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Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 14 review:

An inexpensive IdeaPad that's not quite a Yoga

Connections, performance, and battery
The ports and connections here feel a bit thin for a midsize laptop, especially the single USB 3.0 port (there are two USB 2.0 ones). But again, it's a function of price. At the $600 to $800 level, it's reasonable. Buying one of the $1,000-plus configurations, it would feel like you're missing out.

The widely varied configurations offered are frankly maddening to work through, especially as half of them have "discounts" applied, which are of indeterminate lifespan. That led to the odd situation of Lenovo quoting our review configuration at $750, but as of this review, there is no $750 configuration on the Lenovo Web site, only a $999 one that matches our Core i5/8GB RAM/128GB SSD setup. Even odder, upgrading the SSD to 265GB actually drops the price by $100 to $899 (again thanks to one of those ill-explained discount codes). Long story short, if you can get a decent configuration for a decent price -- either the $750 originally promised for this version, or maybe the 256GB configuration for $899 -- it sounds like a good deal.

We certainly have no complaints about the performance of the Flex 14, at least in its Intel fourth-generation Core i5 version. The system matched up well against other midprice current laptops with similar Core i5 CPUs, and handily beat another wallet-friendly model, the AMD-powered Samsung Ativ Book 9 Lite.

For everyday use, including multitasking, Web surfing, office work, media playback, and social networking, this is more than enough laptop for mainstream consumers, although the lower screen resolution won't give you the best result for playing back 1080p video content.

The battery life is impressive, beating several other similar laptops, and running for 7:09 in our video playback battery drain test. That's a great bonus, especially if you're going to flip the screen back and use the kiosk mode for watching movies during a long flight.

Thanks to some all-over-the-place pricing, the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 14 is hard to pin down. The less-expensive configurations make sense for a midsize, Haswell-generation laptop, with a trick hinge that you may or may not ever use. But as you move into more expensive versions -- including the current $999 price of our review configuration --- it feels like less laptop than you'd expect for the money.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Multimedia multitasking: Handbrake (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 14

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

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System configurations:

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 14
Windows 8 (64-bit); 1.6GHz Intel Core i5 4200U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 1792MB Intel HD Graphics 4400: 128GB Samsung SSD

Samsung Ativ Book 9 Lite
Windows 8 (64-bit) 1GHz AMD A4 Quad-Core; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 512MB AMD Radeon HD 8250; 128GB Samsung SSD

Sony Vaio Fit 14
Windows 8 (64-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Core i5 3427; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 32MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 750GB Toshiba 5,400rpm hard drive

Acer Aspire E1 572-6870
Windows 8 (64-bit); 1.6GHz Intel Core i5 4200U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 32MB (Dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 4400: 500GB 5,400rpm hard drive

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