The Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro is one of the most highly anticipated laptop computers of the year.
The first two Yoga convertibles earned excellent reviews from critics and consumers. Last year's Yoga 2 Pro even won our vote for best thin-and-light laptop at the Digital Life Awards 2014.
Such was the Yoga's influence that Lenovo's PC competitors even came up with their own iterations.
The Dell Inspiron 2-in-1, the HP Pavilion x360 and the Asus Transformer Book Flip all took cues from Lenovo, by introducing a flexible hinge design that lets these devices transform into four different usage modes - laptop, stand, tablet and tent.
Naturally, these imitators have spurred Lenovo to up its game with the Yoga 3 Pro. The dual hinges on the previous Yogas have been replaced with a unique metallic hinge seemingly transplanted wholesale from a metal watch strap.
Consisting of more than 800 different aluminium and steel parts, this watchband-inspired hinge forms the spine of the laptop. Besides adding a luxurious touch, the new hinge is not as bulky as the one on its previous models.
To alleviate concerns about the sturdiness of the hinge, there are six mounting points, up from two on the older versions.
Like most touch-enabled laptops, the Yoga's touchscreen wobbles slightly when you press it in laptop mode. But overall, the screen is stable enough.
The Yoga 3 Pro is incredibly thin. When this laptop is closed, it is a mere 13mm thick. A typical ultrabook is around 17mm thick.
Unsurprisingly, the Yoga is very light for a 13-inch laptop, weighing just 1.19kg. You can easily carry it around, though one-handed use in tablet mode does get tiring after a short while.
Like its predecessor, the Yoga has an ultra-high-resolution 3,200 x 1,800-pixel screen. This is a bright screen with vivid colours and excellent viewing angles. It is also very responsive to the touch.
But such a high screen resolution creates some issues, especially in Windows Desktop mode. At its native screen resolution, icons and text on the Yoga 3 Pro are so tiny they are practically unusable.
Hence, Lenovo has set the Windows 8.1 display to resize text and other desktop items to be at their largest size.
First Intel Core M laptop
Despite the thin chassis, the keyboard on the Yoga has very decent key travel. The palm rest has a textured, dimpled finish that feels comfortable.
For new users, the keyboard layout, which merges the top Function row with the number row, takes some getting used to.
New to the third Yoga iteration is Lenovo's Harmony software. This app detects when you switch to a certain usage mode, such as tablet, and suggests suitable apps for that mode. It gets these recommendations based on usage information collected from Yoga users worldwide.
Clicking on these recommended apps brings you to the Windows Store to download them. It is useful for those who are unsure about how to use the less popular modes - tent and stand - to their fullest potential.
To make this laptop so thin though, Lenovo had to make one drastic change and that is with the new Intel Core M Processor.
This fifth-generation Intel Core M chip (codenamed Broadwell-Y) is designed for tablets and hybrid 2-in-1 devices, consumes less power and runs cooler than other Intel chips.
Unfortunately, the decreased power consumption is accompanied by a drop in performance. The Core M is clocked at 1.1GHz, though it can dynamically jump to 2.6GHz for short periods when required.
The Yoga 3 Pro scored 4,054 points in the PCMark 7 benchmark, down from the 4,641 points recorded by the previous Yoga 2 Pro, which had a high-end Intel Core i7 chip.
Compensating for the slower CPU is a fast solid-state drive, which comes in either 256GB or 512GB capacities.
As the first device to ship with Intel's new Core M processor, the Yoga 3 Pro is a key device for the chipmaker as it allows for the removal of a cooling fan, to not only make thinner and lighter devices but ones which are completely silent as well.
The Yoga 3 Pro does have a small cooling fan that runs very quietly. I did not hear the fan even when the laptop was running at full speed.
Its biggest issue is the battery life. With its screen brightness and volume at its maximum, the Yoga 3 Pro clocked just four hours in our video playback battery life test. This is inferior to last year's Haswell ultrabooks, which lasted six hours or more.
The likely culprit: its relatively low-capacity 44 watt-hour battery. The Yoga's high-resolution screen probably contributes to the lower battery life, too.
In a possible bid to conserve power when it is on battery power, the Yoga's screen automatically dims and brightens depending on the app and this gets annoying when it happens too often.
Though it is extremely stylish and slim, the latest Yoga falls short of our high expectations with its mediocre battery life and performance.
Processor: Intel Core M-5Y70 (1.1GHz)
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5300
Screen size: 13 inches, 3,200 x 1,800 pixels
Connectivity: 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, micro-HDMI, SD card slot, headphone and microphone combo jack
Battery: 44 watt-hour
Value for money: 3/5
Battery life: 3/5
This article was first published on Nov 12, 2014.
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