The best Chromebook -- ASUS Chromebook Flip C302CA DHM4, consistently designed for online use
By Sigismondo Eisenhower 2019-06-24 3266 0
What is a Chromebook?
A Chromebook is a fairly inexpensive laptop based on Chrome OS - an operating system that uses a web browser (Chrome) as its primary interface and focuses on web applications and online storage. A Chromebook is ideal for someone who spends all their time on the computer in the browser: checking email and social networks, working in Google's app suite or other web apps, and juggling many tabs. If you already have a laptop or desktop computer and prefer a traditional laptop with keyboard to a similarly expensive touchscreen-focused iPad or Android tablet, then a Chromebook makes sense for you.
If you can't live without certain desktop applications like Microsoft Office, a desktop email client, or photo or video editing software, a Chromebook is really not for you. Many email and office suites, such as Office 365, have browser-based alternatives. The supported Android applications allow you to receive a Skype call, for example, or run Adobe Lightroom and other cloud applications. But if you're not ready or able to switch to a browser or Android application, it's better to look for a Mac or Windows computer.
Chromebooks require an Internet connection for most tasks, although some offline options are also available for Gmail, Google Drive, Calendar and Keep, as well as offline playback of movies, music and some games. A variety of offline applications are available through the Chrome Web Store.
Most Chromebooks have between 16GBytes and 64GBytes of local storage space - Google encourages Chromebook owners to make greater use of the cloud by providing 100GBytes of free Google Drive storage for two years. (Once the time is up, you must pay to keep the memory. At the moment 100 GByte cost 2 Euro per month.) Most Chromebooks have USB ports and SD or microSD card slots to expand your storage space.
Detailed review: Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA
The Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA is definitely expensive for a Chromebook. Nevertheless, it has to be said that it offers decent performance, a battery that lasts all day, a light and compact body, a pleasant backlit keyboard, a fast trackpad, a bright screen and Android App support. In principle, this is all you can expect from a Chromebook. We recommend the DHM4 model with a 12.5-inch 1920×1080 IPS touch screen, Intel Core m3-6Y30 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 64GB solid-state drive. However, both USB ports are Type C, so you will need a dongle for your Type A devices.
● High quality and exquisite craft
With about 550 Euro, the Asus is clearly more expensive than we would like to have - unfortunately, these are all good Chromebooks at the moment. However, the extraordinarily high processing quality of the Flip makes up for the price. The Flip feels more like an Ultrabook for 1,000 Euros than a cheap Chromebook - everyone I gave it to was surprised by the design, workmanship and quality. Windows laptops in the price range of about 500 Euros are usually huge, hollow, creaking monstrosities with rather average battery life, horrible screens and an internal hard drive instead of a solid-state drive. The Asus Chromebook Flip weighs 1.2 kg and measures 30.5 x 21 x 1.5 cm. The Flip is even smaller and lighter than the Dell XPS 13, our most popular Windows Ultrabook.
● Long battery life
In our battery life test at 40 percent screen brightness and keyboard backlight off, the flip lasted 8 hours and 7 minutes. The Chromebook can last a whole day at work, at school or on a long-haul flight. Our second place, the Lenovo, held out for about an hour less in the same test, while our budget favourite, the Acer, worked a little longer with 8 hours and 30 minutes. (Both devices are unfortunately not available in Germany.)
● Fast charging
The Flip can be charged via USB-C. In a perfect world this would mean that you can use any USB-C charger to charge the Chromebook - how convenient! But since charging with USB-C is currently in a rather confusing phase, we recommend that you use the charger provided by Asus - or one we have tested. Otherwise there is a possibility that your laptop could be fried by thewrong charger (this could have happened to me accidentally with another Chromebook). Once the situation with long-awaited USB-C standards has calmed down and the chargers are properly labelled or universally compatible, USB-C charging should become much more practical.
● Compact keyboard
The keyboard is pleasant, responsive and not too cramped to type. Previous iterations of the Flip have made the keyboard smaller, making the convertible more comfortable to hold in Tablet mode. This makes the Asus seem more difficult to use than a laptop, but this is not the case here. The bright, adjustable backlight is a nice touch; the feature is often neglected to save costs.
● Sensitive touchpad
The Flip's touchpad feels smooth, is precise and almost always responds instantly. Occasionally the touchpad took a few seconds to register the touch; my ice fingers might have been to blame - but with other Chromebook touchpads I didn't have the problem.
● Larger color gamut screen
The screen is vivid and bright. In Laptop Mag's tests, the Flip's screen had an even larger color gamut than the Lenovo's, but was less true to color. The Flip's glossy touchscreen display also dazzled more than the Lenovo's matte screen. (Both Chromebooks were above average in Laptop Mag's tests.) Although the 12.5-inch screen is slightly smaller than the ideal case, 13.3-inch screens offer more room to work. The extra vertical space on the Samsung Chromebook Plus and Pro is more useful for web browsing - but the smaller screen is the result of compromise in favour of a more compact, lighter laptop.
The display is also a touch screen and the Flip has a 360 degree hinge to use the laptop as a tablet or in any intermediate position. Chrome OS is not the most user-friendly operating system - it just has a simple on-screen keyboard; nothing special. Its features are much more practical since it supports Android Apps.
The Asus Chromebook Flip now supports Android apps, so you can make a video call from Skype, edit photos in Lightroom, chat in Facebook Messenger or play Hearthstone. Not all apps benefit from upscaling from a mobile screen to a laptop screen - some, like Facebook Messenger, are optimized for a different format. Others don't run very stable and can hang up or fall immediately. The plan to transfer Android apps to Chromebooks is unfortunately still a real construction site and requires the efforts of the developers. They increasingly need to update their apps to run properly on their laptops. Google hasn't had much success getting developers to optimize their apps for Android tablets yet. We therefore recommend that you not only buy a Chromebook in order to run Android apps.
The Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA is expensive, especially for a Chromebook. In 2015, you could get a solid Chromebook for less than 300 euros. In 2016, the price level rose to up to 400 euros. Meanwhile you have to take 400 to 550 Euro for a good Chromebook in your hand. After careful consideration, however, we believe that the illuminated keyboard, the longer battery life and the Android app support of the Asus Flips are worth spending more on.
The Asus Flip features two first-generation USB-C 3.1 ports, a microSD slot and a headset connector. USB-A ports for accessories are not available. (There are also no faster, more versatile Thunderbolt 3 ports like the latest Macs and high-end Windows notebooks; on the other hand, there's no Chromebook yet.) We recommend a USB-C to USB-A adapter or hub if you need more available ports.
Our test device buzzed nerve-racking during operation. The noise could even be heard while listening to music. However, many popular laptops have this problem. If you are sensitive to such noises, we recommend that you wear headphones or use your laptop away from the charger whenever possible.
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