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Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro changes its iconic hinge (hands-on)

A new watchband-style hinge makes for a thinner, lighter hybrid.

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Lenovo is changing up the popular Yoga hybrid with some design tweaks for a thinner, lighter system. The new Yoga 3 Pro is the biggest change to the series since its launch, and dares to throw out the Yoga line's traditional hinge mechanism in favor of a new design.

The Yoga line of hybrid laptops kicked off a major trend in mobile PC design, starting with the original version from 2012. Since then, the idea of a clamshell laptop with two 360-degree fold-back hinges has appeared on not only several subsequent Yoga products from Lenovo, but also systems from Dell, Toshiba, HP, and others.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

For the Yoga 3 Pro, the hinge still folds back a full 360 degrees, taking the chassis from a traditional clamshell laptop to a folded over tablet, with many possible stops along the way. The difference is that the new hinge is a single mechanism running the full width of the system. Instead two hinges, typically plastic or aluminum, this new hinge has the look and feel of a long section of watchband material and is constructed of more than 800 individual pieces of steel and aluminum, with six points of attachment across the 13-inch display.

Besides being visually striking, the new hinge allows the Yoga 3 Pro to be, according to Lenovo, 17 percent thinner and 14 percent lighter than last year's Yoga 2 Pro. In our hands-on time with the system, it certainly felt like the thinnest Yoga yet, at 12.8mm thick. While the percentage difference may seem small, the difference compared to an older Yoga was striking.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

As in the previous Pro version of the Yoga, the Yoga 3 Pro is built around a better-than-HD display. The 13-inch screen has a native resolution of 3,200x1,800. That's better than standard 1080p screens, but we're seeing more and more true 4K display displays in laptops, so these higher resolutions are not quite as special as they were even a year ago.

Potentially more interesting is that the new Yoga 3 Pro is powered by Intel's also-new Core M processor. This new line, separate from the traditional Core i4/i5/i7 family, is designed for premium laptops, hybrids and tablets that want mainstream processing power. It runs so cool and efficiently that the systems do not need internal fans. With a combination of an Intel Core M processor and up to 256GB of SSD storage, the Yoga 3 Pro has essentially no moving parts inside.

The Yoga 3 Pro will be available around the end of October, in stores at Best Buy and through Lenovo's online store. It starts at $1,349 in the US , €1,299 in Europe, £1,299 in the UK and AU$2,099 in Australia.

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