Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 15 review

26 Aug 2014

Lenovo injects new life into the budget laptop, with the stylish, supple IdeaPad Flex 15

Price when reviewed: 
550(£550 inc VAT)
Buy it now for 
5

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.

Details

Price ex VAT £458
Price inc VAT £550
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 5
Performance 4

Warranty

Warranty 1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 332 x 273 x 27mm (WDH)
Weight 2.190kg
Travelling weight 2.5kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i5-4200U
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR3

Screen and video

Screen size 15.6in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset Intel HD Graphics 4400
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 0
HDMI outputs 1

Drives

Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Optical disc technology N/A
Optical drive None
Battery capacity 3,500mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 100Mbits/sec
802.11a support no
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Modem no
USB ports (downstream) 2
3.5mm audio jacks 1
SD card reader yes
Pointing device type Touchpad, touchscreen
Integrated microphone? yes
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
Responsiveness score 0.71
Media score 0.69
Multitasking score 0.49

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