The Good The Lenovo Flex 11 is an affordable Chromebook with a durable build. Its 360-degree hinges allow it to prop up like a tent, fold flat or be used as a tablet. It has an IPS display.
The Bad It’s a bit heavy. The touchscreen and spacebar have difficulty recognizing taps. Shallow keyboard is uncomfortable.
The Bottom Line Out of all the cheap Chromebooks, the Lenovo Flex 11 is one of the only models that offers extra built-in durability.
CNET Editors’ Rating
The chubby Chromebook has a rubber bumper wrapped around its edges (yes, like a bumper car) because, according to Lenovo, it can withstand a 2.4-foot (75cm) drop. It also has a water-resistant keyboard tray (up to 1 cup of water or 220ml), reinforced ports and a sealed touchpad to avoid any electrical damage in case of accidental spills.
Not only is it a durable design, it’s also versatile. It has solid 360-degree hinges that allow it to prop up like a tent for easy video-watching, or fold over like a tablet — though at a little over 3 pounds, it’s too heavy to hold for long.
The Flex 11 is not without its faults, like short battery life and clunky user input, but if you’re looking for an affordable laptop for basic use that’s also extra-durable, it’s one of the only choices you have.
The Flex 11 starts at $269 in the US. International availability has yet to be announced, but UK and AU pricing converts to £207 and AU$361.
Boring, but tough
Its design is nowhere near as stylish as high-end Chromebooks like the HP Chromebook 13 or the Asus Chromebook Flip, but it’s definitely more rugged. I was able to cautiously spill some water on its keyboard and quickly dry it after with no performance issues. I also dropped it a few times from 1 to 2 feet. Other than a few scratches, it remained unscathed.
Its specs and performance are comparable to those of other Chromebooks in its modest price range, which means you won’t be getting an Intel processor or high-resolution screen Still, the Flex 11 handled basic Chrome OS tasks well. Keep in mind Chrome OS is basically just Google’s Chrome web browser, and you’re largely restricted to cloud-based online tools, rather than downloading or installing traditional Windows software.
It operated smoothly when surfing the web, streaming hours of Netflix shows and lurking Facebook.There’s enough processing power to have a handful of tabs open while streaming HD video with no lag. Open more than a few though, and performance starts to slow down.
- 11.6-inch IPS touchscreen
- 1,366×768-pixel resolution
- 2.10 GHz Quad Core ARM processor
- 4GB RAM
- 32GB eMMC storage
Screen brightness is a bit dim, so visibility outdoors on a sunny day is difficult. It’s a touchscreen so you can easily swipe or scroll using your finger when reading an article or browsing a web page, but it has some trouble accurately recognizing taps. My taps had to be consistently forceful, more like push, for the screen to acknowledge them. It’s regrettable, but this has been a known issue with the least-expensive touchscreen PCs.
- USB 2.0
- SD card reader
- Headphone jack
Like most current Chromebooks, the Flex 11 can access apps from the Google Play Store on the Chrome beta channel. Most Android apps I downloaded, like Facebook and Spotify, ran fine, but many weren’t yet optimized for a bigger screen. For security, Android apps run inside a virtual sandbox, away from the core operating system.
The shallow keyboard is one of the biggest disappointments. It’s flat and uncomfortable to type on for very long, and the spacebar requires more pressure than I’m used to in order to function. While typing on the laptop I often had to go back and edit my sentences to add spaces. Not fun. It’s solid enough for basic use, but if you’re a student who needs to knock out essays, a model with a better keyboard, like the Lenovo ThinkPad 13, is a more fitting choice. It’s one of the more budget-feeling aspects of this laptop.
In our CNET streaming battery test, it ran a little less than 12 hours. Its standby time is also great. I fully charged the laptop and left it sleeping for an entire weekend. When I returned to it, its battery life had barely been depleted.
Nothing about the Lenovo Flex 11 is incredibly special. Yet, if you want an affordable and tough laptop with a touchscreen, it’s one of the cheapest you can get. If the keyboard isn’t a deal-breaker, the Flex 11’s attractively low price makes up for most of its shortcomings.
Streaming video playback (in minutes)
|Streaming video playback (in minutes)|
|Lenovo Flex 11||719|
|Acer Chromebook 14||570|
|Samsung Chromebook Pro||537|
|Lenovo ThinkPad 13 Chromebook||495|
|Lenovo Flex 11||Lenovo ThinkPad 13 Chromebook||Acer Chromebook 14||HP Chromebook 13|
|Price as reviewed||$269||$845||$355||$819|
|PC CPU||MTK 8173C Processor (2.10GHz)||Intel Core i5-6300U||Intel Celeron Quad-core N3160||Intel Core m5-6y57|
|Operating system||Chrome OS||Chrome OS||Chrome OS||Chrome OS|