Big-screen Android tablets are starting to look like bison on the Great Plains once the West was settled: thin on the ground. In 2015, we’re seeing fewer and fewer new full-size Android slates (models with screens around 10 inches) than ever. Part of the reason? The bar for these tabs is already pretty high.
The 2015 models we have seen, such as Dell’s Venue 10 7000 and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S2 9.7, are elegant, high-performing devices for media consumption. Also, some of them, such as the Venue 10 7000 and the topic of today’s review, Lenovo’s $499.99-MSRP Yoga Tab 3 Pro, are constructed quitewell, with a balanced, polished solidity to them.
Similar to the Venue 10 7000, many of the Yoga Tab 3 Pro 10.1’s most impressive features center around a tube-like appendage, or in the case of the Yoga, what’s called a “barrel hinge.” In the case of the Venue 10 model, the cylindrical portion was used to fasten Dell’s accessory keyboard to the actual tablet. The barrel hinge on the Yoga Tab 3, on the other hand, connects a thin metal “kickstand,” as shown in the image below, to the slate. But that’s hardly all it does.
In fact, aside from this slate’s gorgeous 2,560×1,600-pixel screen, much of its pizzazz and unique functionality stem from that hinge and what’s inside it. The slate’s barrel contains a larger battery than the one on the Yoga Tablet 2 of the same screen size, for a terrific showing in our battery-life testing. Also, the speakers have been updated significantly, and this Yoga has a miniature projector built in for sharing the screen contents with others, flashed onto the doors and walls of your home or office. This kind of tablet-integrated “pico” projector made its debut in the earlier Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro, which was a 13.3-inch Android from 2014. We’ll discuss the projector a little later in this review, but it’s by far the least common feature in this tablet.
Nearly every aspect of this classy tablet is new and improved. Compared to the competitors of the day, its Intel Atom processor, one of the company’s late-model “Cherry Trail”-family chips, performs relatively fast and seemingly glitch-free. With a pleather backing and a few other external refinements, the Tab 3 Pro is a little heavier than the Yoga Tab 2 of the same screen size was. But considering that this slate is designed to either prop up on (or hang from) its built-in kickstand—this slate’s other defining feature—and that the tubular portion is easy to grip, the extra weight is not a huge demerit.
The bottom line for this tablet? Like Apple’s iPad Airs or Samsung’s Galaxy Tabs, it’s designed as a media-consumption device, primarily for movies, YouTube, Netflix, and other media sites and services that serve up digital video. As you’ll see in the Performance section later on, it also did better than we expected on our gaming performance tests, suggesting that it might fare better than most others on high-end, resource-intensive games down the line.
Our one major quibble we have with the Yoga Tab 3 Pro isn’t with the tablet proper but with one of the design decisions that affects the accessory prospects of this tablet: the lack of a detachable keyboard. Because of the barrel-like kickstand hinge, it’s not possible to snap an accessory keyboard onto this tablet to turn it into an impromptu Android-based laptop. For a tablet that has “Pro” in its name, we found that a bit of a disconnect; we’d expect a “Pro” tablet to offer at least thepossibility for keyboard-based productivity work. You can, of course, always supply a third-party, separate Bluetooth keyboard of your own, but it will always be, at best, a near match and a separate piece to wrestle with.
That said, as we’ll get into in the next section, this lack of a native keyboard accessory isn’t necessarily a drawback; this is a tablet that’s all about watching video. If you use it for its intended purpose most of the time—media consumption—the Tab 3 Pro will serve you as an impressive slate that’s likely worth the price, so long as you’re not jonesing after one of Apple’s iPads. (Those top tablets, the iPad Air and iPad Air 2, come in around the same price.)
Read the entire review at Computer Shopper