Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro Review: Lenovo’s distinctive Yoga Tab family just got a new member at the top of the pile in the Yoga Tab 3 Pro and it’s an interesting beast to say the least.
We’ll start with one of the most distinctive aspects of the Yoga Tab family – the design. The Tab 3 Pro, as with the rest of its brethren, brings their signature music note silhouette to the table. It’s a fairly thick device (4.68mm to 9mm along the main body) with subtle rounding on the corners, whilst along one edge forms a bulbous cylindrical section, which houses the most interesting bits of the Pro’s body.
This cylinder makes for the perfect grip in one-handed use and somewhat of a necessity considering the device’s heavy weight (665 grams). It angles the Pro towards you when laid flat on a table for improved comfort when swiping around too. Press the button on the centre of the slate’s back and the central section even rotates to reveal an integrated kickstand, letting you raise the tablet for an easier typing experience or to place it upright when enjoying media.
Before we get onto the tablet’s star feature though, there are a number of other nice details worth mentioning; like the attractive metal frame, the embossed ‘Yoga’ logo on the faux-leather back and the front facing speaker grille skirting the edge of the display (which packs four JBL speakers that offer great clarity, overall volume and respectable bass response for a mobile device).
Similarly to its predecessor, the big hook of the Tab 3 Pro is an integrated DLP pico projector, which sits inside the kickstand (rather than on the edge like last year’s model) and can be activated by a dedicated hardware key on the end (as well as a preinstalled app). This design change makes it significantly easier to position when in use as it rotates with the kickstand, although this does essentially make that section both the sturdiest and most delicate part of the tablet’s body simultaneously.
Screen and projector
If it isn’t already apparent the Yoga Tab 3 Pro places its focus on entertainment first and foremost. Perched above the aforementioned speaker bar sits a 10.1-inch QHD IPS LCD panel that on the upside is pin sharp, but on the downside is surrounded by some fairly thick bezels.
Despite the unsightly black frame however, actual picture quality is pretty solid. Lenovo has opted for a high contrast, high vibrancy display setup, so expect icons, photos and video to ‘pop’ on screen. More extreme viewing angles only suffer from minor brightness drop-off too and there’s nearly zero colour distortion, so sharing a movie with a friend shouldn’t really be an issue.
Lenovo’s also put some real thought into the projector experience, which boasts a max 50 nits brightness on an image up to 70-inches. The 854×580 resolution does mean fine detail can get lost (like small subtitles in movies) but it seldom seemed an issue during testing, with enough colour and definition to make for an enjoyable viewing experience provided you’re watching with the lights off. External light sources can wash out the image produced by this little projector really easily, so make sure you’re in the right environment for proper viewing.
The sound bar is good enough to serve your pop-up cinema experience and the rest of the tweaks on the software side. Every time you start up the projector there’s an on-screen focus wheel to sharpen up the image (which you can recall at any time by pressing the dedicated projector hardware key) and there’s also gyroscope-based keystone correction to iron out distortion so you don’t necessarily have to set the tablet down on a flat surface for viewing, (you can also alter it manually if you prefer). It’s easy and quick to set up, so you can enjoy your movies without hassle.
Whilst not yet on delicious Marshmallow, the Android 5.1-based interface Lenovo’s bundled on the Yoga 3 Pro packs plenty of features and doesn’t deviate so far from the stock Android recipe that you’ll get lost if you’re already familiar with the operating system.
The company has bundled a host of its own apps onboard as well as some choice third-party offerings to round out the experience but things thankfully don’t feel too crowded. If you want to tweak the audio output the Dolby Atmos app offers fine-grain control over EQ, with everything from customisable profiles for music, gaming and movies, to a graphic equaliser packed with presets.
Lenovo Sketchpad lets you annotate and record your screen, WPS Office should serve most users’ productivity needs and third-party experiences include Evernote, Spotify and Netflix – which has been optimised to stream HD content where possible by default.
Dip into the settings and the custom coat of UI paint gets a little thicker, with tools to schedule when the Pro powers itself on or off and an advanced multitasking mode that lets you move up to two applications around homescreens as floating windows, similar to well, Windows.
As with the company’s laptops and other fully-fledged computers, it’s Intel’s chipsets doing all the legwork inside and the Yoga Tab 3 Pro relies on an Atom x5-Z8500 quad-core processor with 2GB of RAM.
It’s fair to say that whilst the Yoga Tab 3 Pro isn’t a slow tablet, it doesn’t always feel as tightly wound as similar experiences from the likes of Apple or Sony. Sluggish UI animations and extended load times when opening apps appear more often than we’d like, but for the most part when it comes to actually enjoying content, performance isn’t really an issue. The Tab 3 Pro handled 4K video playback without trouble and 3D gaming is smooth and enjoyable too.
From what is arguably the weakest part of the experience we move to the strongest; the Pro’s battery life. That thick waistline actually conceals a huge 10200mAh cell that Lenovo quotes at putting out around 18-hours of usage per charge. In ours tests we managed two and half days of heavy use and you can managed around three feature films whilst using the projector before hitting a battery warning notice. It’s pretty impressive stuff and more conventional use would undoubtedly see it last even longer.
For an entertainment-centric device we were a little surprised by the 32GB of storage, but that should serve as enough space for a few movies, games and other media to get you started. If you want more, the kickstand conceals a microSD slot that takes cards up to 128GB more, Surface Pro 4-style.
Both the front 5-megapixel and rear 13-megapixel cameras pack surprising levels of detail in still photography and you can shoot up to Full HD video if needs be too.
There’s no image stabilisation or LED flash but there are a range of modes, a fast autofocus and alternate capture modes to play with, making it perhaps one of the more robust camera experiences for a tablet out there right now.
If you’re in the market for a well-rounded media device it’s easy to fall in love with the Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro. The performance issues and the bulky design might be deal breakers for a select few, but on the whole this thing handles like a premium tablet should and pulls together elements that are hard to find all in one place.
For £399 you get a metal-bodied tablet with an integrated kickstand, a vibrant QHD screen, great battery life, and expandable memory – that alone sounds like a good package, but the added benefit of the projector is the cherry on top of an already tempting offering from Lenovo and the most impressive Yoga tablet yet.