According to experts, over the last few years, the demand for tablets has slowed down thanks in no small part to the emergence of the phablet market. New phones that are pushing the 5.5 inch to 6 inch screen size, allowing people to combine their phones and tablets into one device. In addition, the market has been saturated with different brands of tablets with very similar form and technical specifications. To stand out in this sea of tablets means you need to push the barrier and bring something to the table that nobody else has. One such unique tablet is the Lenovo Yoga series of devices. In this article, I got a chance to look at the Yoga Tab 3 Pro…the high end entertainment tablet in this series.
First Impressions/Physical Build
Straight out of the box, the tablet felt solid and definitely felt like a premium device. It was certainly heavier than most of the other 10 inch tablets available, but was still comfortable to hold. The tablet sports a cylindrical edge on one side that houses the projector and multi-position stand. This makes it a little more natural to hold, but also has a tendency to make it a bit awkwardly balanced if you’re not holding it from this end. The other end of the tablet has a nice faux leather back for a nice premium feel, and gave the tablet a comfortable grip when holding from this end.
Holding the tablet horizontally with the cylinder base at the bottom, the power button is on the left side edge of the cylinder, along with a micro-USB port and the volume rocker on the edge of the screen. On the right side you have a button to engage/disengage the projector and the standard headphone jack. The back of the tablet has a single button that is used to release the stand which can be positioned at several different angles.
The display on the Yoga Tab 3 Pro is a 10.1 inch QHD IPS display, 2560×1600 resolution and 299 ppi. The screen was very bright and colors were vibrant. I had no issues with performance and touch reaction when using the tablet. It’s clear they wanted to make this a media heavy device, and they did a good job with the display in that regard.
Holding the device by the cylinder is surprisingly comfortable, but straying from that standard positioning makes holding the tablet a little off balance and makes the tablet get heavy very quickly. I frequently found my hands slowly dropping the top edge of the tablet if I held it from the other end.
One of the standout features for this device is the 4 front-facing JBL speakers with Dolby Atmos. These produced clear audio that you could crank up rather loud, much louder than your average tablet. While watching movies or playing games, the audio was above average for this device. Having them front facing is also a big advantage.
I was extremely impressed with the battery on this tablet. Through medium to heavy usage for work and home, I was able to make it a solid two plus days before getting down to 15% and plugging back in to charge. This included watching a movie on the projector, one on the display, and using it for work. I easily went nearly a full three days with light usage, which was very impressive. With having Fast Charging available, I found it hard to into a situation where I was concerned about battery life at all.
The cameras were slightly above average for your standard tablet camera. Pictures through the rear camera were clear and the colors were bright, but if you were expecting a powerhouse camera you’re going to be a bit disappointed. The front camera is was again average for a 5MP selfie camera. Most people don’t rely on their tablets, especially the larger 10 inch+ devices, as their primary source for pictures, so this isn’t a surprise nor a big concern from my standpoint. It’ll take pictures well enough in a pinch, but certainly isn’t at the same level as the more recent Galaxy S7 or LG G5’s; nor did I expect it to be.
The real standout feature for this tablet is the projector and built-in stand. The Yoga Tab 3 Pro has a built in 50 lumen projector that can beam images up to 70 inches wide. I was skeptical of how well this might work built-in, but I was totally blown away by how well this worked. The image was surprisingly clear even in brighter rooms. The projector is easy to enable or disable either by the use of the button on the right side or the Slide Out menu built in to the OS. My four year old was easily able to turn it on and focus the image before I even had an opportunity to explain it to her, so it was very user friendly.
Pair the projector with the versatile built-in stand and you have an amazing media device that’s going to impress just about anyone. The stand pops out from the back with the cylindrical side working as the hinge. There are no lock points for the hinge, so it relies on being tight enough to hold whatever position you move it to. While this allows for any possible angle, I worry about that hinge loosening and not holding key positions. The primary modes for the stand are:
- Hold Mode: Where the stand is fully closed and you are simply holding the tablet as you would a normal tablet.
- Stand mode: Where the stand is halfway open and the tablet is upright position for watching a movie or viewing other media.
- Tilt Mode: Again, the stand is halfway open but the tablet is laying down more for either typing or the primary position for using the projector.
- Hang Mode: Hang mode is where the stand is fully extended and you can hang the tablet by the opening in the stand.
My only real complaint with the stand was that there are no rubber bumpers in key areas to keep the tablet from sliding when using the display. This was especially obnoxious when in Stand Mode on my desk at work. It’s a minor issue compared to how useful the stand is, but it certainly worth mentioning.
Operating System and Performance
The OS on the Lenovo tablets are very close to the stock build of Android 5.1 Lollipop. As with most non-Nexus devices, there are several manufacturer specific add-ons that are meant to add versatility and usability not found in the stock builds. In particular, the MultiWindow and Smart Slide add-ons were very useful. Also included were: Double Tap Wake-Up, Bar Voice, Lenovo Sketchpad, and more. I didn’t get a chance to work with all of the Lenovo software, but what I did use worked well but the benefits will likely vary from person to person.
The Yoga Tab 3 Pro comes with 2GB RAM and 16/32GB internal memory. The 2GB RAM is a bit below some of the more recent tablets, but it still performs pretty well. I was able to run a few different performance intensive games with no issues. Dead Trigger 2 is one of my goto games and I was able to crank up the graphics detail with no drop in performance. However, after a couple days, I did start to notice some lag when opening applications and moving throughout the interface. This was easily fixed by restarting the tablet, so it could easily be an issue with the OS and not the hardware itself…or a combination. Overall I had very little problems with the OS or any of the built in software.
The Kid Factor
Occasionally, I’ll get a device in that I think my kids might enjoy, so I like to point that out when something presents itself. As much as my daughter loves watching movies, this felt like a no brainer. As I mentioned before, it was very easy to engage the projector and view whatever was on your screen in all its 70” glory. Since, naturally, my daughter is well versed in navigating Android tablets, she took to this right away and I had some trouble getting it back on occasion. While this device isn’t primarily marketed to kids, I can see it being taken over by anyone who has kids and loves watching their movies wherever they can cast a screen.
Lenovo set out to make a high end media tablet, and I think they did a great job. There’s very little to complain about with this device, and the complaints that I did have were minimal and easily overlooked next to other features. The projector is the clear premier item that sets this tablet apart from all the others, but even without the projector I think it would be able to hold its own against some of the better tablets out there. If you’re looking for a solid tablet to watch movies, listen to music, or do presentations, this is a great option. Performance is generally very good, though you can experience some bouts of noticeable lag from time to time. It’s a little on the heavy side and can be a bit awkward depending on how you’re holding it, but those problems may be a non-issue depending on what you’re using it for. Overall, the Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro is a solid tablet and an even better media device and I certainly wouldn’t have any problems toting one around!