Lenovo Yoga 3 review: A powerful, flexible hybrid
Clap your eyes on the Yoga 3’s touchscreen display and first impressions are good. The combination of a Full HD resolution and IPS panel technology means images look crisp and colours are consistent from every angle – an essential trait for a display designed to be used in laptop, tablet and stand modes. The high-gloss finish also does its bit to make images pop off the screen.
Look with a more discerning eye, however, and it’s clear Lenovo has cut a few corners. Contrast hits an impressive ratio of 1,193:1, but brightness tops out at a low 240cd/m2 – not much better than we’d expect from a budget laptop. Colours don’t look as punchy as we’d expect for an £800 device, and the tendency to crush darker greys into black doesn’t help matters, either. Watch a moodily lit movie and you’ll be left wondering what’s happening in the shadows.
Further testing provided a solid reason for the Yoga 3’s middling image quality: the IPS display reproduces only 60% of the range of colours in the sRGB standard. Images still look reasonably natural, and there are no horrible tints to speak of, but my usual test images looked dull and lacking in oomph.
It’s a tad disappointing that Lenovo hasn’t used the Yoga 3’s size to its advantage; connectivity is no better than on more compact devices, with only two USB 3 ports available for connecting peripherals.
There is one small consolation. Since the power supply connects via a proprietary USB cable, you can use the socket as a supplementary USB 2 port when you’re not charging the device. The micro-HDMI connection seems silly, though. There’s no shortage of space for a full-sized port and, just like Apple’s MacBook Pro with Retina display, the Yoga 3’s SD card reader leaves the card jutting out by a centimetre or so.
There’s nothing to complain about elsewhere, though. The presence of 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4 is welcome, and even the 0.9-megapixel webcam is usable. Its tendency to underexpose images is easily fixed by tweaking the Exposure control in Windows, and images are crisp enough for video chats – even if they do fizz with noise and edge-enhancement artifacts.
Keyboard, touchpad and touchscreen
The Yoga 3’s keyboard and touchpad are hardly the best of breed. The keyboard feels good thanks to the snappy feedback from the rubberised, backlit keys, but they’re also a touch on the small side. The layout takes some getting used to, primarily due to the row of buttons to the right of the Enter key. I often found myself hitting the End or PageUp keys by mistake.
The touchpad is mediocre at best, with a surface that has a little too much friction to deliver smooth cursor control, and a buttonless design that’s plain aggravating. It’s so bad I frequently resorted to using the touchscreen instead. Thankfully, the touchscreen is more sensitive, responsive and accurate.
I’m something of a fan of Lenovo’s Yoga range, but the Yoga 3 falls a long way short of my expectations. On an £800 laptop, I’d expect a great display and good ergonomics as standard – the Yoga 3 simply doesn’t deliver on these fronts.
It’s too bulky to use effectively as a tablet, and the ergonomic shortcomings and middling screen leave it flailing as a laptop substitute. My advice? Buy the Asus Zenbook UX303LA instead. It’s faster, better-looking and far more refined.
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