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Lenovo Yoga 3 vs Microsoft Surface Pro 3: Which Convertible Notebook is Best for You?

( [email protected] ) Nov 14, 2014 06:47 PM EST
Even with Ashton Kutcher's questionably gimmicky involvement with the Lenovo product's design, many die-hard tech reviewers are giving the Yoga 3 impressive scores. But can it ultimately win out over the Surface Pro 3, which is enjoying a bit of its own unexpected popularity boost during this year's growing trend of rewarding lighter and thinner laptops?
Microsoft Surface Pro 3. Photo: Reuters

Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 has enjoyed quite a bit of critical success since launching earlier this year, but the lesser-known Lenovo Yoga 3 seems to be surprising everyone as a viable contender.

Even with Ashton Kutcher's questionably gimmicky involvement with the Lenovo product's design, many die-hard tech reviewers are giving the Yoga 3 impressive scores. But can it ultimately win out over the Surface Pro 3, which is enjoying a bit of its own unexpected popularity boost during this year's growing trend of rewarding lighter and thinner laptop/notebook/tablet hybrids?

Related: Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro vs MacBook Air Review

Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Windows Central's Daniel Rubino took a close look at this year's new Surface Pro 3 and had nothing but good things to say. While the new hybrid market is still quite new, most consumers are attaching to the lighter, yet powerful features of the Surface Pro 3. 

This "Laplet" ships with the Intel Core i3, i5, or i7 Haswell processor and a smaller screen than the Yoga 3 (12 inches versus 13 inches), which seems to help prolong battery life a bit better than the Lenovo product. As Rubino points out, "There is a reason that the 11-inch MacBook Air still ships with Apple's abysmal 1366 by 768 display (142 PPI) even in 2014, and that is to attain that ridiculous 12-hours of real-world usage. The Surface Pro 3 comes nowhere near that 12-hours of battery life that the MBA has, but it can effortlessly squeeze out 7-8 hours."

But on the other hand, some reviewers weren't taken by the Surface Pro 3's unique features. "It's tough to say who should buy the Surface Pro 3 as a laptop alternative when the very thing that makes it a notebook replacement -- its optional keyboard -- offers a subpar typing experience and a frustrating trackpad," Engadget remarks in its review, giving it a total score of 79 out of 100.

Laptop Magazine goes so far as to explain "5 Reasons Surface Pro 3 Shouldn't Replace Your Laptop" in their own review, citing similar issues with the keyboard. "My issues with the Surface Pro's keyboard are that it's loud (annoyingly so), too bouncy and not very comfortable," the reviews describes. "That's partly because Microsoft crams full-size keys into a space that's considerably smaller than an ultraportable laptop."

Related: Lenovo Yoga Pro 2 and Yoga 3 Review

Lenovo Yoga 3

Over at PC World, its review of the Lenovo Yoga 3 literally states that the product is a "potential Surface Pro 3 killer." 

"The 13.3-inch, 3800x1200 IPS touch panel looks amazing," the review says. "In this day and age of 4K laptop displays, that resolution may not sound like a lot, but the size of the screen puts this Yoga's 299 pixels per inch near the top of the pixel density heap for thin-and-light computers. For comparison, the current 13-inch MacBook Air display has 127 ppi, while the Surface Pro 3 hits 216 ppi with its 12-inch screen."

The Yoga 3 is also said to be the thinnest convertible notebook on the market at 0.5 inches thick. This is impressive if you take into consideration the fact that the size includes the keyboard, which Microft doesn't include in its own thickness spec for the Surface Pro 3.

Admittedly, most reviews recognize that the Yoga 3 is easily outperformed by other notebooks on the market, including the Surface Pro 3, but there's one feature that seems to be on every review's top must-see list: the unique hinge.

The Yoga 3's hinge is based on a six-hinge design that resembles an expensive watchband. This allows the screen and keyboard to move all the way back and all the way forward with increased durability over the long-term. Plus, the hinge even stays in place no matter how you angle it. Even if the rest of the notebook isn't better than the competition, we hope that hinge will carry over to more device lines in the future.

All in all, the choice between the Surface Pro 3 and the Lenovo Yoga 3 depends on your own specific application. If you're looking for a versatile and highly portable computer for light or medium duty, the Lenovo seems to be the right choice. But if power and muscle are important to you, the Surface Pro 3 might be more your thing.