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
Product Review

Flexible and fast, HP's Spectre x360 is the 2-in-1 for every occasion

HP’s late-2017 refresh of the Spectre x360 13 convertible 2-in-1 leverages Intel’s eighth-generation CPUs for significantly improved performance and battery life. The thin and light frame is also tweaked, and looks better than ever.
Mobile

How does fast charging work? Here’s every single standard compared

Modern smartphones can charge in mere minutes instead of hours. How does fast charging work? Here's a guide to the most popular standards, including Qualcomm Quick Charge, Apple fast charging, OnePlus Dash Charge, and more.
Mobile

Apple applies for a patent on a wrap-around iPhone display

Previously, Apple was awarded a patent for a foldable phone, and the company has been rumored to be working on one. But it's not at all similar to other concepts. Here's everything we know about a folding iPhone.
Computing

Save $900 on the ThinkPad X1 Carbon and more with Lenovo’s Cyber Monday sales

In the latest set of holiday sales, Lenovo is heavily discounting its fifth-generation ThinkPad X1 Carbon and other popular Windows laptops and 2-in-1s for the holiday shopping season.
Deals

All the best Target Black Friday deals for 2018

The mega-retailer opens its doors to the most competitive shoppers at 6 p.m. on Thursday, November 22, and signs indicate that the retailer means business this year. We've sifted through all of the deals, from consumer electronics to small…
Computing

M4A is great for quality, but not for storage. Here's how to convert to MP3

Despite its remarkable ability to retain audio fidelity at a smaller size, M4a files aren't the best when it comes to compatibility. Check out our basic guide on how to convert M4a files to MP3.
Computing

Microsoft drops Surface Go price to $350 for Black Friday week

The Microsoft Surface Go convertible tablet has seen a large price drop this Black Friday sales season, lowering the base model to $350 and even the upgraded ones have seen $50 knocked off of their asking price.
Smart Home

All the best Amazon Black Friday deals for 2018

Amazon may be an online-only retailer, but that doesn’t mean its Black Friday sales are anything to sniff at. In fact, due to its online status, Amazon has huge flexibility with the range of products and deals it can offer. Here's our…
Deals

The Best Black Friday Deals from Best Buy in 2018

We've been hard at work assembling all the best Black Friday deals Best Buy offers in 2018 and putting them in one place to save you time and money this holiday season. From laptops to TVs, game consoles to smart speakers and much more…
Computing

Detangle your desk with a mighty wireless mouse. Here are our six favorites

If you're looking for the best wireless mouse on the market, we've got the list for you!. These six models have something for everyone, whether you're a hardcore gamer or simply looking to ward off carpal tunnel.
Computing

Razer takes up to $500 off of its Blade gaming laptops for Black Friday

If you're a fan of Razer's understated aesthetics that earned the Blade comparisons with Apple's laptops, you can score some big savings on Black Friday, as Razer is offering up to $500 discounts off of its gaming notebooks.
Computing

Reluctant to give your email address away? Here's how to make a disposable one

Want to sign up for a service without the risk of flooding your inbox with copious amounts of spam and unwanted email? You might want to consider using disposable email addresses via one of these handy services.
Buying Guides

Solid-state drives are speedier than hard disk drives. Are they worth it?

As the price of solid-state drives comes down, it's reached a point where it's hard to recommend a system without at least a hybrid solution. In the battle of SSD vs. HDD, a clear winner has emerged.
Computing

Service restored after glitch locks out Microsoft Office 365 business users

Microsoft reported that a problem with its system caused some users to be locked out of their accounts. Because the multifactor authentication system went down globally, some Office 365 and Azure users were unable to log in.