Asus Chrome­book Flip C100PA

£249 inc VAT • asus.com/uk

Tech Advisor - - CONTENTS -

The Chrome­book Flip C100PA is a ver­sa­tile new model from Asus that prom­ises much in the way of porta­bil­ity and power. We’ve re­cently seen of­fer­ings such as the Acer R 11 Chrome­book of­fer both lap­top and tablet modes, but the Flip adds an im­por­tant fac­tor – porta­bil­ity – with Asus claim­ing it’s the first 10in con­vert­ible Chrome­book.

Price

With the C100PA still be­ing a new prod­uct, there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of dis­counts off the rec­om­mended £249 price. The best deal we could find was from Lit­tle­woods, which had the de­vice on sale for £239, which would save you £10. For a touch­screen lap­top with solid per­for­mance and a long bat­tery life we think the price is jus­ti­fied, but if you want some­thing a lit­tle cheaper, and with a big­ger screen, the Acer R 11 is cur­rently avail­able at Cur­rys for £209 is a good al­ter­na­tive.

De­sign

There are many things you can say about Chrome­books: they’re in­ex­pen­sive, sim­ple, and sur­pris­ingly ca­pa­ble. One state­ment you don’t of­ten hear is that they’re gor­geous, but in the case of the Asus Flip C100PA this is most def­i­nitely true. From the thin, sleek lines, to the diminu­tive size and el­e­gant de­sign, this lit­tle lap­top is a thing of beauty.

Com­par­isons with Ap­ple’s MacBook range are in­evitable, as the alu­minium cas­ing and black screen bezels owe much to the Cal­i­for­nia com­pany’s style choices. There are, how­ever, a few no­tice­able dif­fer­ences be­tween those more ex­pen­sive ma­chines and the C100PA, mainly linked to the size of the de­vice. With di­men­sions of 263x182x16mm, the chas­sis is com­pact, al­low­ing only enough space for a 10.1in screen.

This is se­cured to the main body by a large hinge that can be ad­justed all the way back to 360 de­grees, plac­ing the screen against the back of the key­board. The need for such lithe be­hav­iour lies in the touch­screen dis­play, which can turn the Chrome­book into a sim­ple tablet. Usu­ally, the weight and bulk of a trans­form­ing lap­top makes the tablet mode noth­ing more than a cum­ber­some trick, but as the C100PA is small and light (0.9kg) this fea­ture works bet­ter than you might think.

The same can’t al­ways be said for the on-screen key­board, which has a ten­dency to be too sen­si­tive and de­tect false pos­i­tives. This means that typ­ing can be­come frus­trat­ing as ran­dom let­ters or num­bers ap­pear. Of course, you can sim­ply flip the de­vice back into a lap­top mode to cor­rect this, but it seems a bit of a shame to have to re­sort to that. Nav­i­gat­ing web­sites is per­fectly fine, and po­si­tion­ing the screen at other an­gles (which the key­board in­verted to act as

One state­ment you don’t of­ten hear is that Chrome­books are gor­geous, but in the case of the C100PA this is most def­i­nitely true

a stand) makes the C100PA a de­cent plat­form for me­dia con­sump­tion.

The phys­i­cal key­board is smaller than full size, which can feel a lit­tle cramped at first. In spite of this, the keys are well spaced and re­spond con­fi­dently un­der the fingers. Af­ter a short ad­just­ment pe­riod we found it easy to type quickly and ac­cu­rately, even for ex­tended pe­ri­ods. The track­pad is thin, tiny sur­face gives the ini­tial im­pres­sion of be­ing far too small, but such is the qual­ity of both the con­struc­tion and drivers that it never felt lack­ing in any way. Multi-touch ges­tures are a firm favourite in ChromeOS, and on the C100PA th­ese are ex­e­cuted with­out is­sue, plus there is the bonus of be­ing able to tap the screen if you pre­fer.

De­spite the small frame, Asus has man­aged to in­cor­po­rate a de­cent amount of ports into the de­vice. On the right flank you’ll find two USB 2.0 ports (sadly no 3.0 op­tions), plus aper­tures for Mi­cro-HDMI, mi­croSD cards, and a com­bi­na­tion mi­cro­phone/ head­phone jack. The left side is less well blessed, with just the pro­pri­etary charg­ing port, ac­com­pa­nied by power and vol­ume but­tons. It’s a pleas­ant, clean pack­age, which will no doubt turn a few heads, while also slip­ping com­fort­ably into a bag or back­pack with­out adding bulk or heft. Al­ways good.

Per­for­mance

At the heart of the C100PA beats a 1.8GHz Rockchip quad-core RK3288C Pro­ces­sor, aided by a Mali T764 in­te­grated GPU, 4GB of RAM, and 16GB of eMMC stor­age. There is an­other ver­sion of the de­vice avail­able that comes with only 2GB of RAM, but th­ese days it’s def­i­nitely a good idea to move up to larger ca­pac­i­ties as the web be­comes in­creas­ingly vis­ual and places greater de­mands on de­vice.

In gen­eral we found the 4GB model zippy and solid, even with mul­ti­ple tabs run­ning. Web pages opened quickly, images loaded with­out much de­lay, and even with mu­sic stream­ing in the back­ground we didn’t no­tice any sig­nif­i­cant slow­down or stut­ter­ing as we went about our busi­ness. Bench­mark­ing the de­vice re­turned an av­er­age score of 803.3 on SunSpi­der 1.0.2, and 41.43 on JetStream, both of which prove that the C100PA is a ca­pa­ble per­former.

The touch­screen is a handy ad­di­tion to the over­all pack­age, giv­ing quick ac­cess to click­ing links, on-screen but­tons, or for scrolling pages with­out hav­ing to use the track­pad. The dis­play it­self is bright and de­tailed, run­ning at a 1280x800 res­o­lu­tion. It may be too small for some, but as an ev­ery­day com­puter that you carry around with you, we think the C100PA is a de­light. ChromeOS does have some use­ful fea­tures, such as the gen­eral zoom level of the screen, so

even those with fad­ing eye­sight can have the con­tent of a page scaled up with­out los­ing the for­mat­ting. Cer­tainly one de­mo­graphic that the de­vice ap­peals to is chil­dren. Even in this re­viewer’s home en­vi­ron­ment with mul­ti­ple, more ex­pen­sive, lap­tops avail­able, the young ones who caught sight of the C100PA were im­me­di­ately taken by its size and style. Chrome­books are of­ten po­si­tioned as sec­ond de­vices, or aimed at chil­dren, and judg­ing by our ex­pe­ri­ence we’d say this could prove quite pop­u­lar in that role.

As with pretty much all Chrome­books, the C100PA comes with 100GB of free stor­age on Google Drive, for a pe­riod of two years. This should be plenty of space for photos, doc­u­ments, and any other data you wish to backup to the cloud. ChromeOS has ma­tured nicely in re­cent years, with off­line func­tion­al­ity now baked into the sys­tem so you can still work on doc­u­ments when you don’t have an in­ter­net con­nec­tion. It’s not as pow­er­ful as a stan­dard PC, and if you want to use spe­cific soft­ware you’ll need to check it works on Chrome­books be­fore you buy, but for most users th­ese re­main very at­trac­tive ma­chines.

Bat­tery life was sur­pris­ing, as the C100PA racked up over nine hours in our con­tin­u­ous video test. This sort of ca­pac­ity, not to men­tion when paired with the porta­bil­ity fac­tor, makes for

quite a po­tent com­bi­na­tion.

Ver­dict

If you’re look­ing for an in­ex­pen­sive con­vert­ible that doesn’t feel cheap, then the Asus Flip C100PA should go to the top of your list. In Chrome­book terms, it’s one of the best we’ve used, but only if you’re happy with a small screen. Road war­riors will ap­pre­ci­ate the long bat­tery life and light­weight chas­sis, while ev­ery­one else could soon find them­selves be­guiled by its de­sign aes­thet­ics and no fuss per­for­mance.

If you’re look­ing for an in­ex­pen­sive con­vert­ible that doesn’t feel cheap, then the Flip C100PA should go to the top of your list

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