At 22 millimeters thick and weighing 3.1 pounds, the Flex 5i won’t win any awards for portability, but it’s hardly thick. The all-gray plastic design also feels plain and simple, although there is an accent strip in a slightly darker gray on the left side of the lid. The same no-frills keyboard and trackpad as most Chromebooks are factored in here too.
The Flex 5i boots up quickly and wakes up quickly. In my opinion, the Flex 5i is consistently faster than the Acer 515 – but only slightly, as it is consistently less than 10 percent better in benchmarks. However, battery performance suffered to a similar extent, perhaps a necessity to compensate for the modest speed boost. I lasted seven hours and 20 minutes on a full-frame YouTube video playback test with the Flex 5i, compared to almost eight and a half hours with the Acer. Given the Flex 5i’s smaller display, that’s perhaps a bigger delta than you’d initially think.
I’ve already written about the new apps and features available on the Chromebook Plus platform, such as animated wallpapers, Google’s Magic Eraser from its Pixel phones, and video features that clean up your webcam images and videos. Google says there will be many more artificial intelligence-powered goodies in 2024. Are you ready for an AI-generated on-demand background for your next Google Meet? It is on the way.
At the moment, the machine is ready to use right out of the box and fully configured within a few minutes of turning it on. During my testing, I didn’t notice any issues with stability or sluggish performance. Even under load, the device was virtually silent, helped by the upward-firing speakers that produced plenty of sound.
Is all of this worth the hundred dollars more than an entry-level Chromebook Plus? The real advantage here is the touchscreen and arguably the additional microSD card slot, but both elements may have a niche advantage that not everyone needs. If you can live without them, go for the cheaper option Acer 515 Chromebook Plus. But if they sound useful, this is an outstanding little laptop that ticks all the Chromebook Plus boxes, and at a still very reasonable price.