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Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro review: A potential Surface Pro 3 killer with a fancy new hinge

Gordon Ung | Nov. 14, 2014
It's the thinnest convertible laptop to date with a beautiful screen, and packs Intel's new Core M chip too.

Thinner and lighter
Lenovo says the Yoga 3 Pro is 17 percent thinner and 15 percent lighter than its predecessor. It's officially 2.62 lbs, 13 inches wide, 9 inches deep and 0.5-inch thick. It's so thin, in fact, Lenovo claims it's the thinnest convertible notebook in ze vorld!

That's technically true, I suppose, but I'll point out before the peanut gallery does that the Surface 3 Pro is 0.36-inch thick. However... the problem with that Microsoft spec is it doesn't include the Type Cover keyboard. And, I'm sorry, without the keyboard, the Surface Pro 3 is essentially useless for most real work. So the Surface Pro 3's effective width (keyboard cover and all) is 0.55-inch, and thus the Yoga 3 Pro is ze vinner!

Lenovo has made a few other nip-tucks to the Yoga 3 Pro. There's now one more USB 3.0 port than the Yoga 2 Pro, plus a handy combo USB 2.0 and charging jack. Lenovo also moved the power button back, responding to complaints from people who hit the old button by mistake, putting the machine to sleep.

In my experience, though, the new power button placement isn't enough--the button protrudes slightly and is still too easy to hit. At this point, it might be wiser to recess the button more, or move to a slide switch. I also had issues with the Windows button integrated into the display: It requires so much pressure, the laptop slides back half an inch when I try to activate it. I suspect it's a problem with my review unit, as others haven't reported similar issues.

In our review of the Yoga 2 Pro, we dinged the unit for having a shallow keyboard with insufficient key travel. The problem persists in the Yoga 3 Pro. The machine's thin profile certainly presents challenges for keyboard design, but nonetheless, typing on the backlit keyboard takes some getting used to. It's always a bit jarring when the keys bottom out too soon. The trackpad, fortunately, offers the same silky-smooth experience that Lenovo delivered in the Yoga 2 Pro.

Other specs? For those keeping score, the review unit I received featured a 256GB Lite-On M.2 SSD, 8GB of low-power DDR3 RAM, a 720p web cam, 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.0 radios, and Windows 8.1.

Enter Intel Core M
Besides the watchband hinge, the real big news is the CPU: Intel's new Core M 5Y70, aka Broadwell. This 5th-generation chip's main claim to fame is lower power consumption. In fact, Intel says the Core M 5Y70 in the Yoga 3 Pro is rated at 4.5 watts versus the 15 watts of the Haswell-based Core i5 chips in the Surface Pro 3 and the previous Yoga. The Core M 5Y70 in the Yoga 3 Pro features an upgraded graphics core (Intel's HD 5300) and a base clock of 1.1GHz, with the ability to crank up speeds to 2.6GHz when needed.

 

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