The Flex 20 is a product of its time. It exists because Microsoft's Windows 8, to put it simply, is a mash-up of a touch-based operating system with a conventional keyboard and mouse desktop interface.
But unlike the usual Windows hybrids which merge tablet with laptop, the Flex 20 is an AIO that leans back to become a mega tablet which has a battery that lets it run close to three hours unplugged.
It certainly looks like one with its brushed metal back, though, at 3.5kg, it is far heavier than most slates.
In other words, it has its own distinct niche. Some have taken to calling such devices tabletop PCs. Lenovo reinforces this impression by bundling accessories to take advantage of its upsized tablet form. There are joysticks, strikers and electronic dice that let you use it as an intelligent touch-capable game board to play Monopoly (not included) and other board games.
Like the Lenovo Horizon, the Flex 20 comes with Aura, a custom touch interface designed for multiple users. At its heart is a concentric menu that expands to show a list of installed apps, many with Lenovo branding. They include games such as Air Hockey and educational apps, which are, more importantly, optimised for touch.
Unfortunately, Lenovo's App Shop, an online store from which more Aura-enabled apps can be downloaded, appears to be dead. There is a shutdown notice from Intel, which powers the store. Surely, this does not bode well, for where else can one get new Aura apps in future?
A sturdy stand props up the Flex 20's 19.5-inch screen. The stand is adjustable and you can vary the tilt of the screen. The screen is an in-plane switching display with 10-point touch support. Although the 1,600 x 900-pixel screen resolution is on the low side, it compensates for this by having wide viewing angles.
With just two USB 3.0 ports and a headphone jack, the Flex 20 is almost as limited in connectivity options as a tablet. It has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, but no HDMI or Ethernet. Instead, there are tablet-like features - a screen rotation lock and volume controls at its top right edge.
An Intel Core processor with integrated graphics powers the machine. In effect, it is as capable as an ultrabook - good enough for Web browsing or working on documents. But not so much for playing the latest PC games. Casual titles from the Windows Store should run fine.
The Lenovo Flex 20 is an unusual hybrid which combines the features of a AIO PC with those of a tablet. However, it lacks many of the features expected of a desktop computer.
Processor: Intel Core i5-4200U (1.6GHz)
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4400
RAM: 4GB DDR3
Display: 19.5 inches, 1,600 x 900 pixels
Connectivity: 2 x USB 3.0, headphone jack
Value for money: 3
This article was first published on July 09, 2014.
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