Lenovo Ideapad Flex 5i ChromeBook Plus Review

Earlier this week I talked about Google’s new Chromebook Plus specification that will be setting a standard for higher performing Chromebooks. In my latest video I review the new IdeaPad Flex 5i Chromebook Plus from Lenovo, one of the first Plus devices on the market. You can find one here at Best Buy for $499 (compensated affiliate link).

The Flex 5i is equipped with an i3-1315U processor from Intel, 8 GB of non upgradeable RAM, and 128 GB of eMMC storage. The display is a 14-inch IPS running at 1920×1200, which is a 16:10 aspect ratio. Although it supports 45% of the NTSC color space, it might not be the best choice for color-critical tasks like photo or video editing. It is though adequately bright coming in at 300 nits.

The build quality is commendable, with a mix of metal and plastic. It’s a 2-in-1 device, allowing it to be also used as a tablet. The touch display complements the keyboard and trackpad, providing a versatile user experience. However, it’s a bit on the heavier side, weighing 3.57 lbs or 1.62 kg.

Battery life is around the 10-hour mark, depending on usage.

The 1080p webcam is decent, and Chromebook Plus has introduced some new features, allowing users to add blurring and noise reduction directly through an OS level control (more on that in my Chromebook Plus explainer video). There’s also a handy shutter to cover the webcam when not in use.

The keyboard and trackpad are impressive. The keys are well-spaced, and the keyboard is backlit. The trackpad is responsive, and the speakers provide decent sound quality. In terms of ports, it offers two full-service USB-C 3.2 ports, a USB-A port, a headphone/microphone jack, and a micro SD card slot.

Performance-wise, web browsing is smooth. Video playback, especially on platforms like Netflix, is better in the browser than in the app due to some DRM restrictions. For those interested in gaming, while it’s not ideal for Steam games, game streaming and casual Android games work well.

The 5i also supports USI compatible pens, providing a responsive drawing and writing experience. Additionally, it’s compatible with Linux applications, allowing users to run both command-line and graphical applications.

Google recently extended the support life for ChromeOS, with most devices now receiving updates for a full decade from their platform release date. This particular Chromebook will receive updates through June of 2032.

The Lenovo Flex 5i offers good value for its price point. While it’s definitely not the best choice for creative work or heavy-duty gaming, it does well in most other general computing tasks.

Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming Chromebook Review

We don’t often associate Chromebooks with gaming but Lenovo thinks there’s some opportunity with the rise of game streaming services to bring a gaming focused Chromebook to market with their new Gaming Chromebook (affiliate link). You can see my full review here.

What makes this Chromebook better for game streaming? Its display. It has a nice 16″ display running at 2560 x 1600 (a 16:10 aspect ratio) that runs at 120hz. Right now only one streaming service supports that frame rate (GeForce Now), but the faster refresh rate does provide a zippier overall experience even when not playing games.

And of course no gaming laptop would be complete without a RGB backlit keyboard. This might be the first Chromebook with one although the controls are limited to a few colors and there doesn’t seem to be a way to customize colors to a specific range of keys.

What struck me in reviewing this device is that it’s probably one of the better Chromebooks on the market overall even for non-gaming. Beyond the nice display it has a great 1080p webcam, a number pad for spreadsheet power users, and great performance in both Chromebook functions including running Android and Linux apps.

One shortfall though is that its Intel processor will have some compatibility issues with popular Android games like Genshin Impact and Call of Duty Mobile. Both of these popular games crash constantly on the device similar to how they perform on other Intel based Chromebooks.

It’s pretty reasonably priced at $599 for the i5 version. A lower cost i3 version was loaned to the channel for review although it does not appear to be available at the time of publication.

New Video: The $99 Acer Chromebook 311 – CB311-9H-C1JW

We may be in a period of crazy inflation but we’re starting to see some tech gear that was in demand at the height of the pandemic now getting liquidated as demand tapers off.

Like the Lenovo ChromeOS tablet I reviewed back in January, Acer is unloading their 11 inch Chromebook 311 laptop at a super low price of $99 at Target stores in the USA (affiliate link). It normally sells for around $200.

This Chromebook 311 has an Intel N4000 processor, 4 GB of RAM and a 32GB EMMC for storage. It has a decent enough IPS display running at 1366×768 (essentially 720p) and seems to perform at the upper end of the performance curve vs. its competitors.

The best part of this machine is that it has two full service USB-C ports. It can drive two 4k displays independently at 60hz along with the internal display! Not bad for $100.

In the video we booted up System7.app – a super cool web based emulator of a 68k classic Macintosh running System 7.5. This is the same OS my $1700 Powerbook ran in 1993. It’s crazy to think that adjusting for inflation this significantly more powerful computer would have cost $50 in ’93 – about the price of a Sega Genesis game!

Check out my full review of the laptop here.