Review: Insignia 11.6-inch Flex Windows Tablet

Insignia 11.6-inch FlexWindows Tablet

Display: 11.6-inch 1080p HD LCD display

OS: Windows 10 Home

Processor: 1.44GHz Intel Cherrytrail Z8300 quad-core processor

Memory: 2GB RAM, 32GB (microSD card slot expandable up to 128GB)

Camera: 5.0-megapixel rear camera, 2.0-megapixel front-facing camera

Battery: 9000mAh

Connections: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS

Dimensions: 11.35 x 7.06 x 0.35 inches

Weight: 800g

Comes in black

The very form factor of a 2-in-1 convertible tablet lends the impression that it can do everything a laptop can do. It looks like one, after all, so it’s an easy correlation to make, but not all convertibles are made equal. The Insignia 11.6-inch Flex Windows Tablet is less of an outright replacement, and more a device that can step in for certain tasks. Keeping things in perspective is probably the best way to look at a unit like this.

The 11.6-inch Flex has a smaller sibling in the 8-inch, though this one is a convertible that comes with a keyboard. Some internals get a bump up, whereas others are the same, and having spent time using this device for various purposes, I can be sure of what its limits truly are.

Design and Setup

The 11.6-inch LCD has 1080p resolution, which is nice enough for a screen this size, and understandable for the price point. Other devices in this category stacked with more powerful components and higher capacity storage sometimes also come with higher-res displays, but that’s not a make or break for this unit. The screen is responsive, legible and text looks good.

Ports and connectivity options are essentially the same as the other model. The 3.5mm headphone jack, micro-HDMI, microphone and microSD slot are the same. The differences are the USB-C port for charging and the two USB 2.0 ports on the sides of the keyboard for peripherals and external hard drives. The volume buttons are at the top, the rear camera is a 5-megapixel shooter, with the front-facing one using a 2-megapixel image sensor. And, of course, the Windows logo at the bottom is touch-sensitive to act as a home button.

The inclusion of the keyboard is naturally a defining factor of what the 11.6-inch Flex is about. While the tablet can be removed from the keyboard for a more untethered and mobile use case, having a keyboard there presents the device as being just as much about productivity as it would be about consumption. Yes, you can obviously watch or read whatever you want, but creating something of your own is supposed to be part of the mix here.

Detaching the screen from the keyboard requires doing it from either side, not from the middle. The magnetic latches are situated on both sides, making it relatively easy to split the two, though not quite as fluid as other 2-in-1 convertibles I’ve tried.

The Intel Cherrytrail processor doesn’t have a high clock speed, but does have four cores. I would have liked to have at least 3GB of RAM to work with, but there is only 2GB in here. The 32GB of internal storage is also not an exact figure once Windows and all pre-loaded apps are accounted for. It’s closer to 20GB, and with content creation being an element of the Flex’s design, it may not take long to fill that up, so a memory card would probably be a good idea to take away and anxiety on that front.

Software

I would argue that having Office 365 pre-loaded on this device is more impactful than on the smaller 8-inch Insignia Flex. OneNote was the only one already installed, though signing up for the 30-day trial allowed me to either download the apps onto the device, or use the browser versions instead. Naturally, having a keyboard and trackpad makes using the Office suite more effective. Despite Microsoft’s best intentions, they still aren’t made for a lot of touch input, and that’s where a convertible 2-in-1 design can come in handy.

Desktop apps can be installed on the Flex with ease, so long as the device is able to run them well enough. You won’t necessarily know that off the bat, but some common sense should suffice. This is not a gaming machine (casual games are okay), nor is it going to be good enough for video editing. Photo-editing may be fine, but again, I don’t see Adobe Photoshop running well on this. Photoshop Elements, on the other hand, would be better suited.

The Windows Store leans on mobile apps made for tablets, so it’s a good bet that whatever is in there will run reasonably well on the Flex.

Performance

Unlike the smaller Flex 8-inch, this model has a better chance of being able to not only last longer, but also be more productive, too. The keyboard is a major reason why, along with the larger, sharper display. It’s simply easier to see things, and it’s also easier to get things done.

What’s interesting here is that the internal components are not far off from the 8-inch model. That would suggest that performance would be the same, or perhaps worse, than its smaller sibling, but I found the Flex 11.6-inch to be a little more consistent. Outside of word processing, notes, spreadsheets, email, browsing and research, the scope of what the device is capable doesn’t stretch out much further. This is why I suggest being measured with your expectations.

The look and feel of laptop, coupled with Windows 10 Home, may give the impression of a full-fledged laptop, but that is definitely not the case here. The Flex 11.6-inch thrived more when the workload was lightweight, which is why children might get more out of this then the average working adult who may want to get some work done.

The micro-HDMI port allows the Flex to connect directly to a TV or projector, albeit with a separately sold cable. The two USB 2.0 ports on the keyboard are handy for expanding the internal storage, though the microSD card slot arguably does that more conveniently. Because it’s Windows, peripherals will work, so if you prefer a mouse over a trackpad, there’s nothing stopping you with the Flex 11.6-inch.

Battery life

The 9,000mAh battery inside is good, but not great. Making this an all-day tablet requires some adjustments, especially with screen brightness. In lower light settings, going down to 50% should be good enough, but in bright light or sunlight, cranking it up closer to 100% may be necessary. The difference in battery drain is huge — less than half of what it is at 50%. The Intel Cherrytrail processor isn’t a resource hog, whereas the display clearly is.

Generally, I managed to crack seven hours on moderate usage, maybe more if I was only doing a little browsing and typing documents. I would hesitate to deem this an all-day tablet because it probably won’t make it to the finish line. At least with some tweaks, it stands a chance.

Final Thoughts

The Insignia Flex 11.6-inch is a 2-in-1 convertible that is more tablet than it could ever be a laptop. It’s simply not made that way under the hood. Lighter work requirements, like what a younger student at school might do, are where the device is able to do its best. Otherwise, pushing too much will likely highlight the weaknesses and ruin the overall experience. If your expectations are measured going in, you’re less likely to feel like something is missing from the Flex 11.6-inch.

The Insignia 11.6-inch Flex Windows Tablet is available at Best Buy.

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