Lenovo might have just closed the deal on acquiring IBM’s x86 server business for $2.1 billion, but it was the new Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro that got our attention when Lenovo gave us an early look at its latest products in New York a few weeks ago.
Lenovo has been teasing everyone with a mostly blank product page on its website for the Yoga 3 Pro multimode Ultrabook. The Yoga 2 Pro was extremely successful for Lenovo so it was only logical to update it after Intel updated its processors. At last, Lenovo has finally unveiled the new Yoga 3 Pro ($1,349), and it’s clear that this Ultrabook is geared toward people who value style as much as performance.
The Yoga 3 Pro carries over some of the same design elements that made the Yoga 2 Pro so popular, but you only need to glance at the Ultrabook to notice that it’s even thinner and lighter and features a radical new “watchband hinge” that’s unlike anything we expected from the people who make the ThinkPad.
It’s All In The Wrist Watchband
While we are pleased to see that the new Yoga 3 Pro is 17 percent thinner than its predecessor (making this Ultrabook thinner than a #2 pencil when open), our eyes kept coming back to the hinge. As it turns out, it’s actually a key element for keeping the Yoga 3 Pro so thin and light.
The new watchband hinge is built from more than 800 pieces of steel and aluminum. This design offers greater flexibility and flatness than the hinge on the original Yoga while also providing greater stability over the entire length of the screen (the screen is connected to the notebook chassis in six places now instead of two). The notebook can now be folded completely flat, thanks to the hinge’s structure (unlike the Yoga 2 Pro, where the screen and the chassis rested at slightly different heights when the notebook was open flat).
On a side note, the silver watchband hinge looks surprisingly cool and contrasts nicely against all three available colors of the Yoga 3 Pro (Clementine Orange, Platinum Silver, or Champagne Gold). Still, because this is a Lenovo product, we would have liked to see an all-black version.
More Than Just Bling
The premium fit and finish of the Yoga 3 Pro goes beyond the fancy hinge. When you open the laptop, you’ll find a textured soft touch palm rest with a golf ball type pattern that wraps up around the backlit keyboard. The keyboard itself features a simple chiclet-style layout and each key has a soft texture with good feedback when pressed. The LED backlighting is nicely done with even illumination so the keys can be seen in the dark.
The touchpad is a clickpad with integrated buttons beneath the multitouch surface. The pre-production unit that we looked at featured Synaptics touchpad drivers, and the cursor movement was smooth while gesture recognition was likewise flawless.
We should also mention that Lenovo engineers have come up with an interesting charging solution for the Yoga 3 Pro: a USB port. It took a moment for the stunned expression to leave our faces, but Lenovo uses one of the USB ports on the Yoga 3 Pro to charge the notebook. The AC power adapter has what looks like a fairly normal USB cable with a little “nub” on one end so you can tell the difference between your power cord and a normal USB cable. You can plug in USB devices to the same port if you don’t need to charge your laptop’s battery. Our initial tests with the pre-production unit suggest that a standard USB cable can be used to charge the Yoga 3 Pro … as long as you can connect the other end to a power source with enough voltage.
The QHD+ 3200×1800 IPS display is bright and clear with fantastic viewing angles so the screen looks good from any angle (important when a notebook is designed to move between Laptop mode, Stand mode, Tent mode, or Tablet mode).
We have mixed feelings about the screen surface. On one hand, it’s made of Corning Gorilla Glass so the screen can survive abuse while traveling, but the glossy screen surface makes for nasty reflections and glare under bright lights.
The heart of the Yoga 3 Pro is a brand new Intel Core M-5Y70 processor (4M Cache, dual-core with hyperthreading, up to 2.60 GHz), up to 8 GB of RAM, a 256 GB solid state drive for storage, and Intel integrated HD Graphics 5300. Lenovo promises the Yoga 3 Pro has a battery life of up to nine hours when connected via high-speed 802.11 a/c Wi-Fi. We’ll put that claim and the new hardware to the test as soon as we can get a production-level unit in our test lab.
The Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro will be available at the end of October at Best Buy and www.lenovo.com. Models start at an MSRP of $1,349 USD.