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Yoga Tablet 3 Pro Series is Back in Black

Last year, Lenovo introduced us to the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro, an entertainment powerhouse that packed a subwoofer and a projector into a high-end 13.3″ Android tablet with a reasonable $500 price. It’s been about a year since that tablet was announced, so it’s no surprise that Lenovo has the next generation ready for us at IFA in Berlin this week. The Yoga Tablet 3 Pro retains the spirit of its predecessor while making some nice tweaks to those extra features, but the same can’t be said of its more inexpensive cousins.

The biggest change to the Pro model is the size — the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro came in at 13.3″ partly because Lenovo figured most people use tablets at home as entertainment devices, so portability could be sacrificed for a bigger display. The rationale must have changed between then and now, because the Yoga Tablet 3 Pro is only 10.1″ and they’ve decided to make the tablet more travel friendly this time around. It does have the same 2560 x 1440 IPS display as the previous tablet with the same dual plastic/metal build, although now with a leather back and IP21 splash resistance. The design is the same, using a metal cylinder on one side of the tablet as a 180° hinge that also functions as a stand and houses the battery. The processor has been upped to a 2.24 GHz (max) Intel Atom x 5-Z8500 processor, but there’s still just 2 GB of RAM.

Like before, you’ll have the choice between 16 GB and 32 GB of storage. The microSD card slot returns and supports cards up to 128 GB. The cameras have received substantial upgrades, going from 8 MP rear and 1.6 MP front to 13 MP rear and 5 MP front. The battery is slightly larger, though, going from 9,600 mAh to 10,200 mAh. Considering that our review found battery life to be one of the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro’s weak spots, this is something we’ll have to keep our eye on.

The best news comes from the projector and speakers, the two features that really set the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro apart last year. Instead of relying on the subwoofer in the back for the wow factor, Lenovo has fit in an entire four-speaker soundbar from JBL powered by Dolby Atmos technology, suggesting that this tablet will retain the best sound title. The projector has been relocated from the end of the cylinder hinge to the middle, and is now capable of projecting a 70″ image, up from 50″, albeit still with just a modest 50 nits of brightness.

Lenovo is also refreshing their 8″ and 10″ Yoga Tablets. But instead of an 1.86 GHz quad-core Intel Atom processor, the new tablets use a 1.3 GHz quad-core Qualcomm APQ8009 processor with just 1 GB of RAM, instead of the 2 GB we saw on last year’s models. The Yoga Tablet 3 also ramps down to a 1280 x 800 display from 1920 x 1200 on last year’s models. They still have 16 GB of storage, although this year’s microSD card slot can now accommodate cards up to 128 GB.

Lenovo also managed to save money by taking out the front camera completely, while retaining the same 8 MP rear camera. This isn’t a bad thing, though — in a clever move, they put the camera in the rotating cylinder hinge, making the camera front-facing in stand mode and rear-facing while you’re holding it in your hand. This effectively gives you an 8 MP front and rear camera, so kudos to Lenovo for improving that part of the tablet while saving money in the process.

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Regrettably, the batteries have also been shrunk. The 10″ goes from 9,600 mAh to 8,400 mAh, while the 8″ goes from 6,400 mAh to 6,200 mAh. That said, given that the rest of the specs are less taxing, that might not end up being a downgrade in terms of battery life. Dolby Atmos sound is in these tablets, like in the Pro version, along with a dual speaker array. Last year’s AnyPen technology, which lets you use any object as a stylus (we mean any), also makes a return in both models of the Yoga Tablet 3, along with the all-plastic build.

No word on whether or not there will be Windows 10 versions of any of these tablets — only Android 5.1 (5.0 for the 10″ Yoga Tablet 3) models have been confirmed. All three will come in 4G LTE models, but only in certain markets — some of us will just see the Wi-Fi-only tablets.

Pricing will be $170 for the 8″ and $200 for the 10″. The Yoga Tablet 3 Pro will retail for $499. For now, it looks like all three will only come in black. They’ll all be available sometime during the holiday season.