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Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro review: A unique tablet for watching video with family and friends

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The Good The Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro has a built-in pico projector and an ergonomic design with a kickstand. Performance and gaming is fast. Screen is sharp and speakers are loud. Battery life is long.

The Bad It's a bit heavy and its cylindrical spine makes it awkward to hold in landscape orientation.

The Bottom Line The Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro is the best Android tablet for watching video. Either alone or, thanks to its built-in projector, with a large group of friends.

7.3 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Performance 7

If you've seen one tablet you've seen them all, right? Not exactly. The Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro offers you what no other tablet will; a projector. Granted, it's a pico projector, not a full 1080p projector, but for a tablet with a starting price of $500/AU$699 (UK pricing and availability has yet to be announced; prices directly convert to £335), you have to check your expectations at the door, since most good projectors start around $700. That pico projector itself isn't amazing, but the fact that it's built-in to a tablet is.

Calling the Lenovo's pico projector a gimmick would be reductive; it's the cherry on top of an already sweet Android tablet. The Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro is a speedy performer with powerful gaming prowess, loud speakers and a crystal clear screen. Its ergonomic design features a built-in kickstand and a cylindrical spine that makes it comfortable to grip in one hand. It also has a long-lasting battery. Finding all of these features in a tablet is a rarity. Throw in the pico projector and you've got the most unique tablet in the world.

Tell me more

Most tablets don a slate-like design. The Yoga Tab 3 Pro deviates from this norm with a cylindrical spine on the bottom edge, which also happens to house the battery. After testing it in the CNET Lab by looping a local 720p video (on its screen, not through the projector) in airplane mode at medium brightness, the tablet lasted 12.8 hours. That's impressively long for any tablet, especially one with such a big screen.

The 10.1-inch Yoga Tab 3 Pro looks like a larger version of the 8-inch Yoga Tab 3 with a few minor differences. Instead of a pico projector, the smaller model has an impressive rotatable camera. It also features a polished aluminum back, whereas the Yoga Tab 3 Pro has a soft leather-like back panel. For more details on the similar design, check out the Yoga Tab 3's review.

lenovo-yoga-tab-3-pro-1622-001.jpg

The built-in kickstand is incredibly useful.

Josh Miller/CNET

Behind the grill that horizontally extends across the tablet's bottom edge are four front-facing JBL speakers. Also built-in is Dolby Atmos technology, which tries to replicate the way sound travels in real life. The speakers are satisfyingly loud and clear. If you use the pre-loaded Dolby App, it helps beef up the audio for a more immersive experience; by using the pre-sets it punches up vocals in music, sound effects in games and background noises in movies. They're not the best, but they're some of the best you'll find on a tablet, and they suitably complement the theater-like feel of the projector.

Performance-wise, the tablet is consistently swift when surfing the Web, streaming video and playing games. It slowed if apps were downloading or updating in the background; swipes took a few more seconds to be recognized and apps took longer to launch. This is typical for most tablets, however it occasionally happened if I started using the tablet after it had been asleep for awhile. It didn't happen often enough to hinder my overall experience, but it was annoying to deal with sometimes. Considering this could be fixed with a software update, it's not a deal-breaker. However, there's no word yet if Lenovo has any plans to improve performance.

lenovo-yoga-tab-3-pro-1622-001.jpg

The pico projector is built into the rotatable spine.

Josh Miller/CNET

It's worth noting that the Yoga Tab 3 Pro has some impressive gaming prowess. It has the second best 3DMark gaming benchmark score, sandwiched between the Google Pixel C on top and Apple iPad Air 2 on bottom. It's also fast at launching big games, like Hearthstone and Dead Trigger 2. Unfortunately, for games that require both thumbs on-screen, its chunky bottom edge makes it awkward to hold in landscape orientation.

3DMark benchmarks

Google Pixel C
40922
Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro
25928
Apple iPad Air 2
22008

Note:

Longer bars indicate faster performance

The Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro's screen has a 2,560x1,600-pixel resolution -- that's as sharp as tablet screens get these days -- with 299 pixels per inch (ppi). It's bright, crystal-clear and displays accurate colors, though in side-by-side comparisons, its color range is duller than the super-saturated Galaxy Tab S2. I still found it satisfyingly colorful enough for vibrant imagery when watching both animated films and live-action video.

Become a pro with the projector

It's important to remember that the Lenovo simply offers a pico projector, which isn't very sharp or very bright, especially in comparison to a normal projector. If you want something better, there are a variety of options, however none have the added benefit of being built into a tablet.

lenovo-yoga-tab-3-pro-1622-001.jpg

There's a dedicated projector button for turning it on and off.

Josh Miller/CNET

I found the projector's video quality (480p resolution and 50 lumens that can project up to a 70-inch image) fine for casually watching TV with my partner and streaming endless puppy videos with my friends. It's very useful when you want to share what you're watching with other people. Only when I switched back to the tablet's touchscreen did I regretfully note the projector's lackluster quality.

Even though I have high standards for video quality, I still think the projector is a cool feature. It's not necessarily useful for me personally, but it's the type of creative tech that marries fun and functionality. The Yoga Tab 3 Pro definitely ranks among the best, however the route it takes to stand out from the pack is one that offers a unique, sharable viewing experience for you and your family and friends.

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