Friday, November 28, 2014

Noontec Hammo: Headphones Review

Noontec is not an established brand in Singapore, but has quite a presence in overseas market like the U.S., where their products are sold and reviewed extensively online.



The Hammo model has been on sale for over a year, and it's now available in Singapore, distributed by Sprint-Cass Singapore (Signeo). The Noontec Hammo is an over-the-ear stereo headphone with Surround Closed-Cavity Body (SCCB) acoustic technology, hypoallergenic earmuffs, and a high-sensitivity microphone for voice calls. It's priced at recommended retail price of S$149 and available at HMV, Mustafa, Lucky Store, Changi Aiport (T3 - Electronics Hub and T2 - iSound).



I find that the Hammo produces a relatively flat frequency response, with adequate bass presence, conservative highs, and prominent mids. Instrumentation sounds somewhat muddy and suffers from lingering reverbs. During busy music passages, each instrument pits against one another to make themselves heard.

Despite the sluggish and unexciting output, I think the headphones is capable of achieving a more dynamic audio quality. After applying equaliser adjustments - upping the bass and treble - the music turns out to be more dimensional. For listeners who prefer natural frequency delivery without exaggerated soundstaging, the Noontec Hammo is a capable pair of headphones.

The package comes with a hard case. The headphones can be folded for compact carrying, an excellent design which all large headphone makers should include. The overall build quality is quite good, though I am not so sure if the white plastic surface will be scratch and dirt resistant.



Product characteristics:

  • Adjustable headband
  • Piano crafting finish
  • Adaptive ear muffs made of protein cotton material
  • High sensitive cable microphone
  • Fold-up design
  • Flat and detachable audio cable
  • 24k gold plated connector and OFC oxygen-free copper cable


Specs:

  • Driver diameter: 50mm
  • Frequency response:5~30,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity at 1 KHz 1mW: 105dB
  • Input impedance : 32Ω
  • Max power :100mW
  • Audio cable length: 1.2m
  • Weight:240g




Reviewed by Chester Tan
Rating: 3.5 of 5

Monday, November 24, 2014

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 for Android: Unique Tablet Experience

With more and more me-too identical products to crowd the marketplace, it is important to offer innovative products to stand out among the competitors, to boldly create where no one has done before. This requires courage and conviction. Lenovo has done it successfully for the YOGA foldable laptop series (fondly replicated by several other brands) and now has extended that commitment to the tablet.



A book-inspired design is not new. Sony tried that on the first Xperia S tablet, but it was not a all-out approach to mimic a book. For Lenovo, it applied a design that is largely familiar: a straightforward cylindrical base with ergonomics for holding. This design, first introduced in the first Lenovo tablet in 2013, remains largely unchanged in the latest Yoga Tablet 2. With its versatile flip stand, the Yoga Tablet 2 allows consumer to use it in multiple modes. Hold, stand, tilt, and a new mode, hang.



Apart from design, the other major difference in the Yoga Tablet 2 from the rest of the Android tablets is its unique user interface. At first look, one notices that its large 10-inch IPS Full HD display populates 6x4 app icons (plus another row of apps dock), which is a comfortable number to work with. While swiping down the notification bar, you would notice it is bare. Where are the setting icons? They appear when you swipe up from the bottom of the screen.



The next thing you might notice is that there is no apps drawer, just like iOS. So, all the apps installed on the Yoga Tablet 2 is in one of the home screen pages. I find that really convenient for new users to manage their apps in Android. New apps are aptly labelled with a "NEW" badge.

When you browse the device settings list, you will find an option to schedule the tablet to power off at a predetermined time. I think all tablets should have this option to save battery life, for sometimes we might forget to shut down the tablet after use, causing unnecessary battery drain.




You might also notice an icon at the lower left corner of the screen. That is the Multi Window icon, which allows up to 3 floating windows to be opened. The minimised windows appear as icons along side with the Multi Window icon, similar to Windows task bar. You can disable this feature under the settings if you don't need it. Sadly, it does not support a lot of apps to be that useful.


You would also notice an app notification appearing permanently in the notification list. The pre-installed Security HD app helps to keep the tablet running on optimal condition, and it does so by flushing cache, cleaning up residual files, managing app permissions, blocking ads. With the increased awareness of security issues, this app should set the user at ease and empower them to manage the app permissions.


Coupled with the Dolby Audio app, the tablet pumps clear and loud audio from the two front-facing stereo speakers. And just like the Windows Yoga, the Lenovo Smart Switch feature automatically selects the audio and display settings based on the Yoga mode it detects. But not all apps support the Dolby audio, like the Poweramp music app. When Dolby mode is disabled, the audio becomes weak and lacks punch.



The camera quality is nothing to shout about. While the images appear to produce accurate colour tones, they lack sharpness and details. The camera app comes with a few shooting modes like Panorama, Night, Macro, Speech Photo, and there are colour effect settings (like sepia, mono, negative). I won't brood over it since no one should be relying on bulky tablets to capture high quality images the way we expect from pocketable smartphones.

For battery life, Lenovo boasts that it can hit 18 hours. With a 9400mAh capacity, it is certainly not difficult at all. The Yoga Tablet 2 has the largest battery in a 10-inch tablet. I did not do any benchmark testing, but under normal usage, the battery seems to drain just about 5% per hour, which when extrapolated seems to fit the claims. A minor drawback of having a large battery: it takes 3 hours to fully charge the device with the provided 2A charger.




Throughout my 2-week review, I encountered instances where the tablet does not run quite smoothly. Sometimes it took a few seconds to wake up after pressing the power button. In some instances, the multi-window apps became unresponsive and I had to force-close them to regain control. Apart from that, the overall app-to-app response is speedy and does not feel as laggy as Samsung Galaxy Note tablets.



Summary

The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 offers one of the most unique user experience for a tablet device. Unlike other generic-designed slates that are bent on achieving design records (e.g. thinnest, lightest, fastest, brightest), the Yoga Tablet 2 offers several use cases that really works. As a tablet with stand, it produces loud audio excellent for media consumption - watching video, listening to music, photo e-frame. As a tablet on hand, it offers a comfortable hold for long duration without feeling strenuous. As a tablet with hang mode, it is possible to use it at eye level by hanging it around the house. The large power button means you can turn on the device without a fuss. The Yoga Tablet 2 may not be the most powerful tablet, but it is the most comfortable tablet that you will enjoy.

Unique features:
- built-in stand that makes the tablet blend in with the modern home system
- built-in hook holder for hanging
- powerful stereo speakers for media enjoyment
- cylinder grip for comfortable long periods of use



Specs

  • Processor: Intel® Atom™ Z3745 Processor Quad-core 1.86GHz
  • Operating System: Android™ KitKat v4.4
  • Memory: RAM: 2GB LPDDR3
  • Storage: 16/32GB EMMC, Supporting Micro SD card up to 64GB
  • Display: 1920 x 1200 IPS display. 10-point multitouch
  • Weight: 619g
  • Audio: Front-facing large-chamber stereo speakers, Dolby® Audio, Wolfson® Master Hi-Fi™ audio processing
  • Battery: Li-ion 9600 mAh
    • Usage Time : Up to 18 hours
    • Standby Time : Up to 16 days
  • Integrated Cameras
    • Rear: 8MP f2.2 Auto-focus
    • Front: 1.6MP HD
  • Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, MiMo, Bluetooth® 4.0
  • Ports: Micro USB (OTG), 3.5 mm audio jack, Micro SD card
  • Sensors: G-Sensor, e-Compass, Ambient Light


The Yoga Tablet 2 is available at Lenovo Singapore online from S$599.



Reviewed by Chester Tan
Rating: 4 of 5

Saturday, November 22, 2014

HTC One M8 Camera Lens Scratch - and How to Fix It

When I read about HTC One M8 users getting scratches on their camera lenses, I don't know it would happen to me.

But it did.



I first noticed that images from my front camera looked soft. I used normal cloth to wipe off any grease, but no avail. Using my naked eye, I noticed "scratches", and I thought to myself: gone case.


Using a macro lens - Samsung NX30 with 60mm in my case - I realised how bad it looked.

But all was not lost. After googling around, it appears the "scratches" are just the lens coating, and all I needed was toothpaste and cotton bud to remove the layer.


Ta-da!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Jabra Move Wireless: Headphones Review



Jabra has launched another wireless headphones in Singapore. The Jabra Move Wireless takes after the Jabra REVO. It applies similar design style but stripped off some features, such as touch controls and foldable hinge. Material-wise, the Jabra Move is fitted with dirt-resistant fabric for the headband, matt plastic for the speaker cans, stainless steel headband sliders, leather-like ear cushions.



From afar, the Jabra Move exudes youthfulness. On hand, you can feel that it made for affordability, with lighter materials and less elaborate design elements. It comes with a generic black 3.5mm cable for wired pass-through audio with your device if the headphone runs out of battery. The audio cable does not have any in-line control nor mic for answering calls, which the REVO has. So if you want to use the Jabra Move for calls, you need to use it via Bluetooth.



The first thing that strikes me when I listened to the Jabra Move is its clear treble (though not spectacularly defined as more expensive cans like B&O Beoplay H6). The bass level mixes well in quiet environments, but it loses the impact when listening to music tracks with noisy vocal mix or under noisy environment, which is the case for any small-sized on-ear headphones. Sound staging is comfortable, with discernible instrument separation. Comparatively, the REVO is tuned with heavier mid-bass and tighter soundstage. Between the 2, I find the Jabra Move produces more faithful audio good for indoor use while I prefer Jabra REVO for its build quality, comfortable ear cushions and bass-bias audio balancing for outdoor use.

Like most Jabra wireless headsets, the wireless quality is good without any transmission distortion. When listening via direct audio cable, the Jabra Move loses all brilliance, sounding flat and lacks audio power. Use that only as a last resort.

And like most premium Jabra wireless headsets, the Jabra Move supports concurrent Bluetooth connectivity to 2 devices. What this means is that I could be streaming music from one device (tablet) and pick up a call from another device (smartphone) with incoming call. That's just so convenient.

Final Thoughts

The Jabra Move produces well-balanced audio quality - tangible bass, clear treble - which I enjoy when listening indoors. Its relatively small speaker size means it needs to contend the lower frequencies with the piercing highs. For that, I recommend this headphones for consumers who enjoys light genre music.


Specs


  • Speaker Size: 40mm
  • Sensitivity: 94dBSPL at 1kHz
  • Impedance: 29 Ohm
  • Frequency: 20Hz to 20kHz
  • Weight: 150g
  • Battery: 8 hours
  • Quality: HD Voice
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0, pairs up to 8 devices, connects to 2 devices concurrently
  • Colours: Cobalt (Blue), Cayenne (Red), Coal (Black)
  • Retail Price: S$148



Reviewed by Chester Tan
Rating: 3.8 of 5

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Watch-Looking Smartwatches Are Here

For the longest time, smartwatches look like squarish mini-phones that don't blend in at all. My first close encounter with smartphones was the Sony SmartWatch 2 in Nov 2013.

It's about time someone designed a watch-looking smartwatch. This Christmas, we have 2 to choose from. The Motorola Moto 360 and LG G Watch R. The Moto 360 has a larger and distinctively round watch face while the LG G Watch R resembles closer to a sports watch with the traditional watch frame and bezel markings. Moto 360 looks spectacular as a dress watch, while the LG G Watch R is great as an everyday watch.



You can purchase the LG G Watch R at S$398 in Singapore retail outlets, while the Moto 360 is only available from overseas online stores.Whichever you choose, they are the best Christmas gifts you can give to your techie loved ones. So order before the stocks run out.


Sony Xperia Z3 Compact Review: Small and Powerful

When there are so many smartphone brands in the market, each brand must compete beyond the technical specs and create a unique identity. Sony Xperia has been focusing on the waterproof capabilities since the first Xperia Z. Now with the Z3 series, Sony has further improved on the weather and dust proof, and reinforced several more features that should interest the consumer market.



Here on hand for review is the Xperia Z3 Compact, a smaller copy of the new Xperia Z3. It comes in a 4.6-inch display, 1280x720 resolution, feather-light weight of 126g. The hardware is slightly toned down with 2GB RAM but otherwise uses the same 2.5GHz quad-core processor as the larger brother. Compared to the other brands with mini variants, Sony is brave to launch both sizes together to give consumers a choice from the start.

The overall design blueprint of the new Z3 does not deviate from the earlier Z-series. Sony calls it OmniBalance design, which is essentially applying a symmetrical outlook, from the front-rear glass plate to the placement of the signature power button. The Xperia Z3 Compact feels more comfortable than earlier versions. Its surrounding body frame is more rounded, the display glass reinforced with gloss plastic frame. The port covers are easier to remove and gets out of the way when I am accessing the ports.



At 4.6-inch IPS display and running 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801, the Z3 Compact is the most powerful small-screen Android phone today. That means a lot to consumers who wanted a smaller-screen phone without compromising the processor speed.


What other compelling reasons does Xperia Z3 Compact have to win over consumers? Here are some features that I think sets it apart from the other phones.

Waterproof and Dustproof

Certified IP65 and IP68, The Z3 Compact is the undisputed smartphone that can hold against the wet. Take it with you during a swim, or shower, or a run. Give it a wash after a good workout, but do wipe the screen clean as it can't work well if water is present. There is a pre-installed small app called Touch Block that locks your screen while the screen is active.


Camera-focused

Like the predecessors, the Xperia Z3 Compact has a dedicated camera shutter button which captures images conveniently. The 2-step button is easier to press than Lumia and the shutter response is rather quick. A hardware button also means you can take photos underwater when the touch screen fails to work.



The 20.7 MP camera is capable of capturing up to ISO 12800, and shoots 4K video. This means low-light photos are captured with relatively fast shutter speed and with good colour tones without colour noise artifacts. When zoomed in, the images look clean although lacks the resolution details found in larger sensor mirrorless or DSLR cameras, but I find the quality surpasses most smartphones in the market. The camera seems to be rather sensitive to light flare, as some images appear hazy.





In addition, the camera app contains a handful of unique shooting modes not found in any other brands. The AR shooting modes are fun to play with and offers hours of entertainment. The Multi-Camera mode allows another Xperia device or external Sony camera to be used as a second screen. The Timeshift Video mode allows me to pick several segments within a clip for slow-mo effect.



Unfortunately, running these advanced functions heat up the device really fast, and the camera will auto-close when overheated. In fact, the camera app auto-closes within 30 seconds if you leave it on. And like earlier models, the camer app defaults to Intelligent Auto+ mode, which captures in 8MP, not 20MP (only available when you shoot in Manual mode). It would be great if Sony allows the camera button to default to another shooting mode.

Another bug is that the camera app is not intelligent enough to detect single shot vs. burst shot. When I enable burst shot, the app will save photos under separate burst shot folders even though I took only one photo. The worst thing is that the filename for each set of burst photos start from zero, so I am unable to easily merge the files across multiple folders.

Despite, I like the Z3 Compact camera quality and shooting response. If you like your images to look naturally detailed, this is the Android phone to get.





Front-facing stereo speakers

Sony is one of the few smartphone makers that is convinced that stereo front-facing speakers is the way forward. Its audio quality is still not comparable to HTC but I do find improvements compared to Xperia Z2. The Z3 Compact has come closer as an ideal alternative to the HTC One M8.


Audio Processor

The Xperia smartphones have some of the more usable audio effects that don't mess up the audio. The Z3 Compact now supports the latest Sony Hi-Res USB audio product range. In addition, a new processor, DSEE HX, brightens up the high-range frequency and make the music sound better. The surround effects are pretty realistic though I won't use them as I prefer listening in original sound.



Record Screen

The Z3 Compact has a rare feature only available on rooted devices - the ability to record screen video. It can also record live video using the front camera within a small resizable window. This feature is extremely beneficial for creating tutorials or screen interaction guides.


Tap to Wake Up

LG was the first to introduce, then HTC included this in the One M8. Now Xperia Z3 Compact also has this. It's great to have this feature which allows me to wake up the devide conveniently.


Movie Creator

Many smartphone makers have recognized the innovative usefulness of HTC Zoe, and now Xperia Z3 Compact has also added video highlights creation feature. It does not have as much customisation options as HTC Zoe, but it's a good start, and I foresee Sony developing on this app over the next few Xperia iterations.


IPS Display

In today's smartphones, display quality is already a given. The Z3 Compact display resolution is merely 1280x720 but looks so good that I thought it was full HD. The viewing angle is wide and no colour shift, plus you can adjust white balance to your liking. Because of the smaller-sized screen, there are more pixels per inch and so on-screen text and images look smooth. But a lot of web content do not have mobile-optimised view mode so I find it a challenge to read the text in a small screen.

Battery Life

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact touts to provide 2 days of battery life with its 2600mAh battery when STAMINA mode is switched on. Such battery-saving mode basically reduces processing speed or reduces background processing whenever your phone is in standby. In most cases, this means you might not receive timely notifications. Fortunately for Xperia Z3 Compact, you can select which apps shall remain active during standby, thereby allowing your more important apps to continue pushing timely information to your device.


Status Bar Icons

I also love how I can customise the icons to display on the staus bar. This feature is already present in earlier Xperia models. This allows me to remove the icons of functions which I was turn on, for example, alarm, Bluetooth, STAMINA. I can even remove the clock if you prefer to use your own clock widget on the home screen.

Sony Ecosystem

With Sony's wide range of products across industries, it makes sense for Sony to establish an ecosystem to enable cross product interactions. Xperia continues to improve on this aspect, providing capability to use the Xperia Z3 Compact to play PlayStation 4 games remotely, creating apps platform to promote Sony Entertainment content (music, movies, video), providing hardware inter-compatibility with other Sony audio and camera products. Because of Sony's understanding of the importance of content, its Photo (Album), Music (Walkman) and Video (Movies) apps are one of the better-looking ones among the Android makers. Non-Sony supporters might be put off by such promotion, but I feel Sony manages to pull it off without giving too much bad taste. It doesn't give me the impression that they are forcing consumers to use these features if they choose not to.

Conclusion

Earlier this year when I was choosing between HTC One M8 and Sony Xperia Z2, it was a struggle to pick HTC One M8. This round, after reviewing the Xperia Z3 Compact, I have swung my vote towards the Sony, who has done a great job in improving the Xperia Z-series smartphone and giving confidence to consumers like myself. The UI is fluid without any unusual lag, the screen transition is snappy, the icons are clean and modern, the design is more life-proof. The short release cycle of a new Z-series has allowed Sony to catch up and deliver a solid smartphone, inside out. This is the smartphone to get if you want a powerful 4.6-inch Android device.


Specs

  • Weight: 129 g
  • Dimensions: 127 x 64.9 x 8.6 mm
  • Display: 4.6" HD (1280x720 pixels), TRILUMINOS™ Display, X-Reality™ engine
  • OS: Google Android 4.4 (KitKat)
  • Processor: Snapdragon 2.5 GHz Qualcomm Quad-core, Adreno 330 GPU
  • Memory: 2GB RAM, 16GB Internal, up to 128GB external microSD, SDXC supported
  • Camera: 20.7 MP rear camera, 2.2 MP front-facing camera, ISO 12800
  • Battery: 2600 mAh non-removable
  • Durability: Waterproof and dust tight (IP65 and IP68)
  • Network: GSM GPRS/EDGE (2G), UMTS HSPA (3G), LTE (4G)
  • Connectivity: aGPS, Bluetooth® 4.0, DLNA, NFC, GLONASS, USB 2.0, USB Tethering, Wi-Fi® and Wi-Fi Hotspot, ANT+
  • Sound: Sony 3D Surround Sound technology (VPT), Clear Audio+, xLoud™ Experience, DSEE HX, High-res audio, 3.5 mm audio jack with Digital Noise Cancelling (DNC)


Reviewed by Chester Tan
Rating: 4.2 of 5

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro: Hands-On Review For A Week

The Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro officially announced its availability in Singapore on 30 Oct 2014. A few days later, I was provided with a unit to review the product first-hand and share my experience.

The new Yoga 3 Pro has generated a lot of interest, being the first consumer product sold with the latest Intel Core M Broadwell chip. In addition, Lenovo is the pioneer in designing a convertible laptop that folds 360-degrees, a concept which was initially met with skepticism by consumers but soon copied by other manufacturers. With the latest Yoga generation, Lenovo is once again at the forefront of innovating this multimode design.

Yoga 3 Pro Review Unit Specs

  • Processor: Intel dual-core Core M-70 (5Y70) 1.1GHz (2.6GHz with Turbo boost)
  • Graphics: integrated, Intel HD Graphics 5300
  • Memory: 8GB DDR3L RAM
  • Storage: 256GB SSD
  • OS: Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit
  • Display: 13.3" QHD+ 3200x1800 touchscreen
  • Ports: 2x USB3.0, 1x USB2.0, Micro HDMI, 4-in-1 Card Reader, Audio Combo Jack
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0, Gigabit LAN (no Ethernet port)
  • Audio: JBL stereo speakers
  • Camera: 720p
  • Weight: 1.19kg
  • Dimension: 300 x 228 x 12.88mm
  • Published Battery Life: 9 hrs


First Ultrabook Using Intel Core M Processor

The new Yoga 3 Pro is fitted with the latest Intel Core M (Broadwell) processor. It is a big deal because this processor can be run without a fan (although Yoga 3 Pro has one, just to keep things cooler), allowing computer makers to design thinner and lighter devices. It also runs at a much lower power (4.5W) compared to previous Intel chips, potentially making devices much more battery-efficient. Based on benchmark test using PassMark Performance Test, the Yoga 3 Pro achieves up to 1493 points.


Slimmest Yoga


With each new version, Lenovo Yoga series cuts the weight and thickness. The Yoga 3 Pro is probably the lightest and thinnest 13.3-inch laptop in the market, with much credit going to the new low-power mobile-friendly Intel Core M chip.


Watchband Hinge

The one feature that make the Yoga 3 Pro stand out is the unique watchband hinge, made up of over 800 individual components. This elaborate design provides a smooth step-less hinge support for the Yoga 3 Pro, ensuring the keyboard and display stays in place in whatever angle you adjust to. Interestingly, the hinge sparkles under basking light, further enhancing its visual appeal.


Here are some noteworthy features after going hands on for a week:

Weight

It is so light! It is so thin! This laptop can achieve what other laptops double the size and weight could.


Speed

The Yoga 3 Pro feels speedy. Cold boot and shut down is so fast, you don't even have time to take a sip of water. There was no uncomfortable lag when I open apps or tap an icon for action. I give credit to the massive 8GB RAM and the 256GB SSD. There was practically no sound coming out from the machine, except for a silent whirl when the processor kicks in during high CPU usage.

Battery Life

The Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro is not built for extensive media processing (music, photos, video), and more for mobile warriors who need to work on office productivity, like word processing, spreadsheets, presentation. With that in mind, the Yoga 3 Pro can achieve over 5 hours of usage for an average user, and past 7 hours if you select the Power Saver power plan and use the ultrabook sparingly. If you load the processor regularly, the Yoga 3 Pro can sustain up to around 3.5 hours. Putting it on standby doesn't drain the battery much, but if you don't use it over long periods of time, it's always better to shut it down, which takes less than 10 seconds anyway.

How good is the battery life? It all depends on your usage pattern, the brightness level of the LED screen, whether you set the Power Saver, whether you run apps that requires high CPU resources. But all I can say is that, I have never experienced such a reliable battery performance in such a slim and light computer. The Yoga 3 Pro is going to last you an entire day of office work and web browser surfing. It takes 3 hours to give a full charge, but just an hour's charge will bring the battery up to 50%.


Display and Resolution

Just like the Yoga 2 Pro, the Yoga 3 Pro has a 3200x1800 pixel QHD+ display. The touch screen is sensitive and responsive. The colour tone is skewed towards the warm side, looking natural without over-saturated. Images and text look sharp, viewing angles are excellent, without colour tone or contrast shifts.


However, the uncommon display resolution causes some font size inconsistency issues, as the Windows OS native display scaling is not compatible with all apps. So, some display text appears jaw-droppingly tiny, while menu icons could be impossibly small to select. Fingerprint smudges on the Gorilla glass panel are unavoidable.


Keyboard

The keyboard surface is laced with a dimple-pattern rubberized coating, which feels rather comfortable to rest on. The keyboard action distance is shorter than the usual Lenovo keyboard. But the mechanism is firm, responsive and the keys are sturdy and do not waver. And, it's backlit! Makes working in low light a breeze. The touchpad is sufficiently sized, equally responsive and smooth to the touch.

Lenovo has chosen to remove the dedicate Function keys, but you can still access them by pressing the combo "Fn" + number keys.


USB Port Charger


Lenovo has designed the charger port with standard USB connector. When not charging, you can use the connector as another USB port. The Lenovo charger uses a detachable but specially-designed USB cable, and the same charger can also be used to charge other USB devices as it outputs 2A current in either 20V (to charge the laptop) or 5.2V (to charge other mobile devices). However, I couldn't charge the laptop with other 2A 5V USB chargers.


Pre-installed Apps

Most consumers dislike bloatware, which slows down the devices. But I quite like the following Lenovo apps in the Yoga 3 Pro.

  • Lenovo Settings: dashboard to manage your ultrabook hardware. Use it to enable or disable camera, WiFi, monitor CPU temperature.

  • OneKey Optimizer (OKO): displays your remaining battery, cleans up memory and junk to improve performance.

  • Harmony: learns the apps you use to optimise system settings and suggests your commonly used apps against each mode. There isn't much customisation options for this app, and I don't see any critical benefits other than collecting usage information on each modes, telling me which modes I frequently use on my Yoga 3 Pro.

  • Phone Companion: connects to your smartphone wirelessly via Wi-Fi. From there, you can access your phone contents, call or text via the laptop. I didn't get it to work during my review period, but I think this feature has got good potential.


Among the other optional apps, I tried the Lenovo VeriFace Pro2, which is essentially a face recognition authentication tool to unlock the laptop. While it facilitates logging in at most times, the tool fails when there is insufficient lighting or when you disable the camera.


Sound Speakers

Yoga 3 Pro is fitted with JBL audio speakers and runs on Waves Maxx Audio, which changes the audio settings automatically based on the display mode (laptop, tent, stand, tablet). This is a good idea, as I like to boost the treble in laptop mode because the speakers are below the keyboard and sounds muffled. For tent mode, I tweak the treble lower since the speakers face towards the viewer.


The speaker audio quality is bright and sufficiently loud, producing sparkling trebles (with tendency to crack at loud volumes), warm mids and audible mid-high bass. It is certainly one of the better sounding laptops I've reviewed.

Camera

The camera captures up to 1280x720, and does not come with any advanced shoot settings nor any camera apps. A small white LED light appears next to the camera but is not strong enough to be a light source, so I reckon it's only an indicator that the camera is active.

Conclusion


The Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro is a beautiful ultrabook, with a unique watchband hinge that is hard to miss. Since this is the first ultrabook that uses the latest Intel Core M chip, subsequent launches from other computer makers are bound to use this ultrabook as a reference. Based on my week of usage, the Yoga 3 Pro delivers better performance than most of the average ultrabooks of previous Intel Core chips with similar clock speed. Thanks to the new Intel Core M processor, it is possible to run the Yoga 3 Pro longer in low-power state. Battery life could have been better to cater to more aggressive users, but not without gaining some bulk. For that, I think Lenovo has positioned this product pretty well: focusing primarily on the slim and light design, balanced with a respectable battery life, and a good hardware-software combination to ensure smooth and sleek performance worthy of its look.

The Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro is priced from S$2299. Visit Lenovo Singapore website for more details.



Reviewed by Chester Tan
Rating: 4 of 5