ASUS Chrome­Book Flip C302

The premium Chrome­book is fi­nally af­ford­able. Hats off to ASUS!

APC Australia - - Contents -

The premium Chrome­book is a con­cept that has ex­isted for al­most as long as Google’s notebook brand it­self, and it’s one that rarely found the legs to suc­ceed. ASUS has fi­nally come out with a premium Flip model that matches the competition on specs, but un­der­cuts them on price.

At $849, it’s firmly in the lap­top mid-range price point, and there are rea­sons for that: man­u­fac­tur­ers are try­ing to drag the Chrome­book mar­ket out of its seem­ingly per­ma­nent budget dol­drums.

Like the orig­i­nal ASUS Chrome­book C100 be­fore it, the C302 is built from an all-alu­minium chas­sis; though, this time, it has an an­odised fin­ish rather than a brushed tex­ture. Over­all, it has a clean, no-non­sense aes­thetic and it folds up to a nearly sym­met­ri­cal slab of metal.

The orig­i­nal C100’s long, bar-shaped hinge has been dropped for the ZenBook Flip UX360’s multi-gear, metal mech­a­nism. The smaller mech­a­nism makes this ma­chine feel like less of a toy and helps it to blend in as a reg­u­lar notebook.

Aside from be­ing lighter, the C302 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. It’s an in­ge­nious ad­di­tion that helps the 2-in-1 feel like one solid de­vice rather than fold­able elec­tron­ics, and we’re sur­prised that this so­lu­tion hasn’t come sooner.

When you’re not us­ing the C302 as a tablet, 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 ever-slim­mer note­books. The track­pad of­fers ac­cu­rate track­ing, but few mul­ti­touch fea­tures. There’s noth­ing note­wor­thy here.

In­tel Core M-se­ries pro­ces­sors seem per­fect for pow­er­ing Chrome­books. The bench­mark re­sults demon­strate this: Oc­tane, 21,900; Mozilla Kraken, 1,276ms; and Jet­Stream, 123. The In­tel Core m3 per­forms nearly twice as fast as the Dell Chrome­book 13’s Celeron CPU.

Chrome­books are fa­mous for their long bat­tery life, and the C302 is the longest­last­ing premium model we’ve tested yet, run­ning for 10 hours and 46 min­utes on our stan­dard lo­cal movie play­back test. With our reg­u­lar ev­ery­day work­load, the C302 ran just shy of hit­ting the 8-hour mark.

The dis­play is 1,920 x 1,080 Full HD and it’s all you need on a 12.5-inch screen. It’s not as sharp as the QHD HP Chrome­book 13, but the lower pixel count af­fords two more hours of bat­tery life — a trade-off we’ll gladly take. Pho­tos and text look plenty crisp as is, and the C302 re­solves strong colours, which is ex­actly what we’re look­ing for in a com­pan­ion de­vice to flip through comics and stream videos. Au­dio-wise, the Chrome­book Flip’s speak­ers are loud, but lack much nu­ance to re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate mu­sic. There’s also a hint of tini­ness that lim­its how high you can set the vol­ume be­fore it’s un­bear­able, so use head­phones if you’re look­ing to rock out.

This is the first 2-in-1 Chrome­book that gen­uinely feels as com­fort­able to use in tablet form as it is in its tra­di­tional lap­top mode. Un­til we see the Sam­sung Chrome­book Pro with its sharper screen and built-in sty­lus, the ASUS Chrome­book Flip is king of the Chrome OS hill.

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