Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro review: The Android tablet with a twist
Lenovo unveiled a revamp of its entire range of Yoga range of tablets at the IFA technology show earlier this year, and of these the Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro stood out as the most eye-catching.
It’s a reworking of the crazy projector tablet concept that debuted with the Lenovo Yoga Tab 2 Pro in 2014, with a few key refinements. The first of these is the output power of the integrated DLP projector, which can now display a 1080p image measuring 70in across the diagonal on your wall, where the Tab Pro 2 could only manage 50in.
The second is a change in the positioning of the projector unit itself. Where the Yoga Tab 2 Pro’s projector pointed sideways out of the end of the tablet’s cylindrical spine, the Tab 3 Pro’s is mounted in the centre of that spine.
It’s a far more sensible position and has one key side benefit: since the spine rotates as part of the tablet’s built-in kickstand, it’s possible to adjust the position of the projector up and down, or even point it at the ceiling by folding the stand all the way out and lying the tablet flat on its back.
Lenovo Yoga Tab Pro 3: The Netflix effect
I can hear the howls of the derision already, so the next question I’m going to answer is why? Why on earth would you want to do such a thing? Well, despite the “Pro” moniker, Lenovo seemingly doesn’t see customers using it for presentations; instead, its tagline for the tablet is the “Ultimate video tablet, optimised for Netflix”.
So, Netflix comes pre-installed (although you’ll still need to add your account details), and Lenovo has certainly thought through the practicalities. Automatic keystoning ensures the image always looks rectangular on the wall or ceiling, and the software-driven focus control works well.
The key question here surrounds the quality of the projector itself, and on this front the Yoga Tab 3 Pro fails to convince. As with many other pocket or “pico” projectors, its brightness output is limited to a mere 50 lumens; next to even the cheapest meeting room projectors, which are typically rated at around 3,000 lumens, it’s pathetically dim.
In practical terms, that means you’ll need to dim the lights and draw the blinds to get a usable image out of it, and if you want to enjoy watching a movie on Netflix, be prepared to switch off the lights entirely.
Its other weakness surrounds its optics: despite endlessly fiddling with the focus control, I was never able to eliminate a slight softness to the image. This isn’t too much of a problem while watching movies or TV shows but if you’re thinking of using it for presentations, be warned: it won’t present your sales pitch in the most professional of light.
Lenovo Yoga Tab Pro 3: Specifications and battery life
Still, there aren’t too many other products that will let you watch movies on a 70in screen while lying flat on your back in hotel room, and the hardware elsewhere is decent enough.
It is smaller than its predecessor, with a 10.1in screen instead of 13.3in, and this means it’s both more lightweight and more portable. The quad-HD resolution (2,560 x 1,600, 299ppi) of that display ensures a crisp and sharp image, and first impressions are good, with pleasingly saturated colours contrasting with deep, dark black.
In testing, it hit a top brightness of 453cd/m2 and it’s capable of covering 84% of the sRGB colour gamut. These are respectable numbers, but nothing special. What they can’t convey is just how vibrant and colourful the screen looks you first clap eyes on it. It’s just superb.
The Yoga Tab Pro 3 sounds amazing, too. Just below the screen sits an array of JBL-branded stereo speakers, which can produce a “virtualised Dolby Atmos experience” and there’s support for Dolby Digital Plus. There’s no hint of surround sound here, virtualised or not, and very little bass, but the speakers do go incredibly loud for a tablet of this size. Even if you don’t have a Bluetooth speaker to hand, you won’t be straining to pick out the voices in a movie soundtrack with this tablet.
Finally, the tablet looks swish, with a cushioned faux leather finish on the rear lending it a surprisingly sophisticated appearance, and smart grey plastic and metal everywhere else.
Lenovo Yoga Tab Pro 3 review: Stand and deliver
The Yoga Tab 3 Pro’s second trademark feature is its built-in kickstand. Wrapped around the slender, cylindrical spine that runs along one of the tablet’s long edges, this unlatches from the rear at the click of a button and rotates stiffly outwards, allowing the tablet to be propped up at a range of different angles.
You can prop it up at a shallow angle for easy typing, or at a steep angle for more comfortable movie watching. The spine also provides a secure grip by which to hold the tablet, and the hole in the stand’s centre even allows it to be hung from a hook and used as a picture frame, although I can’t see this being a particularly common scenario.
The cylindrical spine has a third purpose beyond housing the projector and hinge mechanism, however. It houses the tablet’s enormous 10,200mAh battery, which Lenovo says will deliver battery life of up to 18 hours continuous use, while reading. In a more demanding video rundown test I wasn’t able to achieve that level of stamina, but the Yoga Tab Pro 3 did last 11hrs 55mins, which is a reasonably good showing.
Elsewhere, there’s also 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage with microSD expansion, plus 13-megapixel rear and 5-megapixel front cameras. The tablet is even splashproof – although its IP21 rating means it won’t survive much of a soaking.
Lenovo Yoga Tab Pro 3 review: Performance and software
Powering the Yoga Tab Pro 3 is a 2.2GHz quad-core 14nm Intel Atom x5-Z8500 chip, which forms part of the range of processors formerly code-named Cherry Trail. It’s a beefy unit – only one step behind the Atom X7 processor found in the Microsoft Surface 3 – and the benchmark results place it slightly ahead of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 overall, although it lags behind the Nexus 9 for its graphics performance.
Lenovo Yoga Tab Pro 3
Samsung Galaxy Tab S2
Geekbench 3 – single-core
Geekbench 3 – multi-core
GFXBench 3 – Manhattan onscreen
GFXBench 3 – Manhattan offscreen
Benchmarks, however, only tell part of the story, and it quickly became apparent that in real world use, Lenovo’s Android skin, which sits on top of the otherwise perfectly capable Android 5.1, was holding the tablet back.
It simply doesn’t feel as responsive as I’ve come to expect from the best tablets. Scrolling up and down in complex web pages, for instance, doesn’t feel as snappy and smooth as it should, pulling down the notifications menu from the top of the screen stuters in a most disconcerting way, and there’s keyboard lag as well.
To compound those issues, I found a lot of my standard Android apps refused to install due to compatibility issues with the Intel chipset, and Lenovo also burdens the tablet with a lot of unnecessary app bloat.
Lenovo Yoga Tab Pro 3 review: Verdict and price
It’s a shame about the software side of things and the projector, because otherwise the Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro is a decent tablet. It has a fabulous screen, good all-round performance and battery life, and the speakers are amazing.
For £399, however, I’d want a bit more than just an decent tablet – I’d want the very best tablet Android money can buy. That, unfortunately, isn’t quite what the Lenovo Yoga Tab Pro 3 delivers.