The general perception around Google Chromebooks, regardless of brand or how much it costs, revolves around the premise of simple and straightforward computing. Students and e-learning are often mentioned scenarios. And that includes people who use the Google ecosystem of apps and services quite extensively. Absolutely true, but as things have evolved, that’s now just a smaller part of a much broader demographic that the platform is trying to attract. Asus doesn’t seem to hold back either, with the new Asus Chromebook Flip C214 adding a lot of cool on the hardware side of things to a simple yet versatile operating system. This comes with a stylus, can become a tablet, a unique design with rubber bumpers and also two cameras. The price? €23,999.
What is the power equation for Chromebooks? At first, the spec sheet may not really grab your attention, but I recommend sticking with it a bit. The Asus Chromebook Flip C214 is powered by an Intel Celeron N4020 chip and has 4 GB of RAM. For the austerity and simplicity of Google’s Chrome OS, this is by no means inadequate. And we build on that. The 11.6-inch screen would make a great base for those who will end up traveling a lot, with this in tow. The resolution is 1366 x 768 pixels, and while I honestly have my doubts about the flexibility of Chrome OS as an entertainment device, we could have used a few more pixels here. There’s 64GB of internal storage, which isn’t enough to be fair, but seems to be in line with the Chromebook ecosystem in general. The recommendation here is to use the microSD route to its fullest. You get two USB-C ports, one full size USB port and also the 3.5mm headphone jack. What stands out, however, is the fact that the Asus Chromebook Flip C214 has two cameras. One is a traditional front camera that you use for video calls and there is one that sits on the keyboard. The idea for this placement is that when you flip the screen all the way back, this camera will be similar to something you have on your phone, facing the world. This can be useful for students using augmented reality (AR) tools.
How well is it built? There is something completely different about the Asus Chromebook Flip C214. Yes, at first glance it looks like a fairly conventional laptop, but if you look closely, there is much more. The lid has a matte finish, patterned (Asus calls this 3D texture), quite resistant to scratches and, dare I say, slightly rubberised. Then there is the frame, very evident in the different color finish. Underneath is a rubber bumper, which ideally should add an extra layer of protection against bumps, drops, dents, or anything that bumps into the Chromebook in your backpack. The Asus Chromebook Flip C214 also has a spill-resistant keyboard. Not that I’d recommend the bad habit of having breakfast and drinking liquids near a laptop keyboard, it just might withstand some clumsiness on your part, if you’re still on it. To be fair, not the lightest 11.6-inch computing device out there, but when I pick this up, it feels lighter than the claimed 1.2kg. That can only be good.
Is Chrome OS Right For Me? That’s a million dollar question. A lot of people ask me this, often hoping to find an alternative to otherwise fairly underpowered Windows 10 laptops that often span the breadth of their budget. It’s the consistent sheer simplicity of Chrome OS that makes it more than an attractive alternative to Windows 10 based laptops. Simplicity was the foundation of Chrome OS many years ago, and while things have gotten livelier since then, Google hasn’t really tinkered with the basics that have always worked. The common perception about Chrome OS and Chromebooks is that they’re really only relevant if you’re heavily invested in Google’s app ecosystem: Gmail, Drive, Docs, Photos, Meet, etc. But that’s no less true, especially since things are evolved. All said and done, Google’s own apps and services will be available upfront, and that’s to be expected. The Chromebook pre-installs Gmail, Google Assistant, Google Chrome, Google Drive, YouTube, Google Docs, and Google Calendar, just to name a few.
Chrome OS has almost everything you’ve become accustomed to on a Windows PC over time, and everything has improved over time too: a desktop, a good file explorer, a download manager, and full-fledged apps in a Play Store that is bustling more than ever. Microsoft 365 productivity suite, Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox, Evernote, Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Adobe Lightroom, Canva, Microsoft Outlook, and AutoCad, just to name a few. If you think Chrome OS and Chromebook are a compromise, a lighter experience compared to Windows laptops in terms of the breadth and variety of apps available, that’s not entirely true. There are over 1 million apps available and the fact that Chrome OS can run apps designed for Android phones ensures a seamless transition.
But is an 11.6-inch screen big enough? This is something I’ve asked buyers to consider, as comfort with screen sizes and the types of apps you use are subjective. There is no single-size-fits-all solution. With the Asus Chromebook Flip C214 you get an 11.6-inch touchscreen with a fairly simple resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. Not much, if Netflix in HD or 4K was your expectation. But this does give you a pretty vibrant canvas for most productivity tasks. And the fewer pixels to illuminate, the better it is for battery life. For most users who might just need a compact laptop to carry around for quick access to emails, work on documents and more, this also helps tick off the portability aspect. The fact that the screen can go all the way back means it can turn into something of a tablet, if you’re okay with one this heavy. A smaller screen size like this may not work well in some usage scenarios, and you should be sure of your workflow apps and requirements before taking the plunge.
The Final Word: Will a Chromebook Work for You?
The Asus Chromebook Flip C214 definitely makes a very valid and noticeable attempt at adding a cool hardware quotient to the simplicity of Chrome OS. The operating system itself is evolving and with the screen that allows this laptop to be used in tent mode or tablet mode, as well as the dual cameras, it adds a lot of versatility and value. Certainly in the long term. You should not hesitate that an Intel Celeron N4020 processor runs on it, because that is more than enough for the software that runs on it. There is 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal storage with memory card support for up to 2 TB more. What doesn’t change is that you still need to consider whether Chrome OS, while livelier than ever before, still works for your workflow and with the software you use regularly. If so, the Asus Chromebook Flip C214 could be considered if a compact display works for you. The robust construction, strong battery life and good keyboard will add to the experience.
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