Hands on: A ‘watchband’ hinge lets Lenovo’s Yoga 3 Pro flex with flash

The Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro is light, innovative, and boasts some eye-catching aesthetics. However, its $1,349 price tag is steep.

While the predominant design in convertible laptops these days seems to be settling on the fold-over, 360-degree hinge, it’s Lenovo’s Yoga that kicked off the craze of double-jointed computing devices.

The company has since released the Yoga Pro, Yoga 2 Pro, as well as the ThinkPad Yoga. But with so much competition from other companies, like HP’s x360, Lenovo can’t afford to coast on its convertible achievements. It’s clear from the new Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro that the company is still pushing the design in new directions.

We got some hands-on time with the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro at a press event in New York, and came away quite impressed with it. The all-new, all-metal “Watchband” hinge is the Yoga 3 Pro’s most striking feature, but there are plenty of other novel attributes packed in the laptop’s thin frame as well.

Lenovo says the Yoga 3 Pro will be a Best Buy exclusive, with a fixed configuration, and a rather hefty price of $1,349.

Here’s what we think of it, and what you need to know.

Slim shell, fresh specs, and lightweight

Running on a brand new, low-power Intel Core M (Broadwell) processor, the 13-inch Yoga Pro 3 is two millimeters thinner than the previous model, which puts it at 12.8mm. The company also says it weighs 2.62 pounds. There’s also no fan inside, so the laptop should run dead-silent at all times.

It’s clear from the new Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro that the company is still pushing the design in new directions.

Silver and orange will be returning as color options, with Lenovo adding a “Champagne Gold” version this time around as well. Note that the metal hinge is silver on all models, so it will stand out more with some color schemes than others. It’s quite noticeable, even on the silver model.

Lenovo says they’re launching the Yoga 3 Pro as a Best Buy exclusive. It packs an Intel Core M-70 processor, with a 256GB SSD, up to 8GB of RAM, and the same 3,200 × 1,800 resolution screen found in the Yoga 2 Pro. We’re still convinced that this many pixels is overkill for a laptop with a 13.3-inch screen, especially since you’ll get significantly shorter battery life. Besides, you won’t actually see the extra pixels that the Yoga 3 Pro has to push unless you’re holding its display a few inches from your face. This is an issue we talked about with last year’s model.

However, what you lose with battery life due to the presence of the super high-resolution display is somewhat offset by the inclusion of Intel’s low-power Core M processor. The Core M CPU helps the Yoga 3 Pro achieve a claimed battery life rating of up to nine hours. Still, most users would be better off with a 1080p screen, which could allow the Yoga 3 Pro to achieve roughly 11 to 12 hours of endurance. Perhaps a 1080p model will be announced sometime in the future.

Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro

That being said, the screen looks great. For what it’s worth, you may appreciate the extra pixels in tablet mode when reading magazines, or when editing large images, and video.

Flashy hinge

The Yoga 3 Pro’s most distinctive new feature is its metallic hinge, which looks a fair bit like a watch band that’s stretched out to about 12 inches. While it definitely looks different, it works roughly the same way that the previous hinge does, allowing you to fold the screen back a full 360 degrees, or to any point in between.

Rather than employing a pair of connection points, as most laptop hinges do, this hinge connects the screen to the base at four points. Hopefully, that means it’s more durable than other hinges, but only time (and public customer complaints) will tell.

The hinge also gives off a different kind of aesthetic vibe than what we’re used to seeing from a laptop or convertible, probably because it looks more like high-class jewelry. Unfortunately, it doesn’t match the rest of the device. The Yoga 3 Pro’s lid and bottom are made from a softer-hued painted metal that looks nice enough, but doesn’t mesh well with the hinge (at least on the silver and gold models Lenovo showed off to us).

The orange version may look better with the shiny silver hinge since its color scheme is loud to begin with. Still, we’d rather Lenovo either make the color of the hinge match the laptop’s lid, or make a silver model that’s just as shiny as the hinge.

Plenty of ports, joined by an innovative charger

It’s always tough to stick lots of ports on a super-thin device, especially since you need to devote some room to essentials, like the power connector. However, Lenovo manages to pack in a healthy connectivity roster. The Yoga 3 Pro features two USB 3.0 ports, a USB 2.0 port, an SD card reader, and a Micro HDMI port.

There’s room for all of this because the laptop’s yellow USB 2.0 port (which is located on the left edge, near the back) also doubles as its power connector. Plus, the company has notched the connector, so you can’t accidentally plug it into the wrong port.

The Yoga 3 Pro’s power brick is not much larger than the one you might use to charge your phone. Plus, the power cable’s connector is of the USB variety. So when you’re on the road and not charging your laptop, you can use the Yoga 3 Pro’s charger to juice up your smartphone or tablet.

This is a nice feature, but it also means that it will be easier to lose (or simply forget to bring with you). While it looks a lot like a standard USB cable, it’s proprietary.

We would also like to see a second USB port on the charger, so you can charge your mobile device while also charging the Yoga 3 Pro.

Familiar keyboard, dimpled wrist wrest

It doesn’t seem like Lenovo has changed much in the input devices department since it released the Yoga 2 Pro. The Yoga 3 Pro’s keys are well spaced, have a decent amount of travel, and are backlit. The touchpad, while not overly large, feels solid, and worked well when we used it.

With the Yoga 3 Pro, Lenovo is opting for a soft-touch, dimpled surface that does a decent job of resisting finger smudges.

With the Yoga 3 Pro, Lenovo is opting for a soft-touch, dimpled surface that does a decent job of resisting finger smudges. We welcome that change.

As you can see in our photos, there’s JBL Audio branding above the keyboard. Hopefully, this means Lenovo and JBL put some extra effort into the listening experience here. In a laptop this thin, we’re not holding out high hopes for a huge amount of volume or bass, but we’ll have to wait for a final review unit to make a solid judgment on the Yoga 3 Pro’s audio chops. A press room full of people isn’t a great place to judge sound quality.

Conclusion

At $1,349, the Yoga 3 Pro is an expensive laptop, especially considering that you can buy simple systems like sub-$300 Chromebooks, and HP’s $200 Stream laptop. From a design standpoint though, the Yoga 3 Pro is the most innovative convertible laptop we’ve come across in a long time. Though we’re not entirely sold on the look of the Watchband hinge, it seems to work well, and will likely be more durable than the hinges found on previous versions.

If you’re in the hunt for a light, high-end laptop that also doubles as a tablet, the Yoga 3 Pro could be one of the best options out there. Keep in mind that, when in tablet mode, the unit is still fairly heavy.

Still, we’ll have to perform some actual benchmark tests, and spend some more time with the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro before passing full judgment on it.

For starters, we want to see how the Core M processor performs. The 5Y70 chip that’s in the Yoga 3 Pro is currently the highest-end version of Intel’s latest low-voltage CPUs. However, it’s still a dual-core processor with a base clock speed of just 1.1GHz. Hopefully, the Yoga 3 Pro can hit its top Turbo Boost speed of 2.6GHz when you tax the system heavily without throttling down due to the system’s fanless design.

Then again, these chips were designed to live in fanless tablets and convertibles. So, if Intel knows what it’s doing (and it usually does), heat and performance problems shouldn’t be major issues with the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro.

Highs

  • Extremely thin and light
  • Distinctive hinge
  • Innovative, compact charger

Lows

  • Expensive
  • Shiny silver hinge won’t appeal to everyone
  • 3,200 × 1,800 screen shortens battery life
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Grow veggies indoors and shower more efficiently

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Computing

Microsoft’s Presidents Day Sale cuts price of some Surface laptops by up to $200

It is a great time to save on Windows 10 laptops. Microsoft's retail store is running a sale on some of the best tablets and laptops, cutting pricing by up to $200 on the Surface Laptop 2 and more.
Computing

Best Buy’s latest sale takes up to $300 off the best Chromebooks

Looking to purchase a new Chromebook? You're in for some luck. Best Buy's latest sale is taking up to $300 off some of the best premium Chromebooks, including the HP Chromebook x2.
Computing

Looking for a new laptop? These 5 notebooks are on sale through Presidents’ Day

If you're ready to ditch your aging notebook, you can score some fantastic Presidents' Day savings right now on Microsoft's Surface Pro 6, Dell's XPS 13, HP's Spectre x360, Lenovo's Yoga C930, and Dell's G5 15 Gaming laptops.
Deals

Take $250 off the HP Spectre x360 laptop with this Presidents’ Day sale

If you're hoping for something more powerful that will last more than a few months, you'll probably need to invest $1,000 or more. Unless, of course, you take advantage of the Presidents' Sale on the HP Spectre x360 13t.
Web

Are you one of the billions who have watched these super-popular YouTube videos?

Viral videos can quickly garner millions upon millions of views, but even they fall well behind the view counts on the most watched YouTube videos ever. Those have been watched billions of times.
Business

Marriott asking guests for data to see if they were victims of the Starwood hack

Marriott has created an online form to help you find out if your data was stolen in the massive Starwood hack that came to light toward the end of 2018. But take note, it requires you to submit a bunch of personal details.
Computing

Windows updates shouldn't cause problems, but if they do, here's how to fix them

Windows update not working? It's a more common problem than you might think. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to troubleshoot it and in this guide we'll break them down for you step by step.
Computing

Speed up your system by tweaking the startup application in Windows and MacOS

Bothered by programs that automatically start when you boot your computer, or want to add a new one to the list? Here's how to change your startup programs in Windows 7, 8, and 10, along with Apple's MacOS.
Computing

Apple may go big with a redesigned 16-inch MacBook Pro, 31.6-inch 6K display

In a research note, well-respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo writes that there are indications the company could be releasing a 16-inch MacBook Pro, as well as a 31.6-inch 6K display in 2019.
Computing

Accidental Amazon listings provides peek at cost of GTX 1660 Ti PCs

An accidental listing on Amazon provided a peek at the final cost of some of the new Windows 10 desktops with the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti on board, with prices possibly in the $1,200 range.
Deals

The best Presidents’ Day sales 2019: Amazon, Walmart, Dell, and more

Presidents' Day sales are a great chance to score electronics, clothing, home and office stuff, and other goodies at a discount. We’ve smoked out a large handful of the best of these Presidents' Day deals, from tech to bedding, to help…
Computing

Nvidia promises DLSS at low resolutions will be ‘top priority’ in future updates

Nvidia's deep learning super sampling needs work. Gamers know it and now we know Nvidia knows it too. The company made it clear on the technology's FAQ page that it plans to make fixing DLSS a top priority.
Computing

All signs point to a new Apple external display in 2019. Will it be 6K or 8K?

Will there be an Apple Display 2019? It looks like Apple is getting ready to announce a new monitor, after canceling its old Thunderbolt Display back in 2016. But what will this new display look like? Here's what we know.