Lenovo is trying out yet another design for a touch-enabled Windows 8
notebook. This time, the screen isn't detachable and doesn't twist
around to allow a tablet-like experience. Instead of pretending to be a
laptop and ending up too thick, the Lenovo Flex 10 just tries to
overcome the discomfort of reaching across the keyboard and trackpad to
interact with the touchscreen.
The Flex 10 gets its name because
its lid can fold back flat and then around up to 300 degrees. It can
then be placed with the keyboard deck upside down, which then acts as a
stand. This way, the screen tilts at a comfortable angle, but is closer
to the user.
We'll find out how practical this design really is,
and whether the Lenovo Flex 10 is a good machine considering its budget
Look and feel
At first glance, you wouldn't
guess that the Flex 10 is not a premium device. It looks sturdy and
solid, with a very high-quality finish. The lid is a deep but neutral
brown, with a cloth-like texture. Although everything is plastic, you
won't find any part of it looking cheap. Even the bottom (which spends a
lot of time on the top, when folded over), looks quite good.
isn't the thinnest or lightest device around, by any means. All the
ports, of which there aren't many, are arranged on the left and right
edges. The power and volume buttons are also on the side, so they're
accessible no matter which way the device is placed.
hinge open, you see that the screen is a lot smaller than the lid, and
the side bezels are nearly an inch thick. There's also a huge bright
Lenovo logo above the screen, which is a bit distracting. The Windows
logo centered below the screen is actually a capacitive Home button, as
seen on new tablets.
The keyboard, by contrast, takes up the
entire width of the device. While all important keys are accounted for
and the layout isn't too cramped, the keyboard itself is very, very
shallow. These keys just don't offer a satisfying feeling, and you'll
really have to adjust your typing style to get used to them.
trackpad is rather cramped, and we quickly grew annoyed with it. It's
way too small for regular productive use. You'll also find there's too
little room for a wrist rest on either side of it, which affects overall
The Flex 10's main trick is that you can fold the screen
backwards far enough that the whole unit can stand up with the keyboard
deck forming a base. This means the screen has a stand and you don't
have to stretch out your hands to use it. Unlike Lenovo's similar Yoga
hybrids, the screen can't fold flat against the back of the lower deck,
so you can't use it in your hands like a tablet.
With the Flex 10
in this configuration, it's definitely easier to poke at the
touchscreen. The keyboard and trackpad are of course inaccessible, so
you'll need to rely entirely on Windows 8's gestures and the on-screen
keyboard. There really aren't many use cases we can imagine for such a
device: you can't use it like this while sitting or reclining, though
you can rest it on a table or lie down with it on your stomach. You can
play games, surf the Web and flick through apps, but any sort of typing
is awkward at best. For any situation that requires typing, it's far
easier to unfold the Flex 10 and use it like a laptop than it is to
attempt pecking at on-screen buttons.
some reason, Lenovo decided to apply its latest design idea to a very
low-end device. The Flex 10 runs a lowly Intel Celeron CPU, a dual-core
N2805 running at 1.46GHz. It's based on the relatively recent Bay Trail
architecture and thus consumes fairly little power, but it's also
saddled with one of Intel's weakest integrated graphics processors.
processor supports 64-bit instructions, but for some reason Lenovo
sells the Flex 10 with a 32-bit version of Windows. You won't be running
any heavy software but this still presents a few limitations which
could have been avoided.
There's 2GB of RAM and a 5,400rpm 500GB
mechanical hard drive. The Flex 10 doesn't appear to have any vents, and
the only cutouts we saw in the body were for the twin stereo speakers
on the lower lip of the front edge.
There are two USB ports, but
only one of them supports high-speed USB 3.0 peripherals. These, along
with an HDMI video output and stereo headset jack, are the only physical
ports. We would have liked to see a few more USB ports and an SD card
slot. Wireless connectivity comes in the form of Wi-Fi b/g/n and
The screen, predictably, is a low-resolution
1366x768 LCD panel. At this size it doesn't seem too bad, and things are
generally crisp and clear. Unfortunately, the entire surface is highly
reflective, and viewing angles aren't all that good either.
buttons are oriented to feel natural with the keyboard folded back,
which means they're the wrong way around when you're using the Flex 10
like a regular laptop.
though this laptop has an interesting design and excellent construction
quality, Lenovo has decided to push it at the low end of the market and
has thus used components which are far too weak. We were disappointed by
the Flex 10's benchmark performance, which was in some cases weaker
than that of recent tablets.
The Flex 10 took an agonising 65
minutes to render POVray's built-in benchmark, which is all down to the
low-budget CPU. Scores for non-intensive workloads in PCMark 8 were
roughly equal to those of modern Windows 8 tablets, but those that
involved graphical tasks took a huge hit, and the Flex 10 trailed even
Atom-powered devices. 3DMark failed to complete despite repeated
It's clear that Lenovo allocated most of this device's
cost to its more visible features. In terms of functionality, it is best
thought of as a modern-day netbook: good enough for surfing the Web,
creating basic documents and watching movies now and then, but not
suitable for any serious work.
Thanks to the touchscreen, you can
use many of the full-screen apps and games available in the Windows
Store, but again, nothing too heavy. Keep in mind that a large part of
the screen is obstructed when you need an on-screen keyboard. Children
might enjoy playing with drawing or musical apps.
lasted for 2 hours, 42 minutes in our Battery Eater Pro test at standard
settings. This means the Flex 10 isn't even suitable as a road
warrior's machine. General audio and video performance was also quite
average - 1080p video was laggy at times, but we were impressed with the
maximum volume level.
The Lenovo Flex 10 might be
an entry-level device, but it isn't cheap. For the same amount of money,
you could get a far more powerful notebook, although you would have to
give up the touchscreen and swivel feature. Given a choice between
performance and looks, we'd choose performance every time.
not really clear that the flexible design has much merit on a device
this weak. The screen is too small to really enjoy movies on, and there
isn't much we can do with it in "stand" mode that we can't in regular
"laptop" mode. If switching between the two was a little smoother and
the keyboard was a little more usable, we'd be more impressed. Perhaps
the larger, more powerful models in the Flex series will be able to
strike a better balance and feel more useful.
As it stands, the
Lenovo Flex 10 is a fascinating product but not one we can see a strong
target market for. It seems like just another Lenovo form-factor
experiment. Pick it up if you love the looks and don't think a tablet
would suit your needs, but avoid it if you rely on a PC at school, work
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 10 in pictures
Price: Rs. 26,001
- Small and relatively light
- Excellent construction quality
- Unique design makes Windows 8 easier to use with touch gestures
Ratings (out of 5)
- Disappointing performance
- Limited expansion and connectivity
- Design: 4
- Display: 3
- Performance: 2
- Software: 3
- Battery Life: 2.5
- Value for Money: 3
- Overall: 3