDXC/SDHC)
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi ac
  • Battery: 45 Whr, Up to 7.4 hours
  • Dimensions: 13.18 x 9.03 x 0.72 inches
  • Weight: 3.52 lbs
  • Price: $949

Four configurations

The Yoga 3 has a screen that rotates a full 360 degrees to form four configurations. There’s the laptop mode, tent mode (inverted V), stand mode, and tablet cofiguration. Both the tent and stand modes are good for giving impromptu presentations.

Stand and tablet modes present the touch display for close operation, but aren’t optimal. Both configurations leave the keyboard exposed, one keys down on the table and the other in the hand. I’m not a fan of this, even though the Yoga 3 shuts the keyboard off when the display is rotated beyond a certain angle. Resting the keys on a flat surface makes me feel the keys might get damaged, and gripping the tablet by squashing the keys doesn’t feel right.

As a laptop, the Yoga 3 is quite nice. The large size allows having a full-sized keyboard and large trackpad. While not ThinkPad-quality, the keyboard feels good when rapidly typing. The trackpad is smooth and responsive, and makes operating both the cursor and Windows 8.1 as easy.

The two viewing modes work well due to the precise touch screen. The 14-inch display, while not high resolution for the size, handles Powerpoint presentations nicely. It’s also good for watching video in either configuration.

While the Yoga 3 works fine as a touch tablet, the large and heavy size makes it uncomfortable quickly. Tablets that are 3.5 pounds are not practical, especially when the large size makes it tricky to hold.

Ready for work

The fifth generation Intel Core i5 processor makes the Yoga 3 snappy. Windows 8.1, both the Metro and desktop sides, run very well. The start screen slides smoothly by touch, and legacy apps scroll well.

This laptop runs Windows 8.1 so well it should be really nice with Windows 10 when it is released. The tablet mode of the future version of Windows is tailor-made for a laptop like the Yoga 3.

While it’s not a ThinkPad and thus not an enterprise product, it’s handled all work functions I’ve executed with ease. Microsoft Office is a joy to use with both the trackpad and by touch, and I’ve experienced no lags nor performance issues of any kind.

Lenovo rates the battery life at 7.4 hours, and I experienced 7 hours in testing. This is not as good as many laptops on the market and I wish it was better on the Yoga 3.

Good value

For such a solid laptop, the Yoga 3 will not break the bank. It starts at $799 for a model with a Core i5, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD. A model configured with a Core i7, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB SSD is $1099.99. The review unit is $949 with Core i5, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD.

Pros:

  • Multiple configurations
  • Good performance
  • Decent keyboard

Cons:

  • Short battery life
  • Keys exposed in some configurations
  • Heavy and bulky

Reviewer’s rating: 8 out of 10

Note: After the recent Superfish malware situation, consumers may be reticent to buy Lenovo products. But according to Lenovo the Yoga 3 never had Superfish installed.

Lenovo products that may have had Superfish installed have been published by Lenovo. They include:

G Series: G410, G510, G710, G40-70, G50-70, G40-30, G50-30, G40-45, G50-45, G40-80

U Series: U330P, U430P, U330Touch, U430Touch, U530Touch

Y Series: Y430P, Y40-70, Y50-70, Y40-80, Y70-70

Z Series: Z40-75, Z50-75, Z40-70, Z50-70, Z70-80

S Series: S310, S410, S40-70, S415, S415Touch, S435, S20-30, S20-30Touch

Flex Series: Flex2 14D, Flex2 15D, Flex2 14, Flex2 15, Flex2 Pro, Flex 10

MIIX Series: MIIX2-8, MIIX2-10, MIIX2-11, MIIX 3 1030

YOGA Series: YOGA2Pro-13, YOGA2-13, YOGA2-11, YOGA3 Pro

E Series: E10-30

Edge Series: Lenovo Edge 15

Note that the Yoga3 Pro in the list is a different model than the Yoga 3 reviewed by ZDNet.

See also:

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows: Write on the screen with any pen or pencil (hands on)

Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro: Very good Ultrabook (review)

CES 2015: Lenovo unveils 8 ThinkPads and unique ThinkPad Stack system

Six great laptops ready for Windows 10

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Lenovo Yoga 3

Laptop mode -- side view

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Lenovo Yoga 3

Tent mode

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Lenovo Yoga 3

Stand mode (keyboard behind screen)

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Lenovo Yoga 3

Big tablet

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Lenovo Yoga 3

Nice keyboard

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Lenovo Yoga 3

Lid closed

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Lenovo Yoga 3

Bottom of device

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Lenovo Yoga 3

Features as per Lenovo

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Lenovo Yoga 3

Nice and thin

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Lenovo Yoga 3

Keyboard side view

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Lenovo Yoga 3

The display is vivid.

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