The Lenovo Tab 3 Pro is a no-compromise all-in-one entertainment centre. While tablets such as the iPad Air 2 and Nexus 9 are built around portability, Lenovo has instead concentrated on slipping a bewitching array of hardware tricks up this media wizard's metaphorical sleeve. Unique features include its cylindrical stand and a built-in projector.
This spellbinding hardware assault makes the Tab 3 Pro one of the most innovative, interesting tablets I’ve reviewed in some time. However, its hefty weight and Lenovo's Android skin will put off some buyers.
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The Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro has a similar design to the 2014 Yoga Tab 2 Pro. A cylindrical base along one of its longer edges houses the tablet’s flip-out metal stand, DLP projector and speakers.
The design is divisive, like Marmite – I’ve found people either love it or hate it. I fall into the former category, feeling not only is it unique, but it also improves the Tab 3 Pro’s usability.
This is mainly due to that intelligently designed stand. It's popped out by pressing a button on the tablet’s rear and lets you set the Tab 3 Pro at a variety angles, or even hang it on a hook.
The option to free-stand the tablet is a Godsend in a variety of situations. For example, cooking in my kitchen I was able to stand the Tab 3 Pro up to display the recipe, removing the need for me to awkwardly prop it against something, or touch it with flour-covered hands.
I also found the stand was a great aid when typing. I regularly used it to slightly raise the tablet’s screen when laying it flat, making it so I could more comfortably type emails or instant messages.
The cylinder does ramp up the Yoga Tab 3 Pro’s weight to a hefty 665g, though. This won’t be a problem for people who want to use it as a home entertainment system, but could be a problem for those who want a take-everywhere tablet. The weight also makes it uncomfortable to hold one-handed for prolonged periods.
The Yoga Tab 3 Pro’s 247 x 179 x 4.68mm measurements mean that although it'll fit in large backpacks and satchels, it won’t easily slip into smaller bags.
Lenovo hasn’t always had the best reputation when it comes to build quality. Many of the company's laptops and previous tablets, like the Tab A8 2, have had a fairly cheap, flimsy feel.
This isn’t the case with the Lenovo Tab 3 Pro. Carrying the tablet around London in a satchel, it survived an accidental encounter with a set of tube doors with neither marks nor chips.
For those who want to use it to watch movies in the bath, or when in the pool, Lenovo’s designed the tablet to meet the splashproof IP21 certification – though be warned, unlike Sony Xperia tablets, the Yoga Pro 3 can’t survive full-on submersion by water.
Connectivity includes optional 4G, a standard Micro USB charging port and a microSD card slot that will let you add a further 128GB of space to its inbuilt 16GB of eMMC storage.
The Tab 3 Pro’s projector can be activated at any time by holding down a project button at the bottom of the tablet’s cylinder. Lenovo claims the 50 lumen projector can beam images up to 70 inches (178cm) across on any wall or ceiling.
At first it seemed a little gimmicky to me – after all, when would I need to project a video or image from a tablet?
But it turned out to be useful as a productivity aid. During conversations I found myself using the Tab 3 Pro to project a particular slide or, spec sheet the group was discussing more frequently than I expected.
For example, during a discussion about who would win in a fight between Batman and Superman, I used the projector to show off the stellar battle the two had in DC’s comic “Hush”. The comic pages showed the caped crusader once again proving his dominance over DC’s boyscout, thus winning me the argument.
However, it’s not great to watch movies on. In very dark rooms the projector is sharp and bright enough if the tablet is four feet or less from the surface it's projecting onto. However, even at this distance YouTube videos and movies on Netflix are a little hazy for my liking, colours are a little washed out, and prolonged viewing can cause eye strain.
In bright light the projector struggles. Using it in my lounge with the lights on, it wasn’t powerful enough to project a viewable image.