John Galea's Blog

My blog on Gadgets and the like

Lenovo Flex 15″ laptop review

A friend came to me looking for a recommendation with an odd restriction. They had won a gift certificate from Microsoft they wanted to use. So her requirements were different than what I would choose. She wanted 15″. Searching through the Microsoft Store’s offerings I found this one. It has an unusual design. The screen bends over 300 degrees to allow it to be used sort of like a tablet or it can be used like a normal notebook. A curious design, not sure how useful it is, but at least you can ignore that feature if it doesn’t interest you.
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Right off the bat when this thing arrives two things come to mind … it’s BIG and it’s HEAVY. 15.6 inch big bright, crisp display 1366×768. And weighs in at a whopping 5.1 lbs (vs 3.1 for the X202 I last reviewed). Physically it is 15.00 x 10.70 x 0.87 inches. It’s fairly thin. It’s got a whopping 8G of memory (not upgradeable, although it is a SODIMM so you might be able to replace it. At least it’s not soldered on the planar). Hard drive is 500G 5400 rpm rotating (non-SSD). Start up time is noticeably slower because of the hard drive. Processor is a Core i5. It does not seem to get outrageously warm and the fan is reasonably quiet but noticeable.

Port wise it’s got everything I’d want, USB3, USB2, HDMI (full size), wired NIC as well as SD slot. It also has bluetooth built in. It also has an BGN wireless card.

Once again the SD slot is only half deep leaving it hanging out the side of it. (Repeating an earlier post) I looked for a half slot card or adapter. First off I found one at MCM electronics. I have to admit I didn’t pay enough attention to the pic of it. It’s way too thick to fit in a normal slot. It’s designed only for a Raspberry Pi. Do not buy one of these:
Then I looked into an item called a mini drive. It is designed for MacBooks. This one actually works and just barely sticks out of the notebook. Little enough to not be an issue. They put a little piece of tape on it to be able to remove it. Which is a good thing. It would be a challenge otherwise. I got it on Amazon.

The device arrived with Windows 8 64bit , which upgraded to 8.1 without issues. Once upgraded to 8.1 Windows wanted me to upgrade the Intel ProSet drivers which I did manually.

The Keyboard because of the size of the screen is big, spacious, well laid out and includes a numeric key pad. The Trackpoint is big and prominent up front. There does not seem to be any support for gestures on the trackpoint like some of them. There is no IBM like joystick on this one. The keyboard is not back lit and there is no airplane light either so typing in the dark is challenging.

The power adapter is a bit of a larger brick but then it needs to be to power this bruiser. The power connector is rectangular in shape and looks kind of similar to a USB port. An unusual design.

On the one side of the unit is the power button as well as volume rockers. Odd placement. There is a Windows key on the bottom middle of the screen but has an unpleasant feel to it. Fortunately the only time you will use it is if you are using it in the quasi tablet layout.

Performance on this device is pretty darn good. Once spooled up. Replacing the slower 5400 RPM hard drive with an SSD would make a HUGE improvement. It’s the one thing holding this otherwise stellar performer back.

Lenovo claims 5 hours battery life. I think your results may differ. Push this processor and I bet you can watch the hours melt off pretty quickly.

The web cam is a full 720p. Nice!

There is no optical media on this laptop (CD/DVD).

To open this puppy requires removing a whopping 16 screws including two hidden under rubber feet. Lenovo does make the hardware maintenance manual readily available. Once open you can replace the 5400 RPM 2.5″ drive with a standard 2.5″ SSD.

At $749 from Microsoft this thang sure ain’t cheap. I guess your paying by the pound. Honestly, I would never choose this device solely based on it’s size. But that said, it is a VERY powerful, full function machine.


February 5, 2014 - Posted by | Other reviews

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