I’ll kick this post off with a disclaimer: YMMV – Your Mileage May Vary. That’s to say that what follows is entirely my subjective impression based upon my usage requirements for portable computing. Your requirements may well be entirely different, and so would your conclusions be in the following comparison.
With that disclaimer out of the way, let me remind you that last September, I received a ThinkPad 10 tablet on long-term loan from Lenovo. I blogged about my first impressions of it in a post that compared it to my ThinkPad Tablet 2, which I had purchased myself back in January 2013.
I must admit that in the ensuing months, I quickly began to like the ThinkPad 10 (TP10); so much so that I sold my ThinkPad Tablet 2. The TP10, in combination with the Lenovo Quickshot Cover, fits my requirements for portable computing very well indeed. In particular I like:
- the size and weight (not too big, clumsy or heavy),
- the 16:10 screen aspect ratio (better for reading books than 16:9 aspect ratio devices)
- the pen – I prefer scribbling notes and diagrams in OneNote during meetings to typing
- the performance – not a speed demon, but more than adequate for what I use (OneNote, Mail, browsing with IE, Word, Excel, Powerpoint)
- the UI experience of Windows 8.1 in a tablet.
And there things stood until a couple of weeks ago, when Lenovo asked me if I would like to try a Yoga Pro 3 (Y3P). I replied that I was interested in trying out the Consumer Technical Preview of Windows 10, so if I could use the Y3P for that, then yes, please. A package containing a rather smart box (see below) was delivered a few days later, a couple of days before Microsoft unveiled the next stage of Windows 10. The box itself is a slick piece of paper engineering – after taking off the lid, you fold back the two flaps covering the top, and as you do so, the Y3P rises out of the box to greet you. A nice touch.
I have the orange version of the Y3P, which is pleasingly different to the usual black or silver Ultrabooks:
The most striking thing, of course, is that “ watchband” hinge. It’s unique in the portable computer world. I rather like it, I have to say.
Being an Ultrabook, the Y3P has more ports than the TP10. The left side has Lenovo’s battery charger port (which also doubles as a USB 2.0 port), a USB 3.0 port, a Micro-HDMI port, and a full-size 4-in-1 (MMC, SD, SDXC and SDHC) Memory Card slot. The right side has another USB 3.0 port (which can also be used to charge Smartphones), a headphone socket, Volume controls, Auto screen rotation lock, a recessed Reset button and a Power button.
I do prefer the buttons on the Y3P, they are slightly proud of the case, and far easier to use than those on the TP10, which continue to be a slight source of irritation if ever I need to use them. Fortunately I rarely need to, as the TP10’s Quickshot cover acts as a power (sleep) button, and I tend to use the onscreen Volume controls in place of the physical buttons.
Opening up the Y3P is a bit of a palaver, in comparison to simply flipping open the Quickshot Cover on the TP10. The watchband hinge is stiff (as it needs to be), and my fingers find it difficult to get a purchase at the front of the Y3P to begin prising it open. Once open, a fairly standard keyboard and trackpad are revealed (you’ll notice that the matt finish of the trackpad shows up finger oil very well).
I’m sure some long-term Lenovo users will be complaining that there is no TrackPoint device, but it’s been so long since I used one that I don’t miss it. This Y3P is the first device I’ve used that has a backlit keyboard, and I must admit that is one innovation that I have really begun to appreciate. Tapping away of an evening, seated in front of the TV, is so much easier with a backlit keyboard. With my tablet, most of the time I’m either writing, or using the on-screen keyboard (which of course is easily visible), but on the occasions when I do use a physical keyboard, it’s been one without a backlight, and now I realise the advantage of having a backlit keyboard.
The Y3P is of course much bigger than the TP10. That means both more weight (1.9 Kg versus 0.6 Kg), and a bigger screen. Here’s the TP10 laid on top of the Y3P to give you an idea of the difference:
The screen of the Y3P is not only physically bigger (13.3” diagonal versus 10.1”), but it has a higher resolution (3200 x 1800 versus 1920 x 1200) than the TP10. It also has a higher pixel density (276.05 dpi versus 224.17 dpi), but note that it is yet another 16:9 aspect ratio device.
Like the TP10, it has a touchscreen capable of registering 10-point gestures. However, unlike the TP10, there is no pen or active digitiser.
A couple of other things that are lacking in the Y3P in comparison to the TP10:
- There is no rear camera, so capturing documents will have to be done with your Smartphone.
- There’s no GNSS chip, so you’ll have to rely on your WiFi location being known accurately if you are using a map application. However, I doubt that this will work if you are using your laptop with the train’s WiFi during your daily commute.
- There’s no WWAN option available (my loan TP10 doesn’t have WWAN either, but this is available as an option).
The Y3P is equipped with an Intel Core M processor. The model I have has the 5Y70 chip, which is a 2 core/4 thread chip running at 1.1GHz or 2.6 GHz in Turbo boost. It has 8 GB of memory, and a 256 GB SSD fitted for storage. Although in theory the Core M processors are suitable for fanless designs, the Y3P is fitted with a fan. I can occasionally just hear it – a faint hiss coming from the right hand end of the watchband.
Performance-wise, then, it far outstrips the Intel Atom processor with its 4 GB memory in the TP10. Yet, most of the time, I simply don’t notice it in the software I use.
The Y3P came with even more Bloatware pre-installed by Lenovo than the TP10. As you can tell, I am not a fan of the extra software that OEM manufacturers throw into their machines. I spent an afternoon getting rid of most of them (and one of Lenovo’s applications – Harmony – refused to uninstall itself, until I took extreme measures). There must have been well over twenty different packages, practically all of them of questionable utility as far as I’m concerned.
I have installed Build 9926 of the Windows 10 Technical Preview on to the Y3P, but I’ll keep my comments on that for another post.
To sum up my thoughts on the comparison between the Y3P and the TP10 thus far, I think it’s safe to say that I still much prefer the TP10 over the Y3P.
The Yoga 3 Pro is a nice machine; well engineered, but I think it has helped confirm my suspicion that my preferred portable computing device is a tablet equipped with a pen. I look forward to continuing to test out Windows 10 on it, but I’ll continue to take my trusty TP10 with me to meetings, and for kicking back on the sofa of an evening. But as I said at the outset, your requirements, and your conclusions may be completely different to mine…