Lenovo’s Flex 5 convertibles are the latest arrivals in a busy, popular segment: laptops with 360-degree hinges and a full feature set for mainstream computing.
These new models aren’t cheap—the starting prices are $720 for the 14-inch model and $830 for the 15-incher—and in some ways they’re just catching up to similar competitors from Dell and HP. But the major PC vendors are constantly one-upping each other, and when they ship in May, the Flex 5 products will have an edge in a few areas everyone cares about.
Weight is the first one. When you’re schlepping a PC or even balancing it on your lap, every ounce matters. As I compared the specs for the Flex 5 15-inch to those of similarly priced models, namely Dell’s Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 and HP’s Pavilion x360 (15-bk151nr), I noticed the Flex 5 had managed to slim down to 4.4 pounds, while the Dell and HP are both closer to 5 pounds.
After these highlights, what you’ll find with the Flex 5s are well-equipped choices at the high end of mainstream laptops. Most notably, both sizes of the Flex 5 will be available with CPUs up to Intel’s 7th-generation (Kaby Lake) Core i7, whereas the predecessor Flex 4, had 6th-generation Skylake parts. Models will be available with up to 16GB of DDR4 RAM and up to 512GB of PCIe SSD storage, or 1TB of traditional hard-drive capacity.
The Flex 5 convertibles will also add one USB-C port, along with two traditional USB-A. It can’t charge—Lenovo’s proprietary AC adapter has a lock on that role—but it’s good to see a little future-proofing in the connectivity.
Why this matters: The Flex 5 and its ilk are a good barometer for where mainstream laptops are going. The 360-degree hinge and do-it-all features make it easy to use your computer however you wish, which is what everyone wants, if they can afford it. Shaving off a little weight and packing in a little more battery are good advantages, and the higher-end graphics option means you could game a little on this laptop, too.