Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro: Two Weeks In

Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro: Two Weeks In

Second impressions

I'm about two weeks into my testing of Lenovo's Yoga 3 Pro, a stunning new Ultrabook that combines innovative styling with the latest Intel mobile chipset. But since I prefer to stress-test portable PCs during real-world travel, I'm not quite ready to publish a review. So instead, here's a quick follow-up to my first impressions.

The first thing I need to do is correct a mistake I made in Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro First Impressions: I wrote that this device was fanless. As it turns out, the Yoga 3 does in fact include a small fan. And while it's pretty quiet, it's on more than I'd like. In contrast to the Surface Pro 3—which has a louder but more irregularly-deployed fan—the Yoga 3 Pro fan is a whisper. But it's a near-constant whisper. It's a little disappointing.

That said, the two things I was concerned with on the Yoga 3 Pro have turned out to be non-issues.

The first is the watchband-like hinge, which can fairly be described as controversial from a styling perspective. In part this is because the review unit is gray and complements the hinge's silver color, and the tangerine orange version may be a bit more out there visually. But a big part of it is that the hinge is rock-solid, with six connections points between the body and the screen.

This hinge also lets you lay the screen perfectly flat, which seems pointless until you realize you could stand this thing up on one's lap on even the tightest airline seat and watch a movie comfortably. (I used to do this with a gigantic laptop back in the day.)

The second issue I had earmarked for closer inspection was performance: That Core M processor is arguably even more controversial than the Yoga 3 Pro's crazy-looking hinge, and I was concerned that its low clock speed would degrade the performance of a machine whose predecessor, the Yoga 2 Pro, was one of the very best Ultrabooks I've ever tested.

That hasn't been the case, and in retrospect maybe that should have been obvious. With 8 GB of RAM and a speedy SSD drive, the Yoga 3 Pro may technically give up some performance in artificial tests compared to, say, the Yoga 2 Pro. And possibly to the Surface Pro 3, for that matter, though I think that Microsoft has done some performance detuning of its own to allow a standard Core i5 (or i7) chip work—with the attendant heat and fan noise—in such a thin machine.

But the Core M is a better fit, in many ways, for the Yoga 3 Pro, and it's enabled Lenovo to create an Ultrabook that is thinner and lighter than its predecessor. And the Yoga 3 Pro offers more a traditional design than the Surface Pro 3.

Put simply, for the tasks one would reasonably perform on this machine—multiple Office applications, browser windows and the occasional Adobe Photoshop editing—the Yoga 3 Pro shines. I've never noticed any performance issues.

I also prefer the larger 13-inch IPS screen on the Yoga 3 Pro to that on Surface Pro 3. This could be the brightest and crispest I've ever experienced. It's just gorgeous, and while I've often railed against the desktop display scaling issues in Windows, this screen is so clear it's like my eyesight is improved by using it. The screen clocks in at a Retina-busting 3200 x 1800, or QuadHD+, since we're running out of names for these resolutions.  

And this may seem like a small thing, but it's not: The rubberized top deck panel on this device—the bit surrounding the keyboard—has a dimpled texture that is pleasant to touch, and an ideal surface on which to rest one's wrists. It's like judging a car by view from the driver's seat which, when you think about it, is actually a pretty great way to judge a car. I will add rubberized deck lid to my list of device features I'll now always miss when not present.

The Yoga 3 Pro isn't all milk and honey. It's missing the ThinkPad "nubbin" pointer, called trackpoint, which I really prefer, though the smallish trackpad is serviceable and I always travel with a mouse anyway. The power button has been moved to the side of the machine, which I understand given its convertible/transforming nature. But it's hard to find and press reliably. Unless of course you don't mean to press it, in which case it's curiously easy to press.

There's a lot more to discuss—battery life, the innovative charging port that doubles as a USB port, and more—but I'll save the rest for my review. More soon.

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