The Lenovo IdeaCentre Flex 20 is a 19.5-inch portable all-in-one desktop that marries ultrabook-class components with a large touch screen. It’s got a battery inside, but it’s meant mainly for people that use laptops in the house or in a small office environment sans the commuting aspect of laptops. It’s a good pick for people that want a larger screen than a mobile tablet or even a 17-inch laptop. On the whole, it’s a good portable for general users, but power users will nitpick and be better off with one of the more high-end systems.
Design and Features
The IdeaCentre Flex 20 is a portable all-in-one desktop that uses the same design language as the much larger Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon ($1,849.99), so it has that stand-less HDTV look from the front, with a silver metal back. The system’s spring-loaded foot swings out of the back after you unlatch it, and we had little trouble making the system stand from about 15 degrees off vertical to down to 80 degrees. Past that, the system defaults to flat on its back, thanks to its 8.01-pound weight. The system is measures 12.25 by 20.5 by 0.8 inches (HWD). This makes the Flex 20 more portable than the Lenovo Horizon, though the five-pound Dell XPS 18 ($1,399) is a bit more portable still. That said, the XPS 18′s light-duty feet are less useful when you tote that system around the house.
The IdeaCentre Flex 20 is built around the 10-point touch screen, which measure 19.5 inches and has a 1,600 by 900 resolution. The screen is clear and bright, though at 1,600 by 900 it’s a bit less spacious than the 1,920 by 1,080 (Full HD) screen on the Dell XPS 18. The Sony VAIO Tap 21 ($1,299) also has a Full HD 21.5-inch screen, and is a good choice if you’re looking for a large screen and need the extra screen resolution. That said, the IdeaCentre Flex 20 is $500 less expensive and gets you most of the way there.
The capacitive touch screen is responsive to taps and flicks, and movies and online videos look good on the screen, even downscaled 1080p ones. Lenovo makes joystick and e-dice controllers that work with the system’s screen, and they make game playing a bit more enjoyable than just the touch screen alone. However, the USB dongle for the e-dice exposes one of the IdeaCentre Flex 20′s shortcomings: There are only two USB 3.0 ports on the system. If you connect the e-dice dongle and the USB dongle for the wireless keyboard and mouse, then there aren’t any free ports for anything else. The system also lacks HDMI-in or -out, so you’re out of luck if you need to use a wired connector to a HDTV. It also means you can’t use the IdeaCentre Flex 20 as an external monitor for other laptops or desktops.
The IdeaCentre Flex 20 comes with an Intel Core i3-4010U processor, 4GB of memory, and a 500GB 5,400rpm SATA hard drive. All of these, particularly the Core i3 processor save a bit of cash over systems that have SSDs and Core i7 processors. Though it means a drop in performance compared to more expensive systems like those listed above, the much lower purchase price is attractive to those you want a new PC with large touch screen. The system’s included wireless keyboard and mouse are comfortable to use, with sculpted keys that feel tailor made for touch typing. The 500GB hard drive is full of pre-installed apps, including Kindle, Lenovo Dress Up, YouCam, Lenovo Forest Adventure, rara music, Sugar Sync, Accuweather, Microsoft Office trial, Dragon Assistant, Dolby Audio, and the usual Lenovo support apps like Lenovo Companion and Lenovo Assistant. Lenovo also includes the Aura UI overlay, which can automatically come up when you tilt the system back to flat horizontal. Aura lets you view and share images, music, and play games like the included games like Raiding Company, Roulette, and Texas Hold ‘Em. The IdeaCentre Flex 20 comes with a standard one-year warranty.
The IdeaCentre Flex 20′s Core i3 processor is certainly responsive enough, as is most of the system. It’s not quite as fast as a system with a SSD boot drive, but for the price you’ll forgive the IdeaCentre Flex 20. The closest configured system we’ve seen lately in the Labs is the HP Envy Rove 20-K014us Mobile All-in-One ($979.99). Both systems share the same Intel Core i3-4010U processor with Intel HD Graphics 4400 and 4GB of memory. The HP Rove 20 has a larger hard drive, but both have a 1,600 by 900 resolution screen. Therefore it’s no surprise that the systems have similar benchmark scores on most (though not all) tests. Both are well suited for day-to-day use, though you’d probably want a more powerful system like the Core i5-powered Dell XPS 18 if you want to do serious photo-editing on your portable all in one.
The IdeaCentre Flex 20 and HP Rove 20 also get similar scores on our battery rundown test: 3 hours, 44 minutes for the IdeaCentre Flex 20 and 3:55 for the HP Rove 20. This means that the system easily plays movies like Marvel’s The Avengers or either of the movies in the Dark Knight Trilogy. This is barely enough time to run one of the theatrical length Lord of the Rings movies, so make note if watching Bilbo and Sam traversing the Dead Marshes.
The Lenovo IdeaCentre Flex 20 is a nicely priced portable all-in-one system, seemingly tailor-made for those folks who really want to try out touch computing, yet need much more computing power or better program compatibility than can be found in a mobile tablet. It’s a lot less expensive than highly rated portable all-in-ones like the Dell XPS 18, and is a good choice for less picky general users. However, the lack of I/O ports on such a large system is a large strike against it, since we can’t recommend it for power users that may wish to use the system with a selection of other devices.
|Processor Family||Intel Core i3|
|Graphics Card||Intel HD Graphics 4400|
|Screen Size||19.5 inches|
|Monitor Type||LCD Widescreen|
|Type||All-in-one, Touchscreen All-In-One|
|Storage Capacity (as Tested)||500 GB|
|Operating System||Windows 8.1|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc