Lenovo Flex 3: User Review

 

INTRODUCTION

I picked up the Lenovo Flex 3 14 inch model as soon as it launched because I needed an upgrade to my failing HP 360, and the touchscreen coupled with the 360 degree hinge intrigued me. I bought it straight off the Lenovo website because they always have great instant savings, so I paid $880, saving $300 on the actual cost and getting the chance to customize what I got to my exact preference. That’s why I chose this over the better looking Yoga – I got to pick the processor, add a graphics card, add a backlit keyboard as well as make sure I got the highest screen resolution available and I still paid less that I would have for an entry level Yoga 3 for this touchscreen laptop.

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BATTERY LIFE & CHARGING

Battery life, right out of the box was okay. I could go 6 hours without needing to plug it in, which was more than I had with my HP so I was pretty happy. The Flex line has the option of customizing your power usage in three categories: balanced, high performance and power saver. I eventually figured out how to use these settings, and now on high performance I get about 3 hours of battery life, and on power saver with very light usage I get about 7 hours.

It takes up to two hours to fully charge when in use, but it does have a very handy feature called Express Charging Mode that allows it to fully charge in just under an hour. This mode has really come in handy when I only have a few minutes to leave the house and I forgot to plug it in first thing. I get from the red zone, which is 20% and under, to a full green bar in about 45 minutes, and when used on power saver mode that can last me close to a full day of light web browsing and doc editing before I have to worry about plugging in again.

 

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PERFORMANCE & DESIGN

The design is very portable. Lenovo introduced the 360 hinge into the Flex line with this particular mode, and I was a little worried I would have to deal with kinks out of the box being an early adopter but the laptop has worked great for the most part in the 2+ years that I’ve owned it. The specs are as follows:

Lenovo Flex 3 14” Model (Black)

  • Core i7 5500u 2.4GHz
  • Nvidia GeForce 940M
  • 8GB RAM, 1TB 5400RPM storage
  • 360 degree flip screen
  • 1920×1080 touchscreen
  • Backlit keyboard
  • 3 USB ports, 1 SD card slot

More features can be found on the official Lenovo website here but the actual product can now only be purchased through 2nd party sources like Amazon here.

I didn’t get the 11 inch model because I thought that was too small for me, and it lacked the option to upgrade to a graphics card which the 14 inch model had. It weighs 3lbs, which is light enough to carry with me but I do get tired of holding it by the end of day. The machine, when set to high performance is fast enough to have multiple heavy programmes running simultaneously. I always have about 5 Chrome windows open with roughly 30 tabs each, and the laptop handles this plus video editing in Premier Pro very well. The fans occasionally kick in and the bottom does get hot from time to time, but I use it propped on a board so this doesn’t bother me much.

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STRENGTH & DURABILITY

I dropped it once a few months ago and noticed that the side it fell on started to crack a little. Unfortunately, the crack was next to the hinge so over the next few months it would crack a little more each time I flipped the laptop into tablet/tent mode. I had owned it for over a year and a half before this happened and hadn’t noticed any signs of wear and tear on the body, so I can’t say if this was solely due to the drop or if it was bound to happen. I’ve researched on forums and it seems to be a common problem, where people who’ve never dropped their laptops have had a hinge failure that bent the back cover to the point of cracking. Lenovo initially denied the problem and charged about $250 to fix it, but have recently accepted that it does fall under warranty and now handle the issue for free provided you have the warranty cover. I have a replacement cover shipping to me that I got for $56 because I’m out of warranty, and compared to what I paid for the laptop $56 seems like a good deal to me so I can’t complain. My Ethernet clip also broke a few months back and that’s proven harder to replace, so that is my one complaint about the build quality of this machine.

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BEST FEATURES

One thing I’ve found to be a life saver with this laptop is that the volume goes off when the charge drops to 20%. It’s annoying, yes, but it makes sure you don’t deplete the battery without at least getting a warning that your laptop is about to go off. Just touching the volume button will restore all sound but it’s a great alert system.

The fast charge option is also great because it take me from 15% to 50% unused in about twenty minutes, so even if I don’t have the time to let it fully charge up I can at least get a couple of hours use from my laptop before I have to worry about plugging in again.

The screen resolution is great, and the touchscreen is extremely responsive. I love that it has a rotation button on the side that allows you to lock the screen orientation, so the screen direction isn’t rotating around as you move the laptop.

The buttons are also so comfortable to use and type on, so getting work done is actually really pleasant on this machine.

The 360 flip really isn’t a gimmic – it’s a Godsend! When my laptop is on high performance and starts to get a little hot, I turn it into tent mode which sticks the air vents right up in the air and lets it cool off while still allowing me to use the touchscreen. Whenever I need to let it run for a few hours, mostly when I’m rendering a video, I just leave it in tent mode and the processor can run with no risk of it overheating and shutting down.

 

WORST FEATURES

On the keyboard, the Home button is next to the Backspace button so I find myself accidentally hitting one when I’m aiming for the other. Another poor feature is how loud the fans get when the laptop is under pressure to perform. The noise definitely makes me hesitant to push the processor when I’m in a library or around other people, which isn’t great for productivity.

My ethernet clip broke about 6 months ago and I haven’t been able to find a replacement clip. The way the laptop is built is such that the port itself is large enough for a full size ethernet cable, but it needs a clip to hold the cable in place. Without the clip, which was thin and very flimsy, I’m forced to cellotape my cable into the Ethernet port just to make it stick.

About a week after I first got the laptop, the hibernate feature stopped working. This more of a windows problem I think, because even the free upgrade to Windows 10 that came with the laptop did not fix this. To move around, I tend to fold the laptop into tablet mode so I don’t have to shut down and restart every time I need to change location. Because of this, two of the keys on the keyboard have popped off and trying to stick them back on with glue is pretty difficult because the glue tries to dry them down so much that they don’t “click” anymore.

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OVERALL REVIEW

I love my laptop. Two years later, tempted as I am to buy something new and shiny, I really have no reason to because this Flex outperforms most of the other competitors in the market. The 6th generation i7 is still ranked as performing better than the newer i7 7500U 2.7 GHz as well as the i7 6700HQ processors. The 2016 Yoga’s also do not have the option of a dedicated graphics card, which is important for my video editing. I do need to upgrade my storage from HDD to SSD but that’s a far smaller cost that buying a whole new laptop would be. The Flex 3 makes my life so much easier, and I’m happy to keep using it for a couple more years yet.

 

OVERALL RATING  9/10

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