Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro, First Take: Thin, light and flexible

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Lenovo's London launch event last night saw the introduction of three new members of the world-number-one PC maker's Yoga line of 'multimode' computers: the 13-inch Android-based Yoga Tablet Pro 2 with a unique built-in projector; the Yoga Tablet 2, available in 8-inch and 10-inch sizes, running Android or Windows; and the 13-inch Yoga 3 Pro, an impressively thin and light convertible Windows ultrabook. We came away with a review sample of the latter, and here are our first impressions.

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The 13.3-inch Yoga 3 Pro weighs just 1.19kg. Image: Charles McLellan/ZDNet

We hear 'thin and light' bandied around a great deal, but the new Yoga 3 Pro is the real deal. Measuring 33cm (13in.) wide by 22.8cm (9in.) deep by just 1.28cm (0.5in.) thick and weighing 1.19kg (2.62lbs), the Yoga 3 Pro compares favourably to Apple's 13-inch MacBook Air, which comes in at 32.5cm (12.8in.) by 22.7cm (8.94in.) by 1.7cm (0.68in.) and 1.35kg. Both laptops are light, but you can feel the difference when you pick both up. Compared to the previous-generation Yoga Pro 2, the new model — which is available in three colours (Clementine Orange, Platinum Silver and Champagne Gold) — is 17 percent thinner and 14 percent lighter.

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The 'watchband' hinge is a key design and aesthetic feature of the Yoga 3 Pro. Image: Charles McLellan/ZDNet

The key feature of the Yoga range is its flexible 'multimode' nature, which asks a lot of the hinge mechanism. Lenovo identifies four usage modes: Laptop (standard clamshell orientation); Stand (keyboard facing down, screen outwards), Tent (keyboard and screen sections in a 'A' shape) and Tablet (screen rotated 360 degrees, flat against keyboard section). The most eye-catching innovation in the Yoga 3 Pro is its new 'watchband' hinge, a complex construction comprising no fewer than 800 components, with six attachment points rather than the standard two. In our brief experience with the Yoga 3 Pro, we found that this mechanism works very well, supporting a particularly good tablet mode. Hopefully, it'll stand up equally well in the long-term.

To help with these usage modes, Lenovo has introduced a new software tool called Harmony. This provides statistics on how much you use each mode, identifies your favourite apps in each mode and suggests others you might like, and optimises settings for certain apps. For example, it can enable motion control via the webcam when you're delivering a presentation, or adjust screen settings when you're reading an e-book.

As a regular ultrabook, the Yoga 3 Pro has plenty going for it. The display is a bright and sharp 13.3-inch touchscreen with a resolution of 3,200 by 1,800 pixels, giving an impressive pixel density of 276ppi (the 12.85in. Chromebook Pixel, by contrast, delivers 239ppi). The Gorilla Glass-protected IPS screen offers excellent viewing angles but is glossy, which could cause reflection problems in brightly lit environments. Above the screen is a 720p webcam.

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Lenovo's Harmony software tries to enhance your usage of the ultrabook's different modes. Image: Charles McLellan/ZDNet

There's plenty of room for a decent-sized backlit keyboard, which sits in a dimpled, rubberised surround containing a responsive multitouch touchpad with built-in mouse buttons. The island-style keys are well spaced, but may lack the travel and tactile response that some typists require.

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A key reason why Lenovo has been able to design such a thin ultrabook is Intel's new 14nm (Broadwell) dual-core Core M-70 processor, which runs at 1.1GHz-2.6GHz (in Turbo Mode) within a thermal envelope of just 4.5W. Incorporating integrated Intel HD Graphics 5300 and supported by 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, the Core M-70 platform should provide a good combination of mainstream-level performance and low power consumption. The system runs quietly, and we didn't notice the system getting too warm — even when running a demanding benchmark like Cinebench R15.

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The Yoga 3 Pro uses a modified USB 2.0 port and a special notched connector for charging. Image: Charles McLellan/ZDNet

For connectivity, there's dual-band 802.11ac wi-fi and Bluetooth 4.01, but no Ethernet or mobile broadband option. Despite its slimline dimensions, there's a decent selection of ports, slots and buttons on the Yoga 3 Pro. The right-hand side has a USB 3.0 port, a 3.5mm microphone/headphone combo jack, a volume rocker, a screen-rotation-lock button, a Novo button (for access to the BIOS setup utility) and the power button. The left-hand side has a yellow USB 2.0 port that doubles as the power connection (it has a notch to accommodate the special USB charging cable), a second USB 3.0 port, a Micro-HDMI port and an SD card slot.

The compact and lightweight AC adapter has a USB connection, and so can be used to charge other devices when you're on the road. The Yoga 3 Pro's non-removable battery delivers a claimed 9 hours of uptime — something we've not yet had a chance to put to the test.

To get a quick overview of the system's performance, we extracted its Windows Experience Index or WEI (a more convoluted process under Windows 8.1 than in previous versions). The component scores (out of 9.9) are as follows:

CPU score  6.5
D3D score  4.6
Disk score  8.2
Graphics score  4.4
Memory score  7.3

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Dilip Bhatia, vice president of design and marketing for Lenovo's PC Group, shows off the Yoga 3 Pro in London. Image: Charles McLellan/ZDNet

As usual in a system with integrated graphics the 2D and 3D graphics scores are the weak links, while the SSD leads the rankings. In use, the Yoga 3 Pro seems perfectly responsive with mainstream workloads; it also has a particularly nippy boot-up time. We'll be doing more benchmarking in the coming days to provide more detail. We also haven't had time to properly evaluate the Waves MaxxAudio-enhanced audio subsystem.

As an example of the new breed of Broadwell-based ultrabooks, Lenovo's Yoga 3 Pro looks impressive so far. It's very thin and light, incorporates nice design tweaks like the watchband hinge, has a great screen and seems to deliver decent performance without getting too warm.

The Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro will be available at the end of October from £1,299 or €1,599.

 

Correction 22/10/14
We initially reported that the Yoga 3 Pro had no fan. In fact there is a fan, but it runs impressively quietly even when the system is under load.

Specifications

General
Packaged Quantity 1
Operating System Windows 10 Home
Processor / Chipset
CPU Intel Core M 5Y71 / 1.2 GHz
Max Turbo Speed 2.9 GHz
Number of Cores Dual-Core
Cache 4 MB
64-bit Computing Yes
Features integrated memory controller
Cache Memory
Installed Size 4 MB
Memory
Max Supported Size 8 GB
Technology DDR3L SDRAM
Speed 1600 MHz / PC3L-12800 - 1600 MHz
Storage
Interface Serial ATA-600
RAM
Memory Speed 1600 MHz
Memory Specification Compliance PC3L-12800
Configuration Features provided memory is soldered
Technology DDR3L SDRAM
Installed Size 8 GB
Rated Memory Speed 1600 MHz
Display
LCD Backlight Technology LED backlight
Widescreen Display Yes
Image Aspect Ratio 16:9
Monitor Features Corning Gorilla glass, glossy
Type LED
Touchscreen yes (10-point multi-touch)
TFT Technology IPS
Diagonal Size (metric) 33.8 cm
Display Resolution Abbreviation QHD+
Audio & Video
Graphics Processor Intel HD Graphics 5300
Integrated Webcam Yes
Sound Stereo speakers, two microphones
Audio Codec Realtek ALC286
Features JBL
Hard Drive
Type SSD
SSD Form Factor M.2
Capacity 256 GB
Input
Type keyboard, touchpad
Features buttonless touchpad, multi-touch touchpad
Communications
Wireless Protocol 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0
Processor
CPU Type Core M
Processor Number 5Y71
Manufacturer Intel
Clock Speed 1.2 GHz
Optical Storage
Drive Type no optical drive
Type none
Card Reader
Type 4 in 1 card reader
Supported Flash Memory MultiMediaCard, SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card, SDXC Memory Card
Battery
Capacity 44 Wh
Cells 4-cell
Technology lithium polymer
Run Time (Up To) 9 hour(s)
AC Adapter
Input AC 120/230 V (50/60 Hz)
Output 40 Watt, 20 V, 2 A
Connections & Expansion
Interfaces Micro-HDMI
2 x USB 3.0
USB 2.0
Headphone/microphone combo jack
Memory Card Reader 4 in 1 (SD Card, MultiMediaCard, SDHC Card, SDXC Card)
Header
Brand Lenovo
Product Line Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro
Model 80HE
Localization English
Packaged Quantity 1
Compatibility PC
Networking
Data Link Protocol Bluetooth 4.0, IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11ac, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n
System
Notebook Type thin and light, 2-in-1
Mechanical Design 360° flip design
Platform Windows
Hard Drive Capacity 256 GB
Miscellaneous
Color silver
Case Material magnesium-aluminum alloy
Features 1 USB 2.0 charging port
Compliant Standards RoHS
Included Accessories power adapter
Monitor
Diagonal Size 13.3 in
Image Brightness 300 cd/m2
Dimensions & Weight
Width 13 in
Depth 9 in
Height 0.5 in
Audio Output
Compliant Standards High Definition Audio
Environmental Standards
ENERGY STAR Certified Yes
Physical Characteristics
Weight 2.62 lbs
Operating System / Software
OS Provided: Type Windows 10 Home
Video Output
Graphics Processor Intel HD Graphics 5300
Graphics Processor Series Intel HD Graphics
Notebook Camera
Integrated Webcam Yes
Input Device
Backlight Yes

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Where To Buy

Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro

Part Number: 80HE011WUS