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Are you ready for a Chromebook with a touchscreen that also flips around to become a tablet? Well, ASUS sure hopes you are.
The ASUS Chromebook Flip C100, which clocks in at only $250, brings the convenience and portability of a tablet along with the keyboard and trackpad of a real laptop. If you’re looking for something that does more than an Android tablet, but isn’t a large, bulky computer, the Chromebook Flip just might be for you.
Let’s take a look at everything this device has to offer, and don’t forget to read to the end to see how you could win a Chromebook Flip for yourself.
- Model: C100PA-DB01
- Cost: $250 from Amazon
- Screen: 1280px x 800px, 10.1″ IPS display
- Size: 10.6″ x 7.2″ 0.6″ (27cm x 18.3cm x 1.5cm)
- Weight: 2lbs (907g)
- Storage: 16GB
- RAM: 2GB
- Processor: 1.8GHz Rockchip RK3288
In terms of materials, the Chromebook Flip looks a lot higher end than other comparable Chromebooks. While most Chromebooks are made entirely of plastic (even our favorite Acer Chromebook 13), the Chromebook Flip has a metal shell that feels and looks especially premium.
The main hinge on the computer is made of plastic for some reason, but it’s sturdy and manages to keep the screen from wobbling too much when tapped. Considering it’s a 360-degree hinge, it does a good job of holding the screen in place while also allowing you the maneuverability to turn it all the way around.
The port selection is pretty slim, given that the device has only a 10.1″ screen and is only 0.6″ thick. In fact, the two USB ports along the right side take up as much room as they possibly could. I don’t think you could slim it down any further and still have full-sized USB ports.
On that side you also get a micro-HDMI port, a microSD card slot that supports up to 64GB, and the headphone jack.
The opposite side has a charging indicator, an on/off indicator, and a charging port, as well as a volume rocker and power button (since this device can be used as a tablet). The charging port looks somewhat like a micro-USB, but it’s not. The good news, though, is that the proprietary charger is reversible, so you don’t have to worry about putting it in the wrong way.
Overall, you get a decent amount of ports and slots for such a tiny device, and it manages to make itself feel worth a lot more than the $250 it sells for. Chromebooks are cheap, but they usually feel like it — the Flip is the exception.
Asus says that the keyboard is 97% full-size, which seems like a bit of a stretch to me. It’s not a bad keyboard, but it’s noticeably smaller than the average keyboard. It has good travel and the keys are well spaced, but if you’re used to a regular size keyboard, it’s going to take a bit of adjusting.
It has the usual Chromebook layout that replaces the Caps Lock key with a search key (though you can change its function in the settings), and the Function keys are replaced by legitimately useful keys like volume, brightness, and more.
Let’s be honest: on a 10-inch tablet/laptop hybrid, you’re lucky to have a trackpad at all.
The Chromebook Flip’s trackpad is nothing to write home about, but it takes up about as much room as is physically possible, and it manages to smoothly control the mouse. It’s not as spacious as something you’d find on a larger laptop, but for its size, it’s very good.
There are two speakers on this device, both located on the bottom of the device just beside the little circular rubber feet. Obviously, this isn’t an ideal placement, but they manage to pump out audio at reasonably high levels for such a small device.
Plus, if you have the device in stand or tent mode, you get a much better angle from the speakers.
Touchscreen and Different Modes
“So what if it has a 360-degree hinge?” you ask yourself. “I don’t need that. I’m fine with a regular laptop.”
Ah, yes, dear consumer, you are fine with a regular laptop, but you could be so much better with a device that rotates. Once you realize how convenient it is to just swivel around your computer to any mode you want, you won’t be able to go back to regular laptops. It’s like getting a touchscreen computer and then trying to go back to a non-touchscreen, but you keep poking the screen out of habit.
Shown above is the regular laptop mode and the stand mode. I enjoy stand mode whenever watching some kind of media — YouTube videos, TV shows, movies — and it’s even better when you’re on a plane since it fits so well on tray tables.
There’s also tent mode, shown above, which for all intents and purposes, is very similar to stand mode. The screen flips automatically when it senses that you’ve put it into tent mode (though you can turn off auto-rotation quickly and easily in the lower right corner of Chrome OS), and the keyboard is deactivated.
The biggest advantage to this mode is mostly just saving table space. When I would work on a small table, I could easily prop the device up in tent mode and have the rest of the area to spread out whatever else I was working on.
Of course, we can’t forget tablet mode. Given how the device curves sleekly when shut, it feels much more bulky in tablet mode with the curves going outwards. The keys on the back are deactivated, but you can still press them (unlike newer Lenovo Yoga models which lock the keys so they can’t even be physically pressed).
If anything, it’s nice to have all of these different modes available to you in case one is ever more convenient than the others.
Asus rates the Chromebook Flip as having up to 9 hours of battery life, which is definitely accurate, if not a little modest. I easily got through an entire day writing solely on this device and streaming TV shows and YouTube at night. My total time with the screen on was probably even longer than nine hours.
This is definitely a computer than can last all day. If battery life is your main concern, the Chromebook Flip should be just the device for you.
Performance and Compatibility
The Rockchip processor in this device is a relatively new one, appearing only in a few Chromebooks in the last couple of months. As such, it doesn’t have the reputation that Intel processors have, and sometimes you might run into compatibility issues with it.
My only issue with it was during video playback on the Comcast Xfinity web player. The processor couldn’t handle something about that video, because small artifacts constantly popped up on the screen, eventually making the video unwatchable. Other web players (and, of course, YouTube) worked just fine, but this issue was rather annoying for me. That is the risk you take, though, when going with a new type of processor.
In terms of performance, the Chromebook Flip as a whole did well considering it’s using a brand new budget processor and has only 2GB of RAM. If I opened maybe over ten tabs, I would start to get the out of RAM messages (shown above), but generally, I was able to juggle a bunch of tabs just fine. Scrolling through documents and watching videos was no problem. It didn’t feel slow at all.
Touching Chrome OS
Chrome OS still isn’t built for touch, so using it in tablet mode is a bit more of a challenge, though certainly possible. Google has added a very Android-like keyboard that pops up when the physical keyboard is deactivated, and there’s an app switching button available in the bottom right corner of the screen.
Also, when using it mainly as a touchscreen device, it opens all apps in fullscreen. This is useful in that it gives you more screen real estate, but it’s frustrating because you can’t have multiple apps open side by side.
And while there are Android apps available for Chrome OS, they’re extremely limited, and there’s no good way to search for them. Chromebooks may have the simplest setup and interface of any laptops, but they would gain a lot from having access to the entire Play Store.
Hopefully as more touchscreen Chrome OS devices come out, we’ll see a refinement of the touchscreen features in Chrome OS and more Android apps.
Should You Buy It?
The Chromebook Flip is a delightful little device that’s perfect for travelling. It’s lightweight, has solid battery life, and it can work offline. If you need a small companion computer for travel, or just for something lighter to take to class, the $250 you would spend on the Flip would be well worth it.
Buy it. In a sea of cheap Chromebooks, the Chromebook Flip C100 manages to have a premium feel at a low price, and its touchscreen and 360-degree hinge make it just fantastic to use.
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