Lenovo Yoga 3 14 review: This hybrid puts performance, price before high-end design

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The Good The Lenovo Yoga 3 14 has all the flexibility of past Yoga hybrid laptops, going from clamshell to tablet and back again. The configuration options are very good for its sub-$1,000 price; it gets more than 8 hours of battery life; and has excellent performance for everyday, mainstream use.

The Bad The display doesn't get very bright, which could be a problem for outdoor use. Its battery life, while excellent, is shorter than similarly configured models from Dell and HP.

The Bottom Line With better battery life and performance than the Yoga 3 Pro (not to mention a lower price), the Yoga 3 14 is one of the best hybrid deals around.

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8.2 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 9
  • Performance 8
  • Battery 8

The Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro 's design, with its watchband-like single hinge constructed of more than 800 individual pieces of steel and aluminum and fanless chassis measuring a mere 12.8mm thick, is strikingly different from its predecessors. The Yoga 3 14, on the other hand, is the computer manufacturer sticking with what works.

Like past models, the Yoga 3 14 looks like a standard thin-and-light clamshell, but its two hinges allow you to rotate the screen 360 degrees back, turning it into a tablet. What's new for the line is the 14-inch screen size, which is all the more impressive because Lenovo squeezed it into a body roughly the size of a 13.3-inch model.

Also, instead of the Intel Core M processor found in the Pro, you get a choice of fifth-gen Intel Core i5 or Core i7 processors (Broadwell). The Pro's performance with the Core M was underwhelming as was the system's battery life. That wasn't the case here with the Yoga 3 14, which turned in both excellent battery life and performance for a sub-$1,000 convertible.

Configurations start at $799, but the build for this review was $919. In the UK, the pricing starts £650, but is £800 as reviewed. For Australia buyers, the price as reviewed is AU$1,299, though it comes with half the storage with a 128GB solid-state drive. If you can afford to spend a bit more, you can currently get a Yoga 3 14 with a 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-5500U, 8GB of memory, 256GB SSD and a 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT 940M graphics card for $1,049. (This configuration isn't available in the UK and costs AU$1,899 in Australia).

Lenovo Yoga 3 14

Price as reviewed $919/AU$1,299
Display size/resolution 14-inch, 1920 x 1080
PC CPU 2.2GHz Intel Core i5-5200U
PC Memory 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz
Graphics 3829MB (shared) Intel HD Graphics 5500
Storage 256GB SSD (128GB for AU model)
Networking 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.0
Operating system Microsoft Windows 8.1 (64-bit)

Design and features

The Yoga 3 14 isn't as thin or as light or as stylish (though that's subjective, of course) as some of its competition or the Yoga 3 Pro. At 18.3mm (0.7 inch) and 1.7kg (3.7 pounds), it's still plenty portable, though.

The screen is a mixed bag. The extra work space is certainly a plus, especially in a body that looks and feels more like a 13-inch laptop. The 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution keeps text and graphics looking sharp and it's an IPS panel, too, giving you excellent off-angle viewing.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Unfortunately, the display just doesn't get very bright. That wouldn't be so bad if the screen handled glare well, but it doesn't. While shutting off the system's adaptive brightness feature helps some, in the end anyone needing to use this regularly outdoors might want to pass.

The keyboard is spacious and generally nice to type on, though I found it a bit spongy and there's some slight flex in the middle. Also, to fit the vertical row of Home, End, Page Up and Page Down keys, Lenovo shrank the Enter key as well as the right Shift. Touch typists might need some time to adjust. The keyboard is backlit, too, but has just two settings: on or off.

Below the keyboard you'll find one big clickpad with areas for left and right clicks, but no discrete buttons. It gets the job done, but you'll likely want to dive into the settings and fine-tune the sensitivity, palm check and multitouch gesture support to your liking.

Sarah Tew/CNET

On the bottom left and right you'll find small speakers. They sound clear, certainly good enough for casual listening in quiet environments. They don't get very loud, even if you flip the keyboard back behind the screen so they fire up. For movie and music enjoyment, you're better off hooking up some headphones or a set of external speakers.