Don’t call it a Yoga, but the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 15 certainly takes some design cues from the popular Yoga Ultrabook series. The Flex 15 on the other hand, is an affordable convertible laptop that packs in a touchscreen, along with a neat dual-mode design. So in addition to operating in traditional laptop mode, its dual-mode design allows you to flip the laptop 300 degrees from laptop to stand mode. Of course this mode is useful for watching videos, making Skype calls, showing off photo slideshows and playing back PowerPoint presentations. Unfortunately, the Flex 15 design doesn’t support tent mode and tablet mode, the way Lenovo’s Yoga series does, but it does offer plenty of innovation at an affordable price.
While it’s not quite as attractive as the Yoga series, Lenovo has done a really nice job with the design of the Flex 15. The build quality is top notch for a laptop at this price point. The lid and underside sport a soft-touch finish which makes the laptop easy to grip. It’s also got a nice sleek black brushed aluminum frame surrounding the keyboard and it is also available with a choice of gray or orange accents. But it’s not just the style of the Flex 15 that is a crowd pleaser, but it’s also very lightweight for a 15.6” laptop. To that effect, the Flex 15 measures less than 1” thick (.87”) and weighs just 5.1lbs. As far as ports are concerned, Lenovo has managed to pack in two USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 port, an SD card reader, an ethernet port, and HDMI out.
The Flex 15 also packs in a 15.6” 16:9 widescreen touchscreen with a 1366×768 resolution. Of course, this resolution is low for such a large display, but it is to be expected at this price point. But it’s not so much the resolution that bothers us, but the display is a bit grainy and has limited viewing angles. That said, the display does get adequately bright, it has pretty good colors, and it is on par with displays in this price range. Truth be told, most users looking for a laptop in this price range will be satisfied with the Flex 15′s display.
When it comes to the keyboard, the AccuType keyboard is extremely ergonomic and offers great tactile feedback. It does ironically, have a little bit of flex, but it’s still a top notch keyboard. But perhaps more importantly, many users will be excited by the fact that Lenovo has managed to pack a numeric keypad as well.
Under the hood, our test system packs in an Intel Core i5-4200U 1.60GHz processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive. This configuration currently retails for 779.22 on sale. The system can also be configured with a 128GB SSD, and a choice of a Core i5, Core i3 or Celeron processor. Buying a system with a Core i3 processor will drop down the price – to as low as $459.42.
In PC Mark 8, the system earned a benchmark score of 1704 under the Home Accelerated test and 2504 under the Home Conventional score test. That translates to capable performance for most average users who are surfing the web, watching HD video, and for general multi tasking. The system also has a respectable boot time of 24 seconds, which includes logging in.
The Flex 15comes preloaded with plenty of apps such as Lenovo Cloud Storage by SugarSync, a trial of McAfee Internet Security Trial, Kindle, Ever Note, an Office 2013 Trial, Zinio, and eBay.
Battery life on the Flex 15 is very impressive. We got about 6 to 7 hours on average with wi-fi turned on, while working at a lower brightness setting. Speaking of impressive, its Stereo speakers with Dolby Advanced Audio are also very, very good. They are crisp, powerful, and manage to pack quite the punch with a nice amount of treble and a moderate amount of bass.
When it comes to form factors, the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 15 isn’t quite as versatile as the Yoga 11S and Yoga Pro, but it’s still quite versatile for its size and price range. Furthermore, its stand mode is convenient for impromptu presentations, movie watching, and what not. But beyond its unique form-factor, we appreciate it’s great build quality, sleek looks, lightweight body, and excellent battery life. We also like that Lenovo has priced the system affordably, and that they have managed to pack in a numeric keypad too. So while we do have some gripes with its display, overall, the Flex 15 is a well rounded and affordable convertible that really resembles a premium convertible. Pricing for the Flex 15 begins at $459, and there is also a Flex 14 model which packs in a 14” display. That said, while the Flex 15 is priced right at the low end, if you end up considering the Flex 15′s higher priced configurations, you might want to consider getting the Yoga Pro 2 instead.
The Good:Great build quality for its price range, excellent battery life, innovative dual-mode design with stand mode and touchscreen, excellent tactile keyboard with numeric keypad, lightweight for a 15.6” display size, plenty of ports, very good speakers, nice sizable and responsive touchpad, and good performance.
The Bad:Display is mediocre, doesn’t fold all the way down into a tablet like the Yoga series does and webcam gets the job done – but its colors are dull.