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Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 15 review

Verdict

A stylish, attractive 15.6in laptop that’s more flexible than most, but the dismal display dulls its appeal

Review Date: 26 Aug 2014

Reviewed By: Sasha Muller

Price when reviewed: £458 (£550 inc VAT)

Buy it now for: £389
(see more store prices)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Performance
4 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 15 is a budget laptop with a twist. Where most at this price rarely stray far from the tried and tested, the Flex 15 features an unusually flexible design. See also: what's the best laptop you can buy in 2014?

However, this laptop isn’t a carbon copy of Lenovo’s much pricier Yoga models. Where the Yogas pride themselves on metal-clad, Ultrabook-class chassis, the Flex 15 is a more heavyweight affair constructed from rounded plastics. This is the Yoga rejigged to be affordable.

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 15 review: looks and design

Not that the Flex 15 feels budget. Its 2.19kg body looks and feels a cut above its budget peers, with a stout and solid chassis that has hardly a shrug of give in the base, and only a minor amount of flex in the lid.

It’s also noticeably more photogenic than most laptops you’ll find in this category. The soft-touch black plastics curve gently towards the laptop’s edges, sandwiching a strip of striking orange trim that runs around the laptop’s front and flares outwards as it approaches the hinge. It’s a lovely looking piece of kit.

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 15 review: low-cost hybrid

It’s the extra centimetre around the Flex 15’s waist that hints at the presence of its novel, flexible hinge. Push it back and you’ll find the display rotates back through 300 degrees, allowing the Flex 15 to work as a standard laptop, or flip upside down and perform as a compact all-in-one touchscreen PC. Once flipped upside down, the keyboard and touchpad are deactivated, so you don’t have to worry about accidentally typing with your knees. There’s no “tent” mode, nor tablet mode, though – if such flexibility appeals, you’ll need to set your sights on one of Lenovo’s more multitalented Yoga models.

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 15

As a laptop, the Flex 15 is one of the finest budget models we’ve encountered for some time. We’d rather Lenovo hadn’t shortened the right-Shift key to make room for the cursor keys, but this is a minor quibble. Otherwise, the Scrabble-tile layout is spot on, with zero flex or wallow in the base and a lovely, light, crisp feel to every keystroke. It also manages to accommodate a numeric keypad.

The buttonless touchpad below isn’t quite as refined. A slight lip along its border occasionally interferes with Windows 8’s edge-swipes, but otherwise it isn’t too bad. Two-fingered scrolling and zooming gestures work well, and the whole pad depresses with a solid, muffled click. And it’s good to have the option of the stand mode in certain situations. It comes in handy for casual web browsing on a lap or workstation use on a desk with a full-sized keyboard and mouse. In either scenario, the ten-point multitouch touchscreen responds to every flick and prod of a finger.

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User comments

How come we have full HD displays on phones but when it comes to laptops and even monitors we have to settle for this?

By JamesD29 on 10 Dec 2013

@JamesD29

My feelings exactly, and I stated as much in the recent podcast in which we discussed the Flex 15.

I can't believe that even a basic, 1,366 x 768 IPS display would cost that much more than a TN panel. But, to be fair, Lenovo isn't the only offender: I can't think of any budget 15.6in laptops which have an IPS screen.

Thing is, put an IPS (or at least a good-quality, high-resolution TN) screen on a £500 laptop, and I'm not sure many people would ever see a reason to spend more. It could end up costing manufacturers in the long run.

By SashaMuller on 10 Dec 2013

Laptops in a nutshell

It's the general problem with laptops. Nowerdays with phones, even cheap ones usually have half-decent displays, whereas laptops are still firmly wedded to poor quality 1366x768 screens unless you pay a premium. That was the problem with the "race to the bottom" a few years ago.

I'm also glad you mentioned the half-length shift key. After suffering with one of these on my old Netbook, I couldn't go back to another laptop that has one unfortunately as I found it infuriating to use (always pressing "up" instead of "shift").

By Trippynet on 10 Dec 2013

Laptops in a nutshell

It's the general problem with laptops. Nowerdays with phones, even cheap ones usually have half-decent displays, whereas laptops are still firmly wedded to poor quality 1366x768 screens unless you pay a premium. That was the problem with the "race to the bottom" a few years ago.

I'm also glad you mentioned the half-length shift key. After suffering with one of these on my old Netbook, I couldn't go back to another laptop that has one unfortunately as I found it infuriating to use (always pressing "up" instead of "shift").

By Trippynet on 10 Dec 2013

The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 15 is a budget laptop with a twist

The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 15 is a budget laptop with a twist. The twist being that budget laptops are literally half the price of this one. Face facts. £200-£300 is budget, £300-£400 gives all you might 'need' in the mid range, you really need a compelling reason to pay more. If money is no object clearly you can spend more ...

By Drushmore on 12 Dec 2013

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