Ever since Google first unleashed the Chromebook years back, the idea of the ‘premium Chromebook’ has been kicked around. However, it wasn’t until we got our hands on the Asus Chromebook Flip that we saw the concept executed, and quite perfectly at that.
We could go on all day about where other Chromebooks have faltered, but the long and short of it is that the Asus Chromebook Flip is everything we could ever want in a premium Chromebook, not to mention one that’s been touted as one of the best Chromebooks around – even after all these years since it was originally released.
Now that a good few years have past, there are some great deals to be had for the Asus Chromebook Flip, and with Amazon Prime Day 2019 coming up soon, there could be further price cuts for this brilliant Chromebook.
While it isn’t quite on the same level as the Google Pixelbook, the Asus Chromebook Flip is only half as expensive. So, even a year after it first hit the market, and in the face of its successor at CES 2019, the attention to value without compromising on performance is why the Asus Chromebook Flip is still one of our favorite Chromebooks as well as remains a top choice for budget-minded users considering Asus laptops.
Because the Asus Chromebook Flip is a 2-in-1 laptop, it flips inside out, giving the Chromebook its name. At 12.5 inches and 2.6 pounds, the Asus Chromebook Flip is also a light and easy travel companion.
The Asus Chromebook Flip isn’t just a great Chromebook, but it may just be one of the best laptops that ever hit the shelves to date… depending on what you’re looking for.
- See our list of the best Chromebook VPNs
CPU: 0.99Ghz Intel Core m3-6Y30 (dual core, 4MB cache, up to 2.2GHz)
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 515
RAM: 4GB LPDDR3
Screen: 12.5-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) LED backlit anti-glare
Storage: 64GB eMMC + TPM
Ports: 2 x USB 3.1 Type-C (Gen 1), microSD card reader, headset jack
Connectivity: Intel 2x2 802.11ac; Bluetooth 4.2
Camera: 720p webcam
Weight: 2.6 pounds (1.18kg)
Size: 13 x 9.1 x 0.9 inches (33 x 23.1 x 2.29cm; W x D x H)
Pricing and availability
When the Asus Chromebook Flip first launched it cost $649 (about £509, AU$926) with an Intel Core m5 processor, 64GB storage and 4GB RAM. That was certainly a lot of money for a Chromebook.
However, since the Asus Chromebook Flip has been out for a while, you should be able to find some deals out there.
If you have your eyes on an HP Chromebook, the HP Chromebook 14 might be slightly bigger and has an Intel Celeron N2940 processor, Intel HD Graphics 500, 4 GB memory and 32 GB eMMC storage. However, it’s considerably cheaper at $299 (about £234, AU$426).
At the same time, the Acer Chromebook Spin 13 for work runs for about $766 (about £604, AU$1,112) with an Intel Core i3 processor, 8GB of RAM and 64GB of flash storage.
The Samsung Chromebook Plus is the biggest competition here, however, as it only costs about $499 (about £349, AU$725) and comes with an ARM CPU, a sharper 2,400 x 1,600 display and a built-in stylus, despite half the storage and memory. Samsung’s offering also comes with a Pro SKU, which has the same Intel Core m3 CPU as the Asus Chromebook Flip, for $599 (about £472, AU$870) – though, again, with half the storage and memory.
Finally, there’s the Acer Chromebook R13, which also features a convertible build, with a full HD display for $369 (£399, about AU$536). However, the 2.1GHz quad-core chip comes from MediaTek, rather than Intel.
Like the original Asus Chromebook C100 before it, the Asus Chromebook Flip is built with an all-aluminium chassis, though, this time it has an anodized finish rather than a brushed texture. Overall, it has a clean, practical aesthetic, and folds up to a nearly symmetrical slab of metal.
Thankfully, the original Chromebook C100’s long, bar-shaped hinge has been replaced by the ZenBook Flip UX360’s multi-gear, metal mechanism. These two smaller hinges makes this laptop feel like less of a toy while still allowing it to blend in as a regular notebook.
Weighing in at 2.6 pounds (1.19kg), the Asus Chromebook Flip is one of the lightest Chromebooks around, only 0.3 lbs heavier than the Samsung Chromebook Plus. It’s also one of the first convertible Chrome OS machines you’ll actually want to use in tablet mode, unlike the 3.3-pound (1.5kg) Acer Chromebook R13.
Overall, the Asus Chromebook Flip C302 looks and feels like any other unibody laptop inspired by the MacBook Pro in recent years. However, the straight edges, rounded corners and 0.9 inch (2.29cm) thin frame all add up to a smart design that rivals HP and Google’s most premium models, but at a much lower price.
Aside from portability, the Asus Chromebook Flip seems to have been specifically designed for tablet use. Asus has come up with a clever magnetic clasp that pulls the screen lid tight against the underside of the notebook. It’s an ingenious detail that helps the 2-in-1 Chromebook feel like one solid device rather than a foldable electronic, and we’re surprised this solution hasn’t come sooner.
When you’re not using the Asus Chromebook Flip in tablet mode, it falls back on a solid keyboard that makes it as familiar and comfortable as any traditional laptop. The keys offer a satisfying 1.4mm of crisp key travel that we’ve missed in a world of ultra-thin notebooks.
As for the trackpad, we can really only say it’s there and it exists. It offers accurate tracking, but without any multi-touch features or two-finger scrolling, which is nothing to write home about.
Android apps on tap
Having a usable tablet mode is becoming all the more common in Chrome OS devices as Google is steadily increasing the platform’s Android integration. The Asus Chromebook Flip did not launch with access to the Play Store right out of the box, so we had to switch over onto Chrome OS beta channel in order to download apps during our tests.
This has since been addressed by Asus, and now the laptop fully supports Google Play Store Android apps.
At the moment, the hybrid Chromebook is fully equipped to dive right into the Android ecosystem. We swiped and tapped into our favorite apps just as we would on any Google tablet. To our surprise, the hybrid Chromebook is also outfitted with gyroscopes, allowing us to play motion-controlled games like Asphalt 8.
Unfortunately, not everything about running Android apps is impeccable. Slack and many other essential apps that we habitually use on a smartphone don’t scale properly on Chromebooks, leaving us with tiny text on certain apps. Plus, the Kindle app isn’t able to display full screen in portrait orientation.
Mobile apps are designed with a touchscreen interface in mind, and sometimes this doesn’t play well with the touchpad and keyboard setup of the Asus Chromebook Flip. Of course, it’s easy enough to switch the hybrid to tablet mode.
We chalk these issues to the beta version of Chrome OS, which fixed some problems and introduced new ones during the course of our review.
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Despite these issues, we don’t miss the days of sorting through the beleaguered Chrome Web Store full of knockoff apps and games. Having access to the Play Store gives us with many more useful programs on the Asus Chromebook Flip.
We love using Android apps in tablet mode just as much as sitting down with the Asus Chromebook Flip as a traditional Chromebook for long browsing and writing sessions. The hybridization of Google’s two platforms also finally lets us use mobile apps alongside the staple elements of Chrome OS.
First reviewed November 2017
Images Credit: TechRadar