Before the iPad Pro, there was the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2, a monstrous 13.3-inch tablet. As if that screen wasn't large enough, the device also integrated a projector. The tablet was large and unwieldy, but the gorgeous display and novelty of having a projector might have made up for some of the shortcomings.
The updated Tab 3 Pro that we received for testing features a smaller screen (10.1-inches), a higher capacity battery and a brighter projector. The processor is also more powerful than its predecessor, but is still an Intel Atom chip. Has Lenovo finally found the sweet spot? Let's find out.
Build and Design: 7.5/10
When it comes to build quality, the Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro scores top marks. It’s not an all-aluminium finish like the iPad, but a judicious sprinkling of leather, plastic, metal and glass have the device feeling like a premium one.
We like the leather finish on the back in particular. It’s soft and feels really nice to hold. The rest of the body is made of plastic, with only the projector hinge and flap being made of metal. Speaking of which, the projector is actually mounted on the edge of the device, within a cylindrical structure that allows it to rotate easily.
That cylindrical structure in question serves as a nice hand-hold on the side of the device and we found it very convenient to hold the device that way when reading. The device is heavy however, necessitating the use of said hand-hold; a Nexus 9 or iPad is very light in comparison.
The weight is a real downside to the projector though. At 670g, it’s a full 50 percent heavier than the iPad Air 2, which is a significant amount.
The power buttons and a button to calibrate the projector are on either side of the cylinder, the volume control buttons are on top and the headphone jack is on the bottom of the device.
The projector itself is mounted in a kind of hinged stand that can be used to prop up the device at certain angles. This stand is made of metal and the hinge is very sturdy, if a tad too stiff. The speakers are mounted under a strip above this hinge and on the front face. The microSD card slot is hidden behind the hinge.
The buttons aren’t as firmly set as, say, on an iPad, but they’re responsive and sturdy, which is all that we can ask for really.
The Tab 3 Pro is powered by an Intel Atom x5-Z8500 chip, 2GB of LPDDR3 RAM and is host to 32GB of onboard storage. The display is a very bright, QHD (2560x1600) display and you get a 50 Lumens DLP projector with a 480p resolution. While iOS can get away with 2GB of RAM, we all know that when it comes to Android, the more the merrier.
The front and rear cameras are 5MP and 13MP respectively. The speakers are made by JBL and support Dolby Atmos technology, and you get 4 of them. They’re all mounted in one strip under the screen however, so wave goodbye to all those thoughts about iPad Pro level stereo effects.
Running mostly stock Android 5.1 (with Lenovo's Vibe UI on top), there’s nothing that will catch you off guard on the software front. Strangely enough, trying to put apps into folders was a much harder job than we thought it would be, with the icons running away from our fingers as if the two were the same poles on a magnet.
The projector can be enabled via a button in the settings panel and also via an app that’s very helpfully called “projector.” The app gives you an interface with which to access the most likely candidates for projection, including photos and video. If you enable the projector via the settings panel, it’ll project whatever is on the screen.
Thoughtfully, the touch-screen still responds even when the projector is on and the screen is off. You get visual feedback with regards to your finger’s location in the form of a translucent dot on the projected screen.
Pressing a button at the bottom of the tablet opens up a widget that lets you adjust the focus of the projector via a dial.
Lenovo enables a multi-window mode of sorts via a toggle in the settings panel. When enabled, you can run an app of your choosing in Windowed mode. You first have to pin the apps to the multi-window carousel, which isn’t too hard, and then you can pick that app anytime.
Hidden in the settings menu is an option that enables a very useful sidebar. It is useful if you’re really into the projector, which you must be if you bought this device. It contains controls for the projector and also access to the Projector app. You can also set screen and audio modes in that panel.
Performance is the Achilles Heel of the Tab 3 Pro. On paper, the CPU is ridiculously good. A score of over 75,800 on AnTuTu is average, but the Quadrant score of 2,00,000 simply blows the competition away. At the same time, the GPU scores are a fraction of what we would expect on any tablet and expecting such a mediocre GPU to power a QHD display is simply asking for too much.
We noticed lag and stuttering throughout the UI, which didn’t make for an enjoyable experience. Performance in games was also just barely acceptable and constant stutters the norm.
The Dolby Atmos system seemed to literally have no effect in blind tests, multiple users couldn’t tell if the system was on or off. That said, the sound system isn’t bad and the four speakers do manage to provide a loud enough listening environment.
The camera was acceptable at best, but we did take a special liking to the Smart Capture feature. In the Smart Capture mode, you snap pictures of documents and visiting cards and the device will correct any warping and other distortion. It requires a bit of manual input, but the results are quite spectacular.
The projector itself isn’t too bright. At 50 Lumens, it’s barely capable of rendering a visible image in a lit office room. It's only in a pitch-black room that the projector is even usable for movies. If you're only projecting presentations and the like, it's not bad for a dimly lit environment. Just to be very clear, the projector is not good enough to replace your TV. It’s capable of projecting a 50-60-inch image, in darkness, but that image isn’t very clear, nor is it very bright. The resolution is only limited to 480p and you can even see projected pixels.
You get a dial to adjust sharpness, but it’s never good enough to achieve total sharpness. Automatic keystone correction was a boon however, as it freed us up from the chore of carefully picking a surface to project onto.
The projector is decent for projecting, say, presentations with large, clear text, but not much else.
The display is absolutely gorgeous. It’s extremely bright and the QHD resolution means that images are extremely sharp. High resolution videos on YouTube look stunning and all text is crisp and very clear.
The software manages display brightness well and even adjusts colour tone and brightness based on device temperature and the tasks that you’re performing, which is nice. The display is so good in fact that we feel it makes more sense to just dump the projector in favour of a larger display of this quality.
It’s too bad that the hardware can’t keep up with that gorgeous display however.
Battery Life: 8/10
PCMark for Android gave us an estimated battery life of almost 8 hours, which is exceptional in a device with such a bright, high-resolution screen. PCMark is a very heavy benchmark however and we expect the device to last more than a full day with normal use. The projector is a real battery hog however and we ended up losing about 1-2% a minute when projecting a YouTube video.
If you use the projector sparingly, the you should get great battery life. Lenovo does claim that the 10,200 mAh battery can be used as a portable battery pack to charge other devices. This was a claim we couldn’t put to the test however as we could only find a microUSB port on the device and couldn’t figure out how to connect a device to it without using a bunch of adapters.
Verdict and Price in India
A tablet with an in-built projector certainly sounds exciting, but unless you actually need such a device, the Yoga Tab 3 Pro isn’t for you. A gorgeous QHD screen backed by a powerful CPU and mediocre GPU make for an awkward device that only makes sense if you’re fascinated by the projector and nothing else.
It’s the projector that makes or breaks the Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro. At Rs 39,999, there are way better tablets available in the market, including the iPad Air 2 and the Nexus 9. Both devices are way more powerful, much lighter and offer a better tablet experience.
The only reason to consider the Tab 3 Pro is the projector, and that too if you’re planning to use it to make presentations and the like. We can think of no earthly reason to recommend this device to the average consumer, other than as a novelty, and an expensive one at that.
If you’re looking for a good tablet, get the iPad Air 2 or Nexus 9. If you’re looking for a tablet with a projector, the Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro is the only option you have.
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