There’s certainly demand for convertible laptops these days. People want convenience and savings, and manufacturers are here to give it for them. Lenovo Flex 3 (80JK0020US) is such a 2-in-1 device, operating as tablet and laptop and offering powerful components like Core i5 processor, 8GB memory and a Full HD display. Sweet, very sweet, but is the computer worth its big price tag? Perhaps…
Some months ago, Intel released a new 5th Generation processor family. The CPU in this laptop, called Intel Core i5-5200U, is also such a 5th Generation model. It offers two cores, 2.2GHz clock speed and 2.7GHz turbo feature. Compared to the older i5-4200 (from the 4th Generation) the performance increase should be ~10%. Of course, just being 5th Generation doesn’t mean it’s automatically faster than all the previous models. This processor features ULV (ultra-low voltage) design, so many older processors with higher power requirements also operate faster. However, it’s sufficient to say that any i5, new or old, works great for daily computing as well as for more demanding use.
Lenovo Flex 3 (80JK0020US) has 8GB memory. That’s the perfect amount for most casual and power users who don’t want to deal with lag and system freezing. The manual suggests that only one DIMM can be put on the system, so in essence, you can’t upgrade the memory on this laptop. But as I said, it shouldn’t be a problem for almost anybody.
A hybrid hard drive has found its way to Lenovo Flex 3 (80JK0020US). It offers 500GB hard drive space and a small 8GB SSD cache. It’s not a full-blown solid-state drive, but still above a conventional hard drive in terms of performance. I can see from the manual that replacing the hard drive is possible. You need to remove base cover and battery pack for that, but it is doable with little technical knowledge.
Display and gaming
The screen size of Lenovo Flex 3 (80JK0020US) is 14 inches, meaning it’s tad smaller than the most common 15.6″ laptop. The display specifications are golden: a 1920×1080 resolution, touch support and IPS panel. Viewing angles are great, also colors should be more accurate than on regular TN screens. Also, by flexing the display enough you’ll end up with a tablet, hence the name convertible laptop. The keyboard will get disabled in tablet mode, so there’s no danger of hitting keys accidentally.
You can play games on this computer for sure. It’s just that with many of them, you need to keep eye candy at bay. And that’s because the integrated Intel HD 5500 graphics unit isn’t powerful. With heavier titles, like Battlefield 4 and GTA 4, you’ll end up with max 30FPS on low details. Lighter games are of course different, with types like Tomb Raider giving similar frame rates on medium settings and 1366×768 resolution. Very easy-on-the-system games, such as Fifa 14, will run even better.
Lenovo Flex 3 (80JK0020US) features three USB ports, of which two are USB 3.0. There’s also an HDMI output, making it possible to plug in an HDTV. The SD/MMC card reader can be used to upload photos and videos from digital cameras.
For networking the unit offers everything you need: Gigabit Ethernet port, A/C WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 combined in the wireless card.
Optical drive is not included in this model. For CDs and DVDs you must use an external drive. Luckily, such items are lightweight (~0.5 pounds) and cheap (~30 bucks).
The laptop features an integrated 0.3MP webcam and microphone, good for video chats on Skype.
What other things to keep in mind?
Tablets have excellent portability. But Lenovo Flex 3 (80JK0020US) is not a true tablet. It’s a laptop-tablet hybrid, weighing good 4.2 pounds. However, that’s not much compared to 14″ laptops. As such, traveling with this computer is rather effortless. The battery should last for around 4 hours.
There is backlit keyboard on this model as far as I know. No numeric keypad is available, which I personally find a good thing. For me, the 10-key pad is often just in the way.
Lenovo Flex 3 (80JK0020US) is a computer for people who fancy the idea of having both tablet and laptop in one physical unit. The Lenovo is faster than many lightweight tablets, providing a lot of performance with its Core i5 processor and 8GB RAM. The storage isn’t bad either, although for excellent performance an SSD swap might have to happen. The display should be excellent thanks to its Full HD resolution and professional panel type. Also, for connections you should get everything you need (USB 3.0, AC wireless etc). I don’t see anything horribly wrong – if it’s a powerful convertible laptop you’re after, you might want to check this one out.