- Great value, considering price and processing power
- Large and comfortable keyboard
- Responsive trackpad
- Display lid flimsy
- Stand mode just about useless
- Glossy display
The Lenovo Flex 2 15 is a moderately priced desktop replacement that offers great value to those with average computing needs.
It’s hard to make a desktop-replacement laptop standout in a market dominated by powerful gaming rigs, sleek Ultrabooks, and innovative 2-in-1s. But that hasn’t stopped Lenovo from trying by borrowing elements from its popular Yoga series for the Lenovo Flex 2 15.
Compared with other desktop replacements, which are rigid and stationary, the Flex is well, flexible. The display bends back 300 degrees to duplicate the Yoga’s Stand mode. Lenovo claims this is built for play, while the standard laptop pose is built for work.
Build and Design
The Lenovo Flex 2 measures 11 x 15 x 1.05 inches (HWD) and weighs 5.6 pounds. It’s big and heavy, and that’s OK as it’s not designed to go anywhere, or at least not very far.
The thick outer hinges stand out, and they leave a few-centimeter gap between the display bezel bottom and the Flex 2 keyboard portion. This obviously enables the Lenovo Flex 2 to open up to 300 degrees for Stand mode.
In Stand mode, small rubber bumpers protect the keyboard and provide a reasonably stable base for the Flex 2, but it’s not without problems. For starters, the plastic chassis around the display is weak, as is the Flex 2 hinge. The display bends and wobbles in all the wrong places, making the transition from standard to Stand mode an awkward endeavor, especially considering the Flex 2 15’s size and weight.
On top of all that, Stand mode is pretty useless. It provides little benefit outside of hiding the keyboard, which marketers contend is ideal for media consumption. Fair enough … but Stand mode moves the speakers away from the user, slightly muddling the sound output. It also leaves the DVD drive upside down, making it impossible to insert or remove disks.
Input and Output Ports
This large notebook has a full selection of ports, as it should.
The left side houses a Kennsington lock slot, power input, full-sized HDMI, Ethernet, USB 3.0, and combo audio jack.
The right side houses the Lenovo Novo button (for system recovery), multi-card reader, two USB 2.0 inputs, a DVD optical drive, and power button.
The disc drive is a nice touch, making it possible to install older programs and watch DVDs, and the three USB inputs should be more than enough for most users. We also liked the full-sized HDMI port. With so many thin-and-light devices out there using mini- and micro- inputs, it’s refreshing to see the real things here.
Screen and Speakers
The Lenovo Flex 2 has a large 15.6 inch, multi-touch display, with a 16:9 aspect ratio and full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080. It’s glossy, which makes it very susceptible to glare, and not very bright at max settings. As a result, it won’t be cutting through any direct sunlight or powerful overhead light.
The tradeoff is the Lenovo Flex 2 looks reasonably sharp in proper lighting, and it does have great vertical angles, as well as acceptable horizontal viewing angles. Touch is also relatively snappy. It’s not as responsive as tablet or smartphone displays, but for a large desktop replacement with a full keyboard and ample trackpad, it works.
The speakers are also decent, despite the fact that the sound quality is mediocre with limited range, because they get loud enough for an enjoyable Netflix session or background tunes while doing chores.
Keyboard and Trackpad
Lenovo make good use of the 15-inch width with a full 102-key Chiclet style keyboard, which includes a full number pad. The keys have ample space surrounding them, and Lenovo leaves plenty of room around the large trackpad for a palm rest.
The keyboard has a bit of bounce, and the keys could do with a bit more snap and longer stroke, but the ample spacing more than makes up for these shortcomings. This is a comfortable typing machine.
The single-piece trackpad is also a joy to use as it is both large and responsive. It supports all the common Windows 8.1 shortcuts and swipes, and makes navigating the operating system a breeze.