Review by Victor Yap
Lenovo is famous for one particular convertible Ultrabook range that can offer four unique modes of usage and has exceptional performance, well – at least – on record with PC.com Tested Labs. Yes, the one model I am making vague references to is the Lenovo Yoga series. It is unfortunate that many iterations of the Yoga are priced beyond the reach of many average consumers. Lenovo decided to address this prevailing issue with the introduction of a more affordable device, the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex. Right after the local launch, Lenovo had been quick to send over the 15in version over to the Tested Labs for a review. Guess who got to fiddle with it?
Like the Yoga
Let’s get this out of the way first. In terms of design, I must say that the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 15 is wonderful to look at. Many friends who have seen it thought it was a Yoga and while I’d like to carry on the bluff, the same bunch quickly guessed correctly that there is no 15in model for that 360-degree flipping wonder.
Even if it looks like the Yoga somewhat, the Flex 15 is truly a sight to behold. From getting a good view at it from the box packaging to taking it out and then setting it up, the no-nonsense matte metal finish for the top-lid, to the brushed metal wrist panel and keyboard bezel, and orange accents on the sides, Lenovo has truly taken its design aesthetics to another level. Having all of that being encapsulated in an ultra-slim chassis that is cool to the touch and pleasing to the eye, gives this Ultrabook a proper touch of class and style.
The Flex 15 comes packed with the best in class specs for an Ultrabook. Sporting an Intel 4th Generation Core i7-4500 CPU that is paired with 4GB of RAM, which I feel is a little low, and an NVIDIA GeForce GT720M 2GB GPU. This makes for a great system that can deal with Full HD content, enriched multimedia processing, and multiple work instances that are fraught with an over-population of browser tabs and office productivity. For the stuff I did, like hammering out this written review on it, to running a few HD content on it simultaneously, and even playing a few rounds of Starcraft II, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Portal II, and Company of Heroes 2, everything played out smoothly on the Flex 15.
Big and Bright
The widescreen 15in LED that the Flex 15 uses is exceptional. White and blacks have a very nice balance with colours coming out pretty vivid and vibrant. I like how the whites didn’t seem stark. This is mostly thanks to the deep blacks that ensure the primary shades are not overly saturated. Full HD content looks great with the reds not being overly red while the blues and greens are pleasing to the eyes. Being a 10-point multitouch display also gives it an edge over many convertibles as I can do more on screen with the Flex 15 rather than being hindered with just five touchpoints.
Unlike its premium brother, the Flex 15 only features two user modes: the classic notebook and stand mode. The latter is the alternate mode (ala Transformers) for the Lenovo flexible wonder. By flipping the display 300-degrees, the Ultrabook switches from being a straight-up desktop PC to a desk-bound style slate PC. In this mode, everything operates as per normal minus the physical keyboard. Even without the familiar sensation of hard keys, typing on the Windows 8 based soft-keyboard is just as responsive. I use both modes in equal amounts of time, notebook for work and slate for leisure time.
Loaded into the Flex 15 is the newly released Windows 8.1 Seeing as how the new operating system (OS) has been optimised, it is up to me to find out if Lenovo has done enough to enhance the user experience of the new OS. In summary, it does the job well enough. I make more trips to the Start Screen thanks to ever-familiar presence of the Start button and the 15in display real estate is more than adequate to use the 50% fill option of Screen Snap. Perfect for running the Desktop app and another app native to the Start Screen. All-in-all, the Flex 15 impressed me enough, specifically in how well it performed as a work horse.
Dimensions (W x H x D): 380.5 x 272.7 x 6 ~ 22.2 mm
Weight: <2.3 kg
Operating System: Windows 8.1
CPU: Intel Core i7-4500U (1.8Ghz up to 3.06Ghz, 4MB L3 Cache)
Memory: 4 GB (1×4096)
Storage: 500GB (with Hybrid options that has a 8GB SSD)
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GT720M 2GB DDR3
Display: 15.6in HD WLED 10-point MultiTouch
Connectivity: 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth® 4.01, 10/100 Mbps LAN
I/O Ports: 1x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0 x 2, 1x (SD/MMC) card reader, 1x combo of 1/8in stereo headphone output, 1x HDMI, 1x RJ45
Camera: 0.3 MP / 1.0 MP (720p HD webcam)
PCMark 8: 3013 (Home), 4745 (Work), 2757 (Creative)
3036 (Home with CL), 4788 (Work with CL), 3029 (Creative with CL)
3DMark11: P1140, E1812
Battery Performance: 5hrs (High Performance with basic use), 3hrs (High Performance with gaming)
Verdict: Lovely design that has top notch performance.
Total Score: 9.2/10