Review: Lenovo Flex 14

Review: Lenovo Flex 14

With the Yoga ultrabook, Lenovo delivered a touchscreen that could rotate 360 degrees so it could be used as a tablet or a laptop.

Now, it has tweaked this design for the mainstream market to produce the Flex 14 ultrabook. This costs just $1,199 for the Intel Core i7 version.

The Flex does not transform into a tablet as its hinge is limited to 300 degrees. When you fold the screen backwards, you get a kiosk-like "stand" mode that brings the touchscreen closer to the user.

In this mode, the keyboard and touchpad are automatically disabled. They are inaccessible, as they end up facing the tabletop.

Unfortunately, the touchscreen felt wobbly that I did not feel confident enough to use it to play touch-based games. When watching videos, the images looked decent even when viewed at extreme angles from the sides.

But the screen's resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels, while reasonable for its price, lacks the pixels to do justice to full-high definition videos.

The Flex 14 looks good in orange and black. More importantly, all attempts to smudge the laptop's soft-touch finish with my fingers were defeated.

But, be warned, at 1.9kg, it is not as light as it looks. The keyboard is the familiar island-style version preferred by Lenovo. The bottom of the keys are slightly rounded for more accurate typing. The Flex 14 has its flaws: The tiny power button on the right side is practically flush with the surface of the laptop and the small volume rocker feels too stiff.

Unlike the typical ultrabook, the Flex 14 has a removable battery. This ultrabook lasted 6hr 19min while playing a video continuously in Digital Life's standard battery test.

Already installed in the Flex is an Energy Manager application with pre-defined power consumption profiles to suit most users.

It also monitors your running applications and tells you which ones are draining your battery. There is even a function that rapidly spins the internal fan to dislodge accumulated dust and ensure optimal performance.

The ultra-low voltage Intel Haswell chip inside the Flex 14 is mostly responsible for the good battery stamina. But having just 4GB of RAM feels measly, even for a budget PC.

The ultrabook also has an Nvidia GeForce GT 720M graphics chip, which provides better performance than an integrated graphics chip.

The downside is that battery life will almost surely take a hit when the Flex is running games or other 3-D applications that use the Nvidia chip.

The flexible hinge that gives this mainstream ultrabook its name is useful, but not essential. Instead, its reasonable price, good battery life and fairly attractive design are some of its stronger draws.

TECH SPECS

Price: $1,199
Processor: Intel Core i7-4500U (1.8GHz)
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GT 720M 2GB
RAM: 4GB
Screen size: 14 inches, 1,366 x 768 pixels
Connectivity: 1 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0, HDMI, SD card reader, Ethernet, headphone jack
Battery: 48 watt-hour

RATING

Features: 3
Design: 4
Performance: 3
Value for money: 4
Battery life: 4
Overall: 4


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