I have been on a Chromebook kick lately. Maybe because they keep getting better and better in both hardware and operating system (Chrome OS). Or, maybe its because I dislike Windows 10 a little more with each passing day.
Regardless, there are 4 Chromebooks that I would consider and I had already tested 3 of them. The Google Pixelbook is a fantastic piece of hardware. It has probably my favorite keyboard of any laptop and I love the aluminum and glass design. It is lightning fast but… man… I can’t get over the price tag.
The Samsung Chromebook Pro and Plus are great options for those that want a high quality Chromebook but don’t want to pay the enormous price tag of the Pixelbook. However, they are a step down in hardware and a slight set down in speed. Also, I hate the cramped keyboard on the Samsung Chromebooks.
I did a review comparing the Google Pixelbook and the Samsung Pro a couple weeks ago that you can view here.
The 4th Chromebook that I would consider is the Asus C302CA Flip. It is a direct competitor with the Samsung Chromebook Pro/Plus and an indirect competitor with the Pixelbook at less than half of the cost. I went over to Best Buy and picked one up for $475 plus tax.
The packaging it came in won’t turn any heads. It comes in a brown box with some cardboard cutouts for the accessories. It didn’t bother me much because if they save some money on packaging and passed that savings down to the customers… put it in a plastic bag for all I care.
I spent a couple days using the Asus C303CA Flip and here is my review:
The Asus Chromebook flip has a great build with its all aluminum body and come logo. It feels sturdy but is also lightweight at only 2.6lbs. It feels like a lighter MacBook Pro in the hands and has nice rounded edges. The hinge feels sturdy and has surprisingly little wobble for a 2 in 1 device. The only knock I can think of is that it feels a little hollow when you carry it around because the aluminum has a little give to it.
The C302CA has 2 USB-C ports and both can be used for charging. What I like is that, unlike the base model MacBook Pro, they put one on each side. This way if you have a flash drive in one side, you can still use the other side to charge. It also has a full sized SD reader and a headphone jack. Honestly, this has more IO than I will ever use but some may still prefer more options.
The Asus C302CA has a 12.5” full HD display at 1920×1080. For indoor use, it is a great display and is plenty bright. However, if you are thinking about using this outdoors… good luck! The screen is very reflective and does not get bright enough to see clearly on a sunny day. There is also a very subtle vignette around the edges of the display that you can see when there is a white background. I’m admitedly pretty picky about displays but this one could be better in my opinion.
The Asus Chromebook has one of the best keyboard on a Chromebook, or any laptop, I have used. It has nice travel and a very even and uniform press to them. It is a full size keyboard which is a huge step up from the cramped Samsung Chromebook line-up. It also has backlighting which is a nice feature the Samsungs don’t offer either. It you are going to be doing a lot of typing, you should pick this one up.
The trackpad feels pretty good in my opinion. It is not as nice or as smooth as the Pixelbook because it is made of plastic rather than glass. If you are coming from Apple, it will feel small to you (but so will just about every other laptop). The click is nice and responsive and not too loud. It tracks well and I have had no issues with it so far.
Powered by the Intel Core M3 chip, 4GB of Ram and 32GB of SSD, I was expecting this machine to be on the slower side. Boy, I was wrong… this thing flies! I have used many laptops and, for basic tasks, this is right up there with as the fastest laptop I have ever used. Again, I have to stress that this is for basic tasks like web browsing, email, light gaming, and watching video… not video editing, photo editing, or high-intense gaming.
I opened up about 15 tabs in about 30 seconds and experience no slow downs. In my day to day usage, I haven’t experienced one slow down having multiple apps open, Chome tabs, email, and Slack. I was very impressed with how this laptop performed!
Grade: A (if you use if for what it’s meant for)
I have to admit that I was super impressed with this device. The build is top notch and it performs extremely well. The only thing I wish was a little bit better is the display. Don’t get me wrong, it looks perfectly fine inside when I am at my desk. But, if you get in a bright environment, the screen becomes very reflective and it doesn’t get bright enough to see clearly.
Other than that, I think you would be hard-pressed to find a laptop with a similar build quality and performance at this price. I would definitely choose this instead of the Google Pixelbook if I was in the market for a Chromebook. In fact, you could buy two of these for less than what the Pixelbook costs. To me, it’s a no-brainer.
Overall Grade: A-