- High quality design
- Excellent touchpad
- Crisp audio quality
- Long lasting battery
- Weak performance
- Dull Screen
- Shallow key travel
With a high quality build and solid hinge display, the Flex 3 is an excellent budget alternative for users than the want the flexibility of hybrid and don’t mind skimping on performance.
The old Flex models sort of felt like an half-way point between the traditional clamshell laptop and Lenovo’s Yoga line of convertible tablet notebooks. They offered a 180-degree hinge design, that allowed for some added flexibility, but it didn’t really capture the appealing aspects of the Yoga: the performance of a laptop with the added utility of a tablet. With the new Flex 3, Lenovo has ditched the half measures opting for a full fledged 360-degree display hinge. The result is a budget option that actually feels like a reasonable alternative to Lenovo’s more expensive Yoga line.
Build and Design
The 11-inch Flex 3 is surprisingly stylized for a budget device. The entry-level laptop sports smooth rounded corners along with a thin shiny black plastic trim that outlines the lid. The protective display case is made up of durable black plastic with “lenovo” lettering along the top left hand corner.
The brushed aluminum deck and chrome trimmed touchpad gives the budget device’s interior a high quality feel. Similar to the Yoga line, all of the laptop’s vital buttons can be found along its sides, making them easy to its various different modes. The power button is located on the right side of the device, while a screen lock button and volume controls are located along the left side of the device.
A thicker softer plastic outlines the bottom half of the device, while hard black plastic shell protects the bottom of the chassis. The thicker trim along the deck provides excellent grip while in stand and tent modes. The bottom of the chassis is outfitted in a similar hard black plastic coating.
Certainly the most notable design element on the Flex 3 is the 360-degree display hinge. Similar to the Lenovo’s popular Yoga line, the Flex 3 allows the device to easily switch between four distinct modes: laptop, tablet, tent and stand. Switching between modes is easy thanks to smooth consistent travel of the hinge. The only notable weak point of the hinge is that it doesn’t offer enough resistance at times. A few times when using the laptop in standard or stand modes the screen would move while attempting to use the device’s touchscreen.
Being a budget device it’s not surprising that the Flex 3 isn’t the lightest nor the sleekest 11-inch device on the market. Measuring 11.8 x 8.2 x 0.86-inches and weighing 3 pounds the Flex 3 can feel a little bulky, especially while trying to wield the device in tablet mode with a single hand. That being said the device is still fairly portable, thanks to it’s small stature and users shouldn’t have much trouble finding the space for it in their travel bags.
The Flex 3 offers a solid amount of connectivity, especially for a budget 11-inch device. The left side features a lock slot, a USB 2.0 port, an SD card reader, and an audio jack. The right side offers an Ethernet connector, an HDMI connector, a USB 3.0 port and another USB 2.0 port.
Screen and Speakers
Looking at the display, it starts to become evident where Lenovo decided to cut corners to lower the Flex 3’s price tag. The Flex 3 features a no frills no thrills standard definition (1366 x 768) resolution touch display. The screen is rather dull and images don’t appear as sharp as Notebook Review would have liked. It’s still more than serviceable when browsing the web, or word processing. However, watching media can feel a bit lackluster. Colors were noticeably faded, the panel particularly struggled to detail reds and blues. The limited brightness also caused the panel to offer very shallow viewing angles, with images washing out in direct or heavy lighting .
The bottom mounted speakers show a bit more promise than the faded screen. The speakers are surprisingly boisterous given the size of the device and their location. At max volume the device is easily capable of filling a small sized room with audio. Even more impressive is the audio quality. Admittedly the bass is a bit flat, but the audio is clear and crisp, which is far more than you can say for most budget notebooks. Notebook Review was incredibly impressed by the laptop’s ability to accurately depict the challenging classical tract Histoire du Tango III. Nightclub 1960 by Duo Sonidos.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The Lenovo Flex 3 features a Chiclet-style keyboard with plenty of space between keys to prevent excessive typos. The matte black plastic keys are rounded along the edges and braised on the top to offer additional grip. The most notable weak spot for the keyboard is unsurprisingly the key travel. It’s rather shallow. The feedback isn’t fantastic either, but it’s at least consistent. You won’t get that satisfying, snap back into place, that you’ll find with some of Lenovo’s more expensive Thinkpad notebooks, but it’s easy enough to remain accurate and get into a comfortable rhythm while typing.
The touchpad along with the Flex 3’s design is one of the things that helps makes this notebook feel far more luxurious than most of the competing devices in it’s price point. Outlined with a chrome trim, the full rubber pad is devoid of buttons, instead designating the bottom portion of the pad for right and left mouse clicks. The soft rubber surface allows for easy smooth friction-free travel, affording excellent control and sensitivity. The touchpad comes equipped with Synaptics drivers and performs admirably; accurately reading swipes, clicks and multi-finger gestures with little delay.