-Projector is very cool
-Kickstand is nice to have
-Very good battery life
-Great gaming experience
-IP21 Certification provides some protection against water
-Strong Wi-Fi antenna
-Camera is still disappointing
-Software is unstable in more than a few areas
-Performance can be inconsistent
-2 GB of RAM can be a major bottleneck for multitasking
-Slow display response time tends to cause ghosting
-Touch screen super sensitivity can’t be turned off
Back at IFA 2015 Lenovo introduced the latest members of its tablet lineup, including the successor of the unique Yoga Tablet 2 Pro. While retaining all the unique aspects of its predecessor, including the pico projector, the newest premium addition to the Yoga Tablet series brings with it further refinements to the design and build quality, while also adding features to make this tablet a true media-consumption powerhouse.
Does the latest tablet offering from Lenovo prove to be a compelling choice? We find out, in this in-depth review of the Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro!
What is noticeable right off the bat with the Yoga Tab 3 Pro is the cylinder at the bottom of the device, a signature element of the series that serves multiple purposes, including housing the kickstand, the battery, and the pico projector. The cylinder and resulting bulge does make for a handling experience that can be quite awkward initially and will take some getting used to. Thankfully Lenovo helps with the handling by utilizing a faux leather backing that allows for a lot of grip, and while the kickstand is metal, everything is held together with a plastic frame.
With the Yoga Tab 3 Pro featuring a more traditional 10.1-inch display, compared to the 13.3-inch screen of its predecessor, this tablet is definitely easier to handle, and save for the cylinder, the tablet is also impressively thin, with a thickness of just 4.68 mm. Even with its comparatively more compact nature, it is quite heavy though, with a weight of 667 grams, which means that it isn’t the most portable tablet out there. That said, contributing to this heft is the large 10,200 mAh battery that the device packs, and that is a trade-off that a lot of users should be comfortable with.
Taking a look around the device, the power button is on the right side of the cylinder, with a notification LED ring around it, and below you’ll find the microUSB port and the volume rocker. On the opposite end of the cylinder is the button to power up the pico projector, which has now been moved to just off center of the tube, instead of at the end of cylinder as seen with the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro, and below the projector button is the headphone jack. The placement of the power button and the projector button can take some getting used, and you might find yourself accidentally triggering the projector initially. Opening the kickstand reveals a plastic cover that houses the microSD card slot.
Speaking of the kickstand, it is definitely worth mentioning how good a job Lenovo continues to do with it. As mentioned, this is one of the few parts of the tablet that is made of metal, and the resulting weight does a good job in keeping the device propped up. There is a large button available to release the kickstand, and once open, you can prop the tablet up in a few different positions.
First is the stand position, which is at a relatively steep angle, making it ideal for media consumption, and there is another tilt position at a much smaller angle that lets you do everything from typing, playing games, watching videos, or browsing the web. There is also a hole in the kickstand, present to not only accommodate the release button, but is also something that lets you hang the tablet from a nail or coat rack. The last use is admittedly gimmicky, but the kickstand otherwise provides a lot of utility, and some might even want the ability to hang up the tablet for media consumption purposes.
The Yoga Tab 3 Pro is being touted as a media-consumption device, and along with the high resolution display and pico projector, rounding out the experience is the availability of four front-facing JBL speakers with Dolby Atmos technology. The unique design of the Yoga Tab 3 Pro will certainly take some getting used to, but users will definitely appreciate all the different features that the odd cylinder allows for.
The Yoga Tab 3 Pro comes with a 10.1-inch IPS LCD display with a Quad HD resolution, resulting in a pixel density of 299 ppi. The display looks fantastic, and features accurate color reproduction and great viewing angles. It is also bright enough to read in direct sunlight, although the adaptive brightness doesn’t work as well as one would hope. Given that this tablet is intended for media, users shouldn’t have anything to complain about on that front.
There are some other issues with the display experience however. While it is great that this is a “super sensitive” touch screen, which makes it possible to use while wearing gloves, a setting to turn off this feature would have been very useful. The display is often too sensitive, registering touches from things like sweatshirt sleeves and even headphone wires, which can get quite annoying, and having the option to turn it off would help. Secondly, the response time is a bit slow when scrolling between elements, which causes a noticeable ghosting effect. Finally, the display does seem prone to scratches, which is disappointing given the premium price point the device commands, and picking up a good screen protector is definitely recommended.
Performance and hardware
Under the hood, the Yoga Tab 3 Pro comes with a quad-core Intel Atom X5-Z8500 processor, clocked at 2.24 GHz, along with 2 GB of RAM. The performance of the tablet has been good for the most part, and the device can handle day to day tasks very well. Tasks like opening, closing, and switching between apps happen fairly quickly, and gaming is also excellent, further enhanced by the high resolution display, and the front-facing speaker setup that makes for a very immersive experience.
There are some hiccups along the way however, with their being occasional instances of lag that ruin the otherwise fast experience. Multi-tasking is also not as smooth as expected, and an additional gig of RAM would have likely done the trick in this case.
When it comes to storage, 32 GB of internal memory is the only option available, though it can be further expanded via microSD card by up to 128 GB. The device also comes with a standard suite of connectivity options, and while the tablet seen in this review is a Wi-Fi-only model, a version with mobile connectivity and 4G LTE support is also available for those who may want it. The device also comes with an IP21 rating for dust and water resistance, which means that you do get some form of splash protection.
Of course, the unique hardware feature of the Yoga Tab 3 Pro is the integrated pico projector, with 50 lumens brightness, and it allows for an output image of up to 70-inches, at a 480p resolution. Granted, it’s not going to rival traditional projectors, or even some of the better portable projectors out there, in terms of quality or resolution. In many ways, it is more of a novelty than anything, though it can prove useful in certain situations. If you are looking to quickly share content during a presentation or with friends, you won’t have to deal with everyone huddling around a small screen, and the projector can come in handy to watch videos as well, in a pinch.
Audio is also an area in which Lenovo does a great job with the Yoga Tab 3 Pro, and the four integrated front-facing speakers with Dolby Atmos tech certainly sound good, and get plenty loud as well. Whether you are watching videos or playing games, the speaker setup plays a role in further enhancing the overall experience.
As mentioned, packed into the cylinder of the tablet is a large 10,200 mAh battery, and as you would expect from that capacity, the Yoga Tab 3 Pro offers fantastic battery life. In my testing, I managed an average of a little over 7 hours of screen-on time, with around 36 hours of total usage. Keep in mind that was with pretty heavy usage as well, which included hours of watching YouTube videos and using the projector for around half an hour during the testing period. With more casual usage, you will certainly be able to get a lot more out of this battery. Helping the battery life is the tablet’s standby efficiency, that, with more passive usage, should keep the device running comfortably for at least a couple of days.
On paper, the Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro features quite an impressive camera package, with its 13 MP rear camera and 5 MP front-facing camera, which seems to be better than what is available with most tablets out there. However, as we’ve seen all too often in the smartphone world, the megapixel count is rarely the best indicator of quality. The camera package here is certainly an improvement over what was available with its predecessor, but images from both the rear and front-facing cameras still lack a good amount of detail, and the image quality deteriorates rapidly in even the slightest of low-light situations. As always, cameras on tablets aren’t intended to replace your primary shooters, and while it might do in a pinch, the camera of your smartphone will likely be far superior.
As far as the camera application is concerned, while there is a larger focus on ease of use, there is some amount of manual control to be found as well. As nice as that might be, the camera app itself, at least in this particular review unit, proved to be very unstable. Not only did the app frequently crash, but would sometimes refuse to take a picture altogether, with only a device restart resolving the issue. Of course, this is a software issue, and hopefully a future software update will fix this problem.
On the software side of things, the Yoga Tab 3 Pro is running Android 5.1 Lollipop out of the box, with Lenovo’s Vibe UI on top. This time around, the user interface is closer to a stock version of Android than it was in the past, with Material Design elements showing up throughout, such as in the Recent Apps screen. An app drawer is also available now, something that wasn’t there with its predecessor. There are some obvious differences however, as seen in the notification drop down, and with the app icons.
Lenovo has also kept the bloatware to a minimum here, with the tablet shipping with only a handful of third party apps pre-installed, such as Evernote and McAfee Security, and all of them can be uninstalled easily. Lenovo does add a few of its own apps in though, with the most interesting being the Sketchpad app, which takes advantage of Lenovo’s AnyPen technology that allows you to use any stylus with the device, and even something like the eraser at the end of a pencil.
There are certainly still a few areas in the software experience that could use a little more polish, but it is definitely better than what was seen with previous generation Lenovo tablets. Instances of lag and other buggy aspects can also be fixed with future software updates, which should make the overall experience even better.
|Display||10.1-inch IPS LCD display, 2560 x 1600 resolution|
|Processor||2.24 GHz quad-core Intel Atom x5-Z8500|
|Storage||32 GB on-board,
microSD expansion up to 128 GB
|Camera||13 MP rear-facing camera
5 MP front-facing camera
|Software||Android 5.1 Lollipop|
|Sound||4x front-facing speakers,
Dolby Atmos 3D Surround Sound on Speakers
|4G LTE option||Yes|
|Dimensions||247 x 179 x 4.68 mm
Pricing and final thoughts
The Yoga Tab 3 Pro is priced at $499.99 for the Wi-Fi only model, and the pricing of the 4G LTE version hasn’t been announced as yet.
So there you have it for this in-depth look at the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 3 Pro! Lenovo gets a lot right with this tablet, with the device featuring a great display, a solid audio experience, and excellent battery life. Add on bonuses like the kickstand and the pico projector, and what you get is a fantastic media-consumption device. That said, the less than stellar processing package, inconsistent performance, and software issues are a bit of a let down.
While these issues are more easily forgiven with more affordable devices, the premium price tag that the Yoga Tab 3 Pro features makes these concerns harder to ignore. If you are in the market for an excellent tablet for content consumption, you will have to look no further than the Yoga Tab 3 Pro, but for anything else, you might be better off looking elsewhere.
Next: Best Tablets of 2015