Between the Yoga line, the ThinkPad Twist, and the ThinkPad Helix, Lenovo’s been targeting all quadrants of the convertible spectrum pretty ferociously. Now, with the introduction of the IdeaPad Flex 14, there’s yet another option available, and with its purpose in mind, it succeeds. Thanks to the Flex, for (far) less dough than a comparable Yoga, you can still score a capable convertible Ultrabook that doesn’t break the bank.
The design is clever, boasting some improvements over the Yoga by way of some additional cleverly-located rubber “feet” on the top of the base unit which leaves the device elevated at a slight angle when in Stand Mode. The Flex also nixes the (relatively cumbersome) Tablet Mode and Tent Mode, negating the need for any sort of gyroscopic screen rotation and making its use considerably more straightforward for those who want touch but don’t care about the tablet form factor.
Our $749 review unit was also quick and nimble due to the inclusion of an i5 CPU and SSD (the base requirements for an Ultrabook in terms of CPU and storage). It beats the Yoga 11S in most every benchmark and even manages to last over two hours longer in general web surfing. Other, far less expensive configurations are also available with lower-grade CPUs and standard mechanical storage devices—and the Flex 14 is fortunately upgradeable without too much fuss, leaving the door open for future improvement. In other words, in the category of budget performance and portability, the Flex makes a lot of sense.
Alas, there are still some drawbacks that separate the Flex from its higher-priced brethren, and these ought to be the primary considerations for those thinking about a purchase. For starters, the general construction (and the various components associated with it) is a grade below that of pricier models, as evidenced by the TN LED screen that saddles the Flex 14 (in the shadow of the Yoga’s IPS looker), the cheap-feeling keyboard and somewhat lackadaisical clickpad, and the plastic frame. These items are typical of lower-priced notebooks and are hardly surprising here—but viewed adjacent to better-equipped rivals, they serve as a swift reminder of the necessary corner-cutting involved.
But for the right user, the Flex 14 is a sensible option. It’s affordable, fast, and goes for a long time on a charge—and, with some exceptions—its design does a great job of balancing traditional notebook functionality with touch interface. It’s yet another serious contender from Lenovo in the convertible market.