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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.

Performance, stamina and storage

Asus has opted to go with an unconventional processor in its Chromebook Flip: the Rockchip 3288-C, a 1.8GHz quad-core ARM CPU. Its performance is generally decent, though there are a couple of caveats.

First, unless cost is a major consideration, you're almost certainly going to want to spring for the model with 4GB of RAM, which is what I used for this review. For comparison, I tested the Hisense Chromebook, which has the same exact setup with 2GB of RAM. That configuration is noticeably more limited in performance -- particularly when you start having more than a few tabs open, which causes the system to get sluggish.

With 4GB of RAM in the Flip, I've managed to have as many as 10 to 15 tabs open simultaneously without noticing any meaningful lag or slowdown. The system still isn't what I'd call snappy -- it'll sometimes take a few seconds too long to load a page, for instance, and will often be a bit choppy in scrolling for the first several seconds after a document or page has been opened -- but it's quite usable, and should be more than sufficient for most users' needs.

Impressively, the Flip is completely silent while running and never gets particularly warm, even during resource-intensive use. And its stamina is superb: The system is listed for up to nine hours of use per charge, and I generally exceeded that by a small margin -- even with an ongoing mix of heavy multitasking and video streaming.

As for storage, the Flip gives you 16GB of internal space along with the option to add an additional 64GB via microSD. It also comes with 100GB of cloud-based Google Drive storage for two years -- a subscription that'd cost about $48 if you were to buy it outright.

Bottom line

The Chromebook Flip is a neat little device with a lot of compelling qualities -- and a lot of bang for the buck. The thing you have to ask yourself is if a device like this makes sense for your needs.

The broad question, of course, is whether Chrome OS is right for you -- and that's a whole other story. Provided you're sold on the platform, though, it's critical to think about what purpose you want a Chromebook to serve.

If you're looking for a computer for extended productivity-centric use, I'd think twice about getting a device this small. Between the limited screen space and the cramped keyboard, it's just hard to see it being ideal for that type of work. Most people would do better with a full-sized system like the $330 Toshiba Chromebook 2 -- which is bigger but still quite portable -- or the $350 Acer Chromebook 15, which is large and more of a desktop replacement type of device. (Both devices have 1080p IPS displays.)

 

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