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Asus Chromebook Flip review: A classy little convertible laptop

JR Raphael | July 7, 2015
It’s surprisingly nice and immensely affordable, but a laptop this small isn't going to make sense for everyone.

(You can see a list of officially available Android apps in the Chrome Web Store, though the results will appear only if you open that link while using a Chrome OS device. It's also possible to port an Android app over to Chrome OS yourself, but that requires some semi-advanced hacking efforts and won't work with every application. Long story short, it isn't going to be something most users will want to mess with.)

I found the Flip's "stand" mode -- in which the keyboard faces downward behind the screen and props it up -- to be the most useful for touch-centric interactions. You can also turn the device upside-down from that position and put it into a "tent" mode, though I've yet to find any reason to do so myself.

Finally, you can rotate the screen back a full 360 degrees and flatten it into a tablet, albeit one that's rather thick -- thanks to the non-detachable base pressed up against it. This also means that the physical keyboard unfortunately faces outward on its backside. The keys are disabled in that mode, but even so, an upside-down keyboard doesn't make for the most pleasant surface on which to rest your fingers while holding a tablet.

Keyboard, trackpad and the rest of the hardware

Speaking of QWERTY, the Chromebook Flip's keyboard is a mixed bag: The keys are a bit plasticky and insubstantial-feeling, as you'd expect for a device of this class, but they're pleasingly responsive and have a satisfactory amount of resistance. The biggest issue is that the keyboard, like the Flip's screen, is quite cramped. Due to the device's narrow frame, the keys are small and close together, which makes typing a little awkward -- serviceable enough, especially for short periods of time, but more like using a tablet attachment than a full laptop keyboard.

The trackpad, meanwhile, is excellent -- smooth to the touch and precise, with support for the full range of Chrome OS touch gestures.

The Flip has two stereo speakers on its bottom that project adequate-sounding audio. There's not much in the way of bass, which results in a somewhat hollow sound, but music played from the system is loud and clear -- unless the device is sitting on your lap, in which case the output often becomes muffled.

The left side of the Chromebook holds physical volume and power buttons -- unusual for Chrome OS but helpful when you're using the device in a tablet mode -- along with a proprietary charging port (no reversible and universal USB Type-C, unfortunately). On the right side, you'll find a dedicated micro-HDMI port along with two USB 2.0 ports, a microSD card slot and a standard headphone jack.

 

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