Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook: With excellent build quality and a 360-degree hinge, the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook ($ 339) is proof that a capable, well-designed 2-in-1 Chromebook doesn’t have to be expensive (looking at you, $ 999 Google Pixbook).
The Flex 3 features a beautiful almond-colored metal exterior, reasonably long battery life, and even an SD card reader to easily complement your 64 GB of internal storage. (Best Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook Review)
The only thing that holds it back from excellence is the lack of high-quality performance – buyers may not have everything on an extreme budget.
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook: A touch screen on tap
As a 2-in-1 convertible, the Flex 3 can be used as a traditional laptop, and can also be placed on a desk like a canvas or tent. It can also be used as a tablet PC, with the keyboard fully folded under the screen.
Google has made significant changes over the years to improve the Chrome operating system to tablets and 2-in-1s with touch screens, making the Flex 3’s extra versatility worth it for some buyers.
Lenovo pioneered the 2-in-1 concept, and some of its more expensive models are evident in the excellent design Flex 3. The hinge is strong when tapping the screen, bouncing very low. (Best Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook Review)
The laptop’s chassis is also strong, with no flex anywhere at the base and a display lid that feels quite sturdy. Sub- $ 350 laptops rarely like to be held in your hand.
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Nor are they the best looking. Lenovo has painted the metallic finish with almond paint, which helps the Flex 3 stand out in a sea of plastic and occasional gray-aluminum chassis that typically make budget-laptop sets.
Not only is the Flex 3 strong and good looking, but it is also without any unnecessary heft and shape. (Best Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook Review)
The entire laptop measures 0.7 inches by 11.4 inches by 8.2 inches (HWD) and weighs just 2.64 pounds, making it competitive with a 13-inch ultraportable laptop priced at $ 1,000 or more. The Pixelbook, for example, is 0.4.4 11.4 inches by 8.7 inches and weighs 2.4 pounds.
But … a tight, dim screen
I wish, if you thought Lenovo had stumbled upon some hidden exceptions to the laws of physics and economics, think again to fit such high-end features into small enclosures at a great price. The Flex 3’s most important compromise is its tight, dim 11.6-inch HD display.
Yes, you can touch it, but with just a brightness of 250 nits and a resolution below 1080p (full HD) that we consider to be enough for a budget laptop, it’s not going to please a panel to see it all.
The Flex 3’s screen is also flanked by huge black borders or bezels. They openly aestheticize laptops in the early 2000s, as most modern laptops have extremely thin bezels that are sometimes difficult to see.
Nevertheless, the large limitations and rather ineffective performance they frame are really just disappointing parts of this otherwise excellent Chromebook. (Best Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook Review)
In the top range, there is a 720p webcam that provides reasonably crisp quality in good light conditions, as it matches the resolution of the display.
The Flex 3’s edges are further evidence of its clever design. It includes a power button on the right edge instead of one in the keyboard, which is handy for waking up the laptop when its keyboard is face-down on the desk.
There is also a volume rocker on the right edge, and Lenovo has replaced the traditional Chromebook power button on the top right with a key that locks the screen. (Best Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook Review)
Flex 3 also has a lot of input and output ports. You get two USB-C ports and two USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A ports, which serve to connect thumb drives and external keyboards.
Even a microSD card reader is an important feature for Chromebook users who require additional local storage. Most Chromebooks include internal drives, and the 64GB eMMC flash storage in the Flex 3 is no exception.
A reception for a headphone jack and a physical lock that prevents someone from stealing the laptop to avoid port selection.
Thanks to a fairly robust keyboard, the keyboard quality is also above average for a budget laptop. In addition to the lock key above, the Flex 3 sports the usual Chromebook layout, which is slightly different from the one found on Windows PCs and Macs.
There are extra large Ctrl and Alt keys for lack of Windows or command keys, and the top function row has dedicated buttons to navigate back and forth between pages in the Chrome web browser. (Best Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook Review)
The Flex 3’s touchpad surprised me with its room and ambience. The clicks are precise, and the corners have a little unwanted flex.
Meanwhile, wireless connections include 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2. There is no support for the latest Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) wireless standard.
Lenovo supports the Flex 3 Chromebook with its standard one-year consumer-laptop warranty.
Flex 3 test: average Chromebook performance
Inside, the Flex 3 is available with just one set of computing components, and they expect a lot more from Chromebooks at this price point. In addition to 64GB of flash storage, it includes an Intel Celeron N4020 processor, with integrated UHD graphics 600 and 4GB of system memory.
Chromebooks don’t require a ton of Chromebooks, as there are very few resource-intensive applications available for Chrome OS.
The system boots quickly in 10 seconds or so. In fact, the only difference I experienced in casual testing between the Flex 3 and the Core i7-powered Pixelbook was the occasional slowness from the Flex 3, with over a dozen browser tabs open.
I don’t see these drawbacks unless you plan to connect external displays, as the Flex 3’s screen isn’t really large enough to comfortably accommodate multiple tabs in any case.