Lenovo Yoga 3 Review (14-inch model): Better is Bigger

by Reads (37,795)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Software & Support
    • 9
    • Upgrade Capabilities
    • 6
    • Usability
    • 7
    • Design
    • 9
    • Performance
    • 7
    • Features
    • 7
    • Price/Value Rating
    • 7
    • Total Score:
    • 7.43
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Overview

  • Pros

    • Unique multipurpose and lightweight form factor
    • Above average battery life
    • Good quality speakers
    • Speedy SSD storage
  • Cons

    • Display could be brighter
    • Size makes it daunting in tablet mode

Lenovo has brought back their largest variant of the Yoga series for a third round. This light and versatile computer packs a 14-inch touchscreen display, solid battery life, and is well suited for casual users and road warriors alike. Following up on what has worked in the past, the Yoga 3 14 convertible tablet continues its prior success in being a well rounded machine at a respectable price.

This convertible laptop certainly delivers more Windows PC performance than a Microsoft Surface 3, but does the 14-inch screen make it too big in tablet mode? Keep reading for our full report.

The Yoga 3 14 offers clean looks and solid performance.

The Yoga 3 14 offers clean looks and solid performance.

 

Build and Design

The Yoga 3 14 employs a remarkably thin (0.7 inch) and rigid frame which exhibits little to no chassis flex. This is largely due to the magnesium-aluminum alloy body which excels at repelling fingerprints as well as providing a sturdy resting place for hands. Lenovo’s Yoga series is designed with four distinct modes of use in mind, traditional laptop, tent, stand, and tablet. Based on what position is selected, the computer will automatically enable and disable features or rotate the screen.

The lid is ringed with soft rubber that has a knurled texture to help guard against wear and tear. A gentle curve continues as it covers all of the computer’s edges; those same curved edges mean the Yoga 3 14 lends itself to being held as a tablet. The entire typing surface is solid in laptop mode, making this laptop an excellent example of Lenovo’s business-class build quality.

The Yoga 3 14’s ability to open its display a full 360 degrees stems directly from its well-engineered zinc alloy hinges. There is ample resistance to help lock the screen into any desired position which will even allow the display to be used as a kick stand. Despite their somewhat oval shape, the hinges stay flush at any position.

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Using a 14-inch tablet is both fun and daunting. The Windows button at the bottom of the screen allows for easy navigation in Windows 8.1. Held horizontally, the Yoga 3 14 is a breeze to use and great for videos. Unfortunately, we found ourselves inadvertently bumping its side mounted power button (a problem that proved to be both common and annoying). Flipping it 90 degrees, however, turns it into what feels like an uncomfortably tall e-reader.  Furthermore, it’s easy to notice the sometimes warm exhaust if you place your fingers between the Yoga’s hinges.

Ports and Features

The Yoga 3 14 isn’t designed to deliver the same variety of ports as one of Lenovo’s 15-inch workstations, but this convertible still packs more than enough to satisfy most users on the go. You’ll find two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 port, a memory card reader, a dual-purpose 3.5mm headset jack that also works with headphones or external speakers, and a micro HDMI port. Bottom line, this convertible notebook has most of the bases covered. This might be bigger than a Microsoft Surface 3 or 3 Pro, but you get more ports with that extra bulk.

On the left side you’ll find a dual-purpose AC power adapter jack that also doubles as a USB 2.0 port furthest on the left; distinguished by its slightly jagged shape. The unusual shape of this USB port prevents the corresponding charger from being inserted into any of the other USB ports. We should also mention that while charging the Yoga 3 it is not possible to use that USB port. Next is an additional USB 3.0 port, 3.5mm audio jack and full-size SD card reader.

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On the right side on the furthest left is the power/charge light indicator light followed closely by the small and discrete power button. As you move to the right you’ll find the volume buttons, which provide an easy way to adjust the audio no matter what mode the computer has been folded into.  There are also two additional ports on the right side, a micro HDMI (which will require a dongle/adapter) and an additional USB 3.0 port.

Screen and Speakers

The Yoga 3 14 comes equipped with a vivid 1920×1080 IPS display panel capable of handling up to 10 simultaneous touch inputs.  A stylus is optional, but the Yoga 3 14 has no slot to store it. Viewing angles are in line with what one might expect from a tablet with an IPS display. Colors only begin to distort at the most extreme viewing angles.

In addition to its solid frame, the Yoga 3 14 is made sturdier by its alloy hinges and Dragontrail glass. This newest variant of scratch resistant glass shows even less fingerprints than your average Smartphone. The Yoga’s hinges operate precisely and smoothly, stopping at any location along its 360-degree path. There is little to no wobble, even when using the touchscreen in its stand or laptop orientation.

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The Yoga 3 14’s glossy display was viewable in bright environments. However, at only 300 nits of brightness it might not fare as well outdoors as its smaller brother which output numbers closer to 400 nits. Images are sharp with exceptional contrast. While watching Guardians of the Galaxy in 1080p we observed that some of the blues and greens were a bit flat; yellows and reds, by contrast appeared saturated.

The bottom mounted speakers on the Yoga 3 14 are by no means loud, generating just enough decibels to make videos and music audible in a conversation filled room. However, the Waves Audio processing is quite exceptional at producing consistent sound no matter how the notebook is positioned; which is important for any multi-use device. Moreover, the actual sound representation is generally excellent, capable of accurately recreating all but the lowest bass notes.

The 720p Webcam located at the top of the display is rather low resolution by today’s standards, but will more than suffice for the occasional Skype call.

DSC_0291Keyboard and Touchpad

Lenovo used their traditional Chiclet style keyboard with the Yoga 3 14. The team at Notebook Review didn’t have any issues finding the correct keys while touch typing despite a few keys being smaller than normal (such as the right shift and backspace keys). The key travel is minimal but still manages to provide some decent tactile feedback especially when compared to some other ultra portables.

Most users will feel at home in front of the Yoga 3 14’s backlit keyboard, but it should be noted that all the function keys across the top are set to shortcuts for features by default. While this makes dimming the display or entering airplane mode easier, people who use the function keys for traditional keyboard shortcuts will have to makes some changes.  

DSC_0292The trackpad on the Yoga 3 14 is quite large; measuring in at 4 x 2.75 inches. In addition to supporting many of the now standard multi-finger gestures such as scrolling and right clicking, the track pad also is capable of performing some of the same shortcuts as the touch screen. Swiping from off the edge will bring up the corresponding Windows 8 menu or feature, especially useful for users who may not want to smudge up their screens. This is made easy by the fact that that the trackpad is nearly flush with the palm rests, outlined only by a thin chrome bezel.

In a nod to Apple’s trackpad design, the Yoga 3 14 lacks physical mouse buttons. Instead, a small portion of the bottom of the trackpad has been separated by a thin red to represent the areas that serve as buttons if physically clicked. The matte surface is smooth and easy to slide fingers across until you apply pressure, which can make clicking and dragging slightly cumbersome.



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