Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 15 review
Lenovo injects new life into the budget laptop, with the stylish, supple IdeaPad Flex 15
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.
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.
|Price ex VAT||£458|
|Price inc VAT||£550|
|Features & Design||5|
|Value for Money||5|
|Warranty||1yr collect and return|
|Dimensions||332 x 273 x 27mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Core i5-4200U|
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,366|
|Resolution screen vertical||768|
|Resolution||1366 x 768|
|Graphics chipset||Intel HD Graphics 4400|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||0|
|Optical disc technology||N/A|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|Wired adapter speed||100Mbits/sec|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|USB ports (downstream)||2|
|3.5mm audio jacks||1|
|SD card reader||yes|
|Pointing device type||Touchpad, touchscreen|
|Camera megapixel rating||0.9mp|
Battery and performance tests
|Battery life, light use||9hr 59min|
|Battery life, heavy use||3hr 50min|
|3D performance (crysis) low settings||52fps|
|3D performance setting||Low|
|Overall Real World Benchmark score||0.63|