Chromebook Lenovo Flex 5: practice and first impressions

Last week, I shared the initial impressions of the $ 250 Lenovo IdeaPad 3 Chromebook. My full review is almost complete on that device, but I decided to take a break, so I can open the box for the Lenovo Flex 5 Chromebook. I’ll switch to using it full time. Once my IdeaPad 3 review arrives shortly, and after a quick review with this 2-in-1 midrange device, I’m really looking forward to it.

The Lenovo Flex 5 Chromebook almost falls into a strange category.

Generally, I consider that there are three different markets for Chromebook devices: entry level, mid-range, and high-end. And I have general price categories for each one in my mind: under $ 350 or so for the entry level and over $ 700 for the high-end Chromebooks. Priced at $ 409.99, the Lenovo Flex 5 Chromebook limits just above that entry-level price band, but this is not an entry-level device.

This is a great value for money considering the specs:

CPU Dual Core Intel Core i3-10110U Processor (2.1 GHz / 4.1GHz)
GPU Integrated Intel UHD Graphics
Monitor 13.3-inch IPS 1920 x 1080 touchscreen,
16: 9 aspect ratio, 250 nit brightness
Memory 4 GB of DDR4-2600MHz memory
Storage 64GB eMMC 5.1,
MicroSD card slot for expansion
Connectivity WiFi6 (802.11ax, 2 × 2 MIMO), Bluetooth 5.0
Entry Splash-resistant backlit keyboard, USI stylus mount (optional),
720p webcam with physical privacy shutter
Ports 1 USB type A, 2 USB type C,
headphone / microphone combo jack
Battery 51 WHr, expected run time of up to 10 hours
Weight 2.97 pounds
software Automatic updates to Chrome OS through: TBD

There are definitely mid-range Chromebooks that have some more robust specs. Some come with 8GB of memory, for example, while you only get half of that here with the Flex 5. Maybe you can get a brighter display, too.

But those devices generally cost more than $ 500 unless they’re for sale. At first glance, I think this falls squarely between low and mid-range devices, which are great for those on a budget but wanting to have some nice features.

One of them is a good screen and so far I like the one on the Flex 5. It is sharp, it has good color rendering and it has good viewing angles. The bezels are not too thick either, except the bottom one. Simply put, this is a good 1080p panel for the price.

And if you want to use that screen in presentation or tablet mode, you can do it: this screen folds 360 degrees, hence the name “Flex”.

As we talk about output, it’s nice to see the speaker grilles on either side of the keyboard. Unfortunately, with 2W of power per speaker, they seem to be fine on the first listen.

From an entry point of view, the island-style backlit keyboard feels good. It is also spill proof. I’ll have to write long-term for my full review, but overall I’m a fan of Lenovo keyboards. I would be surprised if this disappoints me.

The trackpad is a nice size and made of Mylar, not glass. So far, that doesn’t seem to be a problem for me in terms of responsiveness. The entire chassis is plastic, while the screen cover is aluminum. However, it doesn’t feel “cheap” at all. It feels like a pinch of texture in the plastic, which I like.

I haven’t tested the 720p webcam yet, but I love, love, love the physical privacy cover. Essentially, you slide it in when you want to lock the camera and slide it back when it’s time for a video call. Being a physical cover, you don’t have to worry about an electronic function you can’t trust.

I also like the location of the port.

There is a USB Type-C on each side, which is good for charging. Its type A port, headphone jack and memory card slot on the left side, while the right side has its power button and volume control. These don’t stick out enough for my tastes; they are almost flush with the chassis. I can’t really find the power button without looking.

And another disappointment, at least for me: Lenovo is using the same large 45W USB-C power pack for the Flex 5 that it uses for the IdeaPad 3 Chromebook. Smaller would be better in my opinion.

Getting a 10th Gen Intel Core i3 inside for around $ 400 is a good deal, considering you’re also getting a good display, pen holder, and more. How well could it work from a performance standpoint? Here are the benchmark tests for those interested in those numbers. All tests were run with a new boot and in guest mode:

Test Punctuation
Octane 2.0 35,553
Speedometer 2.0 102
Basemark 3.0 544.28
JetStream 2.0 97.2

I don’t use benchmarks for my buying decisions, but for what it’s worth, the $ 849 Pixelbook Go I reviewed last year scored lower in some of the same tests, which is interesting. I’m attributing that to the Go which has an eighth generation chipset, while this Lenovo unit has newer tenth generation silicon inside. Also, the base clock speed of the Core i5 on Go is 1.3GHz, while the Core i3 that I am using now runs at 2.1GHz.

I’ll have to see how the Lenovo Flex 5 Chromebook works in everyday use to get a better idea of ​​the comparison. It’s worth noting, too: This 2-in-1 has a fan to cool down, though I’ve only heard about it when I ran some of the benchmark tests so far.

Overall, I have little doubt that, on paper, with the Lenovo Flex 5 Chromebook you get a lot for your money.

Some may be put off by the 4GB of memory and I can understand that. This would not satisfy all my needs, for example, which generally require more memory and storage, like when I am using Linux for hours to encode.

That does not mean that this is not a good device, especially if its requirements are oriented to the daily use of the web with what seems to be enough power to fly over the Internet or use Android applications. You also get a good screen that may not be the brightest, and therefore limited to use cases other than outdoors.

Stay tuned for the full review as I make the Lenovo Flex 5 Chromebook my primary device in the coming days. Feel free to ask specific questions in the comments below and I’ll try to answer them in the review.